Kes Eyes First NXS Win of 2016 at Kentucky

Entering the 16th race of the season this Friday night at Kentucky Speedway, the No. 22 Team Penske XFINITY crew faces an unusual situation: they’re winless.

With Brad Keselowski piloting the Discount Tire Mustang at one of his favorite tracks under the Friday night lights, that could all change at an instant. In the past, Brad was a lock for at least one win per year at Kentucky, but with the fresh pavement it is anyone’s game now.

“A racetrack is somewhat like a human in that it doesn’t get any younger and it doesn’t last forever. I take those things in stride. It’s like I lost a friend,” he says. “But I’ve got a new friend to make.”

2016 Xfinity Iowa

If the Michigan native’s past performances predicts his success, his chances look great on Friday night. In eight XFINITY starts at Kentucky he owns seven Top 5’s, and three victories. In every single year between 2011-2015, Brad won at KS either at the NXS or Cup level: the XFINITY wins all coming in odd years, and the two Cup wins coming in 2012 and 2014. He won the NXS event at Kentucky just last year when he used Dakoda Armstrong as a pick to get around race leader Erik Jones.

“I just caught a little break, to be honest,” he said. “One of the lapped cars locked in Erik. He had done a heck of job and still was doing a heck of a job, and sometimes things don’t go your way. I kind of thought it might happen and went into the corner high, just ready for something to happen, and it did, and I was able to make the most of it coming off Turn 4 and make the pass for the lead.”

Two years prior in 2013, Kes also notched a NXS win at Kentucky, but it was a unique one: his first, and to date, only rain-shortened victory. His long-run car was dominant when necessary, leading 59 of the 170 laps run, and he felt he owed it to himself to use up the rest of the car. So after the race was called, he attempted another memorable stunt: a dampened burnout.

This year, Brad will extend his second-tier XFINITY participation streak to nine consecutive seasons in Kentucky. Without a doubt, his longevity at the mile-and-a-half track added to his success, and he hopes it can help him this time around.

As a whole, the No. 22 team has found their fair share of success at the Sparta, Kentucky racetrack. Notching three wins with BK, and an additional two with protégé Ryan Blaney behind the wheel, the team accounts for five total victories, and a Top 10 in all 10 starts. While Brad drives the Double Deuce, Blaney will pilot the No. 12 Snap-On Ford Mustang.

The Brian Wilson led 22 team will look to add to their Bluegrass State success on Friday, July 8 at 8:30 p.m. ET for the Alsco 300, live on NBC Sports Network.

Slick Surfaces for BKR Trucks

A triple-header weekend at Kentucky Speedway brings the Camping World Truck Series back to action in a rare midweek race.

Five Truck regulars have claimed victories so far this season, leaving three spots available in the Chase, and both BKR drivers would like to take them. Urgency to win is rising in the garage, and the newly surfaced Kentucky provides a chance to take advantage and carve a path to Victory Lane.

“I think it’s pretty cool that the Truck Series is the first series to race the new track surface,” Daniel Hemric says. “This year the track will be a completely different animal, so I can’t really draw on my experience from last year. The one thing I’m confident in is the strength of Brad Keselowski Racing’s intermediate track program this year; and I have no doubt that our Oakmont Management Group Ford F-150 will unload fast.”

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Comparing the recently paved mile-and-a-half at Kansas Speedway to Kentucky, it looks as if Hemric’s No. 19 team could be in for a treat, as he piloted the Truck to a P3 result at Kansas. Additionally, in all three intermediate track races this season, Hemric has finished Top 10, including a pair of thirds.

“We’ve been making a lot of gains at the shop and I think that’s evident when we get to the racetrack,” Hemric says. “Our expectation is the same each and every week we go to the racetrack: win a race and lock ourselves into The Chase.”

Tyler Reddick and his No. 29 team are also excited for the challenges ahead of them.Making his 50th NCWTS start, all with Brad Keselowski Racing, Reddick will look to mark his milestone race in style.

Before Thursday afternoon’s qualifying session he noted that starting position might prove key to a good weekend.

“Qualifying up front to get a good pit stall is going to be crucial,” Reddick says. “We need to make sure that we get up to speed right away and make good use of the practice time that we have. We must execute and not make any mistakes. There are a lot of different variables at Kentucky with the new surface, more banking in Turns 1 and 2, plus we have a different tire than we’ve run there in the past. I have all the faith in the world in our Cooper Standard Careers For Veterans Ford F-150 team will figure it out first.”

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Reddick managed to qualify 5th in Thursday’s session and Hemric will start right in front of him from P4 as the two Team BKR drivers look to seal a place in the new NCWTS Chase.

The Buckle Up in Your Truck 225, goes green on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1

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