Brad Keselowski scored a fourth-place finish in the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang grabbed his sixth top-five finish of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season and third in 11 starts at Indianapolis. Keselowski is third in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 88 pointsbehind leader Kevin Harvick.
Keselowski started ninth and inside the top-five for much of Stage 1. The final laps of the opening 50-lap segment got dicey, thanks to a caution on lap 40. Keselowski pitted on lap 42 for four tires but was shuffled back to 10th-place for the restart on lap 46, thanks to a variety of pit strategies among the leaders. He briefly fell back to 11th but passed two cars on the final lap of the stage to finish ninth. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call to stay on the track during the stage caution and Keselowski restarted sixth when the race went green on lap 55.
Keselowski said the No. 2 Ford Mustang was tight at the beginning of Stage 2. He was running ninth when the caution came out on lap 73 and pitted during the yellow for four tires and an adjustment to free up his Mustang. He had a close call on lap 88 when Ryan Blaney spun and hit the outside wall while running beside him in Turn 3. Keselowski pitted for four tires during the caution and restarted 21st with just nine laps left in the stage but rallied back to finish 14th when Stage 2 ended on lap 100. Bullins made the call to pit during the stage caution for four tires and fuel and Keselowski restarted 17th when the race went green on lap 105.
Over the final 56 laps, Keselowski steadily worked his way through traffic while at the same time managing tire wear. He climbed up to third position by lap 133 when the caution flag waved during a cycle of green flag stops. Keselowski pitted for four tires on lap 134 and restarted seventh with fresher tires for run to the finish.
The call for tires proved to be a big advantage. Keselowski was sixth when leader Denny Hamlin hit the wall on lap 154, pushing the race into a NASCAR Overtime finish. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford restarted fifth in the two-lap dash to the finish. He picked off fourth on the restart and held firm to the position over the final lap to claim fourth-place finish.
“I think we were kind of up and down,” said Keselowski. “We started ninth or 10th and just kind of hung around sixth or seventh and couldn’t quite make the pass. Our car was really, really fast in clean air, but I couldn’t run in traffic. We’d run up to cars and get stopped and would kind of ride. Then we started to see the tire issues and tried to be really smart about that and try not to beat ourselves, keep tires on the car.”