Nascar

Keselowski on his struggle to conquer NASCAR’s Daytona 500

Keselowski is renowned as one of the sport’s most successful superspeedway racers, having won six points races at Daytona and Talledega since 2005, but his failure to win the Daytona 500 in 11 attempts is plain to see.

“My frustration level is pretty extreme, to be quite honest with you,” said the Team Penske driver.

“I feel like I’ve made some mistakes in that race, no doubt, but the last few years specifically I’ve ran really, really strong races and just didn’t have the ability to dictate my own fate.

“I think that’s what you want. You want the ability to know that when you drive a race car you’re making a difference and that it matters, and that hasn’t played out the last few years, which is frustrating, but I know eventually it will and when that moment happens we need to capitalise.”

Former Cup Series champion Keselowski has many showpiece wins on his resume – including the Brickyard 400, Southern 500 and Coca-Cola 600 – but admits the biggest race of the season is a crucial missing element.

“It’s definitely the one big box I don’t have checked,” he said.

“I’ve got the championship. I’ve won every other major but Daytona. The only other person that can claim that actively right now is Kevin Harvick and I want to join that club.

“It’s a big club to be in – to have all the majors and to have a championship.

“I know I’m right there and I want to make it happen and feel like I’ve done a lot of the right things to make it happen.

“I haven’t been perfect, but it’s certainly part of the source of frustration, for sure.”

Keselowski says the 500 is unlike any other event on the calendar and it’s what sets NASCAR apart from other American sports.

“It’s kind of like having your final exam on the first day of school,” he quipped.

“It’s a big moment for our sport. It’s very much inverse to most other sports, where the biggest game is at the end of the year rather than at the start of the year.

“It feels like the first day of school. Everybody’s got all their best uniforms on.

“Everything is new – pit boxes, cars, and it just has that crisp feel to it.

“It’s a very unique race weekend as compared to any other weekend, and obviously very special with respect to the success you have at Daytona can carry with you forever.”

The Daytona 500 will kick off the NASCAR Cup season on 14 February.

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