By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Over the years, Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the site of several hard crashes and in Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka 400 at The Brickyard, Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones became the latest to feel the wrath of the demanding 2.5-mile layout.
As Stage 1 was coming to a close, drivers throughout the field were jockeying for position when Jones attempted to pass Keselowski into Turn 2, but the two drivers didn’t have enough margin between them, causing Jones to drift up the track into Keselowski and from there the crash was on.
Following the contact, Jones spun around backwards into the outside wall, while Keselowski got the worst end of it, spinning back across the track and making heavy contact into the tire barrier with the passenger side of his car.
The impact launched Keselowski’s Ford up onto its side, where it came to a rest mangled in the tires. Though the impact was vicious, the Team Penske driver and defending Indianapolis winner was able to scramble out of his car and walk to the ambulance under his own power.
After getting checked out at the Infield Care Center, Jones took responsibility for the incident.
“I just got loose and made a mistake,” Jones said. “I didn’t think Brad (Keselowski) would be so tight on me and I just lost it. It’s my fault. I feel bad for the 2 (Keselowski) and I feel bad for our team as well. It’s a shame, we had a good Stanley Camry and I just hate seeing it come down like that. I just wasn’t anticipating enough and I drove in too hard for it.
“It’s all good. We’ll move on. Wish we would have had a good day. Our car was really strong and we had a shot to probably win today. Just didn’t work out.”
As for Keselowski, he was also checked and released from the care center, but didn’t mince words about the safety setup at the section of the track where the infield road course meets the oval, leading to a bad angle with the wall.
“We had new tires and we were racing some cars that didn’t have new tires and wanted to make the pass there and got real tight to the 48 and lost the nose in the air,” Keselowski said. “I was trying to leave room and probably came down on Erik (Jones) more than I thought I did and he got real loose. No air on my car. I hit the wall there.
“There is this spot on the wall with just an atrocious angle. I don’t know what that spot is for but it does not need to be there, but we found it. That is how racing goes. We find the things. This track really was part of the safety revolution about 15-20 years ago and I think it is time for another.”
Though their days came to an early end, both Keselowski and Jones will move onto next week at Las Vegas as one of the 16 drivers to make up the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff field.