The three races on the Daytona Road Course this weekend – Trucks, Xfinity and Cup – each were different in their own right, but all featured drivers “going for broke” late in the race leading to many on-track incidents and usually many cautions.
Sunday’s Cup race was a fairly low-key affair until NASCAR decided to throw a caution on Lap 57 of 70 because there was light rain failing in some areas of the track.
By doing so, NASCAR put the decision on teams for the remainder of the race on whether to use wet weather tires, but as it turned out, no one used them, and the track was never wet enough to even require track drying equipment to be used.
Asked if the rain affected the track, Keselowski said: “No, I could definitely tell it was raining pretty hard a couple of times. The track might have got wet, but we were OK.”
Instead, the caution presented the opportunity for a big shakeup in the running order as several teams pit for new slick tires but a large number of cars – many who had not been up front the entire race – stayed out.
The lineup shuffle, combined with drivers now in the back trying to desperately return to the front, contributed to numerous incidents on the track and three more cautions in the final 11 laps.
“I think the tough part here is the reality is a stock car is not meant to race on a road course and there are some compromises that are made across the board. There’s some limitations that come with that, not just for how the drivers drive the car, but with how NASCAR officiates the race,” Keselowski said.
“I think part of what people love about watching us race on road courses is the fact that the cars drive so incredibly awful bad that it can sometimes make for a very compelling race because there are a ton of mistakes.
“I think normally you don’t see that at most types of NASCAR racing, so with that in mind the cars not being made for the track, there are some considerations that NASCAR has to make that I’m sure they would rather not make.”
Keselowski, himself, was all over the map in Sunday’s race, running up front, spinning out, running off course. In the end, he managed to persevere for a fifth-place finish.
NASCAR’s tricky decision-making is part of the “trade-off” of having more road courses, Keselowski said.
“The alternative is we could go back and run more short tracks,” he said. “I think I would be OK with that, but as of now that’s not the way the pendulum has swung, and we’ll have to reap what we sow.”