Keselowski, who dropped as far back as 28th early in the race, benefited from 18 cautions throughout the day to constantly improve the ill-handling No. 2, putting him in place to contend for a top-10, possibly top-five finish at the tricky half-mile.
Keselowski restarted on the outside of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and just behind Denny Hamlin. Hamlin spun the tires, bunching up the mangled field heading into turn one. Hamlin dive-bombed Earnhardt Jr., squeezing the No. 88 onto the infamous Martinsville curbs, just as Keselowski jumped to the outside of Hamlin, making it three-wide.
The contact between the three drivers sent Keselowski spinning through turn two, where he sat facing the wall as the field drove past. NASCAR did not throw the caution, resulting in a disappointing 17th place finish.
“That’s racing on these short tracks,” said Keselowski following the race. “We ended up on the outside for the last few restarts and that wasn’t the place to be. That’s just this style of racing. You can’t control your own fate.”
Keselowski’s 17th place finish bumps him to fourth in the points, 27 behind points leader Carl Edwards.
“Well, obviously it’s tough now. Carl (Edwards) has got such a lead on everybody, but you know, we might have to just roll the dice a little more,” said Keselowski’s crew chief Paul Wolfe.