Brad Keselowski grabbed his fourth stage win of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season on the way to a ninth-place finish in the Quaker State 400 Sunday afternoon at Kentucky Speedway. The driver of the Snap-on Ford Mustang grabbed his 12th top-10 in 17 races this season and collected his seventh top-10 in 10 starts at Kentucky Speedway. Keselowski moved up to second in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 88 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
Stage 1 was challenging for Keselowski and the Snap-on team. Keselowski started sixth but the balance on his No. 2 Mustang was a handful, landing tight in the corners and then loose. He finished 14th when the stage ended on lap 80 and made a scheduled pit stop on lap 83 during the stage caution for four tires. Unfortunately, he was forced to pit again on lap 85 to replace two missing lug nuts and restarted 25th when the race went green on lap 87.
Keselowski used an improved handling Ford Mustang to steadily work his way through the field during Stage 2. He grabbed the lead during a cycle of stops on lap 151 and caught a huge break when a caution flag waved on lap 154 when he was making a scheduled pit stop. Keselowski then held off teammate Ryan Blaney in a one-lap dash to win the stage.
He led until lap 180 and then ran second until he pitted for four tires and a chassis adjustment on lap 224. A caution on lap 229 gave Keselowski third-place for the restart on lap 237 – 30 laps from the finish. Three cautions and the restarts that followed kept Keselowski in contention for a top-five finish but ultimately proved costly. Keselowski was fifth when he and Jimmie Johnson made contact moments after the green flag waved on lap 248 but avoided any damage. He restarted fourth when the eighth caution set up the final restart on lap 265, just two laps from the finish. Keselowski was split three-wide at the drop of the green flag, falling back to ninth-place and unable to make up the lost distance over the final lap.
“We worked on it and got the Snap-on Ford Mustang really good in the middle of the race,” said Keselowski. “We were about a fourth or fifth-place car there towards the end. On that restart it’s just mayhem. The cars have so little horsepower that you just have to push and take and take and take. I got used up on one or two of them and had one where I got into Jimmie (Johnson). It’s interesting because the restarts were the great passing opportunities, but they mix up the races so much that the finish is nowhere near indicative of who ran where, but that’s part of the deal.”