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NASCAR Cup: Team Penske drivers on front row at Bristol

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – SEPTEMBER 12: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Western Star/Alliance Parts Ford, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on September 12, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

After winning a week earlier at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Brad Keselowski will start on the pole at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Saturday night for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, the final race of the three-race opening round of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Keselowski won the first points-paying race at BMS earlier this season.

Team Penske teammates will be side-by-side on the front row of Saturday night’s starting grid, with Joey Logano in second, alongside Keselowski.

“That’s better than starting at the back of the race,” Logano said. “I think starting at the front is a great thing, so we’ll continue to, hopefully, stay at the front and try to get a stage win, try to get our race win, most importantly. We’ve been pretty good there the last few races, both Brad and I, and (Ryan) Blaney has been good there, too. I think Team Penske should have some good cars there, and hopefully, myself and Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) and the guys are able to grow on what we had in the spring race there and the All-Star Race and have something. The interesting part about this weekend, really, is that this is the third time we’ve come to this racetrack this year. Even though we don’t have practice, the fact that you’re going back again kind of lets you take all those notes and everything that you’ve learned those first couple races and actually put it into use. Most of the time, we go into a track that’s not even close to the same, and you can never take what you learned and put it to use. Well, we have that opportunity now, so we’ll try some new things, some adjustments to our car from the last time we were there. We think it makes sense, but there’s no way of really verifying it until the race starts.”

Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick will line up in row two in the third and fourth positions, with Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott in row three.

Reigning Cup Series champion, Kyle Busch, who still is in search of his first win of the 2020 season, is slated to start ninth at the track where he has eight Cup Series wins and 22 victories across NASCAR’s three national divisions.

Keselowski and Logano’s teammate Ryan Blaney, who heads into the first elimination race of the playoffs 16th, last among playoff drivers, is slated to start 14th for the race after which the bottom drivers will be eliminated from the playoffs.

“It is a place we have run pretty good at before; it is just a matter of kind of figuring out what we need to do later in the race to adapt to the track changing,” Blaney said. “Bristol is pretty big on that. I thought we were really good there in the spring but got a foot too high and spun out and, then, got wiped out. The All-Star race, I thought we were pretty good, but we had a different strategy than some guys and stayed out and had some old tires, and that didn’t work out. There are other times we have led a lot of laps and just haven’t finished it out. I think the biggest thing is just adapting to the track as the race gets further along and we get to that lap 350-400 mark and just try to adapt to the race track and what it is going to do. I think that is something that Todd (Gordon, crew chief) and I have talked about a lot this week and rewatched races and have been kind of going through them. I think that is the biggest thing. I wouldn’t say it is a must-win for us, because I think there is a situation where we could point our way in, but things would have to go our way. We just have to go out there and try to win the race and run the best we can. That is all we can do.”

With the 16 playoff drivers lined up in the first eight rows of Saturday night’s starting grid, rookies Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell will be the highest-starting non-playoff drivers in row nine.

Below, is the conplete starting grid for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race:

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Posted by on September 18, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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