NASCAR Kentucky Notebook: Brad Keselowski Advocates For Unique Competition Packages

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Brad Keselowski (Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Brad Keselowski (Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images for NASCAR)

SPARTA, Ky. – Brad Keselowski is an avid proponent of different strokes for different tracks—and the logic of his position is impeccable.

NASCAR is trying out a new low-downforce aerodynamic configuration for Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway and plans to repeat the process Sept. 6 at Darlington. The most visible element of the new package is a spoiler reduced in height from six inches to 3.5 inches.

At Indianapolis in July and at Michigan in August, NASCAR will unveil a higher-drag-and-downforce package the sanctioning body hopes will enhance the quality of racing at those two venues.

Conceptually, it’s a giant step for NASCAR, which is embracing the notion that different competitive configurations may be appropriate for each of its unique race tracks, much as a professional golfer might change his arsenal of clubs for each different course.

It’s a mind-set Keselowski, the 2012 series champion, supports unequivocally.

“I’m in that camp and on that team that says that’s what it’s going to take our sport to the next level, as far as the quality of racing is concerned,” Keselowski said, “is developing genre-specific packages for the tracks with the realization that, when the Car of Tomorrow (2007) and the Generation-6 car (2013) came out, I think it was designed to perform at a higher level at the plate tracks and, in some way, whether it was intentional or not, the road courses.

“And we’ve seen the road course races and the plate tracks in that time – the last seven or eight years – kind of turn into some of what I think most of the industry and its fans would recognize as the best racing our sport has to offer right now.”

Keselowski believes that designing specific competition packages for specific tracks will provide a series-wide improvement in the quality of the racing.

“We feel like, as drivers, we know the package that we need to put on the best racing, and it’s somewhere around the marks that we had 10 years ago, downforce-wise, power-wise, et cetera,” Keselowski said. “But the reality was that was not perhaps the best racing for road courses and superspeedways in terms of both the quality of racing and the safety perspective.

“So I think what that comes back to is kind of a self-awareness that the sport is starting to grow, that I’m very supportive of, that running the same rules package or car at every race track, despite glaring differences in layouts, is probably not in the best interest of this sport.

“To see us grow self-aware of that as I’ve seen over the last month, I think, is a very bright spot for the sport and its future in terms of the quality of racing… I’m really supportive of that and think that could be very significant for our sport going forward.”


Because of rainy weather at Kentucky Speedway, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers lost four hours of testing on Wednesday and another two hours of practice on Thursday.

Practice or not, NASCAR is committed to running its new lower-downforce aero package at Kentucky, and drivers are hoping Friday brings a rain-free window for practice.

Through wind tunnel testing and computer simulations, Sprint Cup teams have a good baseline for the way the new low-downforce package will behave, but Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle thinks it’s important for the series to see some track time before Saturday night’s Quaker State 400.

“I think we could probably race this package without testing it,” Biffle said on Thursday at Kentucky Speedway. “I doubt whether that will happen. I think that we’ll at least end up getting some practice. I think we’ll need some practice on the race track to race this package because we have gotten as close as we can with the setup and the springs and the shocks and the wedge and the front sway bar as we could possibly get,

“But I think we’re going to need at least an hour practice session to get it, ‘OK, it’s not spinning out and I’ve got it fairly decent.’ Now, do we need four hours of testing and then an hour-and-a-half of practice and qualifying and all that? No, we don’t need all that, but we do need some track time.”

Two Sprint Cup practices are scheduled for Friday before qualifying at 2:30 p.m. ET.


Jamie McMurray would like nothing better than to shed an unwelcome distinction, and the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season appears to be unfolding in a way that will help him do so.

Though McMurray has driven full-time in the series since 2003, he has never qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the playoff system introduced in 2004. Through 17 races this season, McMurray is sixth in the standings—and the highest-rated driver without a victory so far.

If fewer than 16 different drivers win races this season (11 drivers have victories thus far), McMurray is in good position to make the Chase on points. From McMurray’s point of view, it helped that last week’s restrictor-plate race at Daytona produced a duplicate winner (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and not an unexpected one.

It also helped that McMurray avoided catastrophe and finished 11th and 15th, respectively, in the first two plate races of the season, at Talladega and Daytona.

“I remember heading into to the first Talladega race, knowing that was a big weekend for a guy who hadn’t won a race because you could have someone new win, and you could also have a 40th-place finish, which makes a big swing in the points,” McMurray said. “So, making it through there was big for us, and then making it through last weekend (at Daytona) was the same thing. Not having a new winner and then not having a horrible finish. We didn’t really lose that many points to the guys that we’re racing.

“So I only look at maybe Watkins Glen (a road course race) as being somewhat of a wild card where you’d have a unique winner. And so for us, it’s just about doing the same thing and getting the best finish we can.”

The driver of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet has an average finish of 13.2 this season. If he can maintain that pace for the next nine races, a first-time berth in the Chase could well be in his future.

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