Brad Keselowski didn’t complete the weekend sweep at Pocono on Sunday falling short in an attempt to follow up his Saturday XFINITY Series win with a matching Cup Series victory, but he still bounced back for a Top 5 and found his way to Victory Lane in another way.
The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team had a shot at the win late in Sunday’s Monster Energy Cup Series Pocono 400 at The Tricky Triangle. And although they had to settle for a Top 5 finish, it was a welcome outcome after bad luck sent BK home early, wrecked out in consecutive weeks. But it was BK’s protégé Ryan Blaney who scored the Cup win at Pocono, the first victory of his career.
Afterward, who was interviewed by Blaney in Victory Lane on Saturday after his XFINITY Series win, returned the favor, taking Jamie Little’s microphone and headset to interview Blaney after his win.
And seeing Blaney succeed made his own fifth place sit a little better for Brad.
“Congrats to Ryan Blaney and the entire Wood Brothers team. That is one of the iconic teams in NASCAR and to see the mesh of an old school team with a new, young driver like Ryan Blaney is really cool to see,” Brad said. “Ryan has been a part of this sport for a long time, along with his family and they deserve it. It was awesome to interview him in Victory Lane. He’s got a real positive future in front of him.”
It wasn’t a bad day for the No. 2 Crew either. Due to circumstances beyond his or their control, Brad hadn’t run a full MENCS race in nearly a month—a second-place finish on May 13 in Kansas. The All-Star Race followed, and he was caught up and wrecked thanks to other competitors’ issues in each of the last two weeks at Charlotte and Dover.
After finishing 39th and 38th, running just 85 of the last 806 Cup races, the Miller 2 Crew headed to Pocono looking to rebound and earned a sixth-place start at The Tricky Triangle.
BK then used his fast Ford to claim second place on the opening run.
Strategies varied greatly across the field, and Paul Wolfe’s plan kept Brad in contention all day, resulting in a much-needed strong points day. Kes was third and seventh in the first two stages as part of a 44-point day that vaulted him from seventh to fifth in the Cup standings.
And although he started Stage 3 outside of the Top 20, he charged his way to the front, claiming the lead for 11 laps before pitting at lap 140. The day’s fourth and final caution flag then flew while the 2 car was exiting pit road, and when the field reset, Kes was second next to longtime rival Kyle Busch.
Unfortunately, Busch got the best of Brad in this exchange winning the restart. BK settled for a fifth-place finish, but Blaney went on to make the pass of the No. 18 and hold off Kevin Harvick for the win.
“The caution put us in position to get a great finish out of it, which I thought was really good,” Brad said. “We were just off a little bit all day today to run with the best cars. My team called an excellent race and that was good. I just didn’t quite get the launch I needed. I just mistimed it, or didn’t have enough. The Miller Lite Ford was real good and I was real proud of the effort.”