By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season for the full-time drivers in the series leading into February’s running of the Daytona 500.
Years in Cup: 11th full-time, 13th overall
Career Wins: 30
Biggest Accomplishment: 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion
It took just two races for Brad Keselowski to make it to Victory Lane in 2019, taking home the win at Atlanta. Keselowski added two more wins at Martinsville and Kansas to give him three wins in the first 12 races of the season, but would go winless for the remainder of the year as the other teams caught up and surpassed the early season advantage Team Penske had.
Along with the three wins, Keselowski scored 13 top-five finishes, 19 top-10 finishes, three poles, and 1,085 laps led. Once again, the Rochester Hills, Michigan native made it to the Playoffs, but only made it through the first two rounds before being eliminated. He would eventually finish the season eighth in points, matching his results from 2018.
“I didn’t even know how to put the win at Atlanta into words,” said Keselowski. “Any win means a lot, but 60 wins at Team Penske is a big number. It was a tremendous honor (to break Mark Donohue’s team record) and I was so excited for everyone on the team.
“Martinsville was a good day. Our pit crew did an excellent job gaining or retaining our track position all day, which is critical at that racetrack. I felt like I could have won eight races at Martinsville, but I was still glad to come home the winner.
“Kansas was good because we kind of outexecuted our speed that we had for much of the race. I don’t want to say we stole a win, but we got one where we weren’t the fastest car through execution, and I was really proud of that.”
Heading into 2020, it will be a season of change for the former series champion, with Team Penske undergoing a shakeup among the crew chiefs for the three teams.
No longer will Keselowski be working with Paul Wolfe, who has served as his crew chief since the 2011 season. Instead of continuing his decade long partnership with Wolfe, Keselowski will now work with Jeremy Bullins, who moves over to Keselowski’s team after being Ryan Blaney’s crew chief since 2014 at both Wood Brothers Racing and Team Penske.
The #2crew is family to me, and the way I see it, that family tree is growing. It’s been a privilege to work with Paul and all the guys who have supported us over the past 9 years, and I’m grateful for all we accomplished together. @TeamPenske is coming in strong in 2020.
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) January 8, 2020
How well Keselowski performs in 2020 will largely depend on how quickly he and Bullins are able to gel. We all know that Keselowski has the drive and the ability to get things done behind the wheel, in addition to the speed that Team Penske has shown in recent years, but the relationship between driver and crew chief could be the biggest difference maker when it comes to being able to contend for a second Cup Series title.
Needless to say, all eyes will be on not only Keselowski, but also the other Team Penske entries to see how well this swap plays out for all of them throughout the 2020 campaign.