Poll anyone and they’d say that Brad Keselowski is the superspeedway king. While he has arguably the most talent in the field, he has also grown frustrated with how the new racing on these tracks have become which has left him sending messages.
In the 2018 Coke Zero Sugar 400, Keselowski was running up front but was collected in a big crash early on in the race when he tried to avoid a blocking William Byron. That sparked a melee in Turn 3.
In final practice this past July at Daytona, the two came together again, this time it was Keselowski backing up his words at Daytona after his crash a year ago.
With about 15 minutes to go in final practice that day, Keselowski got into the left rear quarter panel of Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet in Turn 3 which sent Byron’s car out of control. Luckily, Byron was able to keep control of his car enough to not come back up the banking and take several other drivers out. But, it was a move that look intentional on Keselowski’s behalf.
Why make a move like he did in practice? Well, go back to last year, remember?
Byron was leading last year’s race but switching lanes from top to bottom. He moved low to block Keselowski, an incident that ended with the No. 2 Ford spinning high and smashing the wall.
“I need to wreck more people so they’ll stop throwing bad blocks,” Keselowski said that night.
On the Fourth of July incident, Keselowski blamed Byron for putting him in that exact same position again, this time, Keselowski didn’t back down.
“Just had a big run,” Keselowski told NBCSN when he brought his car back to the garage. “He put me in a position where I had to lift, and I keep telling these guys I’m not lifting. Just trying to send a message. I’m not lifting.
“I’m tired of getting wrecked at these (superspeedway) tracks,” he added. “They’re all watching. They know. I’ve been put in positions these last few plate races – not just by William (Byron) but a handful of other people too where I’ve had to make a decision to risk myself on being loaded up on the trailer and watching the end of the race or drive through the guy in front of me. I’ve been too conservative and ended up watching too many of these plate races from the back of the trailer and that is not the responsible thing to do for my team. I’m not going to do that anymore. I’ve made that commitment. If you’re going to make that commitment, then you make that commitment today and make that commitment in the race as well.”
Will those words come back this weekend?
Keselowski’s last three superspeedway finishes are 12th, 13th and 39th respectively. He finished 32nd, 33rd, 36th and 27th in the four races last year. Furthermore, eight of his last 12 superspeedway starts have seen him finish 30th or worse.
Keselowski, heads to Talladega this weekend with some momentum. He’s scored five top five finishes in his No. 2 Ford in the last seven races including eight top 10’s over the last 11 races overall.
He is +20 in the standings right now.
If he wants to avoid being eliminated in the Round of 12, he needs a solid result on Sunday. Luckily for Keselowski, he won at Kansas back in May, the site of next weekend’s elimination race. but, that’s just his second top five on the 1.5-mile race track since 2012 too.