After a win in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, the Michigan native is now effectively locked into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. If he remains in the Top-20 in championship points – and the wheels would have to fall completely off his shopping cart for that not to happen – the Miller Lite Dodge driver is the first to secure his reservation to the 2012 playoffs.
|Keselowski is in great shape for the Chase|
The 28-year-old Keselowski has won more Sprint Cup races than any other driver this season, and while inconsistency has relegated the second-generation driver to tenth in points, his Chase position is secure with just nine races remaining in the regular season.
After Saturday’s win, many of Keselowski’s closest competitors are now rooting for him to remain in the Top-10. Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray and Jeff Burton are all mired between 11th and 20th in points at present. Only Busch, Kahne, Newman and Logano have recorded a win this season, and if Keselowski slips from the Top-10 once again, the number of Wildcard spots available to them drops by half.
“Who is leading the points right now doesn’t mean a thing,” said Keselowski. “The only thing that means anything is where you are going to restart when the Chase begins. That’s going to be based on who is in the Top-10 and who has the most wins. That’s all that matters.”
In truth, Keselowski is more of a threat to claim the point lead than fall out of the Top-10. His Kentucky performance was stuff of which championship seasons are made, after a scuffle with Juan Pablo Montoya in opening practice forced his Penske Racing team to roll out their backup car.
“My guys put together the backup car in 100-degree heat in less than an hour,” recalled Keselowski. “Not even an hour. It was 40 minutes. That’s what bad asses do, and it is what got us to Victory Lane.”
The Penske Racing driver then strapped into that backup car and went after Montoya, turning the Columbian sideways in the second turn with a series of bumps that prompted NASCAR to throw the caution flag to defuse the situation.
“I don’t like being pushed around and that’s what I felt happened on the track,” said Keselowski afterward. “I hate it. Can’t stand it and won’t stand for it.”
That attitude is unlikely to change, regardless of his championship status.