Brad Keselowski has had a month he’d like to forget. Since returning from the two-week Olympic break, the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion has undeniably endured his worst stretch of races this season, including a pair of road course races at Watkins Glen and Indianapolis, where he made highlight reels for all the wrong reasons.
This past weekend at Michigan, Keselowski found himself in the headlines, and once again, it wasn’t for his finish but a violent crash involving Austin Dillon that many blamed him for causing. During an appearance on NASCAR Race Hub, Keselowski accepted responsibility for causing the accident and admitted that he reached out to Dillon but has yet to receive a response. It’s an ironic twist from another incident with the No. 2 car that happened earlier this year at Daytona.
Brad Keselowski contacts Austin Dillon, who violently crashes at end of Stage 2
After a pair of finishes of 24th or worst on road courses, Brad Keselowski was more than happy to return to an oval, especially Michigan, in his home state. Already locked in the playoffs with a win earlier this year at Talladega, Keselowski isn’t under any pressure to win and get in with the regular season coming to a close this weekend at Daytona.
Austin Dillon, on the other hand, is in a dramatically different situation. He’s locked in a battle for that final playoff spot with his teammate Tyler Reddick. Dillon appeared confident before Sunday’s race at Michigan during the prerace show and said he felt like he was driving a “rocket ship.”
When the green flag dropped, it certainly appeared that way as the No. 3 car started in the 26th position and rocketed its way through the field, finishing third in the first stage. Dillon remained near the front for much of the second stage and crossed the finish line just ahead of Keselowski to end the stage.
Then, disaster struck. Keselowski tapped Dillon’s right rear down on the apron. The No. 3 car turned sideways, darted up the track, and violently slammed into the outside wall, knocking it up on two wheels, and almost flipping.
Both drivers react to incident
Moments after the accident, an apologetic Keselowski addressed the incident over his radio.
“Aw man, I didn’t want to do that,” he said. “Aaaah. Why’d he come? Aaaah!”
“It’s all good, man, he knows,” Keselowski’s spotter TJ Majors responded.
“I didn’t want to wreck him. I was just following him down. Man, I’m sorry about that.”
After exiting the infield care center, NBC interviewed an understandably frustrated Dillon.
“I was just trying to get as many stage points as I could get right there and did a good job of side-drafting and came down to the apron,” he said. “I was starting to come up off the apron because it’s so rough down there. But I figured by that point, [Keselowski] would have given me a little room. I hate it.”
Dillon giving Keselowski silent treatment as he did earlier in year to teammate Joey Logano
On Tuesday, Brad Keselowski made an appearance on NASCAR Race Hub. Not surprisingly, outside of Ryan Blaney winning the race, the incident with Dillon was a main topic of discussion. The future Roush Fenway driver in 2022 described what happened.
“It was really an unfortunate situation,” Keselowski said. “We were running toward the end of the stage and there was a stage point on the line. I didn’t just want to give it up. We were racing really hard and I made contact and wrecked Austin. It was really horrifying. I’m glad he’s OK because this wreck was nasty. It makes me kind of sick to my stomach to see that. But I’m glad he was OK and that he’s in a position where he can still keep racing. A hit like this 5-10 years ago would have took you out for a couple of weeks. It’s a testament to how safe the cars have got.”
When show host Shannon Spake asked Keselowski if he had spoken with Dillon, he said they hadn’t but it wasn’t from a lack of trying.
“Yeah, I’ve sent him some messages but I’m pretty sure he probably doesn’t want to talk to me right now and rightfully so,” he acknowledged. “He had a really fast car and a great shot of winning and this took him out of contention. Clearly, I feel awful about it.”
The whole situation is an interesting role reversal of sorts. Following the season-opening race at Daytona, Keselowski iced out his teammate Joey Logano for days because he blamed Logano for starting a big final-lap crash that ended both drivers’ hopes of winning.
In another strange twist of irony, the Cup Series returns to Daytona for the final regular-season race this weekend. It was already going to be an interesting watch to see how the two Penske teammates interacted with each other on the track. Now you can add Dillon to the mix.