Keselowski Down But Not Out
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on November 5, 2012 | 1:00 P.M. EST
Brad Keselowski trails Jimmie Johnson by seven points with two races remaining. (Photo: Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski may have lost ground to Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship race but he has not given up hope of winning this year’s title.
Keselowski couldn’t hold off Johnson in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 overtime finish and was forced to settle for second place. That allowed Johnson to extend his lead in the Chase standings to seven points with only two races remaining in the season.
But Keselowski has confidence he’ll be able to battle back to claim the crown.
“I'm confident that that will come back around, and when it does, we'll change these seconds and fifths or whatever they are over the last few weeks into wins,” said Keselowski. “I feel like that's bound to happen over the next two weeks, and we have the team to pull it off. I also feel like the way the points are right now, we still control our own destiny, which is if we win the race, we get the points lead. So that's about all you can ask for.”
Keselowski had the top spot in Sunday’s final stages thanks to a two-tire pit stop that gave the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge the lead. But the last pair of restarts that saw him battle side-by-side with Johnson proved to be the difference in deciding the outcome of the race.
“I think the restarts made the difference,” Keselowski said. “Jimmie probably would have gotten me with an extended amount of laps to go. But with only five or six to go when we had the lead, I felt pretty good about it. But getting that last yellow, I felt like restarts are like rock, paper, scissors. Eventually you're going to lose them. It's just a matter of time. There's always time to counteract the strategy. To win two out of three, I felt lucky to do that. Obviously, I didn't win the last one that counts.”
Although replays showed Johnson may have been just ahead of race leader Keselowski on the final restart, the Penske Racing driver wasn’t blaming the no-call from NASCAR for not winning on Sunday.
“Yeah, I think NASCAR said before they're not going to get out a micrometer and measure that kind of stuff,’ said Keselowski. “That's kind of the interpretation of the rules right now. Via that interpretation, I think it was probably fair play on both sides.”
The series now heads to Phoenix and finally Homestead to end the season and Keselowski will need to turn in near flawless performances to catch and pass Johnson the standings.
He's more than up for the challenge.
“Obviously, it's not going to come easy,” Keselowski said. “But anything worth doing in life shouldn't come easy, and I appreciate the efforts of the people that I'm around to make it happen. I appreciate the fact that it's difficult, because it brings out the best in everybody. As a group, I feel like we've brought our best, and I'm really proud of everybody for that.”