In a final Monster Energy Series practice session that featured lap speeds approaching 206 mph, Brad Keselowski sent a message to the rest of the field.
Roughly 28 minutes into Happy Hour on Thursday, Keselowski run up on the bumper of Byron’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, tapped the car twice and sent Byron spinning onto the apron. The incident damaged the nose of Keselowski’s No. 2 Team Penske Ford and the rear of Byron’s Chevy, but Keselowski was unapologetic.
“I had a big run and (he) put me in a position where I had to lift, and I keep telling these guys I’m not lifting,” said Keselowski, who previously has taken issue with other drivers block at superspeedways. “I hate it for his team that they have to work on their car, and so does ours, but just trying to send a message that I’m not lifting.”
“I’m tired of getting wrecked at plate tracks. I’ve been wrecked out of four of the last five races, quite honestly, because I’ve let people pull moves on me like that. They’re all watching now. They know.”
After examining the damage to Byron’s car, crew chief Chad Knaus opted for a backup car. Accordingly, Byron will start from the rear of the field in Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“I mean, it’s practice,” a frustrated Byron said after the incident. “You know, I get it, but I don’t think that was really necessary to turn us there… It’s not like I changed four lanes down the backstretch and blocked him.
“I was just kind of holding my lane, and he just used his run to drive into my left rear. That’s all right—at least I saved it.”