Brad Keselowski scored a sixth-place finish in the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 Wednesday evening at Texas Motor Speedway. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford racked up his 22nd top-10 in 34 races this season. He is fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings 25 points above eight above the Championship 4 cutline.
Keselowski started third and was second when he pitted for four tires under caution on lap 24. He restarted 15th and was running ninth when a light mist and fog forced the race to be halted on lap 52. NASCAR officials tried for several hours to dry the track, but persistent rain and mist forced the restart of the race on Monday. NASCAR tried multiple times to dry the track on Monday and Tuesday before the event restarted on Wednesday afternoon.
When the race restarted, the balance on the No. 2 Ford Mustang was a handful for Keselowski. He struggled on the exit off Turn 4 which forced him to lift, costing him positions. Keselowski was credited with a 16th-place finish when Stage 1 concluded on lap 105. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins called for four tires and a wedge adjustment during a round of pit stops under the stage caution and he restarted 15th on lap 111.
Early in Stage 2, Keselowski was still struggling with the balance on his Mustang, dropping back to 19th-place. He pitted during the seventh caution on lap 135 for four tires and another round of adjustments and restarted 17th when the race went green. As the run progressed, Keselowski said his Mustang began to turn better in the corners and he slowly began to climb back into contention. As the segment entered its closing laps, Bullins made a gutsy pit call for fuel-only under green on lap 202, eight laps from the end of Stage 2. The move propelled Keselowski to a fourth-place finish when the stage ended on lap 210 and the driver of the Discount Tire Ford claimed seven precious stage points. He pitted for four tires during the stage caution on lap 213 and restarted 13th three laps later.
The final stage started well for Keselowski. He steadily worked his way through traffic and climbed inside the top-five by lap 237. He made his final pit stop on lap 274 then held off Kurt Busch down the stretch to claim a sixth-place finish.
“I’m glad we had a great run,” said Keselowski. “I’m very much looking forward to Martinsville. I’m very proud of the team. We made a great pit call at the end of stage two that set us up for a great day and very proud of everybody on the Discount Tire team. We just need to have a solid day at Martinsville. The two cars in front of us are close in points. If we have a solid day, we’ll be just fine.”