Brad Keselowski used a different strategy Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway and was rewarded with a 10th-place finish. The driver of the PIRTEK Ford claimed his 19th top-10 finish of the 2020 season in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Keselowski finished the NASCAR regular season third in points and will begin the Cup Series Playoffs as the third seed, 28 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
Keselowski started fourth but was shuffled out of line on lap 16, four laps before the competition caution on lap 20. He was 13th when he pitted on lap 22 for four tires and restarted 16th when the race went green on lap 24. Keselowski didn’t have any luck making his way to the front, so he patiently stayed in line near the tail end of the lead draft. He made a late recovery to finish 15th when Stage 1 ended on lap 50. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call to pit one lap before the race went green, on lap 54, for four tires and a right-rear wedge adjustment – a move designed to help Keselowski make it to the end of the next stage. The driver of the PIRTEK Ford restarted in 30th position when the race went green on lap 55.
The Chevrolet drivers pitted as group on lap 65, moving Keselowski was up to 22nd. For the next 25 laps he patiently ran single-file in the draft. On lap 90, Keselowski was safely inside his window to finish the stage on fuel, so he surged to the front, moving from 14th to fourth on lap 91. With one lap to go in the stage, Keselowski survived a frantic scramble for position at the front of the lead draft to score a sixth-place finish. He pitted during the stage caution on lap 102 for four tires and air pressure adjustments and restarted sixth when the race went green on lap 105.
For much of the final stage of the race, Keselowski stayed near the back of the lead pack, a move designed to keep him out of trouble. The strategy worked as Keselowski avoided multi-car accidents on laps 152 and 159, the latter which forced the race to finish in NASCAR Overtime. Keselowski restarted 14th on lap 162 and rallied back over the final lap to claim his top-10.
“We used a different strategy tonight and it worked,” said Keselowski. “We stayed out of trouble and scored a top-10 finish with our PIRTEK Ford. The playoffs start next week and we’re ready.”