Brad Keselowski is riding a hot streak heading into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs that starts with Sunday’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The Team Penske driver won two straight races to end the regular season with victories at Darlington and Indianapolis. Not surprisingly that success has give Keselowski and company a great deal of optimism as the playoffs kick off in Vegas.
But Keselowski is quick to point out there’s work to be done as he attempts to keep pace and eventually rundown the “Big 3” of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. ahead of him in the standings.
“Winning certainly doesn’t hurt but I think you try to temper that with the knowledge that other than the playoff bonus points it is more or less a confidence thing,” Keselowski explained. “It doesn’t count for much for the 10 weeks ahead of us. The 10 playoff bonus points are nice and you never know when you will need them but they are just 10. We are like 30-some behind those other guys.
“We will take it and are thrilled to death with it but beyond just the short picture of having won two marquee races in a row which is an incredible feeling, I think it doesn’t particularly mean that much for the playoffs.”
While he has his eyes on the drivers ahead of him who have been setting the pace for most of the year, Keselowski is not overlooking others in the playoffs that have been making some noise of late.
“I feel like the 9 (Chase Elliott) and 48 (Jimmie Johnson) have gotten better the last few weeks. Other than that, it has been pretty stagnant,” he said.
There is also a new variable in the playoff schedule, which has a dramatically different look especially in the opening round. LVMS leads things off for the first time with the revamped calendar taking the series to Richmond next week before ending the round at the Charlotte road course. Keselowski understands the challenge that lies ahead not just with the first trio of races but also with the rest of the playoff schedule.
“I feel good about this years playoffs, we just need to avoid the breakdowns and wrecks and those things,” he said. “I think we can do that. The Roval will be really tough. It is an easy way to lose a lot of points and get caught up in wrecks. Talladega will be tough too. I think we are ready for that challenge.”
Keselowski has Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney also in the playoff mix and considers things overall to be heading in the right direction within the organization.
But he specifically is eyeing three stops that Keselowski personally believes he can be successful.
“I think there are three tracks that are strong for us, Talladega, Richmond and Martinsville,” he said. “One of them is in each round and I think we can win all three of them.”