Brad Keselowski has always had a ‘win or bust’ mindset, but the reigning Sprint Cup champion was forced to play conservatively when it became clear that fuel mileage would not work out for him in the closing laps of today’s Pure Michigan 400.
After a Kyle Busch spin brought out the yellow with 42 laps to go, Keselowski stayed on the track in order to take the lead. But after having pitted about 10 laps beforehand, he was going to have to try and stretch his final fuel load out in order to win.
Busch spun again with 27 laps to go, but Keselowski’s No. 2 Penske Racing Ford team apparently figured that they were going to need too many more caution laps to make their strategy work out. Thus, the call was made to bring Keselowski in for a splash, kicking him back to 17th for the Lap 177 restart.
“It is the same deal every week. The yellows fall exactly the wrong way to screw up our strategy,” Keselowski said after he climbed back to 12th at the finish. “That can’t keep going that way. Its like Black Jack, you aren’t going to keep turning 15 or 16 on every hand. Eventually, you are going to turn a good hand. We just didn’t catch it today.”
But while Keselowski remains winless with three races left before the Chase, that 12th-place result looks a heck of a lot better than what it could have been without that last stop. Furthermore, it allowed him to stay in the Top 10 of the standings at eighth position, four points ahead of 10th-place Greg Biffle.
Of course, none of that was much solace to Keselowski, who said following his runner-up performance last weekend at Watkins Glen that he would rather “be a Wild Card with four or five wins than be a guy in the Chase with zero wins.”
“I guess we made the right call, but I ain’t gonna like it,” he said on Sunday.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.