Keselowski Scores Back-to-Back Top-Fives, Most Points at Bristol

By Cole Cusumano, Staff Writer

Bristol Motor Speedway provided old-school properties and theatrics, which demanded a certain level of veteran prowess to overcome, in what was a triumphant departure from a three-year experiment on dirt in Thunder Valley.

For the first time since 2020, the NASCAR Cup Series and 0.533-mile Tennessee short track returned to their roots by reviving the Food City 500 and hosting another daytime, spring event on the iconic venue’s original surface.

Throughout the weekend, drivers and teams were left befuddled after the concrete failed to properly take rubber, thus destroying tires within 35 consecutive green-flag laps and promoting a management-heavy race.

Although youth may be taking over NASCAR’s top ranks, a trio of the sport’s elder statesmen used invaluable experience to their advantage and walked away with podium finishes at Bristol with an average age of 42 between the top-three finishers.

Twenty-one-year-old Ty Gibbs swept both stages and appeared to have the most dominant car, but it was Denny Hamlin who went back-to-back at Bristol with the most laps led for a second-straight week, as Martin Truex Jr. came home runner-up.

Once again overshadowed by the dominance of Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing was the most recent winner of the traditional, Bristol spring race, Brad Keselowski in third.

Keselowski’s third-place outing marked his season-best finish through five races and second consecutive top-five in 2024.

The RFK Racing driver and team owner started the Food City 500 from 17th, but quickly worked his way inside the top-10, where he would be a mainstay for a majority of the aggressive, attrition-filled day. In fact, his average running position was sixth, even with all the unpredictability.

After finishing Stage One in fourth, the former champion drove his No. 6 to a runner-up finish in the second segment, but was met with adversity in the final 250 laps that would prevent him from seriously challenging for his first win in 102 races.

During the halfway break at the end of Stage Two, Keselowski was exiting his pit stall when the nose of Austin Cindric’s No. 2 made heavy contact with the right-front wheel well of his King’s Hawaiian Rolls No. 6. 

While the damage wasn’t too severe, it was enough to take some speed out of Keselowski’s Ford Mustang Dark Horse. 

At any rate, Keselowski was one of only five drivers to finish on the lead lap and score back-to-back top-10s at Bristol. He also racked up a race-high 50 points and climbed all the way up to 13th in the standings after being as low as 33rd following Atlanta Motor Speedway three weeks prior.

“It was a pretty good day for us with RFK and the 6 car here,” Keselowski said. “We just kind of ran top-five pretty much the whole race and kept them honest. I got ran into on one of those pit caution cycles. That did a little damage to the front end, otherwise I think I could have had a shot to win it today, but still solid to come home third. It was a really good week.”

With Keselowski’s winless streak now at 103 races, he’ll have his work cut out for him going into Circuit of the Americas, where he at least hopes to keep his string of top-five finishes intact.

Keselowski’s best finish of 14th is also his only lead-lap finish in three starts at COTA. Last year, he placed 35th with a driveshaft issue and his best finish between six road course attempts was 15th at Watkins Glen International.

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