The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is back on the track this Saturday, and we’re just over a week away from the 2019 running of the Daytona 500. Brad Keselowski sat down to talk about the Daytona 500, its history, and the difficulty of winning it.
While Keselowski has a win at Daytona International Speedway in 2016 and the Coke Zero 400, he has not won the Daytona 500. He said he’s thought a lot about winning the Daytona 500.
“Before last season I had never really won a major NASCAR race,” he said.
“I won the championship, done a lot of those things, which is certainly great. I hadn’t won a major. Last year after winning Darlington and Indianapolis, gosh, the thrill from that. I’m still kind of on a high from that. That was almost six months ago.
But he said Daytona is one of the big major NASCAR races he doesn’t yet have in his trophy case.
“I feel like it’s a race we’ve been competitive at,” he said.
“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.”
Daytona Survival Till The End
Keselowski said “survival” was the optimum word for Daytona.
“That’s been the hardest part for me,” he said.
“I feel we’ve been good enough to win it multiple times. We get caught up in somebody else’s wreck or problem. I think you see that a lot.
The No. 2 Team Penske driver said there was a luck factor, but to win it, you have to be running at the end of the race.
“For whatever reason, I think maybe because it’s the first race of the year, maybe because it’s one of the biggest races of the year, I’m not entirely sure, but the Daytona 500 has traditionally been a race of very high attrition,” he said.
“Getting to the end has been very difficult for us. It’s probably kept us from winning it at least once or twice because, like I said earlier, I think we’ve had the car to do it. I think that’s a big part of why it’s so hard to win, the attrition factor, just surviving it to begin with.”
Keselowski admitted Daytona is a challenging racetrack.
“This time of year, Florida is a lot hotter than most parts of North America, but this time of year it seems to be one of those racetracks that you practice and you qualify, then the race day, for whatever reason, the track temp goes way up, the cars slide around a lot more, chaos ensues,” he said.
“The races we have su,rvived till the end, we have ran really well and been in a position to win. Hopefully that’s the case for us this year. I feel confident if I can be there at the end, we can win the race.”