CONCORD, N.C. – Brad Keselowski, in a contract year and trying to up his value in free agency, gave Roger Penske a victory on what should have been the most celebrated day in motorsports but was instead just a 6-plus hour NASCAR show.
Keselowski extended Jimmie Johnson's losing streak to 102 races by holding off the seven-time NASCAR champion in overtime early Monday to win the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race on the NASCAR schedule.
It was the first win for Keselowski this season, his first Coca-Cola 600 victory and the first win at this event for Ford since 2002. Keselowski celebrated as he usually does by waving a giant American flag out his window during his victory burnouts on the frontstretch of Charlotte Motor Speedway.
When he first got out of the car for his network interview, the silence at the track was a downer.
“I was kind of bummed. I wanted to win the 600 my whole life and wanted to win in front of everybody,” Keselowski said. "But that’s not always how it works. I know there are fans that wish they could be in the stands.”
In these unusual times of the coronavirus pandemic, NASCAR is still adapting in its return to racing a full week ago. This event was its third Cup race in seven days — all without spectators — and limited media access.
Wearing a white Team Penske face mask, Keselowski went to the empty infield media center for a post-race news conference over Zoom. Unable to hear the questions, he shouted into the computer.
“Can you talk really loud?” he yelled. “My ears are ringing.”