Brad Keselowski has the Sprint Cup Series champion title on his resume. Now he wants to start adding race winner of NASCAR’s most prestigious races. This year, he’s missed out on the Daytona 500 and the Southern 500. Tonight he will try to cross the Coca-Cola 600 off of his list.
“This is a huge weekend for NASCAR, it’s a huge weekend for all of motorsports. Obviously, there are other races going on, but, for me personally, I think for the point of this discussion I feel like this is a big race and this is one of those races with the events of last night with the Hall of Fame, you can see that and what people think of race winners from this event. They think of them as people that have a spot potentially in the Hall of Fame and receive some kind of accolades from winning this event, so I think that signifies, at least to me, how big a win this would really be for me or any driver and how important this event can be to your career. I really personally enjoy this. It means a lot to me to race on Memorial Day Weekend and the patriotism that’s shown in this sport. Obviously, there are a lot of cars with special paint schemes and a lot of different things that the track does as well to really embrace what it means to race on Memorial Day Weekend, and what the weekend means in general. That’s something I hold in the highest regard and just proud to be a participant,” Keselowski told reporters Thursday from the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
A hurdle for Keselowski’s bid might be little track time during last week’s Sprint All-Star Race.
“(On what put him out of the race) we found a broken driveshaft. That knocked us out last week. It’s hard to say exactly why, whether it was a faulty part or just from fatigue from the qualifying competition, but, certainly we would have like to have had that additional track time to be better prepared. Fortunately, we had a teammate who ran pretty well with Joey Logano, so we’ll have some information to decipher, but, obviously not an optimal situation,” said Keselowski.
He will also have to contend with the monotony of 600 miles as well.
“You can’t win the race at mile marker 300, but you can sure as heck lose it in those segments – whether that’s blowing through your pit stop and having a loose wheel, or any of those things. So you can’t win it in those segments, but you can definitely lose it – missing a shift, blowing a tire – anything like that. So at some point you have to put yourself into that protection mode of, ‘Hey, I need to just get through this segment of the race and not lose it right here,’ which isn’t all that much fun for me personally. I’d much rather play offense than defense, but that’s part of it because I think what makes racing special to me compared to other sports or really anything is you look at what it takes to be successful as a race car driver and you have to be good on short tracks, you have to be good on road courses, you have to be good on mile-and-a-halves, good on superspeedways. You go through all those genre’s of tracks and they’re all drastically different and then you add to it and you have to be good on restarts, you have to be good on short runs, you have to be good on long runs, you have to be good on short races, you have to be good on long races. There are all these different things that you have to be good at across the board, so, basically, it’s saying as a race car driver you have to be able to play defense and you have to be able to play offense. And in a long 600-mile race, that middle section you’re referring to is essentially your time to play defense and you have to get through that. Although you can’t win the game playing defense, you can certainly lose it,” explained Keselowski.
When it is all said and done, it might just come down to the final pit stop to determine the winner, not who has the best car at that point in the night.
“If you can get the lead and be within a tenth, maybe a tenth-and-a-half speed-wise of other cars in the field, the reality is you’ll probably win the race and that will shape itself out via the last pit stop or the last pit sequence. That’s really your largest chance for that to shake up. Certainly there are other variables that could shake it up – lap traffic, yellows, who knows. There is always something else that could shake it up, but, realistically, that will be the last shake up of the running order and if you can get the lead and be within a tenth-and-a-half speed-wise of everyone else, you have the winning hand,” Keselowski commented.
Keselowski and his crew will look to turn tonight into Miller Time for the first time in 2013. You can catch the race starting at 6 PM EST on FOX.