Keselowski Scores First Truck Win, Fails Post-Race Inspection
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on August 21, 2014 | 11:29 A.M. EST
Brad Keselowski drove to victory Thursday morning in the rain-delayed UNOH 200 Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
BRISTOL, Tenn. - Brad Keselowski walked into the media center, clutching the trophy he had pursued for a decade in a quest that had sent him on heart-breaking lows.
He has tried to win a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race since 2004. Along the way, Keselowski lost his ride with his family’s team in 2006 when it went bankrupt after sponsorship fizzled. Even as he emerged as one of the sport’s best drivers, winning the 2012 Sprint Cup championship, he couldn’t score a Truck win. Five times he finished second.
Until Thursday morning.
Keselowski finally joined his father, Bob, as a Truck series winner - an accomplishment not shared by any other father-son duo in series history. Bob Keselowski celebrated his son’s feat by texting him “good deal.”
NASCAR announced that Keselowski's Truck and that of third-place finisher Ron Hornaday Jr., and eighth-place finisher Cole Custer were cited for having their rear spoiler too high. Any penalties will be announced next week.
Keselowski’s father won in the Truck series in 1997 at Richmond. Keselowski, who was 13 years old at the time, had followed the family throughout that summer to tracks but wasn’t in Victory Lane with his dad that night because school started that week.
“I was not very nice to my teachers that next day because I was mad in school for having to be there and missing out (on the win),’’ Brad Keselowski said.
He admits he used to watch that race repeatedly, enjoying his father’s win but wishing he could have been there.
“The success and the failure at this level, it hurts more,’’ Keselowski said. “It affects you more personally than it does at the Cup level. You wouldn’t think it would with the fame, the money and the notoriety and the Cup series being so much higher. When you add the element of being an owner and having control, it hits you more personal because there are no excuses.
“For me, it’s much deeper than that, having the family ties to this sport. Having my mom and dad being a part of this series. I can remember to this day, my dad was racing in ARCA in 1994, I remember him coming back, saying ‘I’m done with that. I’m going to run in this thing called the Truck series.’ I was 10 years old and had no idea what he was talking about.
“I finally got to watch him on TV on a regular basis, which was always great for me personally. He was on the cusp of really breaking through when he got hurt as a driver. I know that was painful for him and somewhat painful for me as a kid to see my dad go through that. Then as owner, see that cycle to where we had successful team and lost sponsorships in the early 2000s and never really recovered. As kind of a last-ditch effort, I got my opportunity to drive ... as the team was essentially about to go under. That’s been so much of the journey.’’
So, it is with all of that Keselowski carried with him when he climbed into his Ford for Thursday’s rain-delayed UNOH 200. The race marked the 25th time Keselowski and Kyle Busch had raced against each other in this series. Busch had won 12 of the previous 24 encounters and finished ahead of Keselowski 21 times.
They were clearly the best, but Busch’s hopes of winning ended when a right rear went flat and he slapped the wall with less than 25 laps to go.
Then, it was up to Busch’s teammate, Darrell Wallace Jr., to challenge Keselowski. Lapped traffic closed the gap and gave Wallace a chance with three laps left.
“I would have had to wreck him to get by,’’ Wallace said.
He didn’t do it because he said “I respect (Keselowski).’’
Wallace admits had he wrecked Keselowski, “I might have got some cheers, but I think I would have gotten more boos if I had gone in there and wrecked him. I race everybody with respect, at least I try to.’’
Wallace finished second with Ron Hornaday Jr. third, followed by Matt Crafton and points leader Johnny Sauter.
With that, Keselowski had his coveted Truck win.
After he exited the media center, Keselowski walked toward his Truck team parked on pit road near Turn 1.
He carried the trophy with him.
After all he had been through, he wasn’t letting go of this trophy.