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Keselowski apologises to Ragan for post-race comments

8 May 2013

Brad Keselowski has been forced to retract his criticism of Sunday's race-winner at Talladega, after he tweeted comments immediately after the race accusing David Ragan of jumping lanes illegally prior to the final restart in order to give him a race-winning advantage in track position.

"#34 swapped lanes before restart," Keselowski had posted. "Mad as hell about that finish. We were suppose to line up 10th when the #34 switched lanes entering 3 before green. That lane won.

"I'm happy as hell a small team won. Doesn't change the fact that the restart was blatantly wrong," the Penske Racing driver added. "I should be happy when [I] think someone cheats the game and costs you a win?!?!"

But analysis of video and audio evidence later confirmed that Ragan positioned himself exactly where he was told to for the restart by NASCAR. The confusion arose because the call from NASCAR was made much later than normal because of the circumstances involved with fading light and drizzle that were putting the end of the race in jeopardy.

In a post on his website, Keselowski apologised to Ragan while also insisting that NASCAR had got the handling of that final call wrong - and potentially cost him the race.

"I owe David Ragan and his fans an apology," Keselowski wrote. "I placed blame on David Ragan for the restart lineup confusion when it wasn't his fault.

"Basically what happened is that, when the yellow came out at lap 184, the lineup was supposed to be Scott Speed, myself and David," Keselowski explained. "We were actually lined up David, Scott and me because we were unsure what the lineup was. NASCAR did not change this before opening pit road, so by procedure we were lined up in the proper positions. NASCAR made a last-minute lineup change that we missed as we were getting ready to go back to green.

"David attempted to make it right by letting me go at the start/finish line with one to go. I thought he was attempting to change the pylon because the order is supposed to be set before pit road opens," he continued. "With the multicar wreck, the rain and the impending darkness, it is easy to see how NASCAR could have made that mistake.

"It was a very confusing time for all of us," Keselowski added. "I want to send a sincere congratulations out to David Ragan and everyone at Front Row Motorsports. It was a very cool win for our sport."

Keselowski also called Ragan personally to explain his comments, apologise and make peace, Ragan revealed in a Front Row Motorsports team statement issued on Tuesday.

"Brad gave me a call earlier, and I appreciated that," Ragan was quoted as saying. "Everything's cool between us. I was disappointed right after the race when I saw the comments he'd made, but it shows maturity on his part to re-evaluate the situation and make an apology. Now that he's got all the information, I'm glad we both see things the same way.

"Good to hear from [Brad] today," he added on Twitter. "He didn't have to correct the wrong, but he did and that was pretty cool."

No penalty for Newman

Ryan Newman won't be penalised for post-race comments he made at Talledega after being wrecked during a late restart that saw the Kurt Busch's car spin and land on the hood of Newman's #39.

Newman subsequently made heated comments criticising NASCAR for their attempt to restart the race at all in the conditions.

"They can build safer racecars, they can build safer walls, but they can't get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the racetrack, and that's pretty disappointing," he had fumed. "I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y'all can figure out who 'they' is. That's no way to end a race. Our car was much better than that. That's just poor judgement in restarting the race, poor judgement. I mean, you got what you wanted, but poor judgement and running in the dark and running in the rain."

Despite being deeply critical of NASCAR, Newman won't face any fines for his comments. Brad Keselowski has also escaped sanctions this year for a couple of occasions where he's been critical of NASCAR rulings; however, Denny Hamlin was handed a $25,000 fine earlier in the season for suggesting that the new Generation-6 cars weren't currently much of an improvement over the old Car of Tomorrow model.

Ambrose and Almirola test at Somona

Richard Petty Motorsports' Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola were testing the new Generation-6 cars at Sonoma Raceway on Tuesday, ahead of the first NASCAR Sprint Cup road race of the 2013 season scheduled there for June 23.

They ran about 100 laps on Tuesday with a break for an informal media and fan session that included unveiling the track's new 'Sears Point Grill' concession concept, reports Presssnoop.com's Lynne Huntting from California.

The team is using the second of four test opportunities allowed them under series rules to get a head start on the road course, with Ambrose pointing out that not many Cup teams have yet done a road course test with the new Cup car since NASCAR changed the rules on suspensions, which affects the weight and downforce.

“It's not a night and day difference, there are subtle differences," he said, revealing that the team had started out using last year's setups and found them interchangeable to some degree. "It looks like the cars and tyres slide around more, so I think you're going to see the normal Sonoma action, just a little faster.

"The tyres will make a difference on the long runs, they might lose lap time more aggressively than last year," he added, saying that while they were "keeping in mind the fuel/pit strategies" they weren't yet focussing on fuel mileage for next month's race. "The fuel map the drivers run in their car depends on variables, he said, citing weather, grid and track position.

Ambrose, an experienced racer on road courses thanks to his V8 sportscar experience in his native Australia, is also looking forward to the new group-based qualifying process that NASCAR in introducing to the Cup series in 2013 bringing it into line with the format used in Nationwide competition.

"We're going to be faster in qualifying with the new car, no doubt," he said.

Almirola on the other hand had somewhat more modest expectations and said that he just needed to learn road courses for the two on the Cup schedule – Sonoma and Watkins Glen. "I came here with the mind set not to win, but to run tenth," he said.

As well as the track time and the media opportunity, the two drivers also got a chance to sample some special edition wares from Sonoma Raceway's new roadside burger stand-style concession point, with Almirola giving two thumbs up for his bacon burger but Ambrose less thrilled with a surprise ingredient in the 'Tasmanian Special.'

"They put bloody Vegemite on it!" he said. "I wouldn't suggest you sell that. It's pretty rough."

Tuesday's test was in better-than-expected conditions with temperatures in the high sixties. Although partly cloudy, the forecast showers stayed away. RPM will be hoping for more of the same on Wednesday for the second and final day of the Sonoma test session.

Reporting from Sonoma by Lynne Huntting, Presssnoop.com


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