Brad Keselowski exited his car frustrated about a NASCAR penalty in the final laps of Sunday’s Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he stated after meeting with series officials that NASCAR “made the right call.”
Later, Keselowski said on Periscope that “as a team, we kind of miscommunicated.”
The issue began when Keselowski followed teammate Joey Logano on to pit road with 19 laps to go, relinquishing the lead to Kyle Busch, who did not pit.
Keselowski took two tires and was the first car off pit road. He lined up fifth but that was in front of Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer, who had not pit and should have been ahead of him.
“Nobody could figure out the lineup,” Keselowski said after placing 18th. “There wasn’t enough communication and it was just a tough deal.”
On Periscope, Keselowski explained the confusion.
“When I pitted, I came out on to the race track and I merged that I thought were the lapped cars,” Keselowski said. “But hidden in those lapped cars were … two lead-lap cars, who, by the rules, should get to go in front of us even if we pit and beat them off pit road. Lead lap cars that don’t pit always go in front of lead lap cars that do pit. But we couldn’t see them.
“Things happen so fast at Bristol, we didn’t know. As a team, we kind of miscommunicated. There are four of five checks and balances to make sure that doesn’t happen and pretty much every one of them fell through, starting with me not seeing those cars mixed in with the lapped cars and kind of carrying all the way throughout the team.
“The last check, which was NASCAR, we struggled with that one, too. I can’t really be too mad with them because we had at least two or three opportunities to get it right on our end. We didn’t get it right on our end.”
Since the top six cars did not pit, Keselowski should have restarted seventh as the first car off pit road.
“He was told repeatedly to slow down and make room for (Newman) to get in there (on the inside line). Repeatedly,” NASCAR spokesperson Tom Bryant told the media. “At least five times that I heard. We added a caution lap to try to get the lineup correct.”
When the field came to take the green with 14 laps left, Keselowski had Austin Dillon on his inside and teammate Joey Logano on his outside.
NASCAR ordered a pass through penalty to Keselowski for not lining up properly. Instead of a top-10 finish, he barely placed in the top 20.
Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe were perplexed after the race about the penalty.
“That’s just freaking absurd,” Keselowski said on the team’s radio after the race.
Said Wolfe: “I don’t know. An official comes and tells me after we are already under green that I’ve got a pass through. I don’t know. He said they said something over the spotters’ stand. I don’t know. I’ll have to clear that up. There was never a message down here for us to do anything different.”
Keselowski said: “10-4. I’ll meet you at the NASCAR trailer. They’re going to get my ear on this (expletive).”
As he walked to the NASCAR trailer, Keselowski told Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass:
“I think they should take the rule book and tear half the pages out of it and go race. There are too many damn rules. Too many lucky dogs, wave-arounds. There’s so much stuff going on, the drivers don’t know what’s going on and NASCAR don’t know what’s going on. There are too many rules.”
After the meeting, Keselowski struck a different tone on Twitter, saying NASCAR “made the right call.”