After WGI Crash, Brad Eyes 2nd Pocono Win

For the second time in as many months, Brad Keselowski and his No. 2 crew head to the Pocono Mountains with one goal in mind: win.

It sounds simple, but at this point in the season, it’s the only objective the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford team has. The 2 Crew has already clinched a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and BK is tied with defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch at a series-high four victories. Now all they can do is add to that win total, earn more bonus points for the opening round of the Chase and build momentum going into the postseason. And Pocono seems as good a place as any to do all of that.

“It’s been a good track for us,” Brad said of the Pennsylvania track known as The Tricky Triangle. “Trying to keep the roll we’ve been on here going. I think we have a great shot at winning. We qualified up front and on the pole in the first race, which always puts a bit of pressure on you coming back, because it’s hard to top that—but we didn’t win. I think we’ve got a great shot at winning again. I’d like to get No. 5 up on the board.”

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Kansas

Traditionally, over the course of his career Brad has run better at Pocono Raceway in its second event of each season than the first. In the annual June race, he has averaged a 14th-place finish, while his average result jumps to ninth in the second trip to the unique 2.5-mile triangular course.

“There are some things you control and a lot that you can’t,” he said. “That said, our approach for the weekend is always shifting and adjusting based on how the rules package flows and how our own team developments flow, and Pocono always seems to line up where the first Pocono we are a lot less competitive than the second Pocono for whatever reason. We are hoping we can maybe break that run for us.”

BK’s most notable deep summer performance in the Poconos was his battle through adversity in 2011, when climbed back into the race car just four days after breaking his left ankle in a testing crash at Road Atlanta. Despite severe pain in the injured limb, he survived 500 grueling miles on The Tricky Triangle’s old surface, tamed all three corners and held off a hard charging Busch en route to a victory.

Just this week, history repeated itself in a way. Days before the late summer run at Pocono, the Michigander found himself in another testing crash, this time at the newly paved Watkins Glen International. Brad had just crossed the line with the fastest lap time of the testing session when his brake line failed, sending him sailing off course on the hard-braking Turn 1. The car slammed into the tire barrier at 90 miles per hour, but miraculously, Brad escaped uninjured.

“There have been a lot of changes to our car since 2011 in regards to safety,” BK said, reflecting back to his 2011 Road Atlanta crash. “With Team Penske, we went through a complete safety overhaul, from the pedals being redesigned to hopefully not break my feet—which they didn’t, which was great. The floorboard was redesigned with a new style of carbon fiber materials. We helped a company design a new seat from that time, and there are a handful of teams in the garage that are running it, and it’s significantly safer. Max Pappas designed a new steering wheel that’s meant to absorb a lot of energy. The shifter was redesigned. I know I’m missing some parts out there…A lot of pieces were redesigned, and from what I could tell, they all preformed very well. I’m fairly pleased, but always looking for more.”

The test run earlier this week at the upstate New York road course was Brad’s first trial of the windy track’s newly repaved surface. Likewise, Pocono features a fairly new asphalt surface, repaved in 2012. While the fresh paved tracks historically don’t mesh well for the 2 Crew, the wheelman said it didn’t take long for the Pennsylvania track to come back into his good graces. Since the repave, Kes has shown some stellar results at Pocono, posting four Top 5’s, with a pair of second place finishes in hand. Pairing that with the recent run his team is on, they look like a lock to be in contention for the checkers.

“There has been a handful of tracks, maybe Pocono, Homestead and a few others that I might have left out that have used an aggregate in their asphalt where the track has aged very quickly and has kind of hit a sweet spot to where I think the racing has been phenomenal and the groove has widened out and the track is predictable,” BK said. “This race always kind of unfolds being either strategy or a race where the restarts dictate who wins.”

Brad was 19th in the first practice session on Friday morning. Qualifying is set for 4:15 p.m. ET on Friday. One more practice session follows at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday. It will be a very busy weekend for BK, who will run the cross-country double as he pilots the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford in the XFINITY Series race at Iowa Speedway, Saturday evening at 8 p.m. ET.

Then he takes the wheel of the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford for the Pennsylvania 400, Sunday, July 31 at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

Trucks Take on The Tricky Triangle

Back onto a typical weekend racing schedule, both Brad Keselowski Racing entries in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will take to the Long Pond straights this weekend in hopes of a win.

Daniel Hemric welcomes new sponsor Blue Gate Bank to BKR at Pocono, and after his first outing at the tough track ended with a ninth-place finish last year, he’s confident in his chances this time around.

“Pocono is interesting because it has three different straightaways, three different corners. Brad Keselowski Racing has had a lot of success at Pocono Raceway in the past, with Ryan Blaney winning there in 2013, and I’m optimistic about our chances with the Blue Gate Bank Ford F-150,” Hemric says. “You’re in a little bit of a box, setup wise, because NASCAR oversees your left-front camber options. You have to be a little more creative on how to get your setup where you want it to be and try to prep for all three corners. Mentally, as a driver, you have to go into it knowing how to approach each turn, and I’ll lean a lot on Brad and Ryan.”

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Blaney’s win in the No. 29 at the 2.5-mile superspeedway surely gives the BKR teams an added boost of confidence. Starting up front, and staying in contention all race, Blaney was there when it counted. Tyler Reddick looks to do the same with his Cooper Standard team. He finished third in this race last year, and fifth in last week’s Eldora dirt derby, so Reddick knows what he needs to put up another solid effort.

“Pocono is a place I was able to pick up on very fast and a lot of that credit goes to crew chief Doug Randolph and all the guys on the Cooper Standard team that bring an outstanding package to that racetrack,” Reddick says. “It’s made my job fairly simple to go out there and put down a good lap right away. I have a lot of confidence in everyone on our team. BKR has won there before, so I have no problem driving it really hard into the corners. I have absolute faith in those guys and what they do.”

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As it stands now, both Reddick and Hemric are in the championship deciding Chase – but that breakthrough win will surely solidify their position. They’ll both be vying for a spot in Victory Lane, and in the playoffs, during the Pocono Mountains 150, Saturday at 1 p.m. ET, live on FOX Sports 1.

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