By Toby Christie, Editor – Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie
Brad Keselowski’s 2018 season started off in a frustrating manner.
The Michigan-native is regarded as one of the greatest restrictor plate drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage today, yet Keselowski’s ninth bid to win the Daytona 500 ended in a devastating crash while running inside the top-three. It’s the fifth time that Keselowski, 34, has had a DNF (four crashes and one engine failure) in The Great American Race. Understandably Keselowski was disappointed.
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“It just really sucks,” Keselowski said after emerging from Daytona’s infield care center. “We had a great car and were in a great position. I guess that’s the way it goes. I went to pass [Chase Elliott] on the bottom and he came down. I can’t tell if I made contact or not, but obviously he turned and there was nothing I could do. We were all wrecked.”
Keselowski was able to shake off the sting of his Daytona 500 result and rocketed to an impressive runner-up finish last week in Atlanta. Keselowski led 38 laps and won the second Stage of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. The incredible performance moved Keselowski up 20 positions (32nd to 12th) in the overall championship standings.
Expect bigger things this weekend from Keselowski as the series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Pennzoil 400.
There are three things that are certain in Vegas: The house always ends up winning, Cirque Du Soleil have some impressive shows and Keselowski will secure a victory — or at the very least a really, really good finish.
Since 2013, here is Keselowski’s stat line at the 1.5-mile speedway in Sin City:
5 Starts, 2 Poles, 2 Wins, 4 Top-5s and 5 Top-10s.
Keselowski’s average start is 3.8 and average finish is 3.4 over that span at LVMS. In other words, despite whatever the official Las Vegas odds say going into this weekend’s race (I haven’t checked them, because it’s unnecessary), Keselowski is the actual overwhelming favorite for this weekend’s race.
If you’re looking for another driver who could possibly win this weekend, how about looking no further than Keselowski’s Team Penske teammates, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney?
Logano, who hails from Connecticut, has three Top-five finishes in his last five starts at LVMS, and his average finish over that span is 6.4, while Blaney has not finished outside the Top-10 at Las Vegas in his two-career starts. Blaney’s average finish in two attempts at the track is 6.5.
Unlike Keselowski, Logano and Blaney have yet to win in Vegas, so there is a bit of extra motivation at play for the two drivers.
Photo: Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Toby Christie is the Editor of TheFinalLap.com and Social Media Director of all things @TheFinalLap. He is the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly radio show and podcast, and he is the writer and co-host of the Racing Legends podcast. Additionally, Christie is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has covered the sport as a media member since 2007. Christie began his love for NASCAR as a fan in 1993. You can Tweet Toby at Toby_Christie, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.