DAYTONA BEACH, FL – Brad Keselowski loves his chances at the Daytona International Speedway, which is somewhat odd considering his recent results on the famous circuit.
Kisilovsky has crashed eight times in his last 11 matches at super speed and finished in 30th place six times. It’s hardly the only unlucky one in Daytona, where extraordinary winners and top ten toppers are scattered like the wreckage of vast, multi-vehicle triathlons.
So perhaps Kiselovsky is feeling confident heading into the final of the regular season on Saturday night, as the 2012 Cup Series champions and 14 others battle it out for the last two playoffs.
“It goes without saying, but this race is going to be unruly,” Kiselovsky said. “I told the team that if I can be one of the last 10 cars left in the last reboot, we’ll get a chance and that’s all you can ask for, especially in this kind of scenario.
“We know we have speed and we feel really good about our chances. We just need everything to make it happen.”
In his first year as driver/owner at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, Keselowski needs a victory to achieve the post-season for the 10th year in a row. It’s the longest streak of anyone outside the current field.
Eric Almerola, Chris Bucher, Harrison Burton, Cole Custer, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Todd Gilliland, Justin Haley, Eric Jones, Michael McDowell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Bubba Wallace are the other men still alive.
Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex, Jr. are the only drivers who haven’t actually participated in qualifying and can succeed without winning at Daytona. At least one is guaranteed to enter. Blaney won the All-Star Race and is third in points, 143 behind regular season champion Chase Elliott. Truex leads the series in stage wins and ranks sixth in points.
If Blaney or Truex wins at Daytona, the other automatically gets points. If the already locked-down driver in the post-season had landed at Victory Lane, both Blaney and Truex would make a 16-driver field based on points. If there is another new winner on Saturday, whoever ends the night with more points between Blaney and Truex will advance.
It is a little complicated but rather simple. Either way, it should lead those looking outside to take more chances than usual.
“I think the ending could be very chaotic,” said series defender Kyle Larson. “Obviously you have to get to the end to have a chance to win. I don’t know if the first two stages are going to be that crazy. I don’t know what the other drivers have in mind, guys who are in a position to win to do qualifying.”
Despite failing to win a race, Blaney and Truex have been some of the most consistent cars all season and He got help Thursday when Kurt Bosch announced he would miss the start of the NASCAR playoffs due to concussion-like symptoms That kept him out for six weeks. His team, 23XI Racing, withdrew the medical waiver that had been holding Busch’s place for the post-season.
“For me, the strategy at Daytona is to try to stay as front as possible or as close to the front as possible, and hopefully when the big crash happens it’s behind you,” Trux said. “As wild as it is a leaf race, I think we will have a good chance of winning and it will be a great time to get our first win at breakneck speed with everything at stake. It will be a great story.”
Blaney needs 31 points to claim a place in the playoff. If he doesn’t score any progress points, he’ll need to finish sixth or better.
Almerola (2014), Stenhouse (2017), Austin Dillon (2018 Daytona 500), Jones (2018), Haley (2019) and McDowell (2021 Daytona 500) won the Cup at Daytona. Wallace ran like everyone else in Daytona, finishing runner-up last August and again in February.
Like Keselowski, each should feel they have a chance.
“Anyone with the top 30 points can win this race,” said Kyle Busch. “We’ve seen Front Row Motorsports win. We’ve seen the Spire win. We’ve seen teams that don’t normally win races be able to win motocross races, and that raises the level of anxiety for everyone. …
“You should be good, but there’s still a lot of luck.”
Possibilities and endings
Elliott is a 10-1 favorite bet, According to FanDuel Sportsbook, by Wallace, Blaney and Denny Hamlin. These three are all 12-1. Larson and Joey Lugano 13-1 pick. … The 37-car stadium includes 14 previous winners in 2022, 15 players vying for the last two qualifying points, five drivers ineligible for the post-season Cup because they earn points in another series, and three guys who are already disqualified: Cory Lagoe, David Ragan, and Cody Ware.
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