BK Calm Ahead of Talladega Elimination Race

Only two drivers are entering the Chase for the Sprint Cup Round of 12’s cutoff race at Talladega Superspeedway worry-free, and Brad Keselowski isn’t one of them. But despite his standing seven points outside of the eighth-place cutoff, the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion driver might be more relaxed than the rest.

It’s a familiar situation for Brad. In 2014, he went to Talladega, where only a victory would send him to the next round, and he got exactly the clutch victory he needed. And earlier this year, he captured his fourth career win at the 2.66-mile Alabama superspeedway, giving him plenty of confidence going into this critical Hellmann’s 500.

“Talladega, the plate tracks have been very good to us this year,” he said. “I know that we’ll have another great car.”

2016 NASCAR Kansas

Long before this season, and well before his signature 2014 win, the fastest track in the world has been kind to BK. Kes claimed his first career Sprint Cup Series win at Dega in only his fifth start in 2009. His last-lap maneuver on Carl Edwards remains one of the most memorable moments in recent NASCAR history.

His second career triumph at Talladega came in 2012 as a much-needed momentum-building win on the road to his first Sprint Cup Series championship.

“What can I say? Talladega has been good to me,” Brad said. “Winning four times means a lot here. Talladega has been a track for us that’s been a great catalyst for success. I don’t know why that is. It’s a track where if you’re capable of winning here, I think you show a certain level of attitude and swagger that carries your way through the rest of the year.”

Two years after his Cup championship, his hopes for a second title were in grave danger. A disastrous Kansas race, marred by a blown tire, sent him to the unpredictable restrictor-plate event in need of a win. He made a last-lap pass of Ryan Newman to win and advance—if he would’ve finished second, he wouldn’t have had enough points to move on.

Obviously, Brad would love to replicate that performance, as well has his strong outings at both Talladega and Daytona this season. The most recent trip to a restrictor plate track, at Daytona in July, ended up in BK’s first win at the most prestigious track in NASCAR. BK dominated that event, spending 115 of the 161 laps in front of the field. He thought he’d be running the same machine he took to Victory Lane in Daytona, but his crew has another secret weapon waiting to be unleashed in Alabama.

“In fact, the car that we won Daytona with I saw it the other day,” Brad said. “It’s sitting in the back and completely torn down. The body and everything is still just like it finished at Daytona. I asked the guys, ‘Are we really gonna let that car sit? Are we not gonna run that at Talladega?’And they said, ‘No, we’ve got a car better than that for Talladega.’ So I feel really good about these three races and I’m looking forward to kicking them off and getting going. I get so anxious. I hate talking about it. I want to just go race it.”

Currently sitting 11th in points, and just seven markers outside of advancing to the third round, the 2 Crew isn’t in a must-win position as the famed ‘Big One’ can always wipe out the competition. Brad knows that he can’t get caught up in strategy or points, because one wrong move by one driver can change everything.

“Everybody enters Talladega with a strategy,” he says. “Then they drop the green.”

2016 NASCAR Kansas

Grid setting qualifying is set for Saturday, Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, while the main event, the Hellmann’s 500, is set to go green on Sunday Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

Hemric Enters ‘Dega Outside the Cutoff

Brad Keselowski Racing’s Chase for the Camping World Truck Series Championship contender Daniel Hemric earned a runner-up result in the most recent race in Las Vegas, but a blown tire and severed brake line in New Hampshire put a damper on their hopes to advance to the Round of 6.

In his only Talladega Superspeedway start, the Kannapolis N.C. native wound up in 28th after a late race wreck wiped out a handful of drivers. Although, his performance at the sister track Daytona this February gives the team a shot of confidence, as does the presence of a third drafting partner, Austin Cindric in the No. 2 PIRTEK Ford.

“I’m looking forward to going to Talladega Superspeedway, and I know there’s a lot on the line for this No. 19 team,” Hemric said. “I think we learned a lot for our superspeedway package from the third truck we ran in Daytona with Austin Theriault, and hopefully that transfers over to myself, Tyler Reddick and Austin Cindric. Having an extra teammate to work with, especially given our current Chase points situation, definitely won’t hurt. We’ve got to utilize each other to maximize our day and show what we can do together. We have to unload with decent speed and follow the process of everything it takes to get to the front in a superspeedway race from the very first practice, both on the racetrack and on pit road. That’s the key to having a solid day.”

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The third BKR entry piloted by the 18-year-old Cindric marks the first time he hits a speedway in a truck, and he hopes he can gain some valuable experience, while also helping to push Hemric into the Round of 6.

“It’s pretty cool to make my first restrictor plate start at Talladega,” Cindric said. “This weekend is no different than others I’ve done in the PIRTEK Ford F-150, because I need to be a sponge and absorb everything I can. We have to lean on Tyler and Daniel to understand what it takes to run up front. Obviously, the 19 team needs a win to break into the Chase and hopefully I’ll be able to help them get to the front. I just want a nice clean run and to have some fun with it as well. The best thing you can do is study, because it is such a big mental game between the spotter, driver and the competitors. I think that’s where you get the edge and I think that’s where I’m going to need to learn the most. Talladega will be a brand new ballgame. I need to make sure I stay out of trouble and make the right moves in the pack.”

Driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard machine, Tyler Reddick has had the most Talladega success of the trio, finishing fourth and fifth in his two starts at the 2.66-mile facility. Coming off a victory in Sin City, Reddick knows he can still get it done on track, even outside of championship contention.

“Winning at Las Vegas was a huge momentum boost for our Cooper Standard team and everyone at Brad Keselowski Racing,” he said. “We’ve got five races left and we’re very good at all five tracks, so I have a lot of confidence going into each of them. Everyone at BKR does a great job preparing excellent Ford F-150 trucks at the plate races every year. I always get excited for the races at Daytona and Talladega, and it’s a shame that we don’t run four superspeedway races. Truck races are exciting at Talladega and something crazy will likely take place. Hopefully we can take advantage of those things when they happen and have a good weekend. The bottom lane works really well at Talladega, but if two or three trucks in the top lane get the outside lane rolling, you can still go to the front.”

Like their team owner Keselowski, BKR’s Hemric needs to win Talladega to be assured a spot in the next round. Tune into the Fred’s 250 on FOX, live at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 21.

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