2017 Year in Review: Alex Keyes
FINISH: 5th in GRC Lites points
2017 RESULTS: 12 starts, 4 podiums, 8 heat wins, 603 points
2016 RESULTS: 7 starts, 2 wins, 3 podiums, 9 heat wins, 268 points
THE GOOD: Keyes’ third season was his best yet in terms of championship finish, as he cracked the top five for the first time in his career. The Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver also equaled a season best with four podiums, topped time trials three times, and added eight heat victories at five different venues on his way to a solid fifth place in the final GRC Lites standings.
As the season rolled on, the Californian began to truly hit his stride. His first podium came in Ottawa, as he converted heat and semifinal victories into third place in the final. He then added third place runs in the Atlantic City and Seattle doubleheaders, and grabbed second place in the Los Angeles season finale while holding off teammates Christian Brooks and Travis PeCoy.
THE BAD: The one thing missing from Keyes’ 2017 record? A victory. He claimed three of them as a rookie in 2015 and added two more in last year’s limited schedule, but couldn’t take his sixth this year. He would have won in the Memphis opener if not for a heartbreaking issue late in the final, where he hit a rut in the dirt and sheared his tire off the rim. What would have been a sure victory thus eroded into a ninth place finish.
Unfortunately for Keyes, he’d finish at the back of two additional finals during the season. The next came in Louisville, where he pulled off course with a disabled car to finish 10th, and Indianapolis, where contact with James Rimmer turned a podium result into a disqualification. Not only was the Indy result disappointing at his team’s home race, it also cost him major championship points.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “I’m definitely happy with the performances we’ve had. If you think about it, if you look at where we’ve had to come through, we haven’t started many races 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. With the field as competitive as it is, it’s been really tough to even get podiums, but we’ve still had four of them.”
2018 PROGNOSIS: After three years in Lites, there’s no doubt that Keyes has to be considering the next step. Could we see him in a Supercar in 2018?
Photo credit: Louis Yio