With cooler temperatures and the new package for 2019 making its debut at Kansas, the Spring Kansas race became a little bit more exciting than recent Kansas races. Ultimately, Brad Keselowski and Team Penske celebrated another win.
Over the course of the race, the No. 2 team made a fair amount of adjustments to make the car better over the course of the Kansas night race.
“Yeah, that was pretty cool,” Keselowski said.
But no, I think Paul and the team, they made some great adjustments to the car. I was struggling a little before that, but about 100 laps to go roughly the car really started to come together.”
Keselowski said before that, he felt like he was barely hanging onto a 10th to 15th place car.
“…we just worked on the car, or the team worked on the car,” he said.
“I sat in the driver’s seat and watched. But they got it dialed in where it needed to be, and then I was able to be aggressive and make moves. So kudos to them.”
Wolfe on Setup
While the outcome was great, No. 2 crew chief, Paul Wolfe said it was a tough night.
“I mean, we were off quite a bit to start the race, and I think to Brad’s point, we’re far enough along in the season now where it seems like a lot of guys are starting to figure out where they want to be,” Wolfe said.
“We won some races early in the season, and I think the mile‑and‑a‑halves early in the year we were pretty strong. I think all the Penske cars were. But now you look and the Stewart‑Haas cars and the Hendrick cars are really strong.”
Wolfe added that none of the races are easy to win, but it’s been extra tough this season so far.
“Tonight was a tough night, and you weren’t going to get away with a car that was off a little bit, and that’s where we were at the start of the race,” he said.
“Our balance wasn’t right. We couldn’t keep the throttle down, and we worked hard. It took a while. The car wasn’t responding early on, and like Brad said, I think after the second stage or for the final 100 laps we finally got it tight enough where we were able to put some good laps together, and then it’s just working the draft and all those other things on the restarts, which we were able to do really well at the end.”
At one point earlier in the season, Keselowski said Kansas would determine where the 2019 rules package really fit. But with the Kansas Speedway race in the rearview mirror, Keselowski said it’s still hard to say where it will go from here.
“But I feel like the season breaks down into thirds, and maybe I’m repeating myself to some of the people in the room,” he said.
“But you have your first third, your second third and of course the final part with the playoffs.”
Keselowski said Kansas is a breakpoint to him between the end of the first third and the beginning of the season’s middle stretch.
“I think we really see kind of things settle out by then,” Keselowski said.
“You have the West Coast Swing at the start of the season; there’s a lot that comes and goes and trying to understand the rules and the new — and all the engineering behind it is a little bit tough.”
He said by this part of the season, teams really have to shine, and make the most of what they’ve got.
“So it’s nice to be able to win right here today, and of course it’s always nice to win, but in light of those thoughts or beliefs, I guess, it’s a good sign for us for sure,” Keselowski admitted.
Nighttime is the new daytime for NASCAR as far as the racing being better I think during the night because it gives you the grip to be able to take advantage of what this car or rules setup is designed for.
With the cooler temperatures, the Team Penske driver said he expected the race to be a lot of side-by-side racing.
“I don’t know if I expected our performance to be as strong as it was at the end, but I’m happy for it,” he said.
“You know, I think the way the race played out, the way the weekend played out, with it just being a really cold weekend — I think I told somebody today that it used to be we wanted daytime races because it fit the rules. Now it’s the opposite. Nighttime is the new daytime for NASCAR as far as the racing being better I think during the night because it gives you the grip to be able to take advantage of what this car or rules setup is designed for.”
“With it being cool temperatures and being a night race, I think that’s exactly what we saw, and that’s part of why the cars were double file a lot of times in a race where normally they wouldn’t be.”