Time for a trip down Sesame Street. Which of these does not belong? 4. 4. 3. 3. 23.
That list summarizes defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski’s season to date. He started the year with four superior runs only to stumble to 23rd Sunday at Auto Club Speedway. The Auto Club 400 is the only race this year that Keselowski has failed to lead.
The Fontana experience knocked Keselowski from first to second in points leading into the off weekend.
“We’re still in a good points positions after a tough day, though,” Keselowski said.
The team battled almost from the beginning last week. An engine failure in practice negated a third-place qualifying run and put Keselowski at the back of the field for the race start.
Early in the race, he tapped the wall after sliding in oil that had been spread on the track, and the impact affected the car’s handling.
Sixty laps later, Keselowski was flagged for speeding on pit road, dropping him to the rear again.
Late-race overheating problems dropped him from the top 10 to 23rd.
Now Keselowski looks to rebound – and gain his first win of the year – at Martinsville Speedway next week.
“[I’m] really proud of the effort the guys on the Miller Lite Ford have put in to start the season,” he said. “I would’ve liked to have kept the points lead heading into the Easter break, but that doesn’t overshadow the great start we’ve had. Some of my best tracks are coming up soon.
“If we can continue to build cars as fast as we have for the first five races of the season, I’m confident we’ll win our share of them soon.”
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.