BK Rallies To Unlikely Runner-Up Finish at Kansas

A lot went wrong for the 2 Crew on Saturday night at Kansas Speedway, but the last several weeks have been all about perseverance and never was it on better display than late in the Go Bowling 400.

Brad rallied from 35th position, two laps down to steal the runner-up spot in the 11th race of the season, his ninth Top 10 and seventh Top 5 finish of the 2017 season. Afterward, he credited his team’s diligence with putting them in position to succeed on a night when all seemed lost.

“We caught a couple breaks there on those restarts and made the most of them,” the wheelman said. “That was good. We had a really great Freightliner Elite Support Ford, just kept getting caught in adversity there. We worked our way through it.”

Saturday’s annual spring event at Kansas Speedway looked to be another crucial track position event, which created a challenge for the 2 team starting the race in P17. But BK pushed forward. When the first caution flew on lap 28, Kes had moved up to 14th, passing Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez, and Austin Dillon. Interim crew chief Brian Wilson, serving his third and final race atop the 2 box for Paul Wolfe, called Brad down for four tires and fuel under yellow, and the 2 Crew’s excellent stop gained three more spots. Following that stop, as the sun set and night conditions took hold, the Deuce was even better.

The remainder of the 80 lap opening stage saw two more yellow flags, and with the car dialed in, Brad worked his way up to fifth as the Green and White flag waved. Though that result put BK in position to earn some valuable Stage points, it was bittersweet as both of the drivers above him in points, Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr., finished ahead, and as a result both increased their margin over BK.

“It stinks we finished second and still lost points because we didn’t get [enough of] those Stage points,” BK commented after the race.

The 2 Crew used the Stage break to pit, where Wilson called for a four-tire, fuel and wedge adjustment stop. The pit crew got BK out in 12.4 seconds, which put him P6 on the lap 88 restart.

When a caution flag flew just seven laps later for one of Erik Jones’ three spins on the evening, Wilson called BK back down pit road for a strategy play. The 2 Crew slapped another fresh set of Goodyear Eagles on the Deuce looking to get ahead of the game. Once the race restarted on lap 100, BK was able to slice through the field from P24, jumping up to P17 by the time a lap 102 debris caution flew.

On the ensuing lap 105 restart, Brad found a fifth gear and drove from 12th up to 6th by the completion of that lap. When he passed Kurt Busch for fifth shortly thereafter, it appeared the lost track position from that P93 stop was in the rear view. But just a few laps after he broke back into the Top 5, Kes had to make an unscheduled pit stop stemming from a right rear tire problem. Cycling out P34, a lap behind, the blows didn’t end there as the 2 team was also sanctioned a pass through penalty for driving through too many pit boxes. The Deuce eventually returned to the track in 35th position, two laps off pace.

“So much happened, I’m not sure I even know,” Brad said of the setbacks. “We had a really good Elite Support Ford Fusion all day and just never had a chance to show it. Every time we started to pass cars and cycle up to the front, we had some kind of issue, which was a real bummer to not be able to showcase the strength that we had.”

A lap 135 caution brought out by Corey LaJoie allowed the 2 to take a wave around and claim a lap back. The move paid off once the second Stage — won by Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney — ended on lap 160. The break in the action allowed the team to take another wave around to get back on the lead lap.

Running on worn rubber, Brad wasn’t able to gain much ground, but a timely caution on lap 194, for a wreck between AJ Allmendinger and Paul Menard, allowed BK to finally change tires and fill his tank. On the ensuing restart, Kes narrowly avoided a horrific wreck that totaled Penske teammate Joey Logano’s car, along with the Fords of Danica Patrick and Aric Almirola.

The wreck startled the NASCAR community with a shocking reminder of racing’s dangers when Almirola, though fully responsive, had to be airlifted to a local hospital wrapped in a neck brace.

After the lengthy cleanup ended, Brad and the rest of the field had to shake off his thoughts of the wreck and get back to racing. With fresh tires and back on the lead lap, Brad began to pick through the field.

He moved back inside the Top 10 on lap 226, then passed Trevor Bayne and Larson to claim P8 just ahead of the second incident of the night involving the No. 83 of LaJoie. Wilson and Brad opted for a full set of sticker tires on theFreightliner Elite Support Deuce while others only took two. It dropped the 2 car back to P13 – but proved it’s worth before the end of the evening.

On a restart with five laps remaining, frontrunners Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson tangled, which set BK up for a short two-lap shootout from fourth place. After using the final restart to catapult past Blaney’s No. 21 and the 4 of Kevin Harvick, the Frieghtliner Ford fell short of Truex’s Toyota, as the New Jersey driver went on to capture his second checkered flag of the season.

“Towards the end we were able to get some runs and make the most of it, and I think we went from probably 20th with 100 to go to second, which was a pretty big climb in the sport,” BK said. “But I kind of feel like I would have liked to have seen if it would have just played out normal. I think we might have had a shot at him…all in all, we had a really fast Ford and have a lot to be proud of. We will move on to the next week.”

Truex now has two wins and five Stage wins to his credit, he is scored with 15 playoff points, the only total higher than Brad’s 12.

Looking forward, the Monster Energy Cup Series teams prepare for the newly designed All-Star race. Usual crew chief Paul Wolfe will have to shine in the non-points event with additional strategies being employed during the 70-lap showdown, including a second Goodyear tire compound.

The 25th annual running of the All-Star Race commences on Saturday, May 20th at 8 p.m. ET.

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