BK Finishes 15th at Charlotte to Start Round of 12

Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford team will have their work cut out for them in the final two races of the Round of 12.

The No. 2 Team Penske crew just didn’t have it in their hometown, finishing 15th in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. As a result, Kes dropped from fourth to 10th in the Monster Energy Cup Series standings going into next weekend’s trip to Talladega Superspeedway.

“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,” Brad said. “I was probably more frustrated with not being as fast as we wanted to be.  That makes the day a lot longer, but a little bit of heat, that’s what this sport is about.”

The Black and Yellow Deuce had some speed off the hauler for just his third start of sixth or better in the last seven races. However, a spin in practice to start the weekend foreshadowed the handling issues that plagued BK throughout race day. When the green flag dropped on Sunday, Brad couldn’t hold his starting position as he fought a machine that lacked stability entering and exiting the corners of the 1.5-mile North Carolina racetrack.

A rough restart on lap 36 saw Brad slide out of the Top 20. He did all he could to pick his way back to the front but made it to just 14th, just outside of the points at the conclusion of Stage 1. A nice pit stop by the 2 Crew sent BK off into Stage 2 from the 12th position. But 90 laps later, he found himself just outside of the points again, in 13th position when the second stage came to a close.

Paul Wolfe and Co. made rounds of air pressure and wedge adjustments while Brad altered the track bar from the cockpit. The No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts machine found a little life late in the race as Brad cracked the Top 10 after a green-flag pit cycle around lap 225.

But the stint in the Top 10 didn’t last. As Brad continued to fight an ill-handling Ford, he slid back out of the Top 10 to 15th place when the checkered flag flew, the second-lowest finish of all remaining playoff contenders.

BK earned 22 points from his finish but couldn’t collect any additional points throughout the day. He sits 10th in the MENCS standings, though he’s just two points off of this round’s eighth-place cutline.

The Monster Energy Cup Series now heads to Talladega Superspeedway, where Brad boasts four wins, more than any other track. Kes finished seventh at Talladega earlier this season. Of his four Dega wins, one came in this fall event—and it came in 2014 as one of the biggest wins of his career. That clutch victory sent him to the next round of the playoffs, a feat he’ll look to replicate Sunday (Oct. 15) at 2 p.m. ET.

MENCS PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

  1. Martin Truex Jr. – 3106*
  2. Kyle Larson – 3072
  3. Kevin Harvick – 3069
  4. Chase Elliott – 3
  5. Denny Hamlin – 3056
  6. Kyle Busch – 3055
  7. Jimmie Johnson – 3051
  8. Jamie McMurray – 3044

— ROUND OF 8 CUTLINE —

  1. Matt Kenseth – 3043
  2. Brad Keselowski – 3042
  3. Ryan Blaney – 3039
  4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 3034

* – Clinched Round of 8 Berth

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