BK Leads 105 Laps, Earns Stage Win in Michigan

Michigan driver Brad Keselowski thought he could finally pull off that elusive victory at his home track, but it just didn’t come together for the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team at Michigan International Speedway.

BK earned the pole position for the second time this season and dominated Stage 1 of the Pure Michigan 400. He also finished second in Stage 2 and led a race-high 105 laps, making for an outstanding points day for the Miller 2 Crew, but Kes and Co. didn’t have the speed to contend with Martin Truex Jr. late in the race, finishing 17th.

“The team did a good job. We executed in qualifying and all of those things, and we really made the most out of everything we had today, it just didn’t come out our way,” Brad said. “It just didn’t come together there at the end, but it was nice to lead a bunch of laps. That was good and something I was really proud of.”

It was one of the most special Coors Light Pole Awards of Brad’s career—his first ever pole at MIS set the top speed for the 2017 season, leaving the team optimistic going into Sunday’s 400-miler, which featured an All-Team Penske front row.

Once the race started, BK sailed smoothly through Stage 1, as he cruised to his fourth Stage win of the season—awarding another valuable bonus Playoff point in the progress. Leading a majority of the second Stage as well, the Deuce came up a spot short to Martin Truex Jr.

At that point, Brad and crew chief Paul Wolfe knew they didn’t have the power to outrun the Furniture Row Toyotas driven by Truex and Erik Jones. And the Miller 2 Crew didn’t go to Michigan to finish third, so Wolfe elected to go to an off-sequence strategy, hoping the caution flags would fall in their favor.

Electing to visit pit road during a lap 140 caution, Brad was the highest running driver to visit pit road, as the rest of the leaders stayed out. Even with fresher tires and a full load of fuel, the lost track position was too much to overcome. A handful of late-race restarts from the inside line turned out to be an even larger setback, as it caused the No. 2 Ford to drop to P17 when the checkered flag flew.

“I just didn’t have enough to really run with the 77 and the 78. We tried a little strategy to kind of get something out of it, but the way it all played out I ended up getting the bottom lane on the restarts and getting absolutely swallowed,” BK recalled. “We tried. We put in as much effort as we could. We knew we didn’t have as much as those two, but we gave it 100 percent effort and I was really proud of my team for that.”

Disappointed that he’ll have to wait another 10 months for a shot at a hometown win, Brad and the Miller Lite team can’t have their heads down for too long. Next up on the Monster Energy Cup Series tour is another of BK’s marquee tracks: Bristol Motor Speedway. A two-time winner at the concrete half-mile, Brad wants to add a third tally to the chart. The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race from BMS airs live on NBC on Saturday, August 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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