It's fair to say Brad Keselowski flopped in 2013 - and he'd be the first to admit it.
After winning the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2012 - joining Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt as the only drivers to achieve the feat in their first three seasons - Keselowski failed to even qualify for the Chase.
Now, he's back in NASCAR's postseason.
As the favorite.
Keselowski earned the No. 1 seed in the Chase after clinching his series-high fourth victory of the season with a dominant performance at Richmond where he led all but 17-of-400 laps – a track record for a 400-lap race at the Virginia short track. He enters the first leg of the Chase, known as “The Challenger Round” with 12 bonus points (three for each win) and valuable momentum.
We won the Chicago race in 2012, and I’d like to do that again,
“The Miller Lite Ford Fusion was just flying, and I couldn't ask for a better way to enter the Chase than to win and take the first seed,” Keselowski said after his win at Richmond.
The Chase begins Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway (2:00 p.m. ET on ESPN), the same place Keselowski took the checkered flag to kick off his first championship run.
“We won the Chicago race in 2012, and I’d like to do that again,” Keselowski said. “This team is fired up, and we look to continue building on what we’ve done to get to this point of the season.”
To become a two-time champion, Keselowski must fend off his Penske teammate Joey Logano. The No. 22 driver occupies the Chase’s fifth seed and ranks tied for second in the series with a career-high three wins. Over the last month, no driver has been more consistent than Logano, who has logged six top-10 finishes in his past seven races.
The 24-year-old will have to carry that consistency into the Chase.
“You have to go into these next 10 races and bring your A-game the entire time,” Logano said. “You can’t have a letdown. You can’t afford to dig yourself out of a hole. Ten races sounds like a lot of time and a lot of chances, but it’s not.”
NASCAR Wire Service