Brad Eyes Deuce’s First Win at Daytona

For a driver like Brad Keselowski who loves honoring his country and those who serve and protect it, emerging victorious over Independence Day weekend would be one of the sweetest wins of his racing career.

BK will sport a Stars and Stripes banner on the windshield of his No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford under the lights in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at the mecca of NASCAR: Daytona International Speedway. His Checkered Flag Foundation solely benefits wounded warriors, making weekends like these all the more significant for the Team Penske driver.

“I like to think that I’m a pretty patriotic guy. It’s awesome to be able to celebrate our country’s independence down in Daytona Beach at one of the most important tracks to NASCAR,” Brad says. “It’s a Saturday night race, which everyone seems to enjoy, both drivers and fans.”

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Not only would an American flag burnout on the 4th of July weekend become a momentous memory for BK, but it also adds another achievement to legendary car owner Roger Penske’s resume, as his famed No .2 car has never won a point paying race in Daytona.

“We need to fix that,” Brad said of the Deuce’s empty win column at DIS.

During the annual nighttime July race, Special K has shown some promise at the prestigious race track—but never enough to seal the deal. His best showing came during his 2012 Sprint Cup title run, where he scored an eighth place result. All six of his other starts ended up outside of the Top 10, something that leaves the Michigan native scratching his head.

When he marked the eighth place finish in 2012, it followed a win in the spring Talladega race. This year he will once again enter the Coke Zero 400 in similar fashion as the victor of the most recent restrictor plate event in dominant fashion, spending 46 laps in front of the field, the most of anyone.

The following July run at Daytona for Brad in 2013 showed potential for a solid finish in the Top 5, but a late race restart ended those hopes. After getting shuffled out of the ever important draft, Kes wound up in 21st. Reflecting on the finish, he continued to look forward.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s one of those things,” BK said after an unfortunate summer 2013 result at Daytona. “You have to move on to the next hand, the next race. If you’re dwelling on that, you’re not focused on what’s in front of you.”

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While Daytona has been unkind to Brad, Talladega has been the opposite. He has four wins at the wide-open Alabama superspeedway, more than any other track. He also has nine Top 10s in just 15 starts—compared to just three in 14 starts at Daytona.

“I think Daytona and Talladega have long been two different tracks,” Kes says. “It is wider and a lot harder to block and control the pace at Talladega. That is not a bad thing.”

The crapshoot race also marks a milestone on the personal level, as BK will take the green flag for the 250th time in his career. As he takes the track for a milestone start he hopes he can add a milestone victory as well: the 20th win for his career.

“I am going there to win.”

The first two practice sessions of the weekend were rained out. Brad posted the third fastest time on the board during the lone practice run of the weekend: 45.292 seconds. Brad was strong in qualifying: fifth in the first round and fifth in the second, where he’ll start under the lights Saturday night. He’ll be joined by a pair of potential drafting partners near the front: Team Penske’s Joey Logano qualified 11th, while Ryan Blaney was 12th in the Penske-powered Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford.

The first NBC broadcast race of the season, the Coke Zero 400 will go green Saturday, July 2nd at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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