Brad Keselowski advanced to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs on Sunday, surviving a rollercoaster afternoon at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. Keselowski overcame two different spins and minor damage to the WURTH Ford Mustang to finish 20th and keep his 2021 championship hopes alive. He enters the Round of 8 in the eighth position in the driver standings, 16 points behind fourth-place Ryan Blaney.
Keselowski started second and was running fourth early in the race when he was nudged from behind by Alex Bowman in the backstretch chicane and spun. He quickly recovered and rejoined the field in the 38th position. On lap 21, Keselowski pitted for four tires under the second caution and was credited with a 23rd-place finish when Stage 1 ended on lap 25. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call to stay on the track during the stage caution and Keselowski moved up to 15th when the race went back green on lap 29.
In Stage 2, the balance on the No. 2 WURTH Mustang was a handful for Keselowski during the segment, as the car struggled with a lack of grip. Bullins made the call for Keselowski to remain on the track when other leaders chose to pit on lap 47, three laps from the finish of the stage. But Keselowski firmly remained inside the top-10 and was rewarded with a seventh-place finish.
Keselowski hovered around the cutline in the point standings throughout Stage 3. By lap 86, the balance of WURTH Mustang had improved, and he was in position to advance. On lap 90, Keselowski spun again in the backstretch chicane, dropping all the way back to 31st in the running order. He pitted for repairs during the caution and restarted 28th with 14 laps to go. With 10 laps to go, Kevin Harvick (who was ahead of Keselowski in the battle for the final playoff position) was eliminated in an accident in Turn 1. The race went green on lap 101 and Keselowski picked up 11 positions in the closing laps, taking the checkered flag in the 20th position.
“I’m glad I don’t have to do that again. We got out of here and advanced, and we’ll move on to Texas and focus on that. You fight them one at a time and that’s what we did today,” said Keselowski.
“The WURTH team did an excellent job helping me fight through it. We built a good enough cushion at Talladega to be able to afford a little bit of a rough day and get through it. My team has been so good all year with respect to the pit stops and all those things, and they’ve kind of carried us in so many different ways.”