Brad Keselowski says he still hasn’t done anything yet to establish himself as the favorite to win the Chase.
Some of his fellow Sprint Cup drivers would make an argument to the contrary.
“He was amazingly fast the first time” the circuit was in New Hampshire this season, rookie Kyle Larson said.
“I don’t know if anybody has anything for Brad. He’s fast everywhere he goes.”
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No doubt. After winning the first race of the Chase in Chicagoland last week, Keselowski set a pole record at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with a lap speed of 140.598 mph Friday.
Jamie McMurray qualified second and Kevin Harvick third. Dennny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were fourth and fifth.
By winning in Chicagoland, Keselowski has clinched advancing to the second round of the Chase after next week’s race in Dover. He said Monday his team could effectively “goof off” here and in Dover, but that’s just not in Keselowski’s makeup.
He loves Loudon’s 1.06-mile layout. He’d circled this date as a statement race after winning here in late spring.
Having said that, he doesn’t plan to try anything crazy Sunday.
“The last thing I want to do is wreck someone for a win that in the sense of the championship would be nothing,” Keselowski said. “I know somewhere down the road you’d pay for that.”
Clearly Keselowski is thinking big-picture. He wants the validation that would come with winning multiple titles after taking the Chase in 2012.
“I feel like what we’ve been able to do to date is incredible. I’m very proud of it. But 2012 was such a blur to me it kind of feels like a dream,” Keselowski said. “A second title would feel more real and relieve any doubts I would have or anyone else would have.
“I have a phenomenal opportunity – beyond a phenomenal opportunity – and I don’t want to waste it.”
Who doesn’t he feel the need to still convince?
“There is always yourself, which is the most important thing,” he said. “And the people I work with and your peers and the fan base.
“No one could ever say on that day or that year everything just fell in place.”
He’s humming along for sure. This was his fifth pole this season and the fourth time he set a qualifying record in 2014.
Yet he doesn’t exactly buy Larson’s point that he’s sending a message to the rest of the garage. Intimidation? No, not yet anyway.
“I don’t think so,” Keselowski said. “I just want my cars to be fast those last four races (of the Chase). Right now it’s just about consistency. We have a lot of speed and we’re executing well, but I wouldn’t be intimidated.”