Keselowski: 'Our Back is Against the Wall'
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on August 30, 2013 | 2:25 P.M. EST
"I look at this as a tremendous opportunity to prove the merits of our team and that we can operate at a high level because there have been a lot of circumstances out of our control that have put us in this position to not be locked in so late in the season, and our back is against the wall." (Photo: Getty Images)
The Penske Racing driver comes into Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway 11th in the series standings and four points out of a Chase berth. Keselowski is well aware as the regular season ticks down to only a pair of races the pressure is on.
“We haven’t made our way into it,” Keselowski said Friday at AMS. “Certainly there are a lot of different ways and pressures to make that happen and we know it and I know.”
“I look at this as a tremendous opportunity to prove the merits of our team and that we can operate at a high level because there have been a lot of circumstances out of our control that have put us in this position to not be locked in so late in the season, and our back is against the wall. But these are the times where great teams step up and they make something happen and where great drivers step up and they make a play. That’s what I’m looking forward to, I’m looking forward to that opportunity to prove what we’re worth and what we’re made of.”
Although Keselowski got off to a strong start in defense of his 2012 title, things went off course through the summer months. After he scored seven top 10 finishes in the year’s first eight races, Keselowski only had one in the next ten outings.
In recent weeks he’s rebounded although was saddled with a 30th last week in Bristol after getting caught up in a late race accident.
But while admitting a lack of complete confidence, Keselowski remains positive there’s enough racing left this Sunday at Atlanta and in next’s regular season finale in Richmond to make his way back into the playoff picture.
“I think if we can get through these next two weeks, we’re in as strong of a position as ever,” he said. “We don’t quite have the confidence that we had at this time last year, and that’s something that I will admit. But if we come out guns ablaze these next two races, we’ll get that confidence real quick, and I think we are positioned to do that.”
Should Keselowski achieve the goal of a Chase position, he intends to make the best of the opportunity and not simply rest on the laurel of qualifying for the playoffs. Keselowski is using Tony Stewart’s stellar title run of 2011 as inspiration and motivation for what he hopes remains ahead this year.
“It’s interesting because I spent some time over the last few weeks looking back at Tony Stewart’s season in 2011 because I think there are a lot of parallels between his season that year and where I’m at right now,” Keselowski explained. “I feel like if we hit everything right, we have an opportunity to do something very similar to him, and I see that in our team. One of the things that stuck out to me about him and that year was the attitude that he had as far as he’d rather not be in the Chase than just take up a spot.
“I think that’s the attitude of a true racer and I think that’s the attitude I have as well. I’m not here just to make the Chase and go home quietly. If our team makes the Chase and does its job right, we’re going to make a lot of noise. I really believe that, but we have work to do to make that happen.”