Brad Keselowski advanced to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs Sunday afternoon in the Bank of American ROVAL 400 on the strength of an 18th-place finish. The driver of the No. 2 Western Star/Alliance Parts Ford locked down the third seed in the standings, 32 behind leader Kevin Harvick.
Keselowski started third and passed Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin to grab the lead on the first lap of the race and held the top spot for the first seven laps. The team chose not to pit during the competition caution on lap 10. The race then went green on lap 12, but a rapidly-drying track eventually forced Keselowski to pit for slick tires under green on lap 20. A caution on lap 22 set up a one-lap dash to the end of the Stage 1 and Keselowski took advantage, picking up three positions to finish 12th. He stayed out during the stage caution and restarted ninth when the race went back to green on lap 28.
He was up to fifth place when he spun on lap 33 and dropped to 16th in the running order. Keselowski pitted during the fourth caution for four tires and air pressure adjustments. He restarted 18th on lap 48 and muscled his way up to 10th position when the stage ended two laps later. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call the stay on the track and Keselowski restarted third on lap 53.
Keselowski settled into third during the early laps of the final stage but unfortunately wasn’t able to maintain that position. He was running 12th when the seventh caution waved and had to pit because he appeared to have locked up one of the front tires going through the frontstretch chicane. The driver of the Western Star/Alliance Parts Ford restarted 18th when the race went green on lap 72. He was running 11th when the ninth caution set up a final round of pit stops one lap later. Keselowski restarted 21st on lap 99 and fought his way up to 18th over the final 10 laps.
“Our Western Star/Alliance Parts Ford started off real strong in the rain and there’s part of me that wishes it would have just stayed raining, believe it or not,” said Keselowski, “but once it got dry I just kept falling off too much on the long run. I’d fire off really good and fall off and couldn’t keep pace, so I’m thankful that’s over. It’s a testament to the four wins we have earlier in the year. It gives us those bonus points and made this a lot easier day than it looked like it was going to be, and we’ll move on to hopefully four good race weeks for us.”