Keselowski puts in his final ride for Hendrick … for now
As has been the case almost every time he got behind the wheel of a Hendrick Cup car, Keselowski's last ride in a Hendrick car was strong and he finished 12th.
The fact that Keselowski did so well in that car despite it being an R&D car that isn’t expected to do much underlies a point that I’m sure isn’t lost on the Hendrick team: They should be kicking themselves for letting Keselowski go, and will be sorry they lost him as they watch him possibly develop into a star at Penske.
In the back of his mind, though, I’m pretty sure Hendrick has a plan to get Keselowki back in the future. Brad will be forever indebted to Hendrick for all the help he’s given him in getting his career started, so if an offer comes several years down the road, don’t be surprised if he considers jumping back to his old team when his contract runs out.
No one knows how Keselowski’s time at the Penske team will pan out, and it’s possible he’ll spend the rest of his career at Penske, so all of what I’m about to write is pure speculation. But there are some scenarios that could lure back Keselowski in the future.
For example, let’s say Jeff Gordon announces he’s retiring in three years, just as Keselowski’s Penske contract is running out, and Hendrick offers Brad the #24 car. Pretty tempting offer, wouldn’t you say?
Or let’s say Mark Martin retires in a few years (I mean it has to happen eventually, right?). That #5 car is pretty good, too. And if Mark can win with it, so can Brad.
Then, of course, there’s the possibility Dale Jr. will just get so frustrated with racing that he’ll walk away from driving, and Keselowski can replace the guy who discovered him. Wouldn’t that be ironic?
That last one’s unlikely, but what’s serious is the possibility that Hendrick will try to lure back Keselowski as soon as that becomes a possibility.
He knows how much talent the Michigan native has, and is no doubt angry at himself that he couldn’t figure out a way to keep the young star in the Hendrick fold.
Logano comes of age
While I was watching the exciting conclusion to the Charlotte race Saturday night (the highlight of a mostly uneventful race), I had a bit of a flashback when I saw young Joey Logano battling in the top-5 against veteran Jeff Gordon for position.
I thought back to when Gordon was in Logano’s position in the mid-1990s and was starting to get up to speed and battle a legend like Dale Earnhardt on the track on a regular basis.
It was, in essence, a changing of the guard. Gordon picked up where Big E left off, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Logano goes on to a Gordon-esque career.
He’s only 19 years old, and can race with the best. I can only imagine what he’ll be able to do in a few years.
As is usually the case, the veteran (Gordon) won out in Saturday’s late-race battle, taking fourth while Logano settled for fifth. But it was definitely fun to watch them race, and think about what the future may hold.
Bad luck aplenty
Last week, Denny Hamlin took himself out of the race, and the Chase, with a “rookie mistake”. This week, his car broke, and he’s so far back in the Chase he might as well not be in it.
He wasn’t alone Saturday night in his misfortune. After four Chase top-5 finishes, Juan Pablo Montoya finished 35th and will need a miracle to contend for the title. And the seemingly cursed Dale Earnhardt Jr. had another bad day with more mechanical woes, finishing 38th.