Last weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway was shaping up to be a big day for Brad Keselowski Racing.
Team owner Brad Keselowski’s foundation was the presenting sponsor of the race, his two team trucks driven by Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney swept the front row in qualifying, there were a host of guests in attendance, and all of it was taking place at Michigan native Keselowski’s home track.
However, once the race got underway, both trucks struggled mightily. Falling back through the pack, the team trucks both hit pit road on separate laps with issues in the nose section of the truck.
As Keselowski joined the FOX Sports 1 broadcast team in the booth, he watched as both trucks had the lower section of the nose separate from their truck, as the crew members did their best to make repairs. At the end of the day, Logano would finish 18th, while Blaney finished a disappointing 21st.
Wednesday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Blaney indicated the issue was the result of a directive by NASCAR before qualifying to make a change to the nose section of the car; a directive that NASCAR would eventually apologize to BK Racing for making, according to Blaney and crew chief Doug Randolph.
"It’s taken care of," Blaney said of the issue. "It was a miscommunication on NASCAR’s and our team’s part before qualifying. It wasn’t anything we did different to our trucks. … Then they came up to us after the race and said, ‘Sorry, that was our fault. You didn’t have to adjust your noses.’ So, it was nothing that we did. It was just a miscommunication."
According to Randolph, crew chief on the BKR No. 19 Ford, that miscommunication was a mistake by a NASCAR official prior to qualifying.
"It’s a strange situation," Randolph told FOXSports.com. "We were asked going through tech — not original tech, but tech right before qualifying — to cut the nose guard on the front of our trucks, just our two trucks. Have never had to do that before. Never really had an issue with the nose before. They asked us to do that.
"At the end of the day, the inspector was just wrong," Randolph added. "She thought it was a character line instead of a seam that was already there, where the two pieces of nose come together."
Brad Keselowski Racing had high hopes for last week’s race at Michigan International Speedway until an issue with the nose on both trucks ruined the team’s chance at victory.
Randolph explained that by cutting the nose section of both trucks, air was allowed to get in the gap and — at the high-speed, high-downforce track — hat hurt the handling of the trucks and caused the nose sections to come apart during the race.
After the incident, Randolph said the team was able determine things they can do in the future that will prevent it from happening again, regardless of whether NASCAR calls on the team to make adjustments.
"I definitely think that what they made us do going through tech exposed that weakness," he said. "I think looking back at it, (NASCAR) understands that an official made an error there. There’s different character lines for different manufacturers, and I think she just got confused at what she was looking at."
With so much emphasis and momentum on the weekend, Randolph said, "words can’t describe the frustration we had as a company."
For team owner Brad Keselowski, the best thing his organization can do is learn from the experience and move forward, not dwell on what took place.
"It’s unfortunate, but you can’t race last week," Keselowski told FOXSports.com prior to Wednesday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol. "It’s done, it’s over, we have to move forward."
Watching everything unfold from the television booth, Keselowski said the most difficult part was not knowing the cause of the issue.
"There were no facts," he said. "Obviously, that was not what we wanted to see happen. I was disappointed. But at the end of the day, it just looked like it was just an honest mistake."
Keselowski said NASCAR Camping World Truck Series director Chad Little came up to the team after the Michigan race to apologize to the team, something Keselowski called "a nice gesture."
"With the officiating process, and NASCAR cutting down the number of officials at the track, the expertise from series to series and knowing the rules is not as strong as it used to be," he said. "In this particular situation, you have to challenge the officials, and we didn’t. So, that was our fault."
NASCAR officials described the incident as a miscommunication between officials and the team, and said the incident was discussed with the team after the race.