RICHMOND, Va. — After a multi-year history of get-togethers, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski found their way together again during Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
The two made contact after Keselowski, who was running fifth at the time, missed a shift on a restart with 68 laps to go. As he tried to correct and make up ground entering turn one, Keselowski misjudged his entry angle and made contact with
Four laps later, Kenseth lost the left front tire and pounded the outside wall in turns three and four, causing heavy damage to the right side of his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota and ending any shot the 2003 champion had at a second-straight victory in the fall Richmond event.
“It looked like Brad missed a shift or something there (on the restart), and then he had his (entry) angle all wrong and drove into the corner three car lengths too far because he didn’t want to lose the spot … and he cleaned me out,” Kenseth said. “It knocked the fender down on the tire and then we ended up blowing the left front and we wrecked.”
“The tire situations and strategies got chaotic, but they didn’t have anything to do with the wreck. That’s all on Brad, and I’m sure he’ll send a Tweet out or go on a TV show and explain how it wasn’t his fault, but he just … he knows better than that. He made a mistake and he was trying to make up for it, and he had no respect for anyone on the outside lane. It’s unfortunate we have a wrecked race car because of it.”
Kenseth had rallied from a penalty on pit road earlier in the race to run sixth when the contact occurred, but had been as high as second earlier in the evening before multiple tire strategies came into play.
“We were starting to make our way back towards the front; it’s tough not having tires but I thought (crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) was doing a good job managing what we had. We had a good car all night. We just got behind on a pit road penalty, but I thought we could still get a top three or four.”
Keselowski, who went on to finish fourth, was contrite and subdued when he climbed from his car at the end of the night.
“I just missed a shift and ruined Matt’s day,” the 2012 champion lamented after the race. “I didn’t hear what he had to say, but I can understand why he’s upset and he deserves to be upset because I made a mistake. It was just a crappy deal for everyone.”
“Hopefully he’ll accept my apology, because I certainly don’t want to miss a shift for myself, let alone him. When I got into the corner, I just missed the corner and got him. That’s not what anyone wants to see, including myself. If I could have cleaned up my mistakes, maybe we could have snuck in a win, but we just needed a little bit more.”
This incident is the latest in a two-year string of mishaps between Kenseth and Keselowski that comprises a well-documented rivalry between the two.
Most notably, contact between the duo in the 2014 Chase race at Charlotte Motor Speedway saw contact during the race, under caution and after the race on pit road lead to Kenseth confronting Keselowski at his hauler after the race and putting the Michigan native in a headlock before security and NASCAR officials intervened.
Last year, the pair got together in the Chase race at Martinsville Speedway in October, with a three-wide restart shuffle leading to contact that again ended Kenseth’s shot at a win.
Kenseth later deliberately wrecked Keselowski’s teammate, Joey Logano, in that race as retribution for an earlier incident at Kansas Speedway where Logano tagged and spun Kenseth as the two raced for the win – a win that would have transferred Kenseth to the next round of the Chase.
That incident earned Kenseth a two-race suspension from NASCAR.
Keselowski will enter next week’s Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway ranked second on the 16-man Chase Grid, while Kenseth will be the No. 7 seed.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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