Keselowski Outside Looking In

Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski has more finishes of 30th or worse than top-10 results in the last 12 races, putting him in jeopardy of missing the Chase. (Photo Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski seeks to keep Tony Stewart alone in NASCAR history. Only once has the defending Sprint Cup champion failed to make the Chase the following year. Stewart missed it in 2006, a year after winning the second of his three crowns.

With six races until this year’s Chase field is set, Keselowski is fighting for the chance to defend his crown.

His 21st-place finish Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway dropped Keselowski four spots to 13th in the season standings. He’s six points behind 10th, the final automatic transfer spot, which Jeff Gordon holds.

Sunday’s race continued a dreary summer for Keselowski. He has two top-10 finishes in the last 12 races. His average finish in that span is 20.8.

Keselowski admits he has concerns about making the Chase.

“If you don’t have concerns then your heart isn’t in it,’’ he said. “You should be concerned from Daytona on. When you have success, you lessen those concerns, and we have had some success this year, but we haven’t had the wins and consistency to remove all of those concerns. 

“I am not going to say that I feel 100 percent about a lot of things, but I can say that I believe in the people I am around and we are going to get this right. It is just a matter of when.”

If not soon, then it will be too late. 

Keselowski’s challenge is that he doesn’t have a win this season and that could cost him a Wild Card spot. On his side, though, is that he’s only 12 points out of eighth, held by Greg Biffle. 

Another factor that could help Keselowski is that Penske Racing has used only one of its four tests this season. The team tested at New Hampshire before this month’s race where Keselowski finished fourth. While they’d like to save tests for Chase tracks, they might have to change their plans.

Whatever happens, it will only add to his up-and-down season that saw Keselowski lead the points after Bristol in March.

“I felt we were really strong at the beginning of the year and not so strong now,’’ he said. “I think we will be really strong at the end of the year.’’

The question is if he will be contending for a championship or merely be another car in the field watching others race for the series title?

 

 

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