Brad Keselowski has won two straight Sprint Cup races at Bristol Motor Speedway, and he figures that’s a good thing – even beyond the two race trophies.
“This is a track where champions win,” Keselowski said after an impressive victory Sunday in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. “Darrell [Waltrip]. Dale [Earnhardt]. Cale [Yarborough]. Alan Kulwicki. Tony [Stewart] and Jeff [Gordon] win here.
“I think it speaks volumes for this track and what it means to your career. This place defines a race team.”
Keselowski certainly looked like a Bristol expert Sunday. He led 232 laps (a career high), including the final 111.
He took the lead from Matt Kenseth with 111 to go and held off Kenseth’s challenges, even after a late-race caution bunched the field.
“Matt Kenseth is the best long-run racer in Cup,” Keselowski said. “There’s not a question in my mind. I was not comfortable that we were going to be able to win with him behind me with a very, very long run to finish the race.
“That being said, I knew that when a caution came out, as long as I could beat him on the first lap I had a good enough car and feel like I’m a good enough driver to drive away.”
And he did.
After Keselowski won the Sprint Cup race here last August, it was pointed out that he was able to take advantage of the spacing of timing lines on pit road to gain speed. Additional lines were added for Sunday’s race to eliminate the advantage of teams in certain pit locations.
Keselowski took talk about last year’s win as a challenge.
“I do enjoy the challenge, for sure,” he said. “That’s what I like about racing in general. Racing is the one thing that makes me get up in the morning. That’s how I know it’s special. I love the challenge. I love the fight you have to put up.
“When somebody challenges me, whether it’s fans, media, other drivers, I think I have the desire beforehand, and it helps me focus in.
“I love Bristol, and Bristol loves me. It’s a great track that demands 100 percent out of a driver and a team. Today, my team delivered.”
“We continue to win more races and move the needle forward,” Keselowski said. “The goal is to win a Sprint Cup championship. That’s what we’re all pushing. One win certainly doesn’t achieve that, but it’s a great step.”
Keselowski jumped eight spots in the Sprint Cup standings to 13th.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.