Talladega, Ala. ( Associated Press) — Talladega Superspeedway’s most winning active driver may be able to save his season on Sunday by defending last year’s win.
However, Brad Keselowski isn’t banking on a seventh Talladega win. But if it’s within reach, well, Kiselowski won’t hold back in his quest for his first win since leaving Team Penske for an ownership stake in RFK Racing.
“We’ve got a good shot,” Kiselowski said. “If we’re anywhere close, I’ll leave it all on the line.”
6 Ford devastated Kiselowski’s first season as driver-owner and lowered him to the bottom of the Cup standings, lower than any other full-time driver. It took him a month to climb from 35th to 30th in points – a mark he hit last week in Bristol that would qualify him for the playoffs if he should win a race.
His best chances of victory are likely at Daytona or Talladega.
Keslowski and teammate Chris Bucher won the qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway in February, but the RFK organization has not won a Cup Points race since 2017. The team won twice that year – both races at Superspeedway with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The two stop at the Alabama track when the team was known as Roush Fenway Racing.
The organization has not won on any type of track other than superspeedway since its 2014 victory by Carl Edwards in Sonoma.
So speedway races appear to be Keslowski’s best shot at extending his streak of playoff performances for nine consecutive years.
“I think there’s probably a little bit of truth to it, but honestly I’m looking forward to next month and I’m really excited about the race we have,” Kiselowski said. “I think we might win any one of them. We have a lot of great things coming in the pipeline. We’re starting to figure things out and find some missing puzzle pieces, so I’m going to say that.” I’m not prepared that we have to win at one (Superspeedway) to advance to the playoffs.
“I think we are starting to find our game on other tracks as well. We have a lot more faith in the cars and the team is learning a lot.”
Kiselowski will start in 15th place on Sunday as Ford struggled in camp qualifying. Joey Logano, his former Penske teammate, was the highest-qualified Ford driver in 13th place.
But most of Daytona’s entire week was held at Ford Camp, where teams and drivers must work together to navigate through the pack and get to the front of the field. This led to wins for Penske rookie Austin Sindrick and seven Fords in the top 10.
Chevrolet driver William Byrne won in March in Atlanta, where the reconfigured track races like a superspeedway, and it’s not sure whether rival manufacturers have as solid plans as the Ford Group. He named Tyler Reddick, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott and Eric Jones as aggressive Chevy drivers who could help the brand beat Ford on Sunday.
“There are some really aggressive Chevy drivers out there. I think there are some really good drafters we can work with,” Byrne said. “I felt like we were better in Atlanta. We improved. This is probably the closest thing to this weekend. I know (Ford) can work really well together, even in Atlanta Even for a lap or so they can stay connected, and that’s something we have to work on. But I think we have aggressive players who can push each other as much as we need to “
Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr lead the Toyota lockout Joe Gibbs racing in the front row in qualifying, but Sunday’s plan will have to be true to get the Japanese automaker down the victory alley. Of the 39 cars in the area, only six are Toyotas; Meanwhile, Chevrolet has 17 entries and Ford has 16 entries.
“We’ll try to work together as best you can and whatever happens, happens,” Kyle Bush said. “There really is no power in numbers.”
Kiselowski was on the offensive at the end of his ninth place in the Daytona 500 and his push resulted in two separate accidents. He said he was not proud but “Honestly, it was time to go and my car could have taken the same blow I had given those cars.”
But when he arrived at RFK, he warned his new team that “I’ll probably be out of several races this year.
“It’s going to happen for good reason. Every so often, I’m going to push the car as hard as I can and probably push it forward. Something’s going to happen and then we’re back.” There are going to come and we’re going to make it better.” “As long as those failures are coming from a push and not a silly mistake, I’m fine with it, whether it’s me or someone else in the company. If we’re going to get where we want to get, we have to work really hard We have a place to go.”
odds and ends
Ryan Blaney is the 10-1 favorite to win Sunday according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Blaney is a two-time winner in Talladega and was running from Austin Sindrick for victory at the Daytona 500 when Sindrick threw a block that pushed Blaney into the wall. … are the last 10 Talladega winners in the field, and Logano surpasses Keselowski among active drivers in three wins. … the late Dale Earnhardt holds the record for 10 wins. … Talladega Superspeedway set the all-time record in Green Flag Pass for the lead in a single Cup Series race in 2013 with 219 major changes.
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