Alex Keyes: “We Should Have Won Four or Five Races Last Year”
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Alex Keyes is a popular preseason pick for the GRC Lites championship in 2017, and for good reason: despite only running seven races last year, he still managed to take two victories and even equaled his 2015 points position by placing sixth in the standings.
But Keyes admits one thing: those numbers could have easily been even better.
“Realistically, last year we won two races, but we probably should have won four, maybe even five,” said the California native. “But when you look at all the scenarios from last year, I think it actually ended up pretty good for us to be able to win two races.”
A three-time winner in 2015, it wasn’t until Keyes’ final scheduled race of last year in Atlantic City that he finally returned to the top step of the podium, posting a perfect weekend along the way. When he got the call to fill-in for Tanner Whitten in Los Angeles after Whitten’s promotion to a Supercar, Keyes managed to add a second win as well, and would have swept the weekend if not for a broken wheel stud while in the lead during the finale.
But while the victories went as well as they could have, one event sticks out in Keyes’ mind as a missed opportunity: Phoenix, where he won both poles and three out of four heats.
“A lot of stuff went wrong, but we were the fastest car there all weekend,” he explained. “I threw it away the first day, and then on the second day, other stuff happened—something went wrong with the motor, so I had to come through the LCQ, and I had a crash in the final which ended my race. So Phoenix realistically should have been a good one.”
As for 2017, the approach changes slightly: instead of going round by round, Keyes will be actively managing his position in the championship as he aims to give DRR its second title in two years. And while he’s still expected to run up front on a regular basis, expect a more calculated driver behind the wheel of the #24 car this year.
“The first two seasons—the first one got messed up because I had to skip the first race—I’ve pretty much just been racing for each individual race,” he admitted. “(We were) going race by race for the first two years because there was no goal of a championship. This year is going to be a little bit different. We’re still going to be going for wins, but at the same time, we’re not doing anything stupid to end up not finishing.
“It’s less of a win-at-all-costs attitude this year. It’s more about consistency, and consistently making it to the podium.”
What do you think, Red Bull GRC fans: will Alex Keyes beat last year’s total of two race wins? Be sure to tell us in the comments!
Photo credit: Louis Yio