Brad Keselowski (Las Vegas), Kyle Busch (Richmond) and Ryan Blaney (Charlotte Road Course) earned first-round victories and automatic bids to the Round of 12 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs which begins Sunday in the Gander Outdoors 400 at Dover International Raceway.
It was a huge statement for Team Penske, which boasts two first-round winners in Keselowski and Blaney and has all three of its drivers – also including Joey Logano –advancing to this next round of the Playoffs.
Of the three Penske drivers, Keselowski is the only one with a victory (2012) at the one-mile Dover track and he still holds the track qualifying record with a lap of 164.444 mph set back in May, 2014. Keselowski, who enters this race ranked fourth as the standings re-set, has four top-10s in the last five Dover races and led 108 laps in the spring race this season, but finished sixth.
The fourth race of the 10-week Playoff has been especially successful for Logano, who has won the fourth race twice – at Kansas in 2014 and at Charlotte in 2015. But the switch in venue to Dover this season may prove to be especially challenging.
The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has 10 top-10 finishes in 19 starts at the “Monster Mile,” but only three top-five showings. He was 13th in the series’ first stop here of 2018. His best showing at the track is third place (in 2010 and 2013) and he’s only led four laps at the track in his career.
Last week’s winner Blaney has a record at Dover that is a bit up and down. He’s still looking for his first top-five there but has two top-10s in five starts with an average finish of 21.8. He was eighth in the spring, tying his career-best mark set in his first start there in 2016.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!