After 62 starts, Brad Keselowski finally earns first career Trucks win at Bristol

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Brad Keselowski has done quite a bit in his NASCAR career. He won the 2012 Sprint Cup championship (as well as 13 wins to date), the 2010 Nationwide Series title (and 30 wins to date).

But one thing the Michigan native had never done prior to Thursday is to win a Camping World Truck Series event.

Keselowski can finally scratch that off the bucket list, as in his 62nd career start in a truck, he dominated en route to victory in the rain-rescheduled UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“He’s wanted this so bad for so long,” teary-eyed crew chief Doug Randolph told Fox Sports 1. “I’m just really excited for Brad. … I’m sure he’s relieved.”

Keselowski led 119 of the event’s 200 laps, holding off a late charge by Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. He becomes the 25th driver in NASCAR history to win in all three major series, Trucks, Nationwide and Sprint Cup competition.

“It’s huge, huge,” Keselowski said. “I’ve been wanting to win in this series for a long time. It’s been a long time coming.”

Later, in Victory Lane, Keselowski added, “My family has been a part of this series since the inception, and I feel like I have, too, either as a kid watching or now as a team owner and driver. I nearly went bankrupt in this series, trying to make it. … I’ve had all the success in the Cup series and Nationwide, but never here.

“It took a long time to get here and we made it and I’m thrilled. It’s great to win as a driver. … This is a special day.”

It was also the first win for a Ford truck this season.

Wallace was runner-up, followed by Ron Hornaday Jr., Matt Crafton and last week’s winner at Michigan, Johnny Sauter.

“We finished second. I wish we could take it back. I thought I got on his bumper pretty good getting into (turn) one and not enough,” Wallace said. “I’have had to wreck him to get by him (but) I respect Brad and what he does. Congrats to him. … We just came up short.”

Added Hornaday, “I had to burn the tires off, trying to catch those guys.”

Sixth through 10th were John Hunter Nemechek, followed by Joey Coulter, Cole Custer, Ben Rhodes and Corey LaJoie.

Jeb Burton was 11th, followed by Max Gresham, Ryan Blaney, German Quiroga Jr., Caleb Holman, Justin Jennings, Brennan Newberry, Tyler Young, Jimmy Weller III and Brandon Jones.

Pole-sitter Kyle Busch was the only other driver to lead a lap in the event, leading 81 laps, but wound up finishing six laps behind the leaders in 24th. Busch was running third with 24 laps to go when he slammed into the wall due to a flat right rear tire.

Busch led at the halfway point of the 200-lap event.

With 55 laps remaining, John Wes Townley got loose in the center of Turn 3 and triggered a multi-truck wreck, including those of Newberry, Brandon Jones, Justin Boston and Gray Gaulding.

In the season standings, Sauter retains the No. 1 spot, holding an eight-point edge over teammate Crafton. Hornaday remains in third, 17 points back, Ryan Blaney is 24 points in arrears and Wallace is fifth, 33 points back.

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Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”