Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team have been remarkably consistent over the last month and a half, but as the Sprint Cup Series hits one of BK’s favorite tracks for the annual Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, Brad wants more than consistency, he wants that elusive victory.
The Deuce has finished in the top 10 in each of the last six races, a streak that matched Brad’s longest of the season, but what that streak is missing is a win and Kes feels the time is right to add it Saturday night in the Irwin Tools Night Race.
“The team has worked diligently to bring fast reliable cars to the track every weekend and Bristol is a place where that effort has paid off for us,” Brad said. “Going back to the beginning, Team Penske has had a lot of success over the years at Bristol. Rusty [Wallace] was great here and we’ve just continued to build on that success.”
Indeed, Team Penske and the No. 2 car have a tremendous history of success at Bristol. From 1991-2005, Rusty Wallace drove the Deuce to victory lane seven times at Thunder Valley. Kurt Busch took over the ride in 2006 and won his first run at Bristol in the No. 2 car. Since taking over the wheel of the Deuce in 2011, Brad has four Top 5 finishes, including back-to-back wins in August of 2011 and March of 2012.
That August 2011 win under the lights at Bristol stands out to Brad as one of the most iconic of the 17 Sprint Cup Series wins he’s tallied in his career, and he’d love nothing more than to add to that total on Saturday night by becoming a three-time champ at The Last Great Colosseum.
but he’s won twice at Bristol Motor Speedway. His recent finishes of ninth, seventh and even second place won’t cut it when Kes races under the lights in the Irwin Tools Night Race on Saturday.
“I feel fortunate to have won the night race once,” Brad said, “and I really would like to do it again this weekend in our Miller Lite Ford.”
Though Brad has that history of success at Bristol on his mind, he also enters Saturday’s race knowing that it’s been more than three years since he’s been to Bristol Victory Lane and his results have been mixed since.
Kes has finished in the Top 5 at Bristol in over a third of his Cup Series runs there, but in six races at BMS since his victory in the 2012 Food City 500, Brad has more finishes of 30th or worse (3) than he does in the Top 10 (2). Still, over the past three races in Thunder Valley, Kes has led a total of 86 laps. Most recently, he finished second to teammate Joey Logano in last year’s Irwin Tools Night Race, but this past April, he wrecked out of the Food City 500 just 20 laps in and was forced to settle for a 35th place finish.
Despite those mixed results, however, the Deuce driver continues to put himself in position to win on the World’s Fastest Half Mile, where he hasn’t qualified outside the Top 12 since March of 2011. In the nine races since, including Saturday’s, his average starting position is just outside the Top 5, which is precisely where he’ll start this Saturday night, in P6.
Kes and the No. 2 crew worked their way up to that spot on Fast Friday, after running ninth quickest in opening practice and just 16th best in Happy Hour. But the Deuce was fastest when it counted, putting BK on Row 3 for the start of Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race.
The Miller Lite Ford has outperformed its starting position in each of the last six races, and if Kes can keep that streak going, it could be a big night for the No. 2 crew.
The Irwin Tools Night Race marks the 24th race of the season in the Sprint Cup Series and Brad currently sits in fifth in the Sprint Cup standings, just one point back of Martin Truex Jr. in fourth. Although he hasn’t won a race since the Auto Club 400 in March, BK has proven time and again over the last several weeks that he has one of the fastest cars on the track this Sprint Cup season. The Deuce has finished as one of the top 10 cars in 62 percent of the races.
It’s clear Brad has the crew and the car to move even further up the Sprint Cup standings on Saturday night. Once again, for the No. 2 crew, it all comes down to execution.
Coverage of the 2015 Irwin Tools Night Race begins at with Countdown to Green at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Network and the green flag on Saturday night’s race under the light is set to wave at 7:45 p.m. ET.