Brad Keselowski enters the Hollywood Casino 400 in an enviable position that only one other driver can claim: Thanks to last weekend’s win at Talladega Superspeedway, Brad is locked into the Round of 8, no matter how he finishes in Sunday’s final Round of 12 race at Kansas Speedway.
It was easier for the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion driver to sleep this week knowing he isn’t in need of a spectacular finish at this weekend’s 1.5-mile track, BK knows he’ll have to stay sharp to be ready for the challenges that await in the next round.
“To be able to win and to advance to the next round of the playoffs, and not have to deal with all of that, it’s really special,” BK said after his Talladega win. “I’m going to get to play a few more video games late nights because I don’t have to worry about Kansas as much, but right around the corner is Texas, Martinsville and Phoenix—those are three tough tracks.”
Brad, crew chief Paul Wolfe the Team Penske group will look to sharpen its sword on the 1.5-mile Kansas track. Mile-and-a-half speedways constitute the backbone of the Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs, including the championship venue, Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Kes showed some speed at Kansas earlier this season, finishing second to Martin Truex Jr.—coincidentally the only other driver currently locked into the Round of 8.
“We had a really good Elite Support Ford Fusion all day and just never had a chance to show it,” BK said at Kansas in May. “Every time we started to pass cars and cycle up to the front, we had some kind of issue, which was a real bummer to not be able to showcase the strength that we had.”
That marked Brad’s second-best finish ever at Kansas, behind only his win in 2011, the second trip to Victory Lane of his MENCS career.
While BK will quietly be looking for his second win at Kansas, 10 of his competitors will be scrambling to stack as many points as possible in hopes of joining him in the Round of 8.
The first practice and the qualifying session will take place on Friday at 2:25 and 6:15 p.m. ET, respectively. Two more practice sessions will follow Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. ET. Finally, the Hollywood Casino 400 will go green around 3 p.m. ET Sunday. All weekend coverage will take place on NBCSN.