Amanda Vincent, NASCAR Correspondent
Is the new Bristol, a return to the 'old' Bristol or 'new old' Bristol? Whatever you want to call Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway since the track has been reconfigured, and has had two repaving changes, one thing's certain, Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge, has been on a roll at Bristol.
Keselowski heads into Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at the track as the race's reigning winner. He also won there in March of this year, giving him Sprint Cup wins the last two times the series visited the track.
To be on the cusp of three wins in a row there is something that was, and still is, beyond my wildest dreams.
"It's always been a challenge to me and it's one that, for some reason, has taken a piece of me somewhere deep inside and made it rise to the next level," Keselowski said of the track. I just love it for that reason."
Since winning at Kentucky Speedway at the end of June, Keselowski has put together a string of seven-straight top-10 race finishes. If that's not impressive enough, he has wound up in the top-five of finishing orders in four of the last five races. And how does he top-that? Keselowski turned in runner-up showings the last couple weeks on two very different race tracks -- Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Michigan International Speedway.
Heading into Bristol riding this wave of momentum, Keselowski has the perfect opportunity to do something his former teammate, Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet, was the last to do -- win three-straight Cup races at BMS. Busch began a string of three-straight at the track in 2003.
"To be on the cusp of three wins in a row there is something that was, and still is, beyond my wildest dreams," Keselowski said. "But here we are, and we are going to do everything in our power to get it done in the Miller Lite Dodge this weekend."
Keselowski's already safe in regards to making the Chase for the Sprint Cup with three races to go until the cutoff at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. He heads into the weekend fifth in points with three trips to victory lane. And safely inside the top-10, the way things stand right now, he stands a good shot of starting the Chase in a tie for the points lead.
Needless to say, Keselowski is in the perfect position to take a break from points racing for the next few weeks. There's really no point for it. He's surely focused on wins and wins alone. After all, a win, depending on how things shape up the next couple of weeks, could very well put him all alone in first for the Chase, not to mention, it'll give him yet another win at Bristol.
"Bristol to me is a man's race track, and I respect that place so much," Keselowski said. "I think it takes a level of respect for it. From day one, the first day I walked in there, I respected it, but I also wanted to win there."