Brad Keseloski and Martin Truex Jr. saw their championship hopes dashed during Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Truex Jr. was running in the top-10 for the first 40 laps. However, his engine expired shortly after green-flag pit-stops cycled through. The expiration of the engine was a surprise for Truex Jr.
“Just developed a vibration and started to lose a little bit of power. Originally I thought it could have been a tire because it was shaking worse and worse and worse until it was time to pit. I slowed down to hit pit road and felt the vibration still there and knew it was the engine,” said Truex.
After dominating the first round of the Chase, the second round started off on the wrong foot at Charlotte. Those struggles continued to struggle throughout the “Round of 12”. Truex described this round of the chase as a “rollercoaster”. He wishes he would have had better runs at Charlotte and Kansas in an effort to have a “free pass” this weekend at Talladega.
Despite his struggles in the second round, Truex is still confident and proud in his team. “They’ve worked so hard this year to put us in the position to battle for a championship and we felt like we could do it. This year and this sport is tough and we didn’t perform at Kansas and Charlotte the way we were capable and we had some issues there and that put us in the hole and if we could have went there and done better and maybe got a win then we wouldn’t be talking about this right now. We didn’t get the job done, but we’ve got a great team and we’ve got four more races to go out there and try to get a win and I know we can win all four of them and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
For Keselowski, his engine expired as he was running, but the problem could have been avoided. While leading the race, Keselowski had gained a piece of debris on his grille.
While leading the race, Paul Wolfe, crew chief, and Joey Mier, spotter, were arguing about what Keselowski should do to get the debris off. They finally reached a point of consensus to let Ryan Blaney get in front of Keselowski to get the debris off the grille. However, shortly after the move was made, the engine expired off the backstretch bringing out the caution.
“Something let go. I’m not sure exactly what, but it’s unfortunate. We had a really fast Miller Lite Ford and that kind of ended our day. It was a lot of fun to be leading at Talladega. I really like this track. It’s been good to us and there are a lot of great fans here today. We were doing the best we could to make a show of it and have some fun and lead some laps and just happy and proud to have a fast car,” said Keselowski.
Due to the engine issues, Keselowski and Truex Jr. were eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The plan for both drivers is to win the remaining four races of the season.