After the waiting game finally ended, after the spinout finally ceased, after the winning car finally made its slow ride down pit road, Brad Keselowski almost ran over his teammate.
Some thanks for helping Keselowski win.
Fast-forward to the last 20 laps or so of the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, and the field had fallen into a single-file line. It was a train of disconnected vehicles spearheaded by a trio of Penske drivers: Joey Logano in third, Ryan Blaney in second and Keselowski in the lead.
“Everybody was scared of the Penske train up there,” said Austin Dillon, who came fifth. “Those top three were pretty hard to get out of the way.”
Never miss a local story.
That threesome ultimately proved insurmountable, as no one further back in that line of cars dared dip out of place and make a move for the lead. Not past those three cars, anyways. Even a last-lap crash that hooked Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch wasn’t a distraction for the three leading cars. They merely watched the chaos in their rearview mirrors.
Instead, Keselowski maintained that lead (after starting the race in last place) and cruised to the victory, his first ever at Speedweeks in Daytona, before darting out to celebrate. Logano and Blaney, who had pushed their teammate to first place and dutifully stayed behind him (although Blaney tried to make a move with about a lap and a half to go), peeled off to the pits.
“We were able to work our way from last to first – that feels good to me,” Keselowski said. “Of course as we got towards the end, and I had both my teammates behind me, that wasn’t a bad feeling at all.
“We were able to fend it off there at the end.”
So as Keselowski was smoking and swirling off in the grass, Logano climbed out of his car and answered questions about his runner-up finish. Or at least he was, until Keselowski barreled down pit road and almost hit him.
But it was no matter. Logano just laughed, shifted himself and the swarm of reporters accompanying him out of the way, and smacked Keselowski’s windshield as he drove past.
Now, considering the Clash isn’t a normal NASCAR Cup Series race – it doesn’t count in the standings, and at 75 laps, it’s signifcantly shorter than any other race – it makes more sense that the three Penske cars all played so nicely at the end of the race. But if the same thing were the case in next Sunday’s Daytona 500?
“I think the best guy will win,” team owner Roger Penske said with a chuckle. “I don’t expect them to line up, I’m sure of that.”
Maybe then one of the Penske teammates might get run over – or through – for real.