After a slow start, Brad Keselowski has used a slew of top-three finishes to climb steadily in the Nationwide Series standings to a season-best third. He's primed to make an assault on the championship starting with Saturday's NorthernTool.com 250 at the Milwaukee Mile.
Keselowski trails leader Kyle Busch by 208 points with 21 races remaining. Keselowski was 22nd in the standings after three races, but six top threes in the past ten have established him as a contender. Keselowski has won at Dover, finished second at Nashville and third at Kentucky in the three previous races.
“We're doing exactly what we need to be doing in this stretch of summer races, and that is getting solid top-five and top-ten finishes,” Keselowski said. “I've said all along how excited I was about getting to these races in the middle of the season because that is where we seem to thrive.”
Keselowski was pretty good last year in his first Milwaukee race. He qualified for the only pole in his 83 Nationwide starts and led a race-high 145 laps before Joey Logano knocked him out of the lead on the 172nd of 250 laps. Logano, on the inside, was side-by-side with Keselowski in turn three when his Toyota went up the track and slapped Keselowski's Chevrolet, which suffered left-front fender damage. Keselowski brought it home eighth.
Carl Edwards, starting from the back after arriving late from his flight from California, was the eventual winner at Milwaukee last year. It was his first Nationwide victory of the season and ignited a hot streak during which he won six more. Edwards, 137 points behind Busch, arrives in Milwaukee in the same situation, without a victory this season.
“We had a very strong car last year in Milwaukee, and we turned our season around with a win,” Edwards said.
Edwards and Busch are the only two Sprint Cup regulars making the 2,000-mile flight from Infineon Raceway in California, site of Sunday's Cup event, to race at Milwaukee. Colin Braun will practice and, if necessary, qualify Edwards' No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Johnny Sauter, who won the 2005 Nationwide race at Milwaukee, will have the same role in Busch's No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Busch, who leads the series with four wins this season, finished 16th in 2004 and 24th in 2006 in his two Nationwide starts at Milwaukee.
In addition to Sauter, other Nationwide regulars to win at Milwaukee in recent years include Paul Menard in 2006, Ron Hornaday Jr. in 2004, Jason Keller in 2003 and Greg Biffle in 2001 and 2002. Aric Almirola was credited with the victory in 2007. He qualified on pole and was leading on Lap 58 when Hamlin got into the car and went on to win the race.
by Sporting News