It is the one race that Brad Keselowski would like to win more than any other, but thus far the Daytona 500 has eluded the NASCAR driver. This will be his 10th attempt to win the iconic race, and he along with Joey Logano, are the 8/1 favorite.
His best result was third in 2014, after placing fourth the year before. Those are his only two top-10 finishes. Since then he has gone 41st, 20th, 27th and 32nd. It has been frustrating for the 35-year-old, who has won 26 times on the NASCAR circuit.
“Daytona is, of course, the 500, one major I don’t have, Keselowski said. “I feel like it’s a race we’ve been competitive at. We had opportunities to win it. For a number of reasons, it hasn’t come together, which is sometimes unsettling. People ask me all the time, ‘What race is the one that got away?’ It’s the 500, has been so far. I want to change that.”
Keselowski knows that winning the Daytona 500, would be his largest achievement in racing.
“I feel like if I could win the Daytona 500, it would be the biggest win of my career,” Keselowski said. “I’m ready to do it. I still have a good understanding of what it’s going to take to do it. It’s just a matter of kind of putting the whole race together from my perspective, from the team’s perspective as well, then not having any bad luck. I feel like the car is there, the team is there, I’m there. We’re all ready to win this race. Hopefully the time is now this year in 2019.”
Different Race, Different Strategy
The Daytona 500 is one of four races that use restrictor plates, that decrease speed. The other race in July at Daytona, and the two at Talladega are the other ones.
But drivers at Daytona seem to need a different plan to succeed, Keselowski said.
“I think the moves that should work and normally would work on plate tracks don’t work on the 500 because of kind of the chaos of that race,” Keselowski said. “It’s almost like you need a different playbook for the 500 than you do a normal plate race. I know that’s kind of hard to explain.”
It’s also hard to explain why successful drivers like himself and Kyle Busch have not won. He can take solace in the fact that it took iconic driver Dale Earnhardt 20 attempts before he won there, and famous driver Tony Stewart went his whole career without a victory at Daytona.
“Moves that should work don’t work because for whatever reason that race gets people amped up, crazy, and they do weird things,” Keselowski said. “Your normal playbook, a lot of times it doesn’t work for the 500. It’s part of the randomness of the race. It makes it very difficult, especially for me and probably drivers like Kyle would probably say the same thing.”
Trying to Quell Frustration
As one of the best restrictor plate racers, it is all the more frustrating for Keselowski that he hasn’t won here, but he said preparing for the Daytona 500 is sometimes the worst thing you can do.
“It’s easy to get discouraged, and of course, frustrated,” Keselowski said. “I do get discouraged and frustrated by that particular race because we haven’t had the outcome that I feel like we’re capable of or even sometimes that we’ve deserved. With that in mind, that’s the past. Just like if we had won the race before, it wouldn’t mean nothing for this race. Because we lost the race before doesn’t mean anything to me for this race. We have to move past that, embrace the opportunity in front of us, and that’s where my head is at.”