Racing in light rain proves costly for Team Penske teammates
After a lengthy delay for rain, the Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes and Stand Up To Cancer went green at 2:30 p.m. ET, but did not go well for Team Penske's Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.
Racing inside the top five, Keselowski was driving to the outside of the lapped car of Alex Kennedy off Turn 4 when the rear end of the No. 2 Ford came around. Keselowski was unable to keep the car under him as Logano had nowhere to go but into the back of his teammate.
The two Penske cars suffered significant damage and slid down the track to bring out the first caution of the day. As the race was slowed for the caution, rain returned to the speedway and brought out the red flag.
"Man, it's just so early in the race, I hate to see that," Logano said as his crew scrambled to cover the damaged car from the rain. "Brad got loose in front of me. You see it coming, you're checking as much as you can and next thing you know we're both going into the inside wall. It's just such a bummer for both Penske cars so early in this race."
Both Logano and Keselowski started inside the top 10 for Sunday's race and had quickly worked their way into the top five as Stewart-Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick led the way.
Despite the lengthy pre-race rain delay, Logano said he thought the track conditions were fine once the green flag dropped on the race and were not a factor in the incident.
"The track was good," he said. "I thought we were having some good racing. The 4 (Harvick) was able to drive up to the front there and there was some racing, the top was starting to come in slowly but surely. He just got loose. You could tell his car was loose. You could tell from the beginning that his car was free. He just got a little too much, I guess."
Keselowski wasn't so sure about whether or not the track conditions played a role in the wreck.
"It's been raining since we started the race. It was just a really light sprinkle and the track was just barely dry. I don't know. The rain was coming in and out and the car just took off on me," Keselowski said. "I would like to blame the rain, but I honestly don't know. Usually when a car gets that far sideways and it's kind of out of nowhere there's a reason behind it.
"I just really hate that I tore up my teammate in the process. That's really a bummer. I felt like I had a pretty normal line and it just flew crazy sideways on me. It's a bummer for everybody at Team Penske to tear up both cars that way. I hate racing in the rain, but I understand the position that NASCAR is in. They want to get the race going and this is one of those days where it's gonna just keep raining off and on and we're trying to get as many laps in at a time as we can to give the fans the best race possible, but we're racing in the rain to do it and that's what happens."
Logano said believed Keselowski's damage was not that bad, and his No. 22 "got the worst end" of the incident.
Despite both drivers having a win and an all-but-assured spot in the 16-driver Chase field, Logano said that does not make Sunday's wreck any better.
"It doesn't help anything, I want to win a race," he said.