Brad Keselowski admits he was getting a bit ornery watching teammate Joey Logano win so many races.
Logano won six times last season, while Keselowski, his Penske Racing teammate, won just once, way back on March 22 at Auto Club Speedway. Logano, who has 11 wins the past two years, made it to the championship race of the Chase in 2014 and would have made it again last year if Matt Kenseth had not taken him out at Martinsville.
Keselowski, meanwhile, came up just short both years, getting eliminated in Round 3.
All of that didn’t sit well with Keselowski, who finally snapped his 33-race winless streak Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“As far as not winning and your teammate wins a lot of races, I've been on both sides of that,” the 2012 Cup champion said. “It's not an easy question to answer. If it were, both of us would have been winning.
“But there were a lot of pieces in play. There was a lot of misfortune and there was a lot of self‑inflicted things I could have done better and beyond. … It's hard to believe it's been 34 races.”
He refused, however, to dwell on those setbacks, focusing instead on steering his car and team back in the right direction. Keselowski, who has 18 career victories, won six races in 2014 and five during his championship season in 2012.
“At the end of the day, the last four seasons, the (No.) 2 team has won the most races two of the last four years,” he said. “So I think you can focus on the negative of last year, not winning as many races as we wanted to, but there's plenty of positives to go around. It's my goal to make that three out of the last five years where we won the most races. I think in any professional sport, a stat like that is a pretty good one. I'm going to try to focus on that one.”
With Logano’s success the past two seasons, Keselowski entered 2016 as a bit of an afterthought. Logano is considered a championship favorite, but Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports were considered the top two organizations.
But in the third race of the season, the Penske duo finished 1-2, with pseudo teammate Ryan Blaney finishing sixth. Keselowski, who blew past Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick) and Kyle Busch (Gibbs) to win at Las Vegas, says his team served notice that it will be a group to be reckoned with this season.
“Certainly the performance we showed today with finishing 1‑2 with Team Penske shows that when we get things right, we can be one of the dominant teams,” he said.
Like other veteran drivers, Keselowski also is encouraged by NASCAR’s new rules package, which takes away downforce and makes the cars harder to drive. At Atlanta and Las Vegas, drivers were slipping and sliding around the track and could drive the cars more on edge than in the past. Keselowski believes that plays into his favor.
“The new rules package today I thought was tremendous,” he said. “I think you saw, because of the rules package, where the cars fell off a lot at the end of the run and you really had to drive them sideways. Took a lot of balance as a driver, a lot of precise footwork and accuracy with where you put your car, how you place it, which is exactly what we want.
“This shouldn't be easy. This is the Sprint Cup Series. These cars should be very hard to drive. At the end of the run they were a challenge. It's nice to be a part of that.”