Photo: Walter G. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Keselowski Leads Ford Contingent in Final Daytona 500 Practice

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Brad Keselowski is no stranger to the top of the leaderboard on a superspeedway and that’s exactly where he found himself in Saturday’s final practice session for the 65th running of the Daytona 500.

Piloting his No. 6 RFK Racing Ford around the 2.5-mile track in 47.071 seconds, 191.201 mph, the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion staked his place at the top and would not be moved for the remainder of the 50-minute session.

“We made some really good improvements,” Keselowski said. “We were super strong here last year for the 500. When we fired off for the Duels, we weren’t where we wanted to be. So, made some adjustments and kind of went back to where we were for last year, and then got even better from there. Feel really good about it.

“You know, you come here and there there’s no guarantees of any success, but there are things you can do to help your position. And of course, executing the race and having good speed are always good things. So, I think we found a little more speed and feel really good about our ability to execute the race. We’ll see if the other pieces come together, but really pleased and looking forward to tomorrow.”

Keselowski has one previous win at Daytona (Summer 2016) and six wins at Talladega, but a win in the Great American Race has eluded him thus far in his career. In 13 starts, his best finishes have come with a pair of top-fives in 2013 and 2014.

This time around, he’s hoping luck is on his side and he’ll finally be able to hoist the Harley J. Earl trophy on Sunday.

“The Daytona 500 to me over the years has probably been more focused on the speed of the cars and the willingness of the drivers to really make bold moves,” he said of what it will take to win Sunday. “I think accordingly, I just haven’t been able to close the 500 out. We’ve had really fast cars and caught some really poor breaks. And then there’s been some races where I felt like I didn’t execute a high enough level. You know, I think there’s probably a little mixture of all those things on why I haven’t been able to win this race.

“There’s the kind of the old Indianapolis saying, I think that you don’t win the Indy 500, the Indy 500 kind of picks the winner. And sometimes it feels that way here.”

Following Keselowski in practice was his former Team Penske teammate and defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Ryan Preece, Harrison Burton, Chase Briscoe, A.J. Allmendinger, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, and Riley Herbst to round out the top-10.

With practice complete and the field set, all that remains is to drop the green flag at 2:30 pm ET Sunday and see who comes out on top by the end of the day.

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.