By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
How can a former champion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs fly under the radar? Brad Keselowski found that it was not difficult after ending the day mired in 15th.
Keselowski was never a factor in the Bank of America 500. He finished just inside the top-15 after funning there throughout the entire day. Keselowski may have avoided trouble in his No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion throughout the entirety of the event, but he was one of the slowest of the Playoff competitors.
Overall the race was competitive, the PJ1 allowing for more racing grooves on the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. However, Keselowski was never able to truly take advantage of the track conditions. He was 14th after Stage 1 and 13th after Stage 2.
Keselowski admitted that it just wasn’t his teams’ day,
“It wasn’t the day we wanted for the Team Penske Alliance Truck Parts Ford, so we’ve got two races left to go and we need to have two strong races.”
Keselowski also admitted that his Team Penske Ford has struggled at the two 1.5-mile tracks in the Round of 12 in the past,
“It seems like Charlotte and Kansas we have just not been able to connect what we’re looking for here the last two fall races. Hopefully, we can go to Talladega and connect with what we’re looking for.”
After the events of Charlotte, Keselowski slides down to 10th in the Playoff standings. He now sits 64-points behind point leader Martin Truex, Jr. Keselowski is also just two points behind Jamie McMurray, who holds the final transfer spot for the Round of Eight.
Looking ahead to next weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, Keselowski’s odds, along with the majority of the field, are decent at the unpredictable 2.66-mile track. Among active drivers at Talladega, he has the fourth-best average finish. In the five most recent races at the Alabama track, Keselowski is ninth in average finishes with a driver rating of 102.6. Historically, drivers with a rating of 100 or better are more likely to finish towards the front.
In Keselowski’s career at Talladega, he has four victories, six top-fives, and 10 top-10 finishes in 17 races. His most recent victory at Talladega came in the 2016 spring race. In the five most recent races, Keselowski has one victory, top top-fives, and three top-10 finishes.
Now Keselowski, crew chief Paul Wolfe, and the entire No. 2 team will look to continue their success at Talladega as they hope to lock themselves into the Round of Eight for the Playoffs.