After winning at Talladega Superspeedway two weeks ago, Brad Keselowski will seek to become only the second NASCAR Cup Series driver to win multiple races this season this weekend at Darlington Raceway. But he'll have to do it without his usual crew chief atop the pit box.
According to a report by Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports, Brad Keselowski's crew chief Jeremy Bullins will miss this weekend's Goodyear 400 at Darlington as a "precaution as part of the team protocols." Pockrass' report did not specify what the protocols were, nor if Bullins' absence was related to COVID-19.
In lieu of Bullins, Team Penske engineer Grant Hutchens will serve as Keselowski's crew chief. This is the second time this season that Hutchens has filled in for Bullins, as he worked as the No. 2 team's crew chief at Atlanta Motor Speedway while Bullins served a one-race suspension due to a lug nut violation.
After spending most of the 2010s with Paul Wolfe as his crew chief, Brad Keselowski began working with Jeremy Bullins in 2020 following a restructuring at Team Penske. The two had previously worked together in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and their partnership in Cup has been a fruitful one thus far: Keselowski has won five races with Bullins as his crew chief, and the No. 2 team ended up finishing second in the Cup Series standings last season. Keselowski currently sits sixth in the Cup Series points standings and is part of the NASCAR Playoffs grid by virtue of his win at Talladega.
This isn't the first time that a Cup Series crew chief has had to miss a race for "protocol" reasons this season: Ryan Sparks, crew chief for Corey LaJoie, was forced to miss the third race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway due to COVID-19 protocols. Sparks' role for the weekend was filled by former Daytona 500-winning crew chief and current NASCAR on NBC analyst Steve Letarte.