As Brad Keselowski competes for his fifth Talladega Superspeedway win this weekend, he’ll be paying tribute to the man who made it all possible: Dale Earnhardt. Jr.
BK will sport a special Miller Lite paint scheme on his No. 2 Ford Fusion, a nod to Brad’s first ride, the NAVY 88 he drove for Dale Jr.’s XFINITY Series team.
“Dale and I are great friends, and he gave me a chance to drive for him in 2007, and that opportunity changed my life,” Brad said. “I was very, very fortunate to drive for him, and to have his help building a career. I don’t know if I’d be where I am without him, but I’m glad I don’t have to find out. So to honor my friend and everything he’s done for me, we’re going to be racing at Talladega this weekend with a new paint scheme, an homage to my days driving the NAVY 88.”
In that special paint scheme, Brad will look to improve his standing in the Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs. After finishing 15th at Charlotte, BK enters the second Round of 12 race in 10th place, though he’s just two points behind the eighth-place cutline. But given Dega’s unpredictable nature, Brad knows he’ll have to be on his game for the Alabama 500.
“Everybody enters Talladega with a strategy,” Brad said. “Then they drop the green.”
Fortunately, few drivers know their way around the 2.66-mile track better than Brad. He boasts four wins at the restrictor plate surface, including a monumental playoff win there in 2014.
“Talladega has been good to me,” Brad said. “Winning four times means a lot here. Talladega has been a track for us that’s been a great catalyst for success. I don’t know why that is. It’s a track where if you’re capable of winning here, I think you show a certain level of attitude and swagger.”
If he can replicate that performance, he’ll be in the Round of 8. There are two practice sessions set for Friday at 1 and 3 p.m. ET. Qualifying is set for 4 p.m. ET Saturday. The Alabama 500 will go green at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.