Brad Keselowski’s bad day at Kansas Speedway could have dire consequences for him in NASCAR’s Chase.
He doesn’t see it that way, however.
Keselowski, perhaps the most consistent driver on the Cup circuit this season, finished 38th in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400, dropping him seven spots to 11th in the points standings, well outside the eight-driver cut line to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
If he can’t win next week in the second round’s elimination race at Talladega Superspeedway or finish high enough to move into the top eight, his championship hopes will be over.
There’s nothing in that scenario that worries Keselowski.
“If my team keeps putting up this kind of effort, I don’t worry about (Sunday),” he said. “We will win another race. We will win Talladega and other races and be fine.”
His confidence is understandable. Sunday was his first did-not-finish of the season, his car ultimately crippled after he slid through the grass on the frontstretch on Lap 190. After coming back on the track for a few more laps, his No. 2 Ford finally gave out on Lap 221.
Keselowski, who has four victories this season and had an average finish of 5.0 in the previous five Chase races, also has this in is pocket: He has won two restrictor-plate races already this season (the first Talladega race and July’s race at Daytona) and has five at the two tracks over his career.
“We are going to Talladega; I like Talladega,” said Keselowski, who started eighth Sunday. “Talladega has been good to me and I am going to drive my butt off. At the end of the day, I have faith that if it is meant to be it is meant to be. We can’t get down. There is a long way to go still.”
Keselowski’s problems began when he was running 11th and just in front of Denny Hamlin on Lap 190. As the two drove into Turn 4, Keselowski drifted up into Hamlin, who hit him from behind. Keselowski’s car spun into the grass that frames the frontstretch and pit road. The impact of hitting the grass crumpled the front end of his car.
After spending several laps in the garage undergoing repairs, Keselowski returned to the race, but couldn’t finish when his engine gave way 46 laps from the end.
“I probably could have raced less hard with a big points gap coming in,” he said. “With this (Chase) format, it is probably the smart thing to do, but I don’t want to race like that. I want to race my guts out and go for wins. I don’t want to points race. I don’t care what the (darn) format is, I am going to give it my best.”