Brad Keselowski's iPhone wasn't far away when he pulled his No. 2 to the Talladega Superspeedway garage as darkness set in Sunday night. It was just a matter of minutes from when David Ragan surprisingly took the checkered flag before Keselowski was doing what he does best: Twitter.
"Me thinks if someone looked at what happened on that restart they might feel differently about that finish," Keselowski first wrote on his @Keselowski account, taking the first ankle kick at NASCAR's most feelgood story of the season.
Keselowski fan @BraKez2 quickly asked what the issue was, with Keselowski answering the question of "what was the deal on that restart? you were P10?" by suggesting Regan swapped lanes before the restart.
The tweets kept firing off quickly as Keselowski was leaving the track, each seeming a bit more hollow and unnecessary than the rest. They also tried to clarify his issue with NASCAR scoring and, apparently, Ragan's late race move that "cheats the game."
"I'm happy as hell a small team won," Keselowski tweeted. "Doesn't change the fact that the restart was blatantly wrong."
Keselowski's beef with the restart seems to come with how the field was lined up for the race's final restart after the harrowing late-race crash that saw Kurt Busch flip on to Ryan Newman's windshield among the 12-car incident. A review of that incident seemed to show Keselowski emerging as the 10th-place car through the crash following Ragan in eighth and Scott Speed in ninth.
Sure enough, that order stuck as the field circled under caution as the mess was cleaned up. Sometimes NASCAR, when reverting to scoring loops when the yellow flag waves, can make adjustments. They didn't appear to make any before the field was formed for that final restart Sunday.
That's the moment, though, that seemed to have Keselowski riled up. Race protocol has drivers form the two-by-two rows for the coming restart as they get the one lap to green signal on the frontstretch. A wide camera angle showed some discrepancy as Keselowski, Ragan and Speed tried to get in line. Ultimately, Keselowski passed Ragan and then tried to line up behind Speed.
Ragan, though, was told by his team to stay high and start in the top groove. The controversy lasted until the backstretch where Keselowski was told by NASCAR to move low and effectively start ninth. When the field took the green flag one-half lap later, Speed was in the high line in eighth, Keselowski was in the low line in ninth and Ragan was behind Speed up high in 10th.
That was different than the original scoring that had Ragan eighth, Speed ninth and Keselowski 10th.
Keselowski was peeved afterward - he finished 15th - that he didn't start in the high line that had been faster much of the day. His anger focused on Ragan.
"We were suppose to line up 10th when the 34 switched lanes entering 3 before green," Keselowski tweeted. "That lane won."
Ultimately, it seems like Keselowski's anger was misguided at Ragan and instead should've been reserved for where Speed lined up. Ragan, after all, appeared to actually start two spots worse than he should have. For its part, NASCAR issued a statement that absolved blame of Ragan but didn't mention Speed.
"The No. 2 car was not in the proper lane for the final restart," the sanctioning body said in the statement. "So NASCAR had the No. 2 car move into the proper lane - the No. 34 car was lined up properly all along.''
All told, Keselowski issued 14 tweets post-race about the scoring disagreement before signing off in a haste saying that "some people just can't handle facts." It was a diatribe that had some merit, but also seemed to push a little too far. As far as we know, Keselowski never approached NASCAR about the issue after the race as is often done.
He also issued an edict that he'd try to exploit NASCAR's restart order in the future to gain advantage - a public move that's not exactly becoming of a sport's champion.
Keselowski's frustration is fully understandable after a trying race that took almost seven hours to fully complete with Sunday's rain delay. His team is also on the brink of losing substantial points, money and team members if it loses a final appeal Tuesday in its case over suspension parts found by NASCAR at Texas Motor Speedway last month.
But understandable is a lot different than acceptable, and Sunday night Keselowski's public ranting seemed to be both misguided and not completely necessary. Sour grapes is a overused cliché for times like this, but it sure seemed like Keselowski found a bunch in Talladega.
HOT: There's nothing about Sunday's finish that wasn't incredible for David Ragan, David Gilliland and Front Row Motorsports. As I wrote earlier, it's the best feel-good story of 2013 so far, and it will probably be the best of the season. Seeing owner Bob Jenkins' reaction on pit road immediately after the checkered flag was simply awesome.
For his part, Ragan had a fast car most of the day. He totaled a race-high 13 fastest laps in Sunday's race.
NOT: I'm a buzz-kill, for sure, but I'm plain tired of the multi-car wrecks and inability for skill and handling to separate drivers in this day and age of NASCAR restrictor plate racing. Ryan Newman was spot on in his assessment.
HOT: Matt Kenseth was about the only car who looked at times like he could potentially keep the field at bay. In fact, he averaged an astounding running position of 2.464. It makes you wonder: will that No. 20 team only get better as they gel over the course of the season? Look out.
NOT: FOX's treatment of the laps leading to the race's red flag was downright despicable. There was a solid chance that rain was going to wash out the rest of the day, and FOX used the opportunity to routinely go to full-screen commercial break as the intensity ratcheted up. Had track drying efforts not worked, fans at home would've ultimately missed Carl Edwards making a last lap pass for the lead.
That's not smart for anyone trying to revive interest in the sport. In fact, it's downright stupid.
HOT: Once again, NASCAR's hype machine completely oversold something. This time it was the new Air Titan track drying device with claims it could dry tracks like Talladega in around 30 minutes. That's obviously not the case at the moment - it only travels at 4 mph - but you've got to think it made a world of difference in getting the track dry on a cool, damp day at Talladega.
At the least, NASCAR deserves credit for trying. At the most, the the thing has already been a roaring success - even if it doesn't meet the promo hype.
NEUTRAL: Jeff Gordon was caught in both multi-car accidents Sunday, tore up the nose twice, got lapped, repeatedly lost the draft and still finished 11th.
HOT: Give a call to the unexpectedly good finishes by Michael Waltrip (4th), Regan Smith (6th), Scott Speed (9th), David Stremme (12th), Dave Blaney (16th) and Josh Wise (19th).
The Stenica Showdown Cup!
We're keeping track each week of how NASCAR's most important (only?) competitive couple does against one another. This is competition, with the highest-finishing Sprint Cup result between Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. each week earning a point. Other points may be earned for various and completely inane reasons along the way (suggestions accepted), and the game ends if the couple uncouples. We should probably start thinking about an appropriate trophy.
1st - Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 10 points (13th at Talladega) 2nd - Danica Patrick., 5 points (33rd at Talladega)
Stenhouse was stronger Sunday, but both he and Patrick looked ready to grab a superspeedway top-10. Alas, Stenhouse couldn't make hay on the final restart and Patrick was sucked into the big late crash. Just point for Stenhouse this week.
Next up: Darlington! Join us Saturday night on the Yahoo! Sports NASCAR Live Chat at 7:30 p.m. ET.
- Motor Racing
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- Brad Keselowski
- David Ragan
- Scott Speed