Friday, March 15, 2013
Is Brad Keselowski Bristol’s new bully?
By Matt Willis, ESPN Stats & Information
Sean Gardner/NASCAR/Getty Images
Brad Keselowski has done well recently at Bristol, winning 2 of the past 3 events.
NASCAR heads to one of its most popular and well-known tracks this week, Bristol Motor Speedway. It's a venue that has lent itself to dramatic moments, outbursts of anger and dominating performances.
Take Darrell Waltrip’s seven straight wins there from 1981-84, or Dale Earnhardt picking up his ninth career Bristol win by spinning Terry Labonte on the final lap.
Brad Keselowski Dominating Bristol
Now, Brad Keselowski is well on his way to joining that list of Bristol bullies, having won two of the last three races at the track after not having previously finished better than 13th there.
If Keselowski wins Sunday’s race, he’ll become the seventh driver to win a Cup race at Bristol in three consecutive seasons.
Three of the other six are Hall of Famers: David Pearson, Cale Yarborough and Waltrip. The other three are active: Jeff Gordon and both Busch brothers.
He also enters this race with momentum, just the second driver in the last six seasons to start a Sprint Cup Series season with three consecutive top-five finishes.
Going back to 1990, only five drivers have started a Cup season with four straight top fives. The only driver to do it since 2000 is Jimmie Johnson, who did it in 2005.
Last season, Keselowski didn’t start nearly this well, yet still went on to win the Sprint Cup Series championship, not only his first, but the first for Roger Penske.
Keselowski has won two of his six career Bristol races, giving him the best win percentage in series history at Bristol at 33 percent.
Kyle Busch Strong Contender
The driver right behind him in all-time Bristol win percentage, Kyle Busch, could be his biggest competition on Sunday.
Busch has won four of the last eight races at Bristol, but in his last three races there has finished 14th, 32nd and sixth.
So the question is, which Kyle Busch will show up this weekend?
It could be the one that led 1,297 of 3,003 laps in a six-race span at Bristol from 2008-2011, averaging a 2.5 finish in that span.
In those six races, Busch was the fastest driver on 400 of the 2,614 green-flag laps. Johnson had the second-most in that span with 297.
While his performance there recently hasn't matched his previous success, he's still a great bet for a top-10 finish.
In 16 starts, he has 11 top 10s, and that percentage is behind only Benny Parsons and Dale Earnhardt for the highest top-10 percentage at Bristol in Cup history.