Keselowski: Rule changes will improve racing, but must be prudent
JOLIET, Il. – If initiatives such as track-specific aero rules packages will improve racing in NASCAR, Brad Keselowski is all for them.
But while the 2012 Sprint Cup champion generally applauded the aero package changes made for this past Saturday’s race at Kentucky Speedway, he’s a bit cautious about more changes still ahead, particularly any that may be contemplated for this season’s upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“At the end of the day we’re supposed to be the best race car drivers and teams in the world and change is an opportunity to showcase who is the best,” Keselowski said during a break in Wednesday’s open test at Chicagoland Speedway. “I’m not afraid of it (adding track-specific aero packages to Chase races) I guess would be a better answer, but I’m not sure I’m in favor of it either.”
In other words, just because the Kentucky experiment was a success, higher drag or lower downforce at other tracks may not have the same results, Keselowski said.
“I know what I am in favor of is putting on the best races we can for our fans and if we feel like there’s a package on the table to put on a better race for our fans, we’d be kind of foolish to not do that so. As to if that will happen, I don’t know. We’re so early in the process that I think you have to step back sometimes and respect that.”
He then added about last weekend’s race at Kentucky, “That was a pretty big step to even out the field, but one race is a pretty small sample size. Though, in general, I would say that package would definitely even the field out.”
It’s not surprising Keselowski may not favor changes within the Chase, particularly the playoff opener at Chicagoland, a race he has won twice in the last three seasons.
“You always want to get the first punch in the ring, right?” Keselowski said. “That’s what Chicago is. This is the first round of the battle and winning is kind of the first punch.
“That was a real nice weekend for us (last year’s win at Chicagoland), and we’re looking for the same thing. That’s why we’re back here today to test and continuously develop our team and our cars to be as fast as we can, to execute when we come back here for such a critical race.”
When asked by NASCAR Talk what would be the ideal package if he had a say in it, Keselowski chuckled at first before turning serious.
“It’d be lengthy and very hard to explain, is what it would be,” Keselowski quipped. “At the root of it is what do you consider great racing? That’s a topic that’s based not very much on fact, but certainly based on opinion. So my opinion of what great racing is a difficult question to answer, and that’s where you start at.
“I think great racing is seeing cars where drivers can make a difference and determine his own fate and outcome with his unique individual skills. Whether that be as a talent behind the wheel with his finesse, balance and skill driving the car or with his talent with respect to his relationship with the team and almost be a leader, a quarterback of the team and call the right plays.
“Those two are probably the highest on my list because they open up so many other doors and at the end of the day, it’s my opinion that puts on the best racing on a consistent basis.
“But some others might have different ideas than that. I know we get caught up a lot of time in stats of passes and things like that. As a racer whether I’m driving or watching I just want to see the best guy have a chance at winning and I want to see fair competition and mix that all up with some crazy finishes and why not, that’s my opinion on what great racing is.”
But some changes are definitely needed, Keselowski added.
“I think there’s some very good racing that we have had at some tracks, and there’s some racing that we in the industry have acknowledged that we want to see get better – and this is the type of track (1.5-mile) that’s been targeted to try and make better,” he said.
“As to what that is, in my opinion, that means it’s going to take some kind of aero package that takes the leader – who right now has a pretty extreme advantage over the field, whether he’s of quality or not – so I think that the package that’s going to be great is one where the leader doesn’t have that advantage, perhaps unjustly.”
Keselowski said he doesn’t mind changes being made in the middle of a season, like last Saturday’s race at Kentucky, and for upcoming races at Indianapolis next weekend, Michigan next month and Darlington on Labor Day weekend.
“I think stock car racing is not like other sports,” Keselowski said. “I’m okay with rules changing as long as it’s not targeting a team. I think these rules are targeting and creating the best racing we possibly can, and I think that’s what we should always strive to do.”
Whereas lower and less downforce was used at Kentucky to improve the racing, upcoming races at Michigan and Indianapolis will be doing just the opposite, using higher drag and greater downforce.
“It seems so far away, being here in Chicago and trying to prepare for Loudon and (Indianapolis) is just 10 days away,” Keselowski said. “I don’t know what to think. I know Indianapolis has been very much of a struggle for us to put on the type of racing we’d like to put on. I appreciate efforts to try and make it better, but I don’t know what’s going to happen with it.”