Race Weekend Central

Big Wreck Turns Brad Keselowski’s Terrific Run Tragic: ‘I Was Making the Pass for the Lead in the Daytona 500’

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Brad Keselowski was making a pass on the backstretch that would have put him in prime position to win the 2024 Daytona 500.

Seconds later, he was watching his car pushed back inside the garage, torn apart like his Daytona International Speedway dream inside the turn 3 grass.

“Unfortunately, we were making a pass for the lead with eight laps to go,” Keselowski said after leaving the infield care center. “And now I’m here talking to you guys [the media]. Not exactly where I want to be, no offense. That’s just part of how this deal goes sometimes.”

So it goes for one of NASCAR’s most successful superspeedway drivers, who is now 0-for-15 in the Great American Race. It was Keselowski who lost out when a push from the No. 48 of Alex Bowman went bad behind him. Bowman left William Byron squirrelly, muscling the No. 24 down into the No. 6 and turning Keselowski hard right in front of the entire pack on lap 192.

Keselowski had been trying to align with fellow Ford drivers Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney, trying to work their line up front and take control of the finish. Instead, all three were among those eliminated in a wreck that involved over a dozen cars.

On Thursday (Feb. 15) during the Bluegreen Vacations Duels, it was Blaney leaving the track the most angry of anyone after getting hooked in the most serious incident of the qualifying races. But this time around? It was Logano venting the most frustration over the type of move that has become prevalent during the Next Gen era: blocking down the stretch.

“The pushes are stupid,” Logano said. “Everybody just gets more and more intense. You know what’s going to happen; I mean, anyone can see it happening, you know what I mean. You just know it happens every year. With 10 to go, there’s going to be a caution. You just hope you’re not in it.”

See also
William Byron Starts 2024 Off Right With 1st Daytona 500 Win

In an earlier interview with FOX, Logano also referred to the “hellacious” blocks being thrown, in particular with Ross Chastain. “It’s a lot of fun,” he told FOX. “Until it sucks.”

Among those also taken out were Daniel Suarez, who had a top-five car most of the night, and defending Daytona 500 champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

“I thought I had it missed,” Stenhouse said. “I slowed down enough, and then I got to the bottom, and then it seemed all the cars were sliding down, and just got clipped. …

“Made a bad move there when I got to the lead, and unfortunately, that kind of killed us. I got hung in the middle and that put us in the middle of the pack there.”

That yo-yo effect of the lead draft also put Todd Gilliland in the middle of it, ending his night on a rough note after a career-best 16 laps led.

“It’s really disappointing,” Gilliland said. “I feel like we honestly could have had a shot with how fast my car was, but that’s how these races go sometimes. You just have to keep putting yourself in position and eventually it will all work out.”

Thursday Daytona Duel winner Tyler Reddick also was knocked out by the incident. A 15-minute, 27-second red flag was needed to clean up the mess before the race eventually resumed.

In a bit of irony, Byron — whose front bumper was the cause of the Big One — soldiered on to win the Daytona 500.

Follow @NASCARBowles

About the author

The author of Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 40+ staff members as its majority owner and Editor-in-Chief. Based outside Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild. He most recently consulted with SRX Racing, helping manage cutting-edge technology and graphics that appeared on their CBS broadcasts during 2021 and 2022.

You can find Tom’s writing here, at CBSSports.com and Athlonsports.com, where he’s been an editorial consultant for the annual racing magazine for 15 years.

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