BROOKLYN, Mich. — Michigan International Speedway is always a special track to win at for teams, as it is often considered to be in the backyard of manufacturers Ford and Chevrolet. But for a couple Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, it would be even more special.
“It would certainly be one of the biggest wins of my career,” said former Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford and Michigan native. “I try not to think about it, because you just get some bad vibes going if you don’t just do your thing. But it’s certainly always on my mind.”
The Rochester Hills driver will make his 20th start at the 2-mile oval Sunday. He has six top fives, 10 top-10s and one pole, averaging a finish of 11.9. And he’s run well here. He finished second to Kevin Harvick the last time the Cup Series raced at MIS.
“I feel like I’ve sat here on this podium the last half a dozen years after the race finishing second or third, which really stinks, but it’s better than finishing poor,” Keselowski said. “But not the win that, of course, we’re looking for. Huge item on the bucket list, checkmark that’s not there and I feel like we’ve had the opportunities. I’ve made a few mistakes and I feel like in some ways we’ve been good, but not great enough to do it.”
Keselowski referenced 2012, when he felt he had the best chance to get it done.
“We weren’t the best car — I don’t think we’ve ever really come here and been the best car, but we were in position and I made a little mistake late that probably cost us,” he said. “Other than that, we’ve been just kind of right there.”
“Someone once told me to win races at the Cup level, you run in the top five and things will fall your way,” Keselowski continued. “And we’ve done that a lot here, running in the top five, and it hasn’t come together. It hasn’t fallen our way. I’ve got to believe in the back of my head that it’s there and that it will if we keep doing the things that we’ve been doing. But it hasn’t yet. That’s just the reality.”
Byron’s Erik Jones, driver of the No. 20 Craftsman Tools/Sport Clips Toyota, has less experience at MIS, having started only four Cup Series races before Sunday. But his results have been decent. Spurred by a third-place finish in August 2017, Jones has an average finish of 11th at his home track. Coupled with some good results this season, Jones said he would love to get a victory at MIS.
“It’d be great,” he said. “I think we’ve been close here at a few places this year. Last weekend was a great race for us, and we’ve got the speed to do it. I think our cars have been good this year. We’ve just had some bad luck.”
Jones said he feels like things are turning around for him.
“Winning here would be huge,” he said. “It’d be pretty awesome going into an off week and spend some time at home with a win at your home track. I can’t think of a better scenario than that. I would sure love to do it Sunday.”