NASCAR Notebook: Brad Keselowski Runs ‘Big Race’ At Phoenix; Joey Logano Rolls With Changes

brad keselowski qualfying at phoenix spring race (1)

Brad Keselowski’s rookie season as a NASCAR Cup Series owner/driver ended with his RFK Racing machine on fire at Phoenix Raceway. Talk about an uncomfortable finish.

Four events into his second season in the dual role, Keselowski is starting to feel comfortable. Last season, the first for RFK Racing, the rookie co-owner indicated the machine’s balance seemed off.

Keselowski, who qualified fourth for Sunday’s United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix, said he’s beginning to find a life balance between the rigors of driving and the overwhelming responsibilities of heading a franchise.

Entering the fourth event on the 2023 schedule, Keselowski said things are slowing down as the team works to improve the car’s consistent speed.

“This is a big race for us,” Keselowski said Sunday during a pre-green flag interview with Fox Sports. “To be able to start up front and race up front would be a big statement for us.”

Statement made.

Until the end, that is.

While falling short of threatening Stage 2 winner Kyle Larson, Keselowski, who led Lap 120, maintained his initial pace and placed third through 185 laps.

In the closing rotations, however, Keselowski dropped back and settled for 18th place.

Maybe Keselowski will feel more comfortable at the end of next week’s Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Joey Logano Rolling With NASCAR’s Changes 

With NASCAR Cup Series drivers facing a big change with the circuit’s new aerodynamic package, most insiders anticipated Joey Logano would thrive under the circumstances of driving for the first time with low downforce.   

“When there’s a new something, whether it be aero package or track, (Logano’s) he’s usually winning or contending,” driver Kyle Larson said, as reported by   

When a dirt track was introduced at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2021, guess who won?  

During the debut of Next Gen car last season, guess who won?   

As the inaugural Next Gen era points champion was anointed, guess who won?  

The answer to all three questions? Logano.  

The reigning series champ credited his pit crew and off-track associates.  

“It’s a lot of the team if I’m being honest,” Logano said. “As a team, I think we’re able to have a lot of different discussions around things and even during the race we can adapt as we see things. For whatever reason, change has been good for us.”  

With Logano’s reputation for being able to adjust quickly to new situations, it was a bit surprising Logano failed to threaten the lead pack through the opening two stages. 

Logano took advantage of the late caution periods and overtime to rally and place 11th.

Pit Stops

When Harrison Burton blew a tire and spun out on Lap 302, Kevin Harvick, who started 15th, held an advantage of more than five seconds over second-place Kyle Larson. … Harvick passed Larson, who had the race’s dominant car, by diving low on Lap 269. … Larson captured Stage 2 and William Byron, the race winner, placed first at the end of Stage 1. … Aric Almirola hit the wall on Lap 138 and his wheel broke away from the car and rolled down the track. … Tyler Reddick, who placed third Sunday, rebounded from a tough start this season, drawing consecutive DNFs. … Larson claimed his eighth top-10 finish in his past nine starts at Phoenix. … Harvick (fifth place) has collected 20 consecutive top 10s at the desert track. … Backup driver Josh Berry, who is subbing for injured Chase Elliott, placed 10th.

Arrow to top