Brad Keselowski rallied for a sixth-place finish Saturday night at Bristol to advance to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Keselowski scored his best short track finish of the season and he posted his 12th top-10 effort in 29 races in 2021. He enters the next round of the Playoffs as the 10th seed, 51 points behind leader Kyle Larson.
Keselowski started 10th Saturday night and moved his way towards the front of the field from the drop of the green flag. He moved inside the top five on lap 17 and stayed there through the remainder of Stage 1. The balance on the No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang was tight by the end of the opening stage. The car’s performance overall was solid, and Keselowski was rewarded with a fourth-place finish when the segment ended on lap 125. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call for four tires and a track bar adjustment during the stage caution. Keselowski restarted in the second position on lap 135.
Keselowski seized the race lead on lap 138 and ran at the front for the next seven laps before the handling became too tight on the Discount Tire Mustang. He remained inside the top five as the stage neared its conclusion. The fourth caution of the night on lap 221 set up a round of pit stops for some of the race leaders under caution – but not Keselowski, as the No. 2 team elected to remain on track. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford restarted third and held firm to the position over the final 18 laps of the stage. The 15 points that Keselowski earned over the first two stages were critically important in keeping him above the cutline to advance to the next Playoff round. Keselowski pitted during the Stage 2 caution for four tires and he restarted 11th on lap 259.
In the final stage, Keselowski and the team worked themselves back into position to score a solid finish, despite a tight-handling condition on the No. 2 Mustang. He pitted on lap 392 for tires and another round of adjustments. Keselowski lined up 15th for the final green flag run on lap 407. Over the final 93 laps, Keselowski picked his way through traffic. He passed Martin Truex Jr. on lap 434 to climb back inside the top 10, and he raced his way up to the sixth position with 33 laps to go. Keselowski chased Alex Bowman and teammate Ryan Blaney in the closing laps but wasn’t able to work his way inside the top five. The strong result continues to build confidence on the No. 2 team as they advance to the next round of the Playoffs.
“That’s the most speed we’ve shown in quite some time, and I’m super proud of that. It’s awesome. That’s the best we’ve been,” said Keselowski.
“I’m thrilled to death with that and trying to move on and advance and find more speed for next week.”