Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Brad Keselowski might be the "new king" of
Bristol Motor Speedway, but Penske Racing and its famed "Blue Deuce," the No.
2 Miller Lite car, have long been a royalty at this East Tennessee racetrack.
Keselowski won a Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol for the first time last
August. Many considered his victory there to be a fluke, especially driving
with a broken left ankle at the time. But Keselowski proved his critics wrong
by winning Sunday's Food City 500 in dominating fashion. The 28-year-old
driver led a race-high and career-high 232 laps. He also fended off several
challenges from Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth during the final 100 laps to
claim his second straight victory at Bristol.
"The fall race was a great win, but when you win one and people tell you it
was a fluke, you just want to drive that much harder to win the second,"
Keselowski became the 12th different driver to win two or more consecutive
races at Bristol. He also gave team owner Roger Penske his 10th victory there,
which placed him in a tie with Jack Roush for second on the track's all-time
winning car owners list. Junior Johnson holds the track record with 16 wins.
All of Penske's victories at Bristol have come with the No. 2 car. Rusty
Wallace started the trend in 1991. Wallace won at Bristol seven times during
his tenure with Penske, while Kurt Busch gave "The Captain" a win there in
"It's kind of weird how that is," said Paul Wolfe, who has been Keselowski's
crew chief on the No. 2 team since last year. "From what I know in the past, I
feel like it's more just coincidence than anything. The 'Blue Deuce' has
always been successful here. From a team side of it, I don't know if there's
anything you can point out that says that's why Penske has always been good at
Bristol. Just had good drivers and good teams. With that, we get the results."
Bristol is one of the most popular tracks in NASCAR, but it's also one of the
toughest places to win. So for the No. 2 team to continue its trips to victory
lane there is indeed astounding.
"There's other places that perhaps have a little more prestige, but this place
defines a race team," Keselowski said. "It asks so much of you, whether it's
just in practice, being lined up on pit road, dealing with the noise, the
havoc that practice can be, or the hot day of getting through tech, making
those last adjustments, or as a driver 500 laps in a bowl trying to keep your
composure. This racetrack can really test a team."
Keselowski's win at Bristol moved him from 21st to 13th in the point
standings. He began the season with a 32nd-place finish at Daytona after being
caught up in a late-race, multi-car crash there. Keselowski bounced back with
a fifth-place run at Phoenix before having another disappointing finish of
32nd at Las Vegas.
Keselowski flourish in his second full season in NASCAR's premier series last
year, earning a spot in the 12-driver field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup
championship. He claimed one of the two wild card positions by virtue of his
three wins during the regular season. Keselowski finished the year fifth in
With four races completed this season, Keselowski's one victory gives him an
upper hand in securing a position in this year's Chase, which will be decided
when the regular season concludes on Sept. 8 at Richmond.
"One win is good; two wins is really good," he said. "We need to keep winning
races to lock ourselves in the Chase, but, heck, I'd rather just go into the
Chase in the top spot. If we run like we have the last few weeks, we've got as
good a shot as anybody else."
One thing is for sure right now, Keselowski has figured out Bristol so well
that it won't be surprising at all if he and the Blue Deuce are back in
victory lane for the nighttime race there on Aug. 25.
The Sports Network