Brad Keselowski will take on the Daytona 500 for the first time with RFK Racing on February 20. The 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion does not know how the race will play out, but he is certain that there will be some caution flags.
Keselowski spoke to Heavy about the upcoming Crown Jewel race during NASCAR Media Day. He acknowledged that both he and teammate Chris Buescher have performed well at superspeedways in the past, but added that he fully expects at least one of them to end the race early due to the inevitable crashes.
“I’m confident that there will be an incident amongst our two-car team,” Keselowski said while laughing. “There’s about a 75-80% chance of wrecking out of this race. New car, old car, whatever car. I don’t really see that changing, so I’m confident in that way.
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“Hopefully, we’ll get a lucky break and get both cars through but realistically not,” Keselowski added. “So you want to put on a strong showing and let the cards fall where they fall and hopefully, you can be one of those 25% or less that make it through. And then if so, those are the races you need to win.”
Keselowski Expects Other Factors To Remain the Same
The season-opening race at Daytona will mark the first time that the Cup Series drivers have competed in a points-paying event with the Gen 7 stock cars. This automatically creates some questions about how the cars will handle over the course of 200 laps, but Keselowski expects some factors to remain similar to past seasons.
“Well, I think the pack racing at Daytona will be pretty similar to what you’ve seen before,” Keselowski said. “The new car is definitely a different car than the last car — the Gen 6 car, I guess it was called — and how it drives and all the technology on it. But when it comes to the point tracks — Daytona, Talladega, and now Atlanta — I haven’t seen a big difference so far of how they’re going to race and how they’re going to drive.
“And I might be completely wrong, but I would expect this year’s Daytona 500 to race very similar to last year’s. Although the cars will look different. Some aesthetics will be different, but I expect the actual racing to be very similar.”
The racing may look the same, but there will still be some questions about how the parts will hold up during the race after some mechanical issues affected Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe, and Denny Hamlin. Additionally, the durability of the new composite bodies will take center stage considering that the Daytona 500 always features numerous incidents. Will the cars hold up to the contact?
Keselowski Will Embrace All Aspects of His New Role
The 2022 Daytona 500 will mark the first time that Keselowski will suit up for a points-paying race as both a driver and an owner. He will control the No. 6 RFK Racing Ford Mustang while joining forces with Buescher on the track.
There is no clear answer as to how Keselowski will perform with his new team. The Gen 7 car and whether it will level the playing field is still a mystery overall. However, the 2012 Cup Series champion will move forward toward the race and embrace his new dual roles while trying to get both cars into the playoffs.
“I’m really enjoying it,” Keselowski said about his role as a part owner of RFK Racing. “We can imagine with success on the racetrack, it’ll be the best time of my life. I’m enjoying a lot of off-track stuff, having fun with some of the on-track stuff. If we’re winning, I’ll be having fun with all of it. So that’s really the goal here, is to get to where we can compete for wins week in and week out. And what will come out of that is — naturally — we will compete for championships. And anything short of that, I think, is a miss in my mind.”
The Daytona 500 will take place on Sunday, February 20, at 2:30 p.m. ET. FOX will provide coverage as Keselowski, Buescher, and 38 other drivers fight for the checkered flag and one of NASCAR’s Crown Jewels.