2017 Mid-Season Review: Alex Keyes
STATS (through 6 of 12 rounds): 6th in GRC Lites points (295), 1 podium, 5 heat wins
POSITIVES: One of the most experienced drivers in the GRC Lites field, Keyes’ third season in the class is actually the first where he’ll make all 12 starts. He’s had no problem setting himself up for success, with two poles and top-three laps in all six qualifying sessions (although a third pole in New England was called back due to a rules infraction).
As usual, he’s also been a top contender in the preliminary rounds, winning three semifinals and two additional heats. That mark ties him for third overall with new teammate Christian Brooks, and is only one short of Conner Martell’s six. Keyes also ended the first half of the season on a high note with his first podium of 2017, taking third on the final day of action in Ottawa.
NEGATIVES: Coming off of what should have been two wins to end the year in Los Angeles, Keyes had something to prove in Memphis. He almost did just that, taking the semifinals and jumping out to an insurmountable lead. Unfortunately, he hit a rough section in the dirt in the second half of the race, and the resulting impact took his tire off the rim—ending his chances.
“It was honestly just (bad) luck,” he admitted. “I didn’t change anything from the previous laps, and pretty much all the top guys were running similar lines in the dirt. I just caught a rut the wrong way, and in the car, I actually thought it was going to roll over, it hit so hard! It seems to be that, sometimes when we’re in a position to win the race, we don’t always have the best luck. But we showed everybody what we’re capable of.”
OUTLOOK: We all know that Keyes can go out and win races when things go his way—in reality, he should already have at least one under his belt this year. The good news? Both of his wins last year (and one that he should have had) came on tracks making appearances later in the season. Career victory number six should be in the cards before season’s end.
Photo credit: Louis Yio