Times Staff Report
June 6, 2013
SPARTA - Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion Brad Keselowski visited Kentucky Speedway today to announce he will not only defend his Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts title June 29, but also compete in the track’s June 28 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) Feed The Children 300 and June 27 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) UNOH 225.
The weekend will mark the second consecutive season in which the Rochester Hills, Mich., driver will complete in three races in three days in the Bluegrass State.
Knowledge of his hard-charging personality reveals why he’ll attempt the grueling task.
“Those that know me know I like to do things the hard way. I’m ready. This is probably by far the hardest tripleheader weekend. It’s one of the hottest weekends of the year for us and I love it. I’m a smaller guy, I just deal well with the heat and I consider it to be an advantage,” the 29-year-old wheelman said.
A review of his solid Kentucky record reveals added motivation.
In addition to last season’s triumph, he placed seventh in the track’s 2011 Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts. Keselowski also captured the Feed The Children 300 crown that season and has generated a combined four top-five and five top-10 finishes through five NNS starts on the tough 1.5-mile tri-oval. He added to that ledger by earning his best of three NCWTS track finishes with a second-place effort in last season’s UNOH 225.
“I want to run all three races and win them. Kentucky is one of my best racetracks. I haven’t won here on the truck level, so that would really be something special. What I like out of a racecar and how I want it to drive really fits this racetrack. That doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed to win here or even run well. We still have to work hard for it and make it happen,” Keselowski said.
His keys finding Kentucky Speedway success lie in understanding a car’s performance during transitions from evening to nighttime temperatures and embracing the track’s unique, bumpy terrain.
“We’re seeing a new genre of racetrack develop. Kansas and Michigan have been repaved and they’re incredibly smooth. That really changes the racing. As drivers, we hate to see repaves, because it makes the track almost too easy to drive, very unpredictable and hard to produce side-by-side racing.
“Kentucky is the exact opposite. It’s rough, it’s bumpy and it’s actually a little bit more predictable because of that. The groove is predictable, the way it takes rubber is predictable and the ability to run side by side here is as good, if not better, than any other mile and a half,” he analyzed.
The Penske Racing driver’s visit came one day after NASCAR announced he’d been levied a six-point championship penalty after a part failed during his June 2 fifth-place effort at Dover International Speedway and his No. 2 Miller Lite Ford did not meet the minimum postrace height requirement.
“It was a simple installation issue we addressed. These cars are, in effect, like Transformers. Once they enter the racetrack, they change shapes which drastically affect their performance. That’s hard to see, but when they enter the racetrack, they go from making 1,000 pounds of downforce to more than 2,000 pounds of downforce. There are different attitudes and heights as the cars travel and there are certain parts on them that make them return to go through inspection.
“One of those parts was not properly installed and the car didn’t return as it was supposed to. Did it necessarily affect the car’s performance in racing condition? Probably not, but the rules are what the rules are and they say the car must return statically. The car didn’t,” Keselowski said.
The infraction dropped him from eighth to 10thin the NSCS standings. He’ll enter Sunday’s 500-mile battle at Pocono Raceway trailing current championship leader Jimmie Johnson by 104 points.
Keselowski plans to rely on his team’s signature resiliency to overcome the setback.
“We’re focused on good runs and keeping those going. At the end of the day, it’s all that matters.
“I don’t have to make up any points right now. I’m in the top 10. That’s where my head’s at. I’m already in the Chase right now as it stands today. I think that’s an important part to acknowledge.
“There’s no benefit or reward for winning the regular season. Does everybody want to do it? Yes. Do I want to do it? Hell yeah, but it doesn’t mean anything. Being in the top 10 in points, having wins and having a team that’s properly positioned for the Chase with momentum is all that matters,” he said.
As the NSCS championship begins to wind down later this season, continued Kentucky NSCS success at this end of this month could prove to be just the ingredient his team will use to create another winning Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup recipe.
“A mile-and-a-half win is important because when you enter the Chase, more than half the tracks are a mile and a half. Having that confidence entering that part of the year is important,” he concluded.
Race tickets, Fan Zone passes that provide close-up views of Billy Currington’s Quaker State 400 race-day concert presented by Kroger, driver introductions and more, along with ticket packages and campsites for all events are on sale now at http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com, (859) 578-2300 and the speedway ticket offices at 1 Speedway Drive in Sparta, Ky., just off Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Kentucky Hwy. 35.