The 2016 NASCAR season will be here soon, and Athlon Sports is helping you prep for the season with a scouting report and fantasy preview for each of the top 16 drivers. The Athlon Sports 2016 Racing Preview, available on newsstands now, includes previews and stats for every driver and every track.
Brad Keselowski checks in at No. 6 in our countdown. Here’s what his season could look like on the track and on your fantasy team:
“Both of the Team Penske drivers are fast, and both of their mouths have gotten ‘em in trouble. And I think they’re going to be better for it,” a former crew chief says. “It starts with Keselowski, because he’s always had the talent, but he’s also always been running his mouth. I think maybe Logano let some of that false bravado rub off on him a little too much after he came over to Penske. But I think those two drivers have learned valuable lessons.
“Talking is fun, but being a little bit more humble always wins out. Keselowski went through it. He knows the line now; he knows what it’s like to be running that mouth and being on an island by himself, trying to rule the world. It doesn’t work too well and it’s not much fun.”
“There is a reason Jeff Gordon called him out after their run-in during the 2014 Chase at Texas,” says one industry insider. “He can get on people’s nerves during a race, and definitely after. But man, the dude can really wheel a car, and there’s also a reason he was the 2012 Sprint Cup champion. Don’t underestimate his loyalty to and chemistry with crew chief Paul Wolfe, either. They will continue to contend for championships and likely are to be faster this year after being just a little off much of 2015.”
Keeping it clean: Keselowski has just two DNFs during the last two seasons. One of them came at the Daytona 500, where any fantasy pick is a gamble. Add in a career-best 25 top-10 finishes last year, and your team is unlikely to get bombed by a bad result.
Fontana fluke? Keselowski’s only victory last season came at Fontana in a freak green-white-checkered finish. But he wouldn’t have won without a last-second, mysterious debris caution, and his previous best performance there is 18th. Stay away.
Loudon lock: On the flip side, Keselowski has run 12th or better at one-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway each of his last nine starts. His average finish during that span is 5.6 with a victory and two second-place finishes.
Bonus! Keselowski has led a lap in a whopping 51 of the last 72 races. That’s 51 precious extra points for your team.