Through the first seven races of the Cup season, the series has produced seven different winners and yet only one – Joey Logano’s victory at the Bristol Dirt Race – has come from the four drivers who competed for the 2020 season title.
Together, reigning champion Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Keselowski amassed 16 victories last year yet all are still searching for the first win in 2021.
Keselowski, 37, is off to a solid start – he’s fifth in the series standings with three top-five finishes in seven races – but remains winless while his Penske teammates Logano and Ryan Blaney have both visited Victory Lane.
“I feel like we came out of the gate really strong at Daytona. We were in position to win. We had a good run at Vegas, not quite as strong as we wanted to be at Phoenix, but still solid, so we’re knocking around the door,” he said.
“Atlanta was disappointing, but outside of Atlanta I wouldn’t say we’ve had any bad races, so I think there are some things to build off of and learn from, but we’re right there knocking on the door, so I’m encouraged and fairly optimistic.
“We’ve got three of our best tracks right in front of us, arguably five of our best tracks right in front of us and I feel really strong and optimistic.”
Keselowski ended up 11th on the Cup Series’ first race on dirt in more than 50 years but when that race was over, he knew the schedule tilted toward his favor in the month ahead.
Of the next five races – Martinsville, Va., Richmond, Va., Talladega, Ala., Kansas and Darlington, S.C. – Keselowski has a victory at all of them in the last four years, including a win at Richmond in 2020.
“When we got out of Bristol, I left with a smile on my face knowing that we had Martinsville, we had Richmond – those are two of my best race tracks,” he said. “At Martinsville we’ve been just so solid the last few times, and then Richmond was kind of a dominant race for us last fall.
“I was super disappointed that Richmond in the spring got cancelled (last year) because of COVID because I thought we would be really good, but I’m looking forward to going back and hopeful to have the same success we had last fall.
“It’s certainly a track that I’ve had circled. Jeremy Bullins, my crew chief, and the whole team did such a great job preparing the car for that race track, so hopefully we can repeat.”
Keselowski said although he would have liked to have a win by now, he remains confident his No. 2 team is close in part because his teammates have already shown the organization is capable of winning.
“I think all of us have been in position to win races. I think Joey was really impressive at Bristol. He ran a great race. I’m not sure he had the fastest car, but he made really strong moves. That was pretty impressive to see,” Keselowski said.
“Blaney was incredibly strong at Atlanta and made great moves again to win that, but had a strong car as well. Those are good things to see.
“Certainly I don’t think we’re by any means the fastest car week-in and week-out, but collectively our group seems to be right in that top-five area and able to strike when the moment comes up.”