By Michael Guzman, Contributing Writer
Homestead, FL – It’s never too early to start thinking about 2018.
Most of the time when someone is looking ahead, they’re optimistic that better things are in store. But following Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski doubled down on his disappointment with some surprising comments about the competition as well as the overall state of the sport.
While Chevrolet debuts a new body next season, taking the Camaro to the Monster Energy NASCAR track, Ford’s plan on not making major changes has the former champion concerned about his chances going forward.
“As to what will happen for 2018, you know, I don’t know,” Keselowski said. I would assume that Chevrolet will be allowed to design a car the same way that Toyota was for this one, but Ford doesn’t have any current plans for that. If that’s the case, we’re going to take a drubbing next year, so we’ll have to see.”
Asked about champion Martin Truex Jr. and how much of his speed this season was based on equipment, the driver of the no. 2 car responded that Truex was a deserving champion who made the most of his manufacturer.
“I think Martin has always been a pretty good driver. I don’t think he’s really changed,” Keselowski said. “Maybe he would say he has. Certainly he’s in some great equipment. I think he’d probably tell you that. You know, he’s still beating the other Toyotas, so he deserves credit for that for sure.”
Keselowski, who has been critical of Toyota throughout the entire season, continued by saying that this season felt like a Formula 1 season based on the discrepancy between manufacturers. Kevin Harvick finished the race fourth and Keselowski completed his 400 miles in seventh. Neither driver was able to contend with Truex Jr. or Kyle Busch late, while Chevrolet driver Kyle Larson took home third place. No Chevrolet was a contender in the final round of the NASCAR Playoffs.
“Right now the Fords and the Chevrolets with the 2017 spec are way down on that and just kind of, like I said, exaggerates some deficits as we get later into the race, and that was the case again today.”
At the end of the day, Keselowski’s frustration was the culmination of a year that saw Toyota post 16 total victories at NASCAR’s top level en route to a manufacturer’s championship. His frustration is a sentiment that has been carried with him since the start of the year, and one that is likely to continue going forward until the tides turn within the sport – whether NASCAR intervenes or not.
“When that car rolled out at Daytona, and I think we all got to see it for the first time, I think there was two reactions: One, we couldn’t believe NASCAR approved it; and two, we were impressed by the design team over there. You know, with that said, I don’t think anyone was really — ever had a shot this year the second that thing got put on the racetrack and approved… Your hands are tied because you’re not allowed to do anything to the cars in those categories that NASCAR approves to really catch up.”