Brad Keselowski knew his car was “really strong” and considers it the “best car” he’s ever had down in Daytona. However, he would come up short in his quest for his first Daytona 500 victory as he finished third behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin.
“A strong night, for sure. Didn’t get the win, which is most disappointing as a racecar driver. You don’t get cars like that all the time, at least most of us don’t,” Keselowski commented. “ We had the opportunity tonight. Came up a little bit short there on that last restart, but really proud of the effort and happy for my friend.”
Keselowski got his break in racing, courtesy of Earnhardt Jr., when Earnhardt Jr. hired him to run his Nationwide Series car. The success in that car eventually led to Keselowski racing for Penske in the Sprint Cup Series.
“He’s been right there. He’s knocked on the door. He runs restrictor plates as an elite driver, probably in the top three,” Keselowski commented. “Hasn’t got the win that he probably deserved a couple times from a whole bunch of circumstances out of his control.
“He was due. Today was his day. So I’m happy for him and happy for all those guys. A lot of great people over there on that team that I really like. Really like Steve.”
Looking back on his Daytona 500, Keselowski doesn’t feel there’s anything that he could’ve done different to win.
“When the 11 and 18 broke apart, then the 17 split the 18, that was the end of my night. There was nothing I could do,” he said. “It was just circumstances outside of my control. I could have blocked the 11 and ran second. That’s all that was going to happen if I would have blocked the 11. But I really wasn’t interested in running second. I took a shot at a different move that would have given me an opportunity to win and finished third. That’s just the way it is.”
While most times a driver would be happy with a solid day, that isn’t the case with Daytona because of how special it is to win on the famed 2.5 mile oval. Keselowski adds that a solid points day doesn’t matter anymore with the new Chase format.
“That’s the great thing about this format. There is no good points day, as far as I’m concerned,” he commented. “What matters is a win, especially when you come to Daytona.”