TALLADEGA, Ala. – Brad Keselowski has the chance to join an exclusive club Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
A victory in the Hellmann’s 500 would give the Team Penske driver three wins in the four restrictor-plate races this year.
Winning three of the season’s four plate races would make Keselowski just the third driver to accomplish the feat. The others were Pete Hamilton in 1970 and Dale Earnhardt in 1990.
Hamilton won the 1970 Daytona 500 and swept both Talladega races. Earnhardt won three straight restrictor-plate races in 1990 when he captured wins in the spring Talladega race, the summer Daytona race, before closing it out with the fall Talladega event.
Keselowski enters Talladega having won the spring race at the 2.66-mile track as well as the July race at Daytona International Speedway.
In addition to becoming the third driver to win three of the four plate races in a season, Keselowski could join Earnhardt as the only driver to win three consecutive restrictor-plate races.
“That’s a cool stat, but I’m not counting any chickens,” Keselowski told NBC Sports after qualifying second. “We’ve got to put the work in and deliver on Sunday, so I guess maybe I’m not really thinking about that stat now because I haven’t done it.”
With four Talladega victories on his resume, Keselowski is tied on the track’s win list with Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker. He sits behind Dale Earnhardt Sr. (10 wins), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (6), and Jeff Gordon (6) for the most Talladega victories. With neither Earnhardt Jr. or Gordon in Sunday’s field, Keselowski is the winningest active driver.
His first Talladega win in 2009 came after a memorable last-lap crash where Carl Edwards, who attempted to block Keselowski, flew into the catchfence in the tri-oval. At the time, Keselowski was competing on a limited basis for James Finch.
Keselowski’s second win came in the spring 2012 race while his third was a must-win situation in October 2014 in order to advance in the Chase. Keselowski also has one Xfinity win at Talladega in five starts.
“I don’t know if I would say there is one thing that’s clicked,” Keselowski said. “You have good runs and you build some confidence and you build good cars and that builds some confidence, and you pair that together and the next thing you know you win a few races. I don’t think there’s really any magic to it.
“As far as clicking, one of things that’s really difficult with this track is the techniques and styles are always evolving, so what worked here the first time I won doesn’t even close to work (now). I think you have to keep evolving as well.”