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Brad Keselowski on superspeedways: “There is an emphasis on surviving to be successful”

Brad Keselowski following his teammate Ryan Blaney during the 2020 June Talladega race. Photo Credits — Chris Graythen, Getty Images

In a press conference held by Team Penske on Tuesday, I asked drivers Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney what is different about modern-day superspeedway racing and why the crown jewel of the Daytona 500 has alluded these drivers. Keselowski gave me an interesting answer as to why.

Brad Keselowski has 34 wins in his NASCAR Cup Series Career. Six of those wins have come on Superspeedway tracks. Five at Talladega and one during the 2017 July race at Daytona. Keselowski is no slouch when it comes to Superspeedway racing. After hearing these stats many fans and people in the industry wonder why he has not won the Daytona 500. In order to figure this out, we must first talk about the changes NASCAR has made to the superspeedway package.

In 2019, after the Daytona 500, the Cup Series stopped using restrictor plates at Daytona and Talladega. They instead use the tapered spacer which is already apart of the base 550 hp package that NASCAR uses on tracks bigger than 1.5 miles. Also, the cars are bolted down with downforce as they have a huge spoiler on the back to increase drag. So, how does this change the racing, you might say? The horsepower makes the cars close upon each other faster in the pack, while the spoiler makes the cars so stable that it is hard to spin out on your own. What is the result of this? Unpredictable races with numerous wrecks.

Keselowski posing for a photoshoot in January 2021. Photo Credits — Chris Graythen, Getty Images

All of Keselowski’s wins on the superspeedway tracks have come before 2018. He has found it hard to adjust to this new style of racing. This is similar to how Dale Earnhardt Jr lost his lustre on superspeedways when tandem drafting was a thing from 2009 to 2011. So what is Brad’s approach to this style of racing going into this year’s event?

There is more of an emphasis on riding in the back and surviving in modern-day plate racing to be successful

Brad Keselowski

During his answer, Keselowski also commented on how three-time Daytona 500 Denny Hamlin style has inspired him to run this race with a different mindset.

“It’s amazing that Denny Hamlin has been around at 3 of the last four 500’s because the wrecks have been atrocious” — There has been a total of 21 cautions in the Daytona 500 within the last two years.

Keselowski also followed up with this comment, “ I’m going in with the mindset that your most likely going to wreck but if your around at the end you need to capitalize on it.”

Will Brad Keselowski’s newfound strategy work? That is one of those things that is still up in the air because the Daytona 500 is more unpredictable than its ever been.

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