By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service
BROOKLYN, Mich. – Fourteen races into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Brad Keselowski concedes he’s frustrated he hasn’t hoisted a winner’s trophy yet. By the time he arrived at his hometown track, Michigan International Speedway, last summer he had already won twice and would win again in the Fall Talladega race.
That the 2012 Cup champion hasn’t won on his home state high banks surprises him as much as his many hometown fans. But after a good tire test here last month, an impressive opening practice session on Friday (he was fourth fastest) and the outside pole position in qualifying, Keselowski insisted he was as encouraged as ever about his chances for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“A win here would be like winning the Daytona 500 for me,” Keselowski said. “A home track means a lot to any race car driver. It is your friends and family and there is a lot of notoriety that comes with it. It makes the losses sting more and the wins sweeter. The fact we have been so close and not achieved it is very top of mind every time I come here.
“We are pushing hard to make it happen and I feel like we have a decent shot this weekend.”
Keselowski is from nearby Rochester Hills, Michigan and spent Thursday hosting a huge fundraiser for his Checkered Flag Foundation in Dryden, Michigan close to his hometown. The money raised will go to fund a Fisher House Foundation home to serve veterans and their families in Ann Arbor. It’s an important initiative for Keselowski who has spent much of his career giving back to service members and their families.
And he clearly took the positive vibes from his philanthropic work to the track, where he posted a string of six consecutive top-10 finishes from 2014-16. He was 16th and 17th in the two 2017 races, winning the pole position in the second race. He has led laps in the last four races. It’s just a matter of earning that maiden win.
Keselowski conceded Friday that he is “disappointed” he hasn’t won yet in a season so heavily dominated by Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. who have 11 of the 14 race wins.
The Team Penske driver had a season best effort of runner-up in Atlanta. He has three top-10s in the last four races, has led laps in five of the last six races and is ranked fifth in the championship points standings.
“Am I surprised to have not won a race, I don’t know if surprised is the right word,” Keselowski said. “I try not to take success for granted and try to appreciate it as it comes. You never know where life is going to take you.
“Surprised isn’t the right word. I would say disappointed is a better word. I want to win, I want to win a lot of races. I feel like we have a pretty strong team.
“I am still hopeful and optimistic that we can achieve that. With a lot of racing left I think this is the strong suit of my schedule as a driver, the summer months. We are hopeful to get rid of that goose egg. We are still sitting fifth in points and have had a lot of strong consistent runs. If you take out the dominance of Kevin, Kyle and as of late, Martin, we would have probably won two or three races but that isn’t how it goes.”