Photo: Logan T. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Keselowski Battles Tough at Texas, Banks Runner-Up Finish

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

FORT WORTH, Texas – So close, but so far.

Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway came down to a battle between two drivers holding the longest winless streaks in the NASCAR Cup Series in Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski.

Elliott may have won the battle, breaking his winless streak and taking the trip to victory lane, but Keselowski can walk away with his head held high after delivering a runner-up finish for the team that bears his name.

Still there is work to be done for RFK Racing and Keselowski to make that final leap from runner-up to winner.

Though he started the day way back in 22nd, Sunday appeared to be his best shot yet to win as a pit strategy call gave Keselowski fresher tires than the leaders, with the No. 6 Ford chewing up the distance between them and aiming to give them a run for their money down the stretch.

But he would not get the chance to try and run them down organically as a slew of cautions broke out late in the race, forcing the 2012 Cup Series champion to have to try and find a way past them on one of the many restarts to come.

Though he gave it a good try, the performance differential between Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and his Ford was just too much for him to overcome and he would have to settle for second-place instead.

In the final run to the finish, it appeared Keselowski was destined for a fourth-place finish behind Elliott, Ross Chastain and William Byron, but when Chastain and Byron got together on the final lap to bring out the caution and end the race, Keselowski was able to take evasive action and climb up to second.

Timing and scoring originally credited Keselowski with third behind Byron, but after review, he was moved up to second-place in the final rundown.

“A lot more speed,” Keselowski said laughingly of what more he needed to be the driver celebrating instead of Elliott.

“We had newer tires behind him there with about 20 to go. I ran ’em down and I mean, he just drove away from me down the straightaway. So, there’s nothing I can do about that.”

Then the mood turned more serious as Keselowski’s analytical mind turned to the work still to be done back at the shop to be able to truly match up with the powerhouse teams of the sport.

“Honestly, I’m more frustrated than anything because I feel like we have a great team and we don’t have the speed to go with it. We’re doing all we can do to overcome that.

“The driver in me is frustrated because I feel like these are races I’m good enough to win, and we don’t have the speed to do it. Only reason I am mad as hell is it’s my fault for not making the cars faster.

“Still proud of the team that we have, the pit stops, strategy, execution to put ourselves in position to get a finish we probably didn’t deserve but earned with some kind of never-give-up spirit.”

With another top-five finish on the season, Keselowski heads to arguably his best track on the schedule in Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday, where he will look to win for the seventh time at the track and break his winless streak there.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.