TALLADEGA, Ala – Brad Keselowski entered the second round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with as much momentum as anyone. While he hadn’t won a race since mid-May at Kansas, the Team Penske driver scored top five finishes in three straight races including five of the last six.
He was +19 in the playoff standings heading to the opening race of the Round of 12 at the Dover International Speedway. As we head to the final race of Round 2, Keselowski hasn’t scored a top 10 finish yet. While that could be seen as worrisome, it’s actually not for the Michigan native.
Keselowski, leaves the rain delayed 1000Bulbs.com 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway on Monday +20 in the standings still. That has to feel like a win for him. To gain a point following an 11th place run in last Sunday’s Drydene 400 at the Monster Mile and then to remain even still after a 25th place finish Monday in Talladega is a byproduct of some very lucky breaks for him.
His teammate Joey Logano had a parts failure before the race even started at Dover then was caught up in a Lap 162 crash on Monday, the same one Keselowski was involved in. Chase Elliott had an engine let go in Dover and was also involved in a crash at Talladega on Lap 106. That same Lap 106 crash took out Alex Bowman too.
Clint Bowyer had a tire go down on Monday and would finish 23rd as a result. William Byron had a speeding penalty and finished 13th in Dover then was collected in the Lap 181 crash on Monday. All five of those drivers that are behind Keselowski in the standings and have a long way to go to pass him now.
Where Keselowski can’t get too comfortable is, if any of the five below him do win the next race at Kansas, then he has to hold off the other four for the final playoff spot that advances to the Round of 8.
Alex Bowman finished second at Kansas to Keselowski back in May. He had three top six finishes in his first four playoff races run this year and was leading when he crashed on Monday.
Elliott, won the Kansas playoff race last year and has three top four finishes there in his last four tries. Bowyer, was fifth in the race earlier this year too.
If Bowman, Elliott, Bowyer or William Byron win next Sunday, then it’s between him vs. Logano for the final spot. Only two points separate those two.
In terms of Talladega, Keselowski led 22 laps and had a good car but ended up crashing for his ninth finish of 25th or worse in his last 13 Talladega starts.