NASCAR

Brian Keselowski takes wreck in stride

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Rea White

Rea White has been covering NASCAR full time since 1998. She has won awards from press agencies in Alabama and North Carolina and formerly served as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Follow her on Twitter.

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DAYTONA BEACH, FLA.

Brian Keselowski’s dream was coming true.

He never even had been to the Daytona 500, much less raced in it. Yet here he was Sunday, making a start in the 53rd running of the season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway.

But things went sour quickly when Keselowski was caught up in a crash on Lap 29.

He was running near the back of the field and went high to swing around the first group of cars piling together in the center of the track. But just as he almost had it clear, a final car shot up across the track and collected Keselowski’s Dodge.

And so ended the Cinderella story of Speedweeks.

“I missed it, I missed it, I missed it,” Keselowski, 29, said of the initial pile-up. “Yes. I got back to the gas and, ah, here comes this other one.”

Despite finishing 43rd, Keselowski wasn’t frustrated or angry about the incident; he just attributed it to racing luck.

“Things happen,” he said. “I’m not sure what happened up there in the wreck. It looked like possibly (David Reutimann) and (Michael Waltrip) were trying to help each other, somebody was in front of the (No.) 00 (of Reutimann), he probably had to check up a little bit and (Waltrip) didn’t see that and it just happens.

CINDERELLA STORY

How unlikely a Daytona 500 qualifier was Brian Keselowski? Lee Spencer has his story.

“I seen it getting ready to start and I started backing off, I’m like, ‘OK, where’s this going?’ . . . I thought I had it the first time, then I’m like, ‘Oh, no.’ I missed it and all the sudden there’s a hole and you get back on the gas and it closed up real fast. It’s part of it.”

Where he goes from here is to be seen.

Keselowski came to Daytona backed by a team composed mainly of himself and his dad, Bob Keselowski. Their K-Automotive Motorsports group brought older cars and one set of tires to the track — and then, with a push from younger brother Brad in the Gatorade Duel, made the Daytona 500 field.

Brian Keselowski picked up sponsorship from Discount Tires for this race, and Ray Evernham offered to pay his tire bill.

Keselowski was merely trying to learn and race as part of a planned rookie campaign. Now, he turns his sights to trying to make it to Phoenix International Raceway for the season's second race after a $273,663 payday Sunday.

“There wasn’t a whole lot on this car that is savable right now, but I wasn’t worried too much about this one,” Keselowski said. “We need to get home and work on the Phoenix car. We’ll play it by ear, see how it goes."

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