No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski
Stage 1: 8th
Stage 2: 8th
Laps Completed: 500/500
Laps Led: 91
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 6th (-138)
Brad Keselowski scored a third-place finish in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, his eighth top-five of the 2019 season. Saturday night’s finish ended a streak of seven races where Keselowski had finished no better than 16th at the .533-mile Tennessee speedway. The driver of the Miller Lite Ford Mustang remains sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, 138 points behind leader Kyle Busch.
Keselowski started 13th in the 500-lap event and climbed into the top-10 by lap 64. He made his first pit stop on lap 81, needing grip, especially on corner exit. He restarted ninth on lap 87 and managed to work his way up to eighth-place when Stage 1 ended on lap 125. Keselowski pitted during the stage caution on lap 130 for four tires and fuel and restarted seventh on lap 134.
He was running eighth when the third caution on lap 191 set up a round of pit stops under yellow. Crew chief Paul Wolfe made the call for four tires and no adjustments and Keselowski restarted eighth on lap 192. The No. 2 Mustang was too free during the next run and Keselowski pitted under caution on lap 245 for four tires, just five laps from the end of the stage. He restarted 10th just two laps from the end of the stage and used a good restart to score an eighth-place finish when Stage 2 ended on lap 250. Keselowski stayed out during the stage caution and restarted third when the race went green on lap 259.
The adjustments by Wolfe brought the Miller Lite Ford to life. Keselowski grabbed the lead on lap 265 and held the top spot for the next 85 laps. On lap 314, Keselowski made contact with Paul Menard off Turn 2, damaging the nose of the No. 2 Mustang. He and Kyle Busch waged an entertaining battle for the lead until lap 360. Keselowski pitted for four tires during the seventh caution on lap 366 and restarted third on lap 370.
A multiple car accident on lap 374 brought out the eighth and final caution. Keselowski restarted fifth on lap 387 and was up to third by lap 402. He was running third on lap 452 when he was pinned behind Menard, briefly falling to fourth. Keselowski passed Chase Elliott on lap 456 to regain third but couldn’t get closer to the front, crossing the finish in third position.
Quotes: “It was a decent finish for our Miller Lite Ford. We led a lot of laps and that’s something to be proud of plus the pit crew did a great job all night. The nose of my car without a hole in it would have really good. We seemed to fall off a little bit on the long run and then got in the back of some lap traffic and put a hole in the nose, and that knocked a little bit of speed out of it. That was all she wrote for us. The top and the bottom came in and it was two-groove racing like we’ve seen here the last three or four years. We had a shot at winning.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!