Season Review: Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski

"You're always gonna be disappointed when you don't win the championship, but I'm not disappointed in our effort." (Photo: Getty Images)

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2017 Race-by-Race Results | 2017 Detailed Statistics

Brad Keselowski's versatility was on full display during the 2017 Monster Energy Series as the Team Penske driver won three races on three distinctly different types of tracks en route to a fourth-place finish in the final standings.

The victories came on the mile-and-a-half oval at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway's flat half-mile and later in the year on Alabama's sprawling 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.

Those wins along with 12 other top-five finishes helped carry Keselowski into The Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he finished seventh in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400.

Brad KeselowskiKeselowski, who'll turn 34 before the 2018 season opens, says the win in Atlanta at the second race of the year was a catalyst for the success he enjoyed in the months that followed.

"If you looked at the start of the season, we won Atlanta and probably should have won Vegas," he notes, "and you could say that yeah, we definitely had speed in our cars."

Keselowski's Las Vegas reference was regarding the weekend after Atlanta, where he had a strong shot at his second straight win. After starting from the pole, the No. 2 Team Penske Ford led four times for 89 laps before fading down the stretch and settling for fifth place. Still, Keselowski left the desert with the regular-season points lead.

Over the next two months, Keselowski assembled a string of consistent performances that yielded seven top 10s in an eight-race stretch - including his victory at Martinsville Speedway.

Keselowski survived a fierce duel with Kyle Busch during the final stage, taking his last lead 43 laps from the finish and staying in the front the rest of the way. He and Busch swapped the lead five times over the final 100 laps before Keselowski finally prevailed.

"This is awesome," Keselowski said from Victory Lane. "We’ve run so well here, but something always happens and we haven’t been able to bring it home. Martinsville is one of those champion’s tracks. The guys that run well everywhere run well here. This track is 70 years old and a lot of legends have won here. It feels great to join them."

Keselowski thus became the first repeat winner through the first six races of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, virtually locking up his spot in the playoffs.

Keselowski hit a rough patch as the season hit the halfway mark, sliding to eighth in the point standings. But a ninth-place finish in mid-July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway got the team back on track and despite narrowly missing a top-10 finish in the regular-season finale at Richmond Raceway, Keselowski entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed.

The 2012 champion embraced the opportunity to pursue a second title.

"There are only 15 drivers in the sport that have won multiple championships," Keselowski said. "It's a chance to make myself a Hall of Fame driver. That's not something I take for granted, I know that."

After surviving the first round, Keselowski guaranteed his place in the semifinal round with the victory at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 15.

Brad KeselowskiKeselowski charged past race leader Ryan Newman on the final lap and drove to victory after starting sixth and leading just seven laps. He had the Miller Lite Ford in front when it counted most, taking the checkered flag first to snap Toyota’s four-race post-season winning streak and notch his fifth Talladega victory.

"I survived," Keselowski said. "We knew we needed to come to Talladega and get it done. This is a great track for us and one we really enjoy coming to. It’s great to get a win here, No. 5. I never thought I would win at all at Talladega but five times, oh my gosh!"

Keselowski prepped for the championship finale with a pair of top-five finishes sandwiched between sub-par showings at Kansas Speedway and Phoenix Raceway. His weekend started well at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Keselowski qualified fifth. But he led just one lap early in the second stage of the race and was no match for eventual champion Martin Truex Jr.

"We ran as hard as we could, put it all out there and just didn't have enough speed," Keselowski said of his season-ending seventh-place finish. "On the mile-and-a-halfs, we weren't as good as the '78.' We left it all out there and ran a damned-near perfect race. You're always gonna be disappointed when you don't win the championship, but I'm not disappointed in our effort."

Keselowski ended the year 10 points behind Truex in fourth place with three wins and 18 other top-10 finishes in his 36 starts. And looking ahead to the 2018 season, he's scheduled to make his 300th start for Team Penske on April 21 at Richmond Raceway.

Click to View Season Reviews for Each Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Driver

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