CRANDALL: Keselowski’s magic bullets
Brad Keselowski has finished a variety of speaking the speak and strolling the stroll the previous few weeks. The primary ought to make everybody take discover, whereas the latter places him in NASCAR Cup Collection championship rivalry.
Keselowski received his fourth race of the season over the weekend at Richmond Raceway, simply days after calling his shot. Throughout media availability previewing the Federated Auto Elements 400, Keselowski stated he anticipated to guide a variety of laps and probably win the race.
The win not solely locks Keselowski into the second spherical of the postseason, however offers him 35 playoff factors to fall again on ought to he want them. He continues to be the one driver comparatively near Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin in that class.
However the confidence Keselowski has had goes again even additional.
Earlier than the postseason started, Keselowski gathered his No. 2 crew and advised them somebody would maintain the Invoice France Cup on the finish of the 12 months, so “why not us?” That adopted a remark he made that was misplaced within the pleasure of setting the 16-driver playoff grid after Daytona.
Stated Keselowski that night time, “It’s good to be in a great spot for the playoffs.”
Now two races in, Keselowski and crew chief Jeremy Bullins have a win below their belt and are already looking forward to Phoenix. Ought to they get there, the automobile that’s now 2-for-2 in dominating wins at Loudon and Richmond can be their bullet for the title struggle.
Whereas the primary spherical just isn’t even over, who needs to guess towards this group proper now? This can be a driver who’s extra outspoken and assured than in latest reminiscence.
“I just like the format,” stated Keselowski. “I just like the tracks, how they line up. I feel they match me personally very well, and I feel they match this crew very well. The crew is basically coming collectively and continues to click on, and we’ll proceed to construct new information collectively that we’re making use of in an important method.
“I simply really feel like issues are coming collectively. I do know that’s in all probability onerous to make a lot out of, but it surely takes so many little items to return collectively to win and to be nice. I’ve run actually good right here on the Cup degree for in all probability the final eight to 10 years, however I’ve had a few seasons that have been nice, and the distinction between good to nice is simply all of the tiny little issues and the main points. And I really feel like a variety of these particulars are going our means.”
Of his eight earlier playoff appearances – six of which have been within the elimination period – simply as soon as has Keselowski made the championship spherical (2017). In 2016, ’18, and ’19, elimination got here within the Spherical of 12.
The Spherical of 12 this 12 months has many drivers feeling anxious. After Las Vegas, there are two potential wild card races with Talladega and the Charlotte highway course. Keselowski has three wins in Vegas and 5 at Talladega.
After Keselowski used the identical automobile to dominate at Loudon and Richmond, there are not any prizes for guessing what the crew has earmarked for Phoenix if he makes it to the ultimate 4. Kinrade/Motorsport Photos
Harvick and Hamlin stay championship favorites with their buckets of wins, but Keselowski has been simply as constant. Keselowski continues to have the second-most top-10 finishes behind Harvick, and his 830 laps led are simply behind Hamlin’s 835. Harvick leads the sequence with 1,190 led.
One month earlier than the season began, Roger Penske swapped all three groups round. Keselowski stated he had no expectations about working with a brand new crew and needed to maintain an open thoughts about how it will all work out. He and Bullins have 4 wins, whereas Bullins and this crew had received three races within the final three years with Ryan Blaney.
“I feel I’ve all the time seemed on the three drivers at Staff Penske, and I really feel like from a expertise perspective, they’re all very equal,” stated Bullins. “I feel all of them have a boatload of expertise. All of them have perhaps tracks that they’re higher at than others to one another, however actually the distinction within the three of them is simply their expertise ranges, and Brad is clearly probably the most skilled. And even once we have been working with Ryan – I’ve used this time period quite a bit – that we tried to leverage Brad’s expertise. We tried to make use of his feedback about what racetracks have been going to do from follow to the race and what he anticipated to occur. We used that data once we have been working with Ryan.
“So working with (Keselowski) firsthand, we’re simply nearer to the supply, and we’ve been making an attempt to leverage that, and we’ve been making an attempt to make use of his expertise and the issues that he’s realized over time and the course of his profession to make our automobiles higher, make our setups higher and assist us make higher choices. I feel while you’re put in that place, we felt like that was the most effective method to it, and clearly, we’re pleased with the success. We have to preserve successful races and attempt to win this championship.”
Phoenix is a 750-horsepower race. Keselowski has been one of many strongest drivers with the 750 package deal this season, and he’s glad contemplating what number of there are within the playoffs. But, Keselowski is making an attempt to not get forward of himself, though his confidence is obvious about that race too.
“We’ve obtained to get there,” stated Keselowski. “The final two years I haven’t made all of it the best way, so we’ve obtained to get all the best way there, but when we are able to get to Phoenix, we’re going to be actually good.”