New Hampshire Rear View Mirror
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on July 13, 2014 | 6:51 P.M. EST
Brad Keselowski celebrates in victory lane with a lobster after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
Don’t look now but Brad Keselowski is beginning to flex his muscles.
The 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion scored his third win of the season Sunday at New Hampshire but more importantly is that he did it in dominating style – just as he did two weeks ago in Kentucky.
Suddenly Keselowski, Team Penske and Ford, which won its fourth straight race on Sunday, have risen to the top of the Sprint Cup mountain as the summer wears on.
In this new era of the Chase, which turns into a elimination format once this championship schedule kicks in this September, it’s harder than ever to predict who will be the last man standing when the checkered flag waves at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
But certainly there’s no reason to believe Keselowski won’t be an impact player. Any sign that something may have been lacking during what now looks like a small blip on the radar about two months ago have vanished.
Just like the No. 2 car did Sunday to the rest of the field.
- Logano’s incident with Shepherd sparked much discussion about whether the 72-year-old driver should be competing at NASCAR’s top level. To be fair Shepherd was maintaining the day’s minimum speed and did not deserve to be black-flagged. However, despite everything Shepherd has accomplished in his career, a driver competing at his advanced age does not reflect well on the sport and incidents like the one with Logano will only put things in a brighter spotlight. Whether NASCAR needs to impose an age limit or some kind of test with older drivers as is the case with rookies or younger competitors, it’s a subject that should be addressed in the sport’s best interest.
- The surprising but re-occurring story of the 48 team and tire issues added another chapter on Sunday. Jimmie Johnson’s race was over before it started when he was the victim of two flat tires, the second of which sent him into the wall and out of the race to a 42nd-place finish. Johnson vehemently denied the problem had anything to do with the team’s air pressure choices and pointed the finger, as he has many times this year, at Goodyear. The tire manufacturer stood by its recommended minimum air pressure and that the team’s choice to go lower resulted in the tire malfunction. It will be an interesting story to watch unfold as the season races on and the Chase begins.
- There’s a lot racing left to go but Kyle Larson should be a lock for Sprint Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year honors. The young driver turned in another impressive performance on Sunday with his third-place finish and continues to show every week that a win for the No. 42 Target Chevrolet is not that far off. To those, like myself, that thought team owners Chip Ganassi and Flex Sabates were making a mistake taking Larson to the Cup Series too soon, I say enjoy that crow sandwich.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.