Miller 2 Crew Looks to Stay Hot at The Paperclip

Returning to some familiar eastern territory after scoring Top 5 finishes at all three stops of NASCAR’s annual West Coast Swing, Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team are excited for the prospects of the task at hand: The Paperclip.

“We’re starting to get this place where we’re really consistent and can run up front and that’s a good feeling,” he says.

Five races into the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, the 2 Crew has cycled through four different paint schemes on the car: Miller at Daytona and Las Vegas, AutoTrader in Atlanta, Alliance Truck Parts in Phoenix and Wurth last week in California (not to mention the SKF scheme in the Clash at Daytona). Switching back into the traditional Lite livery, Kes will continue promoting the beer sponsor for team owner Roger Penske’s 27th consecutive season. The last time the White Lite saw the racetrack was in Las Vegas, where Brad was close to notching back-to-back victories but was stopped in the waning laps by a broken right front hub assembly.

Brad still finished fifth at Las Vegas, part of his current four-race run inside the Top 5. As he looks to continue that hot streak, BK will also look to build on several strong showings at Martinsville Speedway.

The 2015 spring running at Martinsville resulted in a thriller between Brad and Joe Gibbs Racing rival Denny Hamlin. A debris caution with 40 laps remaining set BK up for a run at the checkers, and he surely went for it. With a tumultuous history between himself and the No. 11 driver, Kes knew he couldn’t push the envelope without consequence. Trying every possible late-race short track maneuver he could think of, Brad ran through the checklist – just without checking off the wrecking box. It’s unusual for two drivers of this caliber to leave a race like this with an even greater respect for one another, but it’s exactly what happened.

Later that season, Team Penske returned to Martinsville in the Chase, and again they made a serious bid for the win. Joey Logano and Brad combined to lead 350 of 500 laps, with the 2012 Champion leading 143 of them, though a late wreck resulted in BK’s only finish outside the Top 5 in his last four Martinsville starts.

In his 14 Cup appearances at the half-mile speedway, BK has only finished outside the Top 20 three times—all due to mechanical failures and incident damage. Of a possible 7,023 laps run at the historic short track, Brad has logged all but 71 of them.

This year’s running of the STP 500 will mark 13 years since a Team Penske entry saw victory lane at Martinsville. Rusty Wallace last took the Blue Deuce to meet a grandfather clock in 2004, his sixth triumph for Penske at The Paperclip. Now behind the wheel of the No. 2, Brad wants to fix that stat and take home his own clock.

One week into crew chief Paul Wolfe’s suspension, Team Penske decided to appeal the penalty, allowing Wolfe back on the box this week at Martinsville.

“After having the opportunity to review the facts, Team Penske has decided to appeal the penalties following the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in Phoenix,” the team announced. “We have requested an appeal hearing and we plan to follow the process as outlined in the NASCAR rulebook. The appeals administration has granted our request to defer the two races remaining on Paul Wolfe’s suspension until the results of our appeal are known.”

Interim Crew Chief Brian Wilson led a tremendous effort in Fontana last weekend, calmly guiding the 2 Crew through an early spin to a P2 finish. Meanwhile, both of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team’s trips to The Paperclip last season resulted in Top 5 finishes, including a near-victory in a second-place run in the fall. With recent and past success on its side, the Miller 2 Crew will have a great chance at adding its mark at the shortest track in NASCAR.

To see if BK and Co. can get it done, tune into the STP 500 on Sunday, April 2nd at 2 p.m. ET, live on FOX Sports 1.

View Entire Article Here