RICHMOND, Va. —
The pit crew rebounded as the night went on and Busch, fired two years ago from Penske Racing, was celebrating his return to elite company.
"Well, how about them apples? Unbelievable," Busch said. "The way this team has grown, what we've been able to accomplish, it's an amazing feeling. We achieved something very special tonight."
Keselowski, who led a race-high 142 laps, at one point seemed to have the race in control even though a victory wasn't necessarily going to be enough to get him into the Chase. He had just pitted under green when Johnson hit the wall to bring out a caution that pinned Keselowski deep in the field, and he never recovered.
He finished 17th, and at 16th in points and winless on the season, he won't be eligible to race for the Sprint Cup title.
"I don't really have any emotions right now. We weren't good enough to make it and we didn't. That is the reality," he said. "We have work to do. At the end of the day, the thing about points is it is the best measuring stick in sports. You know who deserves to be where because the results speak for themselves. We didn't have enough results to get where we needed to be."
Performance also hurt Newman, who was more critical of his Stewart-Haas Racing pit crew than he was of Bowyer's caution. Newman isn't being brought back to SHR next season, and the team was too slow on pit road for the final stop and that cost him both the win and his spot in the Chase.
"We should have been able to come on pit road first and come off first," he said. "If we're a championship contending team, we need a championship contending pit crew, and we didn't have that tonight."