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April 14, 2024

Brad Keselowski rallies late, soars to runner-up finish at Texas


Brad Keselowski looks on from pit road after the NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas.
Brittney Wilbur
NASCAR.com

FORT WORTH, Texas — For just the third time in three years as the driver/co-owner at RFK Racing, Brad Keselowski took the checkered flag in second place.

It came amid a day full of twists and turns underneath the Lone Star sun as Keselowski wheeled his No. 6 Ford from a middling 22nd starting position to the runner-up result.

Sixteen cautions filled the 276-lap affair inside Texas Motor Speedway, allowing for split strategies across the field and opening the door for Keselowski to move his way to the front.

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“Towards the end of Stage 2, we had a pretty good long run car, so we stayed out and we were able to hold some track position and then we nailed the pitstops the next two times and just all those kind of came together for us because we executed them,” Keselowski said.

Keselowski’s path toward the front of the field was one of patience. He hung outside the top 15 after the first 100 laps, but one caution after another in Stage 2 put track position in the hands of the crew chiefs. The No. 6 team, headed by crew chief Matt McCall, was among those that came down pit road only once at the halfway point and was able to hold position to score five points at the Stage 2 checkered flag.

Two more yellows flew early in the final stage, forcing Keselowski to pit road and giving him a tire advantage over the leaders.

As the laps wound down, Keselowski continued to pick off drivers and enter the top five. With 30 laps to go, he could taste a potential end to his 106-race winless drought, battling Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin inside the top three. But a Ricky Stenhouse Jr. caution with 12 to go eliminated Keselowski’s tire advantage, and he was stuck behind the front row on each of the following restarts until Elliott came out as the victor after a Ross Chastain crash on the final lap brought the race to an official halt.

Brad Keselowski drives in a NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas.
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

If the race had remained green through the final 30 laps, Keselowski thought he “possibly” could have passed Elliott and caught Hamlin for the lead.

“Those guys were falling off, but they had so much speed down the straightaway. I don’t know,” Keselowski added.

“Needed a lot more speed. We had newer tires behind them there with about 20 to go. I ran them down, and I mean, [Elliott] just drove away from me down the straightaway, so there’s nothing I can do about that.”

Pit stops played a massive role in the closing moments of the race as Tyler Reddick, who led 37 laps Sunday, had a sluggish stop on the final green-flag cycle and found himself out of the lead and eventually finished fourth, allowing the No. 6 team to pass the No. 45 late in the race.

Keselowski doesn’t take the performance from his crew for granted and didn’t want to speculate on why others suffered setbacks.

“Knock on wood, we had great pit stops today and most of the year,” Keselowski said. “I’ve got a great pit crew, so we only speak from our vantage point. I don’t know what’s going on with everybody else.”

MORE: 2024 Cup standings | 2024 Cup schedule

Despite not having the best of starts to the 2024 season, Keselowski says RFK as a whole is in a healthy spot right now, and while the speed may not be there yet, there is momentum going into one of their best tracks at Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday (3 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“It just shows that we have good spirit. Culture is good,” Keselowski said. “Putting ourselves in position. We’re not as fast as we want to be, and it’s really frustrating to not have that speed. But that doesn’t mean we’re giving up. This was a great example of that, you know? We were a 15th-place car most of the day, maybe a little worse than that, and we just kept putting ourselves in position and racing hard and racing smart and making good calls on pit road, executing on pit road. We’re able to put ourselves in a top five and a top-two finish of it. I’m really proud of that.”

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