Seven races into the NASCAR Cup Series season, two of the three Team Penske drivers have already visited victory lane and secured their playoff spots. And if things go the way Brad Keselowski anticipates, he’ll join that list sooner rather than later.
“I’m pumped,” Keselowski said this week ahead of the Blu Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. “When we got out of Bristol, I left with a smile on my face knowing that we had Martinsville, we had Richmond — those are two of my best racetracks. At Martinsville, we’ve been just so solid the last few times, and then Richmond was kind of a dominant race for us last fall.”
In the last 10 races at Martinsville, Keselowski has earned nine top-five finishes. That includes a dominating win in the spring of 2019 when he led 446 of 500 laps.
At Richmond, Keselowski led 192 of 400 laps last fall on his way to winning. In the previous 10 races at Richmond, Keselowski earned eight top-eight finishes.
“I was super disappointed that Richmond in the spring got canceled because of COVID, because I thought we would be really good, but I’m looking forward to going back and hope to have the same success we had last fall,” Keselowski said. “It’s certainly a track that I’ve had circled. Jeremy Bullins, my crew chief, and the whole team did such a great job preparing the car for that racetrack, so hopefully, we can repeat.”
Although the win column is empty, it is not as if Keselowski and the No. 2 team hasn’t had opportunities. Keselowski was second on the final lap of the Daytona 500 before his hopes went up in a ball of flame. He led 93 laps during the three weeks of racing at Homestead, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, with two top-five finishes.
“I would say right now I don’t have a super-strong emotion (about not having a win),” said Keselowski. “I feel like we came out of the gate really strong at Daytona. We were in a position to win. We had a good run at Vegas, not quite as strong as we wanted to be at Phoenix, but still solid, so we’re knocking around the door.
“Atlanta was disappointing, but outside of Atlanta, I wouldn’t say we’ve had any bad races, so I think there are some things to build off of and learn from; but we’re right there knocking on the door, so I’m encouraged. Like I said, we’ve got three of our best tracks right in front of us — arguably five of our best tracks right in front of us — and I feel really strong and optimistic.”
After Martinsville and Richmond come Talladega, Kansas, and Darlington. Keselowski has won at all five venues, including holding multiple wins at both Talladega and Kansas.