Brad Keselowski, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) winner at Talladega Superspeedway, isn’t used to a string of bad finishes at NASCAR’s Most Competitive track, which is what he has experienced in the last three spring races at the 2.66-mile venue. Tuesday, he said he was ready to get over the “hump” and put those dismal results behind him with a win in the May 1 GEICO 500. He proved it by trading in horsepower of a stock car for “Camel Power,” riding a long-neck, humped-back camel at the Birmingham Zoo.
Keselowski, who captured his first career win at Talladega Superspeedway in 2009, was in town as part of NASCAR’s Victory Tour to promote Talladega Superspeedway’s upcoming weekend (April 29-May 1), which will feature the GEICO 500. The driver of No. 2 Miller Lite Ford for Penske Racing, along with his daughter, Scarlett, and girlfriend, Paige White, decided to see how much “camel power” the mammal – named Taffy – could muster.
“Now that was a slow and bumpy ride,” Keselowski exclaimed afterwards. “Nothing like what we experience at Talladega because that place is so smooth and we go so fast. Let me tell you, I had to really hold on, though. That camel would be a terrible drafting partner (at Talladega) but would be fun to walk around with, tell some stories and drink a Miller Beer with. Seriously, riding the camel was really something really unique to do, and I’m so glad I got to experience it with Paige and Scarlett (who turns one next month). The entire day was awesome here in Alabama and I can’t wait to get back here in a few weeks to try for another win at Talladega in the spring. It’s been too long and we are ready to win again.”
Being a lion of a driver has made him a King of the Jungle at Talladega Superspeedway. For Keselowski, winning three races at Talladega has been a career highlight. However, after winning in May of 2012 at the biggest and baddest track on the planet, he struggled in his next three spring outings, reeling off finishes of 15th, 38th and 22nd. He did garner his third TSS triumph in the fall of 2014 in a “must-win” event to advance in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and if history is any indication, it’s time for another triumph at Talladega for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champ. From that first win in 2009, it took him three years to get win No. two in 2012. It was only two years later for his third triumph in 2014. Now, just over a year later, the countdown trend says it’s time again.
“Talladega is a special place for me, no doubt,” added Keselowski, who sits sixth in this year’s championship battle and is all but secured a spot in the season-ending Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (by virtue of a win earlier this year). “Talladega has a special place in my heart. My first career win here helped propel my NASCAR career at the highest level, giving me confidence and a source of momentum. It’s an incredible place for fans to watch a race and enjoy all the social atmosphere.”
In addition to the camel ride, Keselowski and his family took a behind-the-scenes tour of the Birmingham Zoo that included feeding giraffes & lorikeets, as well as receiving kisses from a sea lion. There was a Choo Choo train ride – with Brad serving as the conductor - and a carousel ride. With approximately 950 animals (like zebras and rhinos) and 230 species from six continents, the Birmingham Zoo (www.birminghamzoo.com), like Talladega Superspeedway, is a treasure in the state of Alabama.
Keselowski even made the connection from the animal kingdom to drivers on the race track. “Some drivers are like crocodiles. They will eat you and cry those fake tears,” he said. “You have to watch out for them. Some are like elephants – they are smart and never forget. I think of myself as a lion – fierce, ferocious and aggressive for the win.”
In addition to his visit to the zoo, Keselowski was a part of the syndicated Rick & Bubba radio/TV program before heading over to historic “Dreamland Bar-B-Que” for lunch and appearing for an hour on the JOX Roundtable radio show - heard all over the state of Alabama.
For tickets to see if Keselowski can win his fourth trip to Gatorade Victory Lane at Talladega, call 1-877-Go2-DEGA or visit www.
Talladega Superspeedway is gearing up for a full weekend that kicks off on Friday, April 29. Friday’s slate includes practice sessions for the GEICO 500, Talladega 300, as well as practice, qualifying, and the start of the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards (5 pm CDT). Saturday’s slate includes qualifying for the GEICO 500 (Keselowski will be gunning for his first career TSS pole position) and the Talladega 300, which will get the green flag later in the day at 2 pm CDT. That evening the traditional Infield Concert will be headlined by Big & Rich featuring Cowboy Troy. Admission is free with a GEICO 500 ticket. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will try to make it two consecutive wins in the GEICO 500 on Sunday, May 1. For all ticket information, log on to www.talladegasuperspeedway.