Category Archives: cars

Wrecks Ends Brad’s Daytona 500

It was a Daytona 500 filled with promise for Brad Keselowski and the 2Crew, but as is often the case in restrictor plate racing, a moment of calamity changed everything.

Brad started 31st and steadily worked his way through the pack from the drop of the green flag, climbing into the top 10 by lap 29. But the nose of his Ford came unsealed from the car’s front splitter during the early laps of the race, and the team pitted under caution on lap 51 to repair the damage. He restarted outside top 30 when the race went green on lap 55.

Brad racing Alex Bowman during the Daytona 500.

Crew chief Paul Wolfe chose not to pit during the stage break on lap 61, moving Keselowski up to sixth position for the restart on lap 66. He consistently jockeyed for position near the front of the lead draft and was third at the time of the caution on lap 94. He pitted for right-side tires one lap later and lined up third when the race went green on lap 97.

Brad was racing Chase Elliott for second-place on lap 102 when the two made contact at the entrance to Turn 3, triggering a multiple car accident and ending his afternoon. He was credited with a 32nd-place finish in the final rundown.

“The 9 (Chase Elliott) got loose and spun out in front of us all and got caught up in it.  It just really sucks.  We had a great car and were in a great position.  I guess that’s the way it goes.  I went to pass him on the bottom and he came down.  I can’t tell if I made contact or not, but obviously he turned and there was nothing I could do.  We were all wrecked.”

DAYTONA 500

FEBRUARY 18, 2018 . DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
CAR: NO. 2 DISCOUNT TIRE FORD FUSION

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The post Wrecks Ends Brad’s Daytona 500 appeared first on The Official Site of Brad Keselowski . NASCAR Champion.

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Crash Derails 2 in Duel

It looked like Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 team might continue the success they’d had in the Clash in the first of two Can-Am Duels on Thursday night.

But after starting 10th and moving up to third place in only three laps, it was not to be.

Keselowski made just one pit stop for fuel only during the first caution of the 60-lap race on lap 11. While running third, he was involved in an accident with Jamie McMurray at the entrance to Turn 3 on lap 57, three laps from the finish.  Keselowski was credited with a 16th-place finish in the final rundown.

After the race, however, Brad was optimistic for the Daytona 500.

“We wrecked tonight but our Discount Tire Ford will be better than ever for the 500.”

CAM-AM DUEL 1

FEBRUARY 15, 2017 . DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
CAR: NO. 2 DISCOUNT TIRE FORD FUSION

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HONORING BRUCE

The founder of Discount Tire, Bruce Halle, passed away just after the start of the new year. As many of you know, Discount Tire sponsored the Team Penske No. 22 car in the Xfinity Series, and just this fall, announced it was coming on board to support the No. 2 car in the Monster NASCAR Energy Cup Series.

Mr. Halle, to me, was a very special person, and his life embodied many things that move and inspire me. He didn’t come from a prominent business family. He went through a tremendous business failure early on. But he continued to work hard and didn’t give up. He kept trying, and it paid off in amazing ways—not just for him, but for many, many people he helped along the way.

We’re going to honor Mr. Halle by running a special Discount Tire paint scheme in the Daytona 500, and as part of doing that, I want to use this blog to talk about him and what made him special. I admired a great deal about him, and learned a lot from him, too.

MADE BY SIX TIRES

Mr. Halle was born in Massachusetts, but he grew up in the same metro Detroit area I did. He joined the Marines and went to Korea, and he once told me a story about he and a bunch of his buddies were in two foxholes that were right next to each other. The one next to him got blown up and everyone got killed. He survived.

After he came back from Korea, he went to college and eventually started an automotive business in Michigan that went bankrupt in his 30s. His partner in the failed business left him with six tires.

He took those six tires, sold them, and then kept selling used tires, selling them for almost nothing. That’s where the name Discount Tire came from. He started with a store in Ann Arbor, just outside Detroit, and grew the business until it was one of the most successful companies in America, which is pretty remarkable.

He was a self-made man, and Discount Tire was privately owned, too.

And that’s just the beginning of what made him great.

He also probably has the best reputation of anybody I have ever worked with. Period. The people that worked for him loved him. The community he worked around loved him.

He had a huge foundation that he personally donated millions to. He created a scholarship that sent some 2,700-plus of his employees’ children to college. A powerhouse of good came out of his success.

He showed that you could be a capitalist, and be a good guy, too.

MEETING BRUCE

I met Bruce in the summer of 2009. Roger Penske and I had talked about having me drive for him, and I’d explained that I’d only do it if we had an Xfinity team. So he went out and worked really hard to land Discount Tire as a sponsor.

But Discount Tire had one small caveat before they would agree to sponsor the car.

They wanted to meet me.

So one Wednesday during the middle of the race season, I flew to Scottsdale, Ariz., to meet Bruce Halle. We sat down and had lunch, and we talked. He asked me about where I was from. He asked if I thought we could win. (I did.) We talked about family. We talked about life. We talked about a lot of things that weren’t related to racing.

A lot of things struck me about him that day. Most people that run a huge, self-owned company the size of Discount Tire have gigantic egos. They show very little humility. He wasn’t that way. He was really quiet and humble. He was a very good listener.

Nothing was set when I left that day. But later that night, I heard from Mr. Halle.

He said he would sponsor the car.

If it wasn’t for Bruce Halle, I wouldn’t be at Penske. I wouldn’t have the wins. I probably wouldn’t have the championship. I don’t know where I would be, but he was another really important person in terms of getting my career off the ground, and a lot of people don’t know that.

As I got to know him later, I got to see how great he was with his employees. Just the way he talked with them, the way he listened to them, how lighthearted he was—it was really refreshing.

Every year, Mr., Halle would invite me to meet him in Lake Tahoe, where he had this employee retreat. And at the employee retreat, he would take his best people. We’re not just talking store managers. If you were one of the best tire changers at Discount Tire, you might be in Lake Tahoe on a paid vacation with your family. I was lucky enough to get to know his son-in-law, Michael Zuieback, at those trips as well. As the new CEO of Discount Tire, Michael is going to do an amazing job continuing Bruce’s legacy.

What I loved about those meetings was the way Mr. Halle talked and engaged with everyone. He shared his thoughts about his company with everyone who was there, and the values he wanted it to stand for.

One of my favorite things Mr. Halle did was institute a policy where if our car won, everyone in Discount Tire corporate got to wear jeans the next day. Everyone.

I always thought that was so cool.

FIVE VALUES

I went to Mr. Halle’s funeral, and I have to tell you: It was one of the toughest funerals I’ve ever been to.

There were so many people there, from so many different walks of life. He was 87, and for people that age, the sentiment is typically something like, “He lived a good life.” For him, you could feel that his impact would really, really be missed. There was a lot of crying. It spoke to how much the community thought of him, and to the legacy he left behind.

One thing he always did—this was one of his personal hallmarks—was carry around small pins in the shape of an angel, and he’d give them to people. He was Catholic, a very religious man, and he’d say, “God bless you. God bless your family. Here’s this pin, symbolizing how I hope the angels are always with you.”

Mr. Halle had five key values that he used in his life, and I really like them a lot. I’d like to share them here, and in his honor, also talk about how I plan to apply them in my own life. They are:

  1. Be honest. Being honest is something I’ve tried to be. These blogsare meant to be just that, an opportunity to communicate things as truly as I can. I plan to continue to do that, both in my blogsand in social media in general.
  2. Work hard.I plan to apply all my effort to being successful on and off the race track, whether it’s to benefit the community or outside business interests. I’m working on some new things and ventures in the community, and will be applying myself to the utmost of my ability to continue to work hard for the community, whether it be my foundation or outside business interests.
  3. Have fun. How am I committed to having a little fun? With my daughter and my wife, mainly, by going on trips this year, and doing some really neat things. There are dinners I intend to have with my team, and other events. That’s how I plan on having fun.
  4. Be grateful. Mr. Halle always talked about being grateful. To that end, I’m going to continue to acknowledge God, show humility and always be appreciative of my team’s efforts.
  5. Pay it forward. Finally, I’ll be paying it forward through my foundation and the things we do there. In the past, I also would have said that my truck team was part of paying it forward since we were giving new drivers a chance to make their mark. But since the team is gone, I’m going to lean more heavily toward the foundation.

THE LEGACY

I’m thrilled to be honoring Mr. Halle at Daytona with the paint scheme you see here. It’s got his five values on it along with an angel, and hopefully, we can get it to Victory Lane. More than anything, though, I’m excited for people to see the car, and maybe learn a little more about Mr. Halle’s story.

Hopefully, he can be the kind of inspiration to others that he has been to me.

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Keselowski Gets Stylish Partner in Epoch Eyewear™

EP-OCH | NOUN ˈe-pək, ˈe-ˌpäk, ˈēˌpäk:

A period of time in history or a person’s life, typically one marked by notable events or particular characteristics.

Veteran-owned and operated sunglasses company, Epoch Eyewear, is adding a notable event to their company history today by announcing a multi-year partnership with Brad Keselowski, becoming the official eyewear provider of the NASCAR champion. In addition to his on-track success, Keselowski is also an active supporter of military veterans through his Checkered Flag Foundation.

Epoch Eyewear was founded in 2014 by Army National Guard veteran, Rebecca Milner, and her husband Bret Milner, an experienced eyewear designer and innovator. The wholesale sunglasses company distributes product throughout the United States and features styles ranging from sports and motorcycle performance to lifestyle lines.

“We are thrilled to be entering into this relationship with Brad,” said Rebecca Milner. “As we thought about an ideal brand ambassador for Epoch, Brad hit all the marks. He is a champion on the track, having worked extremely hard from his youth to earn that distinction. He is a forward-thinking innovator and his long-standing support of our country’s veterans lines up perfectly with what we are all about at Epoch. We look forward to bringing all of this together in what we will do with Brad to grow the Epoch brand.”

As part of their partnership, Keselowski will design a special line of Epoch Eyewear sunglasses that will be available for sale to the public later this spring. The Brad Keselowski line will feature both sports performance and lifestyle designs. A portion of the proceeds from the line will be donated by Epoch Eyewear to Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation.

In addition, Epoch Eyewear will offer multiple race fan-related discounts and VIP experiences. This includes a discount code for 25% off any sunglass purchase for one week after Keselowski wins a NASCAR Cup Series or Xfinity Series race, and the opportunity for fans to win a VIP meet and greet with Keselowski in 2018. Further details and additional program announcements will be made in the near future.

“Partnering with Epoch Eyewear is a tremendous opportunity for me,” said Keselowski. “Not only do they produce quality and stylish products that I like to wear, but they are veteran-owned and operated. Being able to tie my foundation into this partnership is meaningful. Beyond that, I have a ton of respect for Rebecca and Bret’s entrepreneurial spirit. I look forward to working with both of the them and whole team at Epoch.”

Keselowski will kick off the 2018 NASCAR season this Sunday, February 11 in the Clash at Daytona International Speedway.

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Draw-Tite and REESE Join The 2 Crew

A long-time partner of Brad Keselowski’s BKR truck team is moving up to the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series to join the 2 Crew.

Team Penske announced on Tuesday that REESE and Draw-Tite will serve as main sponsors for Brad and his No. 2 Ford Fusion for two races during the 2018 season. The Deuce will don the new lead sponsors in March at Martinsville Speedway and in September at Richmond Raceway. REESE branding will also be showcased on the No. 2 Ford throughout the 2018 MENCS season.

The agreement is part of a multi-year partnership between Team Penske and Horizon Global towing and trailering brands. The company will also serve as a full-season associate sponsor on the car driven by Simon Pagenaud in the Verizon IndyCar Series this season.

“Horizon Global is a Michigan-based, automotive-focused company, like Penske Corporation, and we welcome them to the Team Penske NASCAR and INDYCAR programs beginning this season,” team owner Roger Penske said. “We look forward to helping build the company’s REESE and Draw-Tite brands through motorsports and they’ll have some great opportunities working with two series champions in Brad and Simon.”

Horizon Global designs is based out of Troy, Michigan, not too far from where BK grew up in Rochester Hills. This company has been known for distributing an extensive list of towing, trailering, cargo management, and other accessory products for the automotive aftermarket. BK has been involved with Horizon Global since 2012, partnering with the company for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where they sponsored his trucks for the majority of their runs.

As a result, Brad’s strong relationship with Horizon Global Americas President John Aleva helped the two sides come together for the possibility of extreme growth.

“We couldn’t be more enthusiastic to expand our motorsports involvement with Team Penske in 2018,” said John Aleva, President of Horizon Global Americas. “Over the past six seasons, we have developed a strong relationship with Brad and have seen first-hand how beneficial motorsports has been to our company. Taking the next step to grow our program with Team Penske is something we couldn’t pass up.”

BK will join the Horizon Global team at the North American International Auto Show on Thursday, January 18th, in Detroit.

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Fear Not: The Autonomous Car Is A Bust

One of the best parts about having a blog is the opportunity to engage with people about some of the things I’m thinking about, and to make each other think. That’s why this week, I’m going to talk about a topic that’s been on my mind for a while now: the autonomous vehicle.

To kick this conversation off, I have a message for everyone who loves driving and motorsports. And that message is this: Don’t worry. You have nothing to fear. Autonomous cars aren’t a threat to racing, and they never will be. (They might be a threat to our safety, but more on that later.)

A Ford Explorer is the car I drive daily, but in full disclosure, I bought a car that has fully autonomous features. That might shock a lot of you, but the way I think about it is kind of like one of my favorite scenes from The Hunt for Red October. A couple Russians are speaking while Alec Baldwin, an American, is in the room. To their surprise, Baldwin starts talking in Russian, too. When asked why he knows Russian, Baldwin says that it’s wise to know his enemy. That’s kind of how I feel about autonomous vehicles. In a way, they’re my greatest adversary as a race car driver, so I want to know everything I can about them.

With my own autonomous car, I use the adaptive cruise control a lot (basically, a kind of autopilot), the radar for parking, and the parallel park functions. The car does pretty well in traffic on the freeway, so that’s cool. But at the end of the day, it’s kind of confirmed what I was already feeling about autonomous cars in general.

It’s worth saying that my own opinion here kind of makes me laugh because I generally don’t have a lot of patience for people who are overly pessimistic. But I am of the opinion that the autonomous vehicle will never succeed in the United States, and at least part of how I feel comes from being a race car driver.

WHAT IS AUTONOMOUS?

With respect to what a fully autonomous vehicle is, a famous car executive once explained that autonomous can mean different things to different people, and broke things down into different categories:

“We’ve been working on autonomous vehicles for over 10 years. Our approach is twofold. One is to be a leader in advanced driver assist and semiautonomous features, features that will keep you in your lane, that will alert you about traffic, that will adapt your speed…That was what they call level zero through three, where the driver has to be in control. Then there’s level four, where the driver or passenger does not need to be prepared to take control…Level-four vehicles—[which operate] in a defined area that’s been 3-D mapped—we think that somebody in the industry will have by the end of the decade. A level-five vehicle, which is, you go into your car, you hit a button, you go to sleep and you wake up at grandma’s house, that is a long way away—15, 20 years.”

Twenty years ago, cruise control would have basically been autonomous. Today, people think of the Tesla autopilot as autonomous.

For millennials, autonomous basically means, “I don’t have to do anything.” You can listen to music, play the air guitar, read on your iPad, and not do anything behind the wheel of a car. You just get in a car, push a button, and go from point A to point B without having to do anything to get to your destination. The car does everything. It’s what the car executive would have called a level five.

That’s the version I’m going use for this discussion: the fully autonomous vehicle.

THE HUMAN ELEMENT

As a race car driver, I deal with situations all the time where I have to see things coming before they happen. Talladega is kind of a perfect example of that. Being able to run a race at Talladega is all about quick reactions, predictive analysis, and the ability to step in before something goes wrong. I try to see a scenario two or three laps before it’s going to happen. I try to be prepared for it, and to be positioned for it not to affect me.

Imagine that you’re in a car, and you’re driving behind a truck carrying a bunch of logs. There’s a log on the pile that’s loose, and looks like it might fall off. An autonomous vehicle’s sensors aren’t going to pick up something that hasn’t happened yet but might. You would. If you were driving the car, you’d simply get in another lane, and pass that truck before anything happened.

That’s a lot like being a race car driver (though again, we’re doing all of this at 200 mph). You’re putting yourself in situations or getting yourself out of situations that you see coming. Computers and algorithms can make calculations at lightning fast speeds, but there are still tremendous advantages the human mind has. We can draw on our experience, and in many cases, still process situations faster and more thoughtfully and accurately than an autopilot could.

So that alone seems like a reason why you wouldn’t want to remove the human element from driving completely.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Another big strike against autonomous vehicles is that to some extent, they’re going to have to rely on our country’s infrastructure system to be successful. There are plenty of reasons to think that will be problematic.

The Tesla’s autopilot, for example, relies on sensors being able to read the road. When they do that, they pick up on things like lane markers. They’re affected by the type of pavement you’re driving on. Whenever there’s construction—and I’m not sure what things are like where you live, but there’s always construction going on where I’m at—we put up jersey barriers and yellow cones. Sometimes there aren’t any lines painted on the ground at all because they’re tearing up the pavement. Or there’s fresh pavement, but the lines are all crooked and painted wrong.

THE LIMITS OF TECHNOLOGY

There’s basically two different ways that autonomous cars can “see” the road. There’s a mostly GPS-based model that relies on super detailed mapping, and there’s a mostly camera-based model that actually relies on special cameras and sensors (visual, infrared, etc.) on the cars themselves. Unfortunately, both of these can be messed up pretty easily, and the things that cause them problems are very real, and not easy to fix.

Going back to the infrastructure issue, GPS-based mapping can’t handle changes that occur to roads. So if there’s construction, for example, the car gets thrown. I remember hearing that in one test run of autonomous cars, a car got stuck at a stop sign because it had moved a few feet, and was at odds with the GPS information the car was using. The car read the sign’s new location as an obstruction, and refused to move.

In the same way, cameras stop functioning well when things like weather conditions change. A snow covered road, for example, doesn’t have things on it like lane markers. It basically renders the technology that an autonomous car would rely on essentially useless.

I experienced the limitations of this tech first-hand not that long ago. I drove to Darlington in autonomous mode on a perfectly clear day, and it was a complete disaster. The road I was on for a lot of the drive was a divided highway with u-turns set on the left side of highway at regular intervals, so the lines in the road were drawn differently. Literally every time we passed a u-turn, the car went crazy and tried to pull left. I could not drive the car in the left lane in autonomous mode.

LIABILITY

This is another big question that is really, really tough to answer. If there’s an accident with an autonomous vehicle, who’s at fault? Who’s going to pay the bill for the damages? What happens if the autonomous system doesn’t see something that the average person would have, and someone gets hurt or killed? Would you blame the auto company for not writing a better algorithm?

If there’s a lawsuit every time an autonomous vehicle fails, it seems like it would cripple the industry’s ability to make those cars, and remove a lot of financial incentives to do so.

It’s a tremendous challenge to figure out the liability side of things.

REDUNDANCY

Not that long ago, I had two interesting things happen in vehicles I was traveling in. The autonomous sensors failed in my car, and a part broke in my airplane right in the middle of a flight.

The difference between the two failures added another dimension to why I don’t believe an autonomous vehicle will ever work.

When my airplane broke down, it lost a circuit board that runs the batteries in the plane. But it had two boards. The airplane was able to keep flying. We landed immediately, and got the part repaired. We were able to do that because airplanes are built with a culture of redundancy. The premise behind that is it’s better to be broken down on the ground than in the air, wishing you were on the ground or worse. If you have a redundant system, when one critical system fails, you stop flying, and get to the ground.

Redundant systems are very expensive to build, which is why the automotive industry generally doesn’t build cars with redundancy. For the most part, there is one system of everything in a car: one engine, one battery, one set of controls. Automotive culture is if one thing breaks, hopefully it’s something that you can get fixed easily. You just stop somewhere on the side of the road, call AAA, and move on.

To make autonomous cars truly safe, I think you’d have to introduce at least some level of redundancy in a few different areas. You’d also need costly safety and maintenance checks. That would make cars a lot less affordable, which in turn removes an incentive for building them.

YOUR THOUGHTS

There are a bunch of other issues that come up with autonomous cars that could probably merit their own sections. If computers are running the show, that opens them up to being hacked, and who knows what happens if people are able to take over the controls of autonomous cars. There’s also the reality of American car culture: People still love to drive their cars, and they love to watch their favorite drivers race, too.

But you know what? I could be dead wrong here. Twenty years from now, they might come out with a fully working autonomous vehicle. Yes, I’m a race car driver and somewhat of an expert when it comes to being behind the wheel, but there’s a lot more to this than that. I definitely don’t have all the answers, and quite honestly, I’m just as interested to hear what you think.

So what do you think? Post your thoughts here in the comments on my site, or on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #DriverlessCarBlog.

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Brad Reflects on Season at NASCAR Awards

Close, but no cigar.

That was the sentiment expressed by Brad Keselowski at the annual NASCAR Awards, held at the end of each season to honor the top drivers, and celebrate the Cup champion.

Winning does not define you as a professional athlete, handling defeat builds character and in Brad Keselowski’s memorable speech showcasing Martin Truex’s Jr. first championship, he displays the strong character that has made him so likable in NASCAR. Overall, NASCAR isn’t just won on the track, as Keselowski demonstrated via a humble speech to the champion of the 2017 season Martin Truex Jr.

The video below displays rivals Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski exchanging friendly jabs with the question, “What are you buying Brad Keselowski for Christmas?” at the 13:20 mark.

As the crowd erupts in laughter they amuse the crowd for a couple more seconds. 

Kurt Busch: I swear, that guy’s reading a road map as he’s driving.

Brad Keselowski: Is it a left?

Ryan Newman: Sometimes in the middle of the straightaway.

Watch NASCAR drivers roast each other during Champion’s Week in Vegas

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BK Set For Clash at Daytona

Long a staple of the season-opening Speedweeks at Daytona, the annual Clash exhibition race is making a move from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon in 2018.

NASCAR announced on Monday that fans will get a double-dose of racing action to open the 2018 season on Sunday, February 11, with The Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway capping a day that starts with Coors Light Pole Award qualifying for the 60th Annual Daytona 500.

“A double-header, featuring The Clash and Daytona 500 qualifying, is a great way to start the 2018 season,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “The urgency created by the non-points race sets a tone for the season, providing a strong preview of the competition we expect will be a mainstay all year long.”

A star-studded lineup of elite drivers will battle in the 75-lap event which airs live on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 3 p.m. ET. The annual preseason race will be run in two segments, with a competition caution at lap 25 separating the segments.

Consistent with the eligibility criteria used to determine last year’s Clash field, there is no pre-determined number of cars. The exclusive field is limited to drivers who were 2017 Coors Light Pole Award winners, former Clash race winners, former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2017 and drivers who qualified for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

Eligible drivers included all 14 Coors Light Pole Award winners from the 2017 season, a list that includes Brad Keselowski thanks to his pole award wins at Las Vegas and Michigan. The other 13 who qualified for the Clash based on pole award wins are:  Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr.

Additionally any former Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Award Winners and 2017 Playoff drivers who didn’t win a pole award in 2017 are still qualified for the race. That adds six drivers to the field: Austin Dillon, Jimmie Johnson, Danica Patrick, Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman, bringing the total to 20. For the first time in years, they’ll race in the afternoon sunshine instead of under the lights at Daytona this coming February.

“For four decades, the Advance Auto Parts Clash has been a staple of the Speedweeks lineup,” Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. “The event has a rich history and serves as a preview to the Can-Am Duel qualifying races and the DAYTONA 500. Combining the Advance Auto Parts Clash and DAYTONA 500 Qualifying on the same day will deliver race fans a full day of NASCAR action.”

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2 Crew Falls Short in Finale at Homestead

Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion team did all they could to battle for their second championship on Sunday afternoon, but without elite speed, they fell short of their title hopes at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Kes earned a spot as one of the Championship 4 alongside Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, giving him a shot at his second title at the Monster Energy Cup Series level. Unfortunately, his White Lite didn’t have the speed to contend with the Toyotas of Truex and Busch as he finished seventh in the Ford EcoBoost 400 to finish fourth—the second-best finish of his Cup career.

“We ran as hard as we could and put it all out there and just basically didn’t have enough speed,” Brad said. “On the mile-and-a-halfs, we weren’t as good as the 78 and 18 and those guys. This last race coming down to a mile-and-a-half didn’t particularly bode well for us, but my team ran as hard as they could run. They made some great calls—Paul Wolfe and everybody and put ourselves in position every chance we could to make the most out of the opportunities that existed without just being lightning fast, but it wasn’t there.”

BK qualified fifth for the final race of the 2017 season, though Kes knew coming in that his Ford couldn’t match the Toyota muscle on mile-and-a-half tracks. Right from the start, BK and Wolfe went off sequence. A caution flag flew just six laps into the day, and Wolfe called his driver to pit road while the leaders stayed out.

Brad restarted 13th at lap 10 and used his fresh tires to carve through the field to second place. He finished the first stage in the second position, first among all remaining championship contenders.

As the sun set, the Miller Lite Ford swung loose, causing Brad to slip to fifth place—a microcosm of the race for the No. 2 team, as they never quite had the speed to make it stick up front.

“We’ve just got to be faster,” BK said. “We can’t show up and be that far behind on the mile-and-a-halves. We know that. That Toyota car is a good ways in front of us and we’ve got to figure that out.”

At lap 122, Brad pitted from fifth, and fourth among championship drivers. On this cycle, Wolfe elected to short-pit, an action that brought the rest of the field on to pit road. Kes was holding strong in the top-five when Danica Patrick hit the wall at lap 142, bringing the field to pit road. Wolfe’s fitted Brad with a short-run setup on with 10 laps to go in Stage 2, helping him charge his way to fourth with a strong restart. However, he couldn’t hold off Busch toward the end of the run and he finished the second stage in fifth.

Kes restarted seventh for the final 100 laps but was bottled up, causing him to fall to 11th on the restart. He worked his way back to ninth before pitting under green at lap 198. The 2 Crew helped vault him to sixth when the field cycled, where he remained when the season’s final caution flag flew at lap 229.

The 2012 Cup Champion restarted seventh for the final 34 laps, but he didn’t have the power to advance over the closing laps, settling for a seventh-place finish while Martin Truex Jr. won his first MENCS title.

“You’re always gonna be disappointed when you don’t win the championship here, but I’m not disappointed in the effort,” Brad said. “There was a lot of great effort from my whole team and that’s something I was proud of.”

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Ford EcoBoost 400

“Homestead is a lot different than Phoenix. Hopefully we can find what we need to run up front there and catch some breaks and win it. I am very hopeful for that. I am proud of the whole team.”

– @KESELOWSKI

RACE SNAPSHOT

START

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FINISH

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LAPS LED

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POINTS EARNED

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+ BRAD, MARTIN TRUEX JR., KEVIN HARVICK AND KYLE BUSCH EACH ENTER THE WINNER-TAKE-ALL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE TIED WITH 5,000 POINTS.

+ BK’S HOMESTEAD STATISTICS: 9 STARTS, 3 TOP 10S, 2 TOP 5S, BEST FINISH: 3RD (2014, 2015), 106 LAPS LED

+ THE LAST TIME KES WENT TO HOMESTEAD WITH A SHOT AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP, HE DELIVERED, FINISHING 15TH TO BRING HOME THE CUP TITLE IN 2012.

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