Keselowski to make 400th Cup start at Daytona RC

With the NASCAR Cup Series set to race for the first time at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course, Brad Keselowski is set to achieve a milestone start of his racing career. By taking the green flag at Daytona on Sunday, August 16, Keselowski will reach 400 career starts in the Cup Series and in his 11th full-time season in the series.

A native from Rochester Hills, Michigan, Keselowski was already a rising star in the 2008 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, racing for JR Motorsports, when he made his first two Cup career starts late in the season. Driving the No. 25 Chevrolet Impala for Hendrick Motorsports, Keselowski finished 19th in his Cup debut at Texas Motor Speedway on November 2 followed by the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, where he finished 23rd.

The following season, aside from competing on a full-time basis with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, Keselowski competed on a part-time basis in the Cup Series between the No. 25 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 09 Miccosukee Resorts & Gaming Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing. At Talladega Superspeedway, in his fifth series start, Keselowski battled and made contact with Carl Edwards on the final lap through Turn 4 to grab the lead and notch his first Cup career victory in upset fashion while Edwards spun, was hit by Ryan Newman and went airborne before colliding against the catch fence while upside down and came to a halt shy of the finish line. The victory was also the first for James Finch, owner of Phoenix Racing, as Keselowski also secured a starting spot for the 2009 All-Star Race. Through August 2020, Keselowski is one of 11 competitors to record a first Cup career victory at Talladega.

Keselowski competed in a total of 12 Cup races throughout the 2009 season between Phoenix Racing and Hendrick Motorsports, and earned four top-10 results (his victory at Talladega included). For the final three Cup races of the 2009 season, Keselowski drove the No. 12 Dodge for team owner Roger Penske. His best result was a 25th-place result in the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway in November.

For the 2010 season, Keselowski competed on a full-time basis for the Penske organization in both the Xfinity and Cup Series. He made his Daytona 500 debut in February, where he finished 36th after being involved in an early multi-car wreck. After finishing 21st and 26th the next two races, he was primed for a top-10 run the following race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was during the closing laps, however, where Carl Edwards, who was irritated from being involved in an earlier incident caused by Keselowski, intentionally spun Keselowski in Turn 4 as Keselowski’s No. 12 Dodge went airborne, flipped over and made hard contact against the outside wall before rolling back on all four wheels and coming to rest against the top lane in Turn 1. Despite the incident, Keselowski emerged uninjured as NASCAR would park Edwards for the remainder of the race. Keselowski struggled throughout his first full-time Cup season, though he earned his first career pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September, recorded a seventh-place result in the All-Star Race in May and recorded back-to-back 10th-place results in October. When the 2010 Cup season concluded, he settled in 25th in the final standings. Keselowski, nonetheless, had a breakout season in the Xfinity Series, where he won six races, recorded 29 top-10 results and achieved the series championship, the first for himself and the first for Roger Penske

In 2011, Keselowski remained with the Penske organization, but transitioned to the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge led by his Xfinity championship crew chief Paul Wolfe. For the first 12 Cup races into the season, Keselowski recorded one top-five result (third at Darlington Raceway in May) and one pole (Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May) while he finished outside the top 20 five times. At Kansas Speedway in June, Keselowski gambled on fuel in the closing laps to beat Dale Earnhardt Jr., his mentor, and claim his second Cup triumph. The victory was Keselowski’s first since winning at Talladega in 2009, the first of the season for the Penske organization and the first Cup victory for Paul Wolfe.

In August, Keselowski was in a testing session at Road Atlanta when he was involved in a vicious accident, where he made head-on contact into a concrete wall at nearly 200 mph, and broke his left ankle. Despite the injuries that also included back pains, Keselowski continued to race in the Cup Series. Not long after the accident, Keselowski held off Kyle Busch to claim his second victory of the season at Pocono Raceway. After finishing second and third the next two races, Keselowski responded back by claiming his unprecedented third win of the season at Bristol Motor Speedway under the lights. With a sixth-place finish the following race at Atlanta, Keselowski locked himself into the 2011 Playoffs. Throughout the postseason, he earned four top-five results before he settled in an impressive fifth place in the final standings.

Keselowski started the 2012 season with his second consecutive DNF in the Daytona 500 after being involved in a late multi-car wreck. Three races later, Keselowski prevailed in a late battle with Matt Kenseth to win at Bristol Motor Speedway for his first victory of the season. Throughout the 26 regular-season stretch, Keselowski achieved wins at Talladega in May and at Kentucky Speedway in June as he secured a spot into the 2012 Playoffs. By then, he also surpassed 100 Cup career starts.

During the first Playoff race at Chicagoland Speedway in September, Keselowski prevailed in a late battle with Jimmie Johnson to win for the fourth time of the season as his quest for the Cup title over Johnson ignited. Two races later, Keselowski achieved his unprecedented fifth win of the season at Dover International Speedway following a late battle on fuel mileage. By then, Keselowski was leading the championship standings. Though Keselowski continued running and earning top-10 results throughout the Playoffs, Johnson reassumed the points lead following back-to-back victories at Martinsville Speedway and at Texas Motor Speedway in late October and early November. Then, during the following race at Phoenix, Keselowski was back atop the standings after dodging a handful of incidents in the final laps and taking advantage of Johnson wrecking out midway into the race to finish sixth. Entering the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Keselowski was leading the standings by 20 points over Johnson. When the checkered flag flew in the finale, Keselowski finished in 15th place, but he achieved his first Cup championship while Johnson was eliminated late in the race due to a rear gear issue. The Cup championship was the first for Keselowski in his third season in competition, the first for Roger Penske and the last for Dodge with the manufacturer withdrawing from the sport following the 2012 season.

Piloting a Ford Fusion, Keselowski started off the 2013 season with four consecutive top-five finishes. Despite earning 11 top-10 results throughout the 26 regular-season stretch, inconsistent results and failing to achieve a win throughout the regular season cost him an opportunity to defend his title as he failed to make the Playoffs. Nonetheless, he earned five top-five results for the remaining 10 races, which included his lone win of the season at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October, before he concluded the season in 14th place in the final standings.

Keselowski rallied back the following season with three consecutive top-three results to start the season, which included a victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as he secured his spot into the 2014 Playoffs. He went on to earn victories at Kentucky, New Hampshire and at Richmond, and he recorded the 400th all-time win for Team Penske as he entered the Playoffs with the top seed based on his four regular-season wins. He started the Playoffs by winning at Chicagoland Speedway and advancing into the second round. In the first two races of the second round, Keselowski was involved in incidents on the track and was left in the danger zone of not advancing into the third round of the Playoffs. Though he made rivals for his aggressive driving, among which included Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart, he responded back by winning at Talladega and securing a spot into the third round of the Playoffs. Keselowski’s late misfortunes, however, continued, starting at Martinsville, where he was involved in a late multi-car accident late in the race, followed by Texas, where he made contact with Jeff Gordon on a late restart, an incident that cost Gordon a shot for the victory and led to a brawl on pit road following the race. Despite finishing fourth the following race at Phoenix, Keselowski was eliminated from title contention and he went on to conclude the season in fifth place in the final standings. Though he came up short in achieving his second Cup title, he earned a career-high six victories, a career-high five poles and 20 top-10 results.

Throughout the 2015 season, Keselowski achieved one victory (Auto Club Speedway in March), nine top-five results and a career-high 25 top-10 results before he concluded the season in seventh place in the final standings. By then, he surpassed 200 Cup career starts. From 2016 to 2017, Keselowski won a total of seven races, including his first victories at Daytona, Atlanta and Martinsville, and achieved 43 top-10 results with a best points result of fourth place in 2017 after making it all the way to the Championship Round. By then, he surpassed 300 Cup career starts.

In 2018, Keselowski won the non-point Clash at Daytona International Speedway in February, but went winless for the first 24 races of the season. The following race at Darlington Raceway, Keselowski won the Southern 500 and achieved his first crown-jewel event win in NASCAR. He backed it up the following race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Brickyard 400, while recording the first NASCAR Cup victory at Indianapolis for Roger Penske. For the 2018 Playoff opener at Las Vegas, Keselowski won and achieved the 500th win for Team Penske across motorsports. Despite winning three races in consecutive weeks, he concluded the season in eighth place in the final standings after being eliminated from title contention following the second round.

Last season, Keselowski recorded the first victory for the new Ford Mustang in the Cup Series at Atlanta, the second race of the season. He went on to win at Martinsville in March and at Kansas in May. Though he achieved 19 top-10 results, he was eliminated from title contention following the second round of the Playoffs and he concluded the season in eighth place in the final standings and for the second year in a row.

This season, through the first 22 races of the 2020 Cup season and his first full season with crew chief Jeremy Bullins, Keselowski has won three times (Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, Bristol in May and at New Hampshire in July) to tally his win column to 33. He has also achieved six stage wins, nine top-five results and 16 top-10 results. He is currently ranked in second place in the regular-season standings and trails points leader Kevin Harvick by 137 points. A day after winning at New Hampshire, Keselowski also announced that he will be remaining with Team Penske for the 2021 Cup season.

Catch Keselowski’s milestone start in the inaugural Cup Series race at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course on August 16 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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