Brian Keselowski hopes 'Dega spurs another start
RELATED: Full race results from Talladega Brian Keselowski was all smiles on pit road after finishing 17th in the Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, as he debriefed with his team and chatted with those surrounding him. But under the smile lay a level of disappointment -- his chance at his first NASCAR major series victory in his first Truck start had faded away like his diminishing fuel cell, the culprit of Keselowski's demise in the final laps of the fred's 250 presented by Coca-Cola. "I'm emotional. I'm really proud of how we ran," Keselowski said on pit road after the race. "I'm disappointed that it was probably my only chance. We'll see how it works out." Keselowski -- who is a crew chief for ARCA driver Matt Kurzejewski and part-time driver in the series -- seemed poised for victory, as he was lined up to restart fourth for a green-white-checkered attempt in a Ford owned by his brother Brad Keselowski . His performance throughout the day had shown brighter than his lack of experience behind the wheel of a truck, as he had battled back to the front after getting slapped with a pit road speeding penalty early, and even led 10 laps around the 2.66-mile track. "We worked our way through the pack really quick and I was like, 'Wow, that's good,' " Keselowski said. "… All of a sudden we're out in front of a pack and everybody is starting to pit and we're weaving our way through traffic and the 4 (of Erik Jones ) is with me and I'm like, 'We might be leading this thing.' " But determination can take a driver only so far. Prior to the restart, Keselowski made the disappointing trudge down pit road, his No. 29 truck fuel cell as dry as the Alabama asphalt. It was a moment that was heart sinking for Brad Keselowski Racing team owner and younger brother Brad Keselowski , who had given Brian the opportunity to pilot the No. 29 for injured Austin Theriault . "I really thought he was going to win it," Brad Keselowski said, tilting his head back in dismay in the Talladega garage after Saturday's Sprint Cup Series qualifying session. "… He did great, he really did. I was really happy to see him run up front, disappointed he didn't finish off, but he did everything I could ever ask him to and more." Brad Keselowski 's girlfriend Paige White tweeted at Brian after the race, saying that their motorcoach needed a new floor due to Brad's pacing during the Truck race. "You made him proud!" she said. Despite the finish that was marred with disappointment, Brian Keselowski 's strong showing at the superspeedway gave the 34-year-old driver one crucial element: confidence. "It kind of validated what I always thought -- that I could do it, I just never had a chance." Keselowski said. And win or not, its certainly a performance Keselowski hoped others were watching. "We had a really good truck," Keselowski said. "I hope I showed somebody I could do it."
Keselowski and Hendrick: What might have been
On April 18, 2009, Mark Martin won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . It was the 36th NASCAR premier series win for the 50-year-old driver and his first with team owner Rick Hendrick. A week and a day later, Brad Keselowski won the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway . It was the first career win for the 25-year-old, and the first premier series victory for independent car owner James Finch. Two distinctly different races won by two distinctly different drivers. Martin's NASCAR career was beginning to wind down; Keselowski's , on the other hand, appeared to have only just begun. But there was one string that tied the two together -- Hendrick Motorsports . HMS was home to Martin, Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr . And it was expected by many to be the future home of the up-and-coming kid from Rochester Hills, Michigan. But a collection of factors that came together throughout the course of that season altered the racing landscape as well as the career path of Keselowski . It would be nearly three years before the next driver change at HMS. By then Keselowski had not only found a new home, but he was also on his way to winning the Sprint Cup championship. 'I WAS NOT GOING TO LOSE' The sun was out and the grandstands were packed when the 2009 Aaron's 499, the season's ninth Sprint Cup race, went green for the final time. As race leader Ryan Newman tried to keep Earnhardt Jr., the crowd favorite, in check, Keselowski darted to the inside behind Carl Edwards on the track's massive backstretch. It was a move that didn’t seem to mean much at the time. But at the start-finish line with two laps remaining, Edwards and Keselowski shot to the outside entering Turn 1. "Here they come; look at the 99 and ..." NASCAR on FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip began. " Brad Keselowski ," lead announcer Mike Joy and co-analyst Larry McReynolds chimed in. When the white flag appeared, Edwards and Keselowski had caught and were beginning to pull away from Newman and Earnhardt Jr. Racing back through the tri-oval, Keselowski turned his No. 09 Chevrolet to the outside, and then quickly dropped to the bottom as Edwards moved up to block. Realizing the bottom lane was now open, Edwards reacted quickly -- but not quickly enough. Contact sent the No. 99 Ford spinning. Edwards' car came off the track briefly and was beginning to settle back onto the track it was struck by Newman's Chevrolet. The impact sent Edwards roof-first into the frontstretch catch fence. Meanwhile, Keselowski kept his foot in the gas, racing across the finish line for the win just ahead of Earnhardt Jr. "I was not going to lose," Keselowski said in his post-race winner's interview. "I was not going to lift and (I was going to) hold my ground and consequences be damned." A full-time competitor at the time for JR Motorsports (which, coincidentally, counts Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick among its ownership group) in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Keselowski said he didn't know what the future held after his first premier series win. "I know I don't have anything locked in," he said. "That's really all I can say ... I don't have a job secured for next year, and everything to this point has been wait-and-see. I know this certainly can't hurt." But behind the scenes, moves were already underway. Finch's Phoenix Racing, which purchased it engines from HMS, had put Keselowski in the car at the suggestion of Hendrick. And the JRM/Hendrick pipeline, which grooms talent in the lower series to help restock the Sprint Cup program, was taking root. Keselowski had made two starts for Hendrick the previous year, and would make seven all together in '09, in addition to five races with Finch. Perhaps his future wasn't as cloudy as it appeared. "Rick had come out and told me, actually had made it a point to say to the media that he thought I was a future driver at Hendrick," Keselowski told NASCAR.com recently. There was only one problem. SWAN SONG? On July 4, 2008, HMS officials announced that Martin had signed a two-year agreement to drive the organization's No. 5 Chevrolet. According to the news release, Martin, who would run a full schedule in 2009, would "run a partial Sprint Cup schedule ... in 2010, sharing the No. 5 Chevy with a to-be-determined second driver.” By most accounts, that driver was expected to be Keselowski . But in May of '09, less than three weeks after Martin's Phoenix victory, HMS officials announced a revision to the '08 agreement. The veteran driver would return in 2010 to once again run the entire season. With Keselowski waiting in the wings and Martin winning and agreeing to return the following year, "Rick was kind of half pregnant," Keselowski said. "He (was) stuck. "My feeling was, after I had won Talladega, I'm going to get this 5 car ride partially next year, pair it with something else, let's go. I didn't know what it was going to be. We'll figure it out; let's go." A phone call and subsequent meeting with Hendrick, however, changed all that. "I was kind of expecting more of a 'Hey, we're going to expedite the process of clearing out the rest of this,' " Keselowski said of the meeting, "And instead I got a 'Hey, I don't have a ride for you. You need to figure something else out. I'll try to help.' "That was late April, early May of that year. My intent ... was to give him that time to kind of make right on it somehow, find a ride because he had made me the promise that I would have that car. It didn't sit all that well, but I understood the circumstances and so forth." Months passed and Keselowski busied himself with his full-time XFINITY Series effort at JRM while making a handful of Sprint Cup starts for Hendrick and Finch. Hendrick, in the meantime, was exploring the various avenues that might keep Keselowski in the HMS camp. Possible scenarios included Stewart-Haas Racing , at the time a two-team effort, and Red Bull Racing. Consideration was even given to fielding a Sprint Cup entry out of the JR Motorsports shop, according to the owner. But the pieces didn't fit and as the summer wore on, Keselowski's future remained uncertain. "I wanted him to wait a year," Hendrick told NASCAR.com. "... I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that Mark had done so well, and I had tried to talk (Mark) into staying. "I've told all our guys, the first time I sat down with Brad he impressed me because he was so intense about the whole car and wanted to be involved in everything. He was just so committed. I told our guys he's got the right attitude about racing and driving. I just needed him to wait." Waiting, though, wasn't part of Keselowski's plan. "My perception is a driver is a lot like a perishable fruit," Keselowski said. "You've got so much time, then he spoils and goes bad. There are a lot of variables, much like anything." PENSKE COMES CALLING The Keselowski family has always been involved in racing. Brad's father Bob was an ARCA Series standout and a former winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Ron Keselowski , an uncle, scored two top-five finishes in 68 premier series starts while older brother Brian Keselowski has one or more starts in all three of NASCAR's national series. "We knew the Keselowski name from being here in Detroit," Walt Czarnecki, an executive vice president at Penske Corp., said. "His dad, his uncle, all that. They would run out at MIS ( Michigan International Speedway ) when (Penske) owned the track." But it was a business associate, lawyer/agent John Caponigro, who brought up the young driver's name during a conversation in 2009. "We thought he was committed to Hendrick," Czarnecki said. "He'd been on loan to James Finch to run several races. But some things were changing." Conversations with Keselowski ensued, in Michigan as well as Mooresville, North Carolina, where Team Penske is headquartered. "All this time," Czarnecki said, "Still having this somewhat uncertain situation with Mr. Hendrick." Team Penske had grown from a two-team to a three-team organization in '08, fielding cars for drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr . In '09 Newman departed to join owner/driver Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing and 32-year-old David Stremme was brought on board to fill the open seat. But the Keselowski opportunity was intriguing, according to Czarnecki. "We've tried to sign on what we consider to be the best available young drivers with a great deal of potential that we could mold and have them grow in our organization," he said. "And I think that Brad certainly fit that description. "But above and beyond that, he had a bigger vision as to what role he wanted to play in terms of the development of the team. ... Just how he saw different things coming together ... "Some of it may have been a little unrealistic; some of it was certainly the enthusiasm of a young man who had a goal in mind. ... But he had this great enthusiasm and he had this great desire and this great commitment. And that appealed to us." With the Hendrick effort seemingly stalled, Keselowski went back to Penske with a request -- to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series. In addition to its Sprint Cup effort, Team Penske was fielding one full-time XFINITY Series team with driver Justin Allgaier . Expanding that program to two teams running all the races was problematic, given the economy at the time. Told such a scenario was unlikely, Keselowski was left to consider his few available options. But Penske officials continued to work until enough of the appropriate pieces were in place. "Sure enough, Roger called me one night and said 'Alright, I've got it put together,' " Keselowski said. "It kind of caught me off guard. I was sold. That's it; he made it happen." "I couldn't sit around and wait. ... Roger had gone above and beyond to put something together that I felt like was the opportunity I needed. ... The economy was on its way down fast; Roger (through his various businesses) had a lot of immunities to the economy. Rick made it very clear to me that he was not going to invest himself without having a sponsor, and the economy was not in a spot where he could facilitate that." Hendrick had been aware of the Penske interest from the beginning, having had conversations with his fellow team owner about Keselowski's status. "Roger called me and asked me could he talk to him," Hendrick said. "I didn't want to stand in his way. Brad's a hell of a talent. It was a timing issue. "It's worked out for him. At his age it would have been nice if we could have kept him. ... If I got a call from Roger and I was in his spot I would have done exactly what he did." POSTSCRIPT On Sept. 1, 2009, Team Penske officials announced that the organization had signed Keselowski to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series beginning the following season. Since then, Keselowski has won 17 Sprint Cup races, 28 XFINITY Series races and championships in both series. "I don't want to sound mercenary but he brought us our first Sprint Cup championship (in 2012)," Czarnecki said. "Because that vision that he outlined, we tried to work with him and bring people along, bring people into the organization, have him work with people like (crew chief) Paul Wolfe, it was really the realization of that vision. That's what it (has) meant. "And his intensity hasn't changed." Former teammates Busch and Hornish have departed, and fellow driver AJ Allmendinger has come and gone. Keselowski , now 32, is the veteran of a Penske group that now includes 25-year-old teammate Joey Logano . "I wasn’t looking to switch," Keselowski said. "If things would have gone the way they were supposed to go before Mark won that race at Phoenix, I would still be there."
Keselowski hires familiar face for BKR ride
Brad Keselowski posted a blog late Thursday evening indicating that a new driver will be behind the wheel of the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford -- his brother, Brian . The elder Keselowski will suit up for next Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM). The ride was opened up because the truck's full-time driver, Austin Theriault , was injured in an accident during the Rhino Linings 350 on Oct. 3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . On short notice, Keselowski kept it close to home. Excited to announce the newest member of our @TeamBKR truck team, my brother @KeselowskiBrian . My blog on why now: http://t.co/zo1UG9xTIp — Brad Keselowski (@ keselowski ) October 16, 2015 Brian was more than thrilled at the notion. I've been waiting most if my life to say this, I get to drive the #29 truck @TalladegaSuperS ! I'm so excited I can hardly stop smiling — Brian Keselowski (@KeselowskiBrian) October 16, 2015
Keselowski completes weekend sweep of qualifying
Brian Scott will join Brad Keselowski on the front row
Kyle Busch after wreck: Keselowski a 'dirty racer'
The long-simmering Brad Keselowski - Kyle Busch feud boiled over a bit Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway following an incident between the two in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race. Busch went into the wall following contact with Keselowski with fewer than five laps remaining as the two dueled for the lead. When asked about the incident post-race, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver told reporters "He's a dirty racer," according to NBC Sports. RELATED: Watch the incident between the two Of the incident, Keselowski said: "It's probably my fault. I haven't heard from Kyle ... he had a really fast car. … He got a really good run on me in (Turns) 1 and 2. The high lane in 3 and 4 had a lot of speed. He tried to get up and we were all right on top of each other. We both kind of got the raw end out of it, he probably more than I did. I don't think either of us wanted to make contact." The two have had multiple run-ins in the past, including in 2010 back at Bristol and 2013 at Kansas, when Keselowski went spinning across the infield with 10 laps to go following a shot from Busch in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race. "I got wrecked by a dirty driver," Keselowski said at the time.
Keselowski clinches Chase berth with win at Kentucky
SPRINT CUP SERIES Brad Keselowski officially clinched a berth in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on Saturday at Kentucky Speedway by having multiple wins and enough points to remain in the top 30 of the standings for the rest of the regular season. HOW IT HAPPENED Keselowski formally locked up his postseason berth with a win at Kentucky (his fourth this season and third career win at Kentucky) and help from the rest of the field as his 595 driver points give him the needed 361-point cushion over the 31st-place driver in the standings, Brian Scott (217). No matter what happens the rest of the regular season, Keselowski can't fall below 30th in the standings. CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES William Byron and Matt Crafton officially clinched berths this weekend in Kentucky in the inaugural eight-driver NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase. HOW IT HAPPENED William Byron: Byron won at Kentucky, his fourth victory of the season, and clinched a spot in the top 30 in points no matter what happens in the remainder of the regular season. Matt Crafton : Due to a tight points race around the 31st position, Crafton exited Kentucky guaranteed to finish in the top 30 in points by the end of the regular season. He also has two regular-season series wins, so there's no way he'll fall outside the top 30 in points. He's in. XFINITY SERIES No XFINITY Series drivers have clinched a Chase spot yet.
Brad Keselowski wins fuel-mileage game at Kentucky
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Keselowski gear SPARTA, Ky. – Brad Keselowski had his mojo working in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Saving just enough fuel to get to the finish line, Keselowski eked out a heart-thumping victory over Carl Edwards to win his second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and his third at Kentucky Speedway. But this was not the same bumpy, abrasive Kentucky Speedway where Keselowski went to Victory Lane in 2012 and 2014. This was a repaved, reconfigured 1.5-mile intermediate track fraught with treachery, especially when combined with the lower-downforce aerodynamic package in use for the race. RELATED: Recap all of Keselowski's wins Keselowski got to the finish line .175 seconds ahead of Edwards, who made up a deficit of more than six seconds in the final 10 laps but couldn't quite get to Keselowski's rear bumper on the final lap. When Keselowski took the checkered flag, his fuel cell was dry. The driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford didn’t have enough gas to do a celebratory burnout, and he needed a push from a safety truck to get to Victory Lane. Keselowski took the lead from Kevin Harvick after a restart on Lap 200 and held it the rest of the way, except for Lap 261, when Matt Kenseth took the top spot and immediately came to pit road for fuel. By then, the die was cast for Keselowski , who was committed to finishing the race without another fuel stop. "We knew the fuel mileage," said Keselowski , who won for the fourth time this year, the 21st time in his career, and became the first driver to officially clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. "We went out and we set a really fast pace there on that restart and were just using fuel, and then it became obvious that you were going to have to save fuel at the end, but I already used so much. "It's a testament to our guys to have the fuel mileage that we did to be able to get back what I burnt early in the run and get the Miller Lite Ford in Victory Lane. Usually these repaves are kind of my Achilles heel, but to get a win here at Kentucky… I know it's been a good track for us in the past, but this isn't the same Kentucky, I can tell you that. "These cars were tough to drive today, but a good tough. This was a hard-fought battle, and I'm really proud of everybody on the 2 crew to get win number four and take that first place." When Keselowski slowed through Turn 4 on the next-to-last lap, Edwards thought he had the race won, but in retrospect, Edwards believed he had been beaten by a cunning opponent. "Yeah, I thought he was out of fuel coming off of (Turn) 4, but he actually did it very well," Edwards said of Keselowski , who indicated on his radio with more than a lap left that he was out of fuel. "If he didn't beat me, I'd be more impressed… "I guess I'm impressed that he did beat me, but I don't want to be. He waited. He basically shut the car off and went right off of 4 and matched it perfectly to where I couldn't get by him down the front straightaway, and then he ran like heck through 1 and 2, and then I thought maybe he'll run out down the back straight. Man, I dove it down in there trying to catch him into 3, and I couldn't even get to him." RELATED: Edwards discusses finish of race Keselowski , however, said he thought he was out of gas when his car sputtered off Turn 4. "I didn't think I was going to win the race," Keselowski said. Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. dominated the first two-thirds of the event, leading 128 and 46 laps, respectively. Truex had taken the lead off pit road on Lap 196, but NASCAR sent him to the rear of the field for passing Harvick, then the race leader, on the entry to pit road. For the last 68 laps, Truex drove like a madman, advancing from 23rd to as high as third before pitting for fuel and finishing 10th. "It wasn't my night on that deal," Truex said. "It's frustrating, we had the car to beat. We came out with the lead and they took it away from us. It's just the way it goes, I guess." Particularly perilous throughout the race were the flatter of the two corners —Turns 3 and 4 — with the entry to Turn 3 especially daunting. Ten laps into the race, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. pancaked the right side of his No. 17 Ford against the outside wall of the Turn 3 torture chamber. Nor were champions and frontrunners exempt from calamity. On Lap 32, Jimmie Johnson spun through Turn 4 and crumpled the left rear quarter of his No. 48 Chevrolet. On Lap 53, Joey slammed the Turn 3 wall after scraping it 10 laps earlier. On Lap 88, Ryan Blaney spun from the middle of a three-wide dilemma in Turn 3 and took the No. 24 Chevrolet of fellow Sunoco Rookie of the Year competitor Chase Elliott with him. On Lap 93, the cars of Brian Scott , Chris Buescher and AJ Allmendinger were mangled in an eight-car pileup. Lap 194 produced the 11th caution of the race, tying the record set last year, but from a restart on Lap 200 through the finish on Lap 267, the race ran green, and Keselowski was able to squeeze 68 laps out of his fuel cell. "We were totally out at the start/finish line," said Paul Wolfe, Keselowski's crew chief. "So it couldn't have timed out any better." Notes: Kurt Busch ran fourth, followed by Tony Stewart , who scored a top five in his 600th career start… Greg Biffle scored a season-best sixth-place finish… Harvick came home ninth and saw his series points lead shrink to four markers over Keselowski . &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Keselowski : 'He probably deserved to win’
Brad Keselowski talks about the late-race wreck with Kyle Busch that cost both drivers a chance to win the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Keselowski and Busch wreck, collects Dillon
Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch wreck after a tough battle collecting Ty Dillon in the process.
The Rundown: Bristol driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Driver standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway : 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . This says it all about Harvick's second win at Bristol: In 112 Cup races at the track, only four winners started farther back in the field than Harvick's 24th ( Elliott Sadler , 38th, 2001; Dale Earnhardt Jr ., 30th, 2004; Kurt Busch , 27th, 2002; Dale Earnhardt, 26th, 1999). Grade: A++ 2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse overcame a pit-road speeding penalty to tie his career-best finish, which also came at Bristol (2014). In fact, half of Stenhouse's six career top-five finishes have come at Bristol. Grade: A+ 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . It was a day of eighths for Hamlin: His eighth top five of the season and his eighth pit-road speeding penalty. He also had to make an unscheduled stop for a loose wheel that put him two laps down. Nice recovery, but he absolutely has to stick a fork in those pit-road speeding penalties before the Chase begins. Grade: A- 4. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon just avoided the big wreck on Lap 373 to post his first top five since Talladega in May. Also important: Dillon moved up two spots in the Chase standings to 13th, passing Ryan Newman and Chase Elliott . Grade: A 5. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Huge day for Buescher, who gets his second career top five -- both in the past three races -- and moves into the top 30 in points for the first time this season. Grade: A+ 6. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Debris piercing the right front of his car couldn't stop Edwards from getting his 14th top 10 of the season, one fewer than he had all of 2015. Grade: A 7. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Hard to believe, but Johnson's finish was only his second top 10 in the past 10 races. Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray's Chase radar is on max. He's 15th in the Chase standings after his fourth top 10 in the past six races. Grade: A 9. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger posts back-to-back top 10s for the second time this season, the first time he has had multiple back-to-back top-10 finishes in a season in his Sprint Cup career. Grade: A 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . We don't have the space to list all the issues Logano and the No. 22 had to overcome Sunday. This top 10 was hard earned and well deserved. Grade: A 11. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . In the 801st and possibly final start of his career, Gordon gets his best finish in his fourth race as Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s sub. Grade: B 12. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne jumped over Kyle Larson in the standings and picked up ground on Ryan Newman , who leads Bayne by 35 points for the last spot in the Chase with three races to go before the field is set. Grade: B 13. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . With Chris Buescher entering the top 30, Kahne went from 11 points behind 16th place in the Chase standings to 39 points back. Grade: B 14. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola posted his best finish of the season since finishing 13th in Week 4 at Phoenix. Grade: B 15. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott's promising day took a hit when he was collected in the big wreck on Lap 373. On the flip side, he led 14 laps, his first laps led since Week 15 at Michigan. Grade: B 16. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . A miscommunication over the radio that resulted in an unscheduled green-flag pit stop didn't help matters. Grade: B- 17. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto posted the second-best finish of his young career despite being down three laps at one point because of a tire issue. His best finish? Sixth at Bristol in April. Grade: A 18. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott turned in his second-best finish of the season (12th at Fontana in Week 5). Grade: A 19. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell finishes in the top 20 in consecutive races for the first time in his 201-race Cup career. Grade: A 20. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Cassill finished 22nd in April to tie his best finish at Bristol. Sunday, he topped that. Grade: A 21. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan avoided disaster with a great evasive maneuver down low to avoid a spinning Kyle Busch on Lap 358. Grade: B 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick finished 22nd for the third time in the past four races. Her other finish in that stretch: 21st two weeks ago at Watkins Glen. Grade: C 23. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Bad luck found Truex again. He was running third on Lap 358 when he was collected in a wreck caused by Kyle Bush's spin and the No. 78 suffered heavy damage. His average running position of 9.6 was fifth best. Grade: A- 24. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson had an eventful day, and that’s not code for a great day. A pit-road speeding penalty, cut oil line, three on-track incidents (neither his fault) and untimely tire rub totally erased the benefit of having a super-fast car. Grade: B- 25. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears has one top 10 in 28 starts at Bristol giving him the lowest top-10 percentage among active drivers with at least 15 Cup starts at the track. Grade: C 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith brought out the third caution when he got into the wall on Lap 157; attrition enabled him to post a top-30 finish. Grade: C- 27. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson tied Regan Smith for the fewest green-flag passes with six. Grade: C- 28. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Pit-road penalties and tire problems carried (dropped?) the day. Still, Newman is 16th in the Chase standings with a 35-point cushion over Trevor Bayne with three races to go. Grade: D 29. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32, Go Fas Racing Ford. Earnhardt improved three spots from his debut at Bristol in April. Grade: C- 30. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . We'll let Tony sum up his final start at Bristol: "We had a wheel that was loose, and that messed our whole day up." Perhaps, but owner Tony got a win and was part of a double burnout with winner Kevin Harvick . Grade: D 31. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . A broken brake rotor put Bowyer into the wall on Lap 416. Grade D 32. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard was running in the top 10 when he got caught up in the aftermath of Kurt Busch 's spin and his car sustained a punctured radiator when he ran into Chase Elliott . That's Bristol. Grade: C- 33. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski was running third when Kurt Busch got loose in front of him, turned and Keselowski hit him hard. Keselowski had run among the leaders until the accident on Lap 373. Grade: C 34. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The No. 98 spent time in the garage, and Whitt finished 58 laps off the pace. Grade: D 35. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney was caught up in the Kurt Busch wreck. As cars checked up, Blaney slammed into Matt Kenseth , who had been turned by Chase Elliott . Blaney returned to the track, but when the day ended he had little to show for a top-five starting spot. Grade: C 36. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise completed 416 laps, his fewest at Bristol since 2012, his rookie season. Grade: F 37. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . A so-so day at Bristol became a no-no day when Kenseth was collected in the Kurt Busch wreck. Since a four-race run of 1st, 13th, 3rd and 1st, Kenseth has now gone 42nd, 36th and 37th. That's Bristol, too. Grade: C 38. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Finally we come to the driver who miscalculated his move "by a few inches"and ignited the wreck on Lap 373 that collected 10 other cars. Busch later tweeted, "Tasted the checkers, pushed too hard too soon." No argument here. Busch had completed every lap run this season until Sunday. Grade: F 39. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch led a race-high 256 laps and owned the day until something broke in his car (his team will hear about that on Tuesday, he said). The No. 18 went into a soft spin, but it was met with a hard hit by Justin Allgaier that left Busch with his third DNF in his past four races at Bristol, all for crashes. Grade: C- 40. Justin Allgaier , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Subbing for Michael Annett (flu-like symptoms), Allgaier made his first Sprint Cup start of the season one day after finishing second in the XFINITY Series race at Bristol. Two days later he earned the wrath of Kyle Busch for plowing into him when Busch spun out on Lap 358. That's the high and lows of Bristol. Grade: F </p>