Brad Keselowski: ‘You have to keep evolving at Talladega’

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Even though he’s won at Talladega Superspeedway five times in his NASCAR Cup Series career, Brad Keselowski thinks “you (don’t) ever feel comfortable at Talladega.”

Why would the active leader in Cup wins at Talladega, including his first career win, not feel at ease when racing on NASCAR’s longest oval?

The ever revolving door of rules put in place at superspeedways by NASCAR is the primary reason.

“It changes almost every two or three years to where, quite honestly, your techniques and tactics have to completely evolve,” Keselowski said in a Zoom press conference Friday. “If you go back, you look at the plate races even three years ago, it’s completely different. I think you go back and look at the plate races from 20 years ago and, my goodness, those guys wouldn’t even know what they were looking at. I watch some of those races just because I think they’re really cool and fun, and I can’t even comprehend what’s going on because the racing was so much different, and the moves that worked or didn’t work were completely different.

“You have to keep evolving at Talladega. I don’t know if there’s a track on the circuit where the tactics evolve more rapidly and drastically year over year than Talladega, so you’ve just got to really try to stay on top of that and it’s a hard thing to do. Sometimes you can stay on top of the tactics and it doesn’t matter and you end up getting wrecked anyway, but it certainly is a challenging, challenging place.”

The next stage in driver evolutions at the Alabama track arrives Sunday (3 p.m. ET on Fox). The series will debut a new rules package, a result of changes made after Ryan Newman‘s wreck on the final lap of the Daytona 500.

Changes include:

  • Elimination of aero ducts at superspeedway tracks.
  • Reduction in size of throttle body from 59/64” to 57/64” (superspeedways only).
  • Slip tape must be applied along the entire length of the lower rearward facing surfaces of the rear bumper cover and extension (superspeedways only).

Keselowski said he’s “not sure what to expect” when the field takes the green Sunday, particularly without practice or qualifying beforehand.

“I think the list of changes was so big that I’m having a hard time anticipating how the cars are gonna drive,” Keselowski said. “Small variations in how the car drives can make a big difference as to how they draft, so it’s gonna be a lot of learning as we go in the race with having the stages and all that I’m sure everyone will adjust quite rapidly, but with respect to that I’m not sure what to expect enough to give it a real articulate answer. But I do know one thing, we don’t have to run over each other and wreck each other.”

When it comes to superspeedways, Keselowski is tired of wrecking. The Team Penske driver went off on teammate Joey Logano after he triggered a large wreck in February’s Busch Clash at Daytona.

At Talladega, Keselowski has finished 13th or worse in the last four races, including 33rd in 2018 and 25th last fall following wrecks.

“You hope everybody is smart and that they take chances, you have to take chances to learn,” Keselowski said. “But by the same token you hope they don’t take chances that are potentially lethal to everyone else’s day and causes big wrecks, but I can’t speak for everyone.

“Everybody has a different approach. It’s one of the great things about life is that we’re all different and on the racetrack it plays out. Everybody has different motivations, challenges, goals and they all kind of get thrown into this big pot at Talladega with no practice. We’ll see what happens.”