A promising start for Team Penske in Sunday's I Love New York 355 ended in disappointment at Watkins Glen International.
Both Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano qualified in the front half of the field for the season's second Monster Energy Series road race. But neither driver was anywhere near the top 10 at the end of the day.
For Keselowski, it was a particularly bitter pill to swallow. In a race that boiled down to a fuel-mileage game, the driver of the No. 2 Ford had to surrender the lead four laps from the finish for a splash of gas. Adding insult to injury, he was penalized by NASCAR on his trip down pit road.
"I guess I drove through too many pit stalls leaving," Keselowski said, who landed in 15th place in the final running order after leading 20 laps. "Its a bummer. We werent the fastest car, but we raced hard with a lot of heart. That put us in position (to win)."
Keselowski had rallied from mid-race contact with Kyle Busch that sent both drivers sliding off-course.
"I was going into the corner, and had the '47' (AJ Allmendinger) behind me and the '18' (Busch) next to me," Keselowski said. "My spotter called it, but we were already in the corner. It was too much for me to avoid, we got into each other and that hurt everybody. I dont know how he got there or what all transpired. I was already to the corner and unable to do anything by then."
And yes, Keselowski acknowledged that he and Busch do have a history at The Glen.
"This is a track where you fight for inches and we both are not willing to give in on it," Keselowski said of Sunday's skirmish on the back side of the 2.45-mile road course. "Nobody's happy when you have contact. It didnt help my day either, I can tell you that. I wasnt looking to get into him and I dont think he was looking to get into me. He probably had the dominant car. He didnt need any trouble. Neither did I.”
Busch fought back to finish seventh in the 37-car field but was not expected to engage Keselowski in a post-race chat.
"I dont think he's really the listening type," Keselowski said, "so that's doubtful."
As for Logano, his dimming playoffs hopes got no brighter with Sunday's 24th-place finish.
"At best, we were going to finish in the top 10, which does nothing for us," said Logano, who has just four regular-season races left to get a win that will qualify him for a post-season berth. The No. 22 team tried playing pit strategy to gain an advantage Sunday, but it didn't work in their favor.
"A top five or a win is the only thing that's going to help us so we went for it by pitting, putting on four tires, hoping to get a caution and maybe cycle ahead of cars with the new tires," Logano said. "Unfortunately, it went green all the way and we didnt get a good finish. We need to win (one of) the next few races."
The last 36 laps of Sunday's race were caution-free.
Logano's next opportunity for that elusive win comes next weekend at Michigan International Speedway, where he finished third in the year's first visit there in June.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Watkins Glen International
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