Brad Keselowski officially hasn’t qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup yet, but the Penske Racing driver already has become the unofficial dark horse for this year’s championship. Since his accident, Keselowski won at Pocono, finished second at Watkins Glen and then third at Michigan. What a weekend for the Penske Team in Bristol, Tenn. Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), picked up his third win of 2011 in the I
rwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) on Saturday night. The finish marked the fourth-consecutive top-three result for the Penske Racing driver. In his third season, also known as ‘Cinderella season,’ Keselowski has risen from 23rd to 11th in points over the last five races. The team solidified its hold on the No. 1 wild card position for the “Chase for the Championship.”
Keselowski turned it up a notch and began the 500-lap event from the eighth position after posting a 122.349 miles per hour, during Friday’s qualifying session. Keselowski was on fire, charging to the front of the pack at the start of the race and consistently turning some of the fastest laps on the track.
On the final restart of the night at lap 421, Keselowski was able to get around then race leader, Martin Truex Jr., to assume the lead. Keselowski was able to drive out to a three-second lead before lap traffic helped cut that time down to one second before he crossed the finish line. With the win, Keselowski captured the championship in the DIRECTV Head2Head Knockout challenge. As a result, the Paralyzed Veterans of America will receive over $200,000 as they were designated as Keselowski’s charity of choice.
Teammate, Kurt Busch, finished 17th in Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race. There are 12 races left in 2011, so there is a lot of time left for both Keselowski’s team to peak and fall and for one or more other teams to hit similar streaks. In other words, Keselowski is doing everything he can now to get into the playoffs. Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team will next compete in the Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, September 4.