Brad Keselowski might not come to the Auto Club Speedway with a victory next to his name, but he does have one thing 42 other drivers wish they had. That would be the points lead. Keselowski currently sits nine points ahead of his former Nationwide Series boss Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in his quest to repeat as Sprint Cup Series champion. While that is great for him, he would still like to get the goose egg out of the win column this weekend.
“It has been a solid start. We have done everything but win a race. That is where our focus is at this weekend for sure. We’ve certainly got a strong, consistent start but we have been in position on the final restart of each race to win and have come up just a little bit short. Hopefully we can close that out this weekend. I think we have got the car to do it and the team to do it. We are ready to get on track and get going. We have practice and qualifying here today and I am curious how this race is going to play out. I honestly think this is going to be an exceptional race. I think this new car, the Generation 6 car acts and reacts a lot like the Nationwide car does. You combine that with a track that has multiple grooves in the corners and a car that I think has a potential to draft really well and I think it could be a great race. I am pretty optimistic about it. I am glad I am running the Nationwide race because it will be good experience before hand. There are a lot of things to look forward to for sure,” Keselowski told reporters Friday from the media center.
With the new Generation 6 race car, teams have been trying to learn as much as they can at each race. What is playing against them is this weekend’s track, Auto Club Speedway, is yet another style of track that has not been raced on yet.
“We are still learning how this car will react to this style track. We haven’t run a two-mile track yet. This is the fifth weekend and fifth different style track. I am learning with you guys. In general this used to always be a handling track over horsepower but that might be different with this car,” said Keselowski when asked if the key to victory lies in handling or horsepower.
Being atop the standings this early in the season has caught a few NASCAR media members and fans off guard. Most expected Keselowski and his Penske Racing team to struggle after switching from Dodge in 2012 to Ford in 2013. Picking a time when the series is switching car generations seems to be paying off on the track for the team.
“I can tell you it is a big weight off our shoulders to come out of the gate so strong. It is a quick way of quieting all those that said when we switched to Ford we were going to be in a lot of trouble. That is really big for us at Penske Racing and big for me personally. It shows the strength we have at every layer, whether as a company, as a team or as a driver and crew chief combination. It is something I am exceptionally proud of. Looking at that and knowing we still haven’t reached our potential as far as our Ford relationship is concerned – and that will probably take some time – it makes me feel like when we do reach that potential that we can be an elite team for years to come,” commented Keselowski.
Keselowski and his Blue Deuce team will look to add to their lead in the points and get the first win this Sunday in the Auto Club 400 that can be seen on FOX at 3 PM EST.