Keyes Targets Second Los Angeles Win to End 2017 on High Note
For one of the most experienced drivers on the GRC Lites grid, 2017 hasn’t been the kind of season that Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Alex Keyes probably expected. A five-time winner over the past two years, the California native remains winless entering this weekend’s season finale at the Port of Los Angeles.
The good news? At fifth place in the standings, he has a strong chance at posting a career-best final result this year. The better news? He’s shooting for it at a track where he won last year, with a ton of support behind him.
“I have a lot of personal friends and partners that are going to be coming out, so it’s going to be a huge event for us,” he explained of this weekend’s action. “Everyone’s going to be out there supporting us, and it’s always an event that has big energy too. You usually have music going on, tons of people, and we’ve got some great fans there. And it’s the last race of the year, so usually there are championships going down. So there’s always a really good energy going on in LA.”
In some ways, Keyes’ season opener at Memphis set a difficult tone for his season as a whole. He did very well in the early going, taking a semifinal win up against tough competition, only to have bad luck derail him in the final while he was leading. The first seven races of the year saw only one podium, but five finishes outside of the top five—including a disqualification for avoidable contact in Indianapolis that kept him from taking home another trophy.
Since August, though, the third-year Lites driver has returned to form. Podiums in both Atlantic City and Seattle have helped him climb the standings, and three heat wins in the last four rounds have him up to eight on the year. Even with his early struggles, Keyes remains upbeat.
“I’m definitely happy with the performances we’ve had,” he added. “If you think about it, and if you look at where we’ve had to come through, we haven’t started a race being in a position where we can win. It’s been tough, because last year we had times where we would start on pole for the main. But it’s been really tough to even get podiums and we’ve had three of them—it’s not like having three wins (in 2015), but it’s still pretty good.”
Last year, Keyes’ dominance of this event was thorough: he qualified on both poles, won all of his heats, and would have swept both mains if not for wheel issues in the late stages of the second final. With a very similar track layout to work with, he’ll be hoping that his winning experience translates well to this weekend, and gets him that elusive sixth career victory.
“The track’s a little different every year, but last year it was a lot of high-speed pavement sections,” Keyes said. “That’s where I’m really going to excel, because my background is formula car racing. So (I’m best with) the high speeds, balancing the car through high-speed corners and less dirt—and the dirt’s made out of clay so it sort of blue grooves out. All of that is more the style that I like so I think that’s why we did really well last year.”
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Supercar Round 12 Finals: October 14, 4:30PM ET, NBC
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Photo credit: Louis Yio