Sunday afternoon, Brad Keselowski led the final lap of the Geico 500 after passing Matt DiBenedetto, securing his first win of the season. This victory gave the Team Penske driver six trips to Victory Lane at Talladega Superspeedway, placing him in a tie for second-most in NASCAR history with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon.
Keselowski met with the Heavy and other media members after his win on Sunday to discuss a wild race and his late move to take the checkered flag. During this availability, he reflected on moving into a tie with two Hall of Famers and inching one step closer to Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s all-time record. The late NASCAR legend won 10 times at Talladega, but Keselowski said that he still has some work to do before he thinks about tying this mark.
“It’s more than I ever dreamed, I can tell you that,” Keselowski told the media. “I would pause and say Dale’s record is so far out there, yeah, I have a shot at it, but it’s a distant shot. I think you got to get seven before you can even think about 10. Still pretty cool to be on the same list with him on anything, that’s for sure, even if it’s second.”
The win at Talladega continued Keselowski’s run of success in the Cup Series
Keselowski won three races in the 2011 season — at Kansas Speedway, Pocono Raceway, and Bristol Motor Speedway. He has continued to win at least one race each year, posting a career-high six trips to Victory Lane in 2014. Sunday’s win at Talladega kept his streak alive for the 11th consecutive year, a stat very important to Keselowski.
Celebrating this win with this crew is so special. I never envisioned I’d be here celebrating six! It was extra special to win with military child Stephen Sume on board. pic.twitter.com/R4wcsmOovV
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) April 26, 2021
“I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was thinking about that,” Keselowski told media members. “It’s very special to me. Kind of gives me some chills. I started out racing just hoping I could have a job, be able to race in the Truck Series with my family. I never envisioned winning at the Cup level, let alone even being at the Cup level.
“To win six races here at Talladega, it’s an incredible feeling. Have 11 straight winning seasons, that’s pretty cool, too. Is it Tony Stewart or Ricky Rudd that has the record? I’m sure I’m a long way behind those guys. Hopefully, we can catch up.”
Keselowski continued to explain that the stress of winning a race and keeping the streak alive was creating some frustration for him and the No. 2 team. His job is to win races, but he had failed to do so for various reasons. He crashed during two races but also dealt with issues out of his control in others.
The results of a pre-race meeting with Team Penske’s owner
Heading into the Geico 500 at Talladega, there were questions about the Team Penske drivers and how they would race each other. The reason is that Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano crashed at the end of the season-opening Daytona 500. Michael McDowell’s No. 34 Ford pushed Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford from behind, sending him into the rear of Logano’s No. 22 Ford and spinning it into the grass. Keselowski spun into the wall while McDowell raced to Victory Lane.
Michael McDowell has won the Daytona 500 after another WILD crash filled finish on the final lap.
— Bench Bros Sports (@benchbrossports) February 15, 2021
Tensions were high after the Daytona 500, resulting in Logano and Keselowski not speaking to each other for multiple days. They ultimately buried the hatchet, but team owner Roger Penske took steps to prevent future issues. He called a meeting with Logano, Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, and Wood Brothers Racing driver Matt DiBenedetto.
The winner of the Geico 500 did not detail everything that Penske told the drivers, but he did provide some details. Essentially, Penske explained that the vehicles needed to complete all of the laps around the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
“Well, I think really the only thing that Mr. Penske told us was just don’t wreck all the cars,” Keselowski told media members. “You guys need to figure something out but don’t wreck all the cars. I think that was probably the biggest thing.
“I don’t know if there is a clear answer on that,” Keselowski continued. “I think we talked a little bit about staying in line at the end of the race and all that kind of stuff, but no real consensus on that. With respect to him, I’m glad we were able to win and we didn’t wreck all his cars.”
Of the drivers involved in the meeting, three reached the end of the race. DiBenedetto finished fifth while Blaney finished ninth. Logano, on the other hand, finished 39th after wrecking at the end of Stage 1.
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