NASCAR Insider Unearths Brad Keselowski’s Folly That Cost Him Victory

Published 10/02/2023, 4:07 PM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

In the whirlwind of chaos that is Talladega, a new star emerged amidst the thundering engines. This time, it was rookie sensation Carson Hocevar making his superspeedway debut in a Cup car, behind the wheel of the #42 for Legacy Motorclub. Known for his prowess in the Truck Series with Niece Motorsports, Hoecevar was out to prove himself at the highest level.

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In just his fourth Cup Series race, the young gun showcased his skills by staying in contention with the experienced pack after securing a free pass at the end of Stage 2. As the laps ticked away, Hoecevar found himself leading the top lane—a daunting task for a rookie. However, fate had other plans. Enter seasoned veteran, Brad Keselowski.

A Stage 2 triumph by Brad Keselowski turns into Talladega turmoil

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Stage 2 had been a triumph for Brad Keselowski, securing a 15-point haul and positioning himself for a solid finish at the 2.66-mile track. As lap 163 unfolded, misfortune loomed on the horizon. Keselowski, determined and pushing Hocevar’s Chevy through the treacherous tri-oval bend, misjudged the distance and clipped Hocevar’s left-rear quarter panel.

Chaos ensued as Hocevar careened into the midst of the pack, toppling Ty Gibbs and Austin Dillon into a wild spin toward the unforgiving barrier. Dillon’s path intersected with Keselowski’s, unleashing a dance of metal and speed. Keselowski’s Ford briefly went airborne, ultimately returning him to the track surface.

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The multi-car collision left five drivers sidelined and one man at the center of controversy: the 2012 Cup Series champion. NASCAR reporters Jeff Gluck and Jordan Bianchi wasted no time in dissecting the dramatic crash, underlining Keselowski‘s costly mistake. Bianchi didn’t hold back, expressing his concerns about Keselowski’s aggressive racing tactics, especially in this instance.

He remarked, “I mean, I don’t feel qualified to criticize Brad Keselowski for how he races on a superspeedway. But in that instance, when you have a really fast race car and you kind of look at where you’re at, I don’t know if pushing a guy who’s got, a handful of starts in these cars, and I believe this is his first on a superspeedway.

“I probably would have just picked my spot a little bit better there and just said, ‘You know what, this isn’t the moment. We’ve got plenty of time. We don’t need to panic.’

He further highlighted the importance of patience when driving a winning race car. He emphasized that patience could have prevented the chaos and spared the inexperienced driver in the pack from the turmoil.

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“It just seems like patience would have been a better exercise there when you’ve got a winning race car, you know you’re fast. Like, don’t put yourself in a position where you’re going to put a guy who’s got very little experience, and you’re asking him to kind of hang on to it in a pack like that coming through the tri-oval. That’s a big ask, man.”

As the dust settled on the controversial collision, Keselowski found himself in the hot seat, defending his actions and downplaying the severity of the incident. He shifted the blame onto Legacy Motor Club’s young talent, Carson Hocevar.

In the aftermath: Keselowski’s defense and blame game

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After his race day ended prematurely, Brad Keselowski interacted with the media. He argued, “I didn’t hit that hard, so I’m fine. I would’ve been OK, but the toe link was broke, so I wasn’t able to keep moving.” He continued, “Just unfortunate. We got shuffled to the outside line here. The #42 pulled up in front of me. I’m like, ‘Alright, let’s go. We’re gonna go back up to the front.’ And I just pushed him, and he kind of instantly spun out. I don’t think he did anything wrong. I just think his car probably wasn’t driving that good.”

Expressing his frustration, the RFK Racing co-owner added, “It’s frustrating, you know? We were able to win the second stage, and we were in good position there for a long time and just kind of unraveled on us. That’s how it goes here sometimes.”

When questioned about whether he considered Hocevar’s inexperience before pushing, Keselowski responded, “Only one way to learn. Get out there and go. This is just part of this racing. You push, and I gave him a pretty light push. I don’t really think he did anything wrong. I just don’t think his car was handling well enough.”

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Read more: “He’s Making Brad [Keselowski] His B*Tch”- Big-Mouthed Insider Rubs Salt in 2012 Cup Champ’s Wounds

Keselowski entered Talladega in seventh place, eight points above the cutline, and left two points above the line, eighth in the standings, banking on a good run at the ROVAL next weekend to make it into the next round.

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Written by:

Rashi Shetty

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Rashi Shetty is a NASCAR author at EssentiallySports. Her passion for the sport extends beyond the thrill of on-track racing, as she finds the behind-the-scenes aspects of car development and sportsmanship equally captivating. Her favorite motorsports moment of 2023 is the NASCAR Garage 56 entry at Le Mans.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal

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