Thursday March 30th, 2023 5:00PM

Keselowski gives new short track package high marks

By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
  Contact Editor

HAMPTON, Ga. - Brad Keselowski firmly believes NASCAR Cup Series cars should be difficult to drive, and from the owner/driver’s experience last Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, he feels NASCAR accomplished that objective with the new competition package for short tracks and road courses.

“I enjoyed the race last week from the perspective of how hard the car was to drive,” Keselowski said Saturday morning before Cup qualifying at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “I thought that was a massive gain here in the Cup Series. When I first came in the Cup Series these were some of the hardest cars I ever drove in my life. In fact, they were the hardest car I’d ever driven in my life.

“You would come off the corners and they would wiggle and they would wobble, and you would really be out of control and you’d spin the tires and then drive back down into the next corner and you’d about back it into the fence. And then over time the cars have gotten easier to drive. I think some of that was gaining experience as a driver, but the reality is that most of it was the cars over time developing into a series where they were easier to drive by the specs that NASCAR allowed us to utilize.”

After racing at Phoenix, however, Keselowski applauded the new rules package, which features significantly reduced downforce. The most obvious change is the rear spoiler, with its height halved from four inches to two.

“The car that we raced last week, if I put a local short track vet in it from anywhere in America, he would probably have struggled to drive,” Keselowski said. “He would probably spin out on corner exit. He would probably have a handful of problems with it.

“The cars that we had with the downforce package before that, I feel like I could take any local short track driver in the country, put them in there and they’d probably get in a good car and run pretty well. That’s not what we want at this level. That’s not what I think is indicative of what our fans and our sport has as an interest for what drivers should be at this level. So, I think in that sense, last week was a significant gain that we can hang our hat on.”

Penalties Won’t Change William Byron’s Approach To Competition

William Byron, winner of the last two NASCAR Cup Series races, doesn’t think the penalties he suffered for his team’s unauthorized modifications to the hood louvers on his No. 24 Chevrolet will have an effect on the way he races.

True, Byron lost 100 driver championship points and 10 of the 13 Playoff points he accumulated in his two wins at Las Vegas and Phoenix — pending Hendrick Motorsports’ appeal — but his early success hasn’t dulled his motivation to win more races.

“Yeah, certainly the points is something that we just adjust to,” Byron said. “It’s early in the season. The cars are extremely fast. We obviously had the pace last week to win regardless, so I think that’s going to continue. I think with that pace, we’re just going to use that to our advantage to make up points.

“We didn’t intend on really relaxing after a win anyways this year. So I think, going into the next however many weeks that we’ve got until the playoffs, we’re going to push really hard. I think we’re just going to give it everything, every week. We had a good week of preparation, lots of time in the sim (simulator), lots of time at the shop. Just excited for all of that to continue.”

WDUN will carry live PRN Radio coverage of Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 from Atlanta Motor Speedway at 2 pm on 102.9 FM, AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.

NASCAR Cup Series
Atlanta Motor Speedway – Hampton, GA
Ambetter Health 400 – March 19, 2023

Sunday’s Starting Line Up

Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed
1. 22 Joey Logano Autotrader Ford 31.256 177.374
2. 2 Austin Cindric Menards/Knauf Ford 31.262 177.340
3. 12 Ryan Blaney BodyArmor Smart Water Ford 31.284 177.215
4. 6 Brad Keselowski King’s Hawaiian Ford 31.323 176.995
5. 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 31.324 176.989
6. 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Light Ford 31.363 176.769
7. 17 Chris Buescher Violet Defense Ford 31.367 176.746
8. 14 Chase Briscoe Ford 31.396 176.583
9. 5 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 31.462 176.213
10. 20 Christopher Bell DeWalt Toyota 0.000 0.000
11. 24 William Byron Liberty University Chevrolet 31.544 175.755
12. 34 Michael McDowell Ford 31.545 175.749
13. 3 Austin Dillon Andy’s Frozen Custard Chevrolet 31.548 175.732
14. 11 Denny Hamlin Shingrix Toyota 31.554 175.699
15. 48 Alex Bowman Ally Chevrolet 31.554 175.699
16. 45 Tyler Reddick Xfinity 10G Network Toyota 31.574 175.588
17. 8 Kyle Busch Lenovo Chevrolet 31.583 175.537
18. 1 Ross Chastain Advent Health Chevrolet 31.597 175.460
19. 23 Bubba Wallace DoorDash Toyota 31.636 175.243
20. 31 Justin Haley LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet 31.642 175.210
21. 9 Josh Berry(i) NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 31.662 175.099
22. 42 Noah Gragson # Sunseeker Resort Chevrolet 31.680 175.000
23. 38 Todd Gilliland Gary Martin Hays Ford 31.696 174.912
24. 41 Ryan Preece Autodesk/ Ford 31.801 174.334
25. 99 Daniel Suarez Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet 31.835 174.148
26. 77 Ty Dillon Ferris Commercial Mowers Chevrolet 31.835 174.148
27. 47 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Kroger/Nature Valley Chevrolet 31.837 174.137
28. 43 Erik Jones Allegiant Chevrolet 31.853 174.050
29. 19 Martin Truex, Jr. Bass Pro Shops Toyota 31.859 174.017
30. 16 A.J. Allmendinger Action Industries Chevrolet 31.939 173.581
31. 7 Corey LaJoie Celsius Chevrolet 31.945 173.548
32. 51 Cody Ware Biohaven/Jacob Co. Ford 32.064 172.904
33. 21 Harrison Burton Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford 32.340 171.429
34. 15 J.J. Yeley(i) Barnett Southern Corporation Ford 32.559 170.275
35. 54 Ty Gibbs # Monster Energy Toyota 34.582 160.315
36. 78 B.J. McLeod B’laster Chevrolet 0.000 0.000

(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

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