Brad Keselowski reiterated Sunday night what he’s said several times this season: Ford might face a “drubbing” in 2018, after Toyota’s new Camry dominated this season and Chevrolet gets set to roll out its next car in Daytona.
“When [the 2018 Camry] rolled out at Daytona and I think we all got to see it for the first time and I think there was two reactions: One, we couldn’t believe NASCAR approved it; and two, we were impressed by the design team over there,” the 2012 Cup champion said. “With that said, I don’t think anyone ever had a shot this year the second that thing got put on the racetrack and approved. It kind of felt like Formula 1 where you had one car that made it through the gates heads and tails above everyone and your hands are tied because you’re not allowed to do anything to the cars in those categories that NASCAR approves to really catch up.
“As to what will happen for 2018, I don’t know. I would assume that Chevrolet will be allowed to design a car the same way that Toyota was for this one, but Ford doesn’t have any current plans for that. If that’s the case, we’re going to take a drubbing next year, so we’ll have to see.”
Speed was the issue for Keselowski & Co. Add in the finale being on a 1.5-mile track, where others like champion Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch have excelled, and Keselowski knew things didn’t bode well for him. Keselowski did lead the title hunt early in the first stage of the race when a pit stop put him off sequence with the competition and he used fresher tires to his advantage.
But as the race went on, the No. 2 Ford faded. Keselowski was not a factor when darkness overcome the speedway and the race’s conclusion neared. When asked what he could have done differently, Keselowski said there wasn’t a lot that came to mind.
“I had one pit stop where I didn’t get in the box perfect, but that’s about all I wish I could change from today,” he said. “Other than that, I feel like I left it all out there and ran a damn near perfect race. But we just didn’t have enough speed.”
Despite the disappointment at not winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, Keselowski called the effort by his Team Penske crew phenomenal.
“I was really proud of our group for everything they put into that, trying to be the best with this package. We weren’t quite best in class, but we ran up front,” Keselowski said. “The 4 [Kevin Harvick], the 42 [Kyle Larson], and the 24 [Chase Elliott] were pretty good. My teammate [Joey Logano] was pretty good. Felt like if we could have had a couple cracks at it, we could have ran fifth instead of seventh, but there wasn’t really any point in the race where we were capable of running with the 18 [Kyle Busch] or the 78 [Martin Truex Jr.].
“That was just kind of the way it was. We tried everything we could throw at them with strategies and whatnot, and it seemed to work out a little bit, force everybody’s hands a couple times and put them in some uncomfortable spots, but in the end, we just didn’t have enough speed to really contend with those guys. Really nobody did if you look at it. But we put the effort out there, and I’m proud of that.”
Truex and Busch finished first and second in the race as well as the championship. Keselowski wound up seventh and fourth in the title hunt.