Keselowski: “We still control our own destiny”

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Brad Keselowski figures he doesn’t have to win one of the last two regular season races in order to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But, of course, a victory remains the top priority for the reigning series champion.

“One win would feel pretty damn good [but] it still wouldn’t lock us in,” he said Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “I think that we’re going here with a ‘win the race’ mentality, but the next two weeks – do we have to win to make it in? No. We still control our own destiny.

“We might be sitting 11th in points, but essentially if we put up two strong finishes, that will be a moot point and that’s kind of how I’m looking at it from that perspective.”

Keselowski sits four points out of the Top 10 going into Sunday’s Advocare 500, but has been strong lately at Atlanta with finishes of third and sixth in his last two outings there.

Additionally, recent tests at AMS as well as Richmond International Raceway – which will host the final race before the Chase next Saturday night – has him confident that he can put himself into the post-season.

Doing that may have been easier had he (as well as Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano) not lost 25 driver points after some of his equipment was confiscated by NASCAR before April’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

But instead of fretting over the possibility of becoming the first defending Cup champion since 2005 titleholder Tony Stewart to not make the Chase the following year, he sees a “tremendous opportunity” to prove his and his team’s mettle.

“Our back is against the wall,” he said. “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.”

Keselowski will start 23rd on Sunday night.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

Force’s daughter, Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, suffered a hard wreck at Pomona, but recovered in time to race this weekend in Phoenix.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

Follow @JerryBonkowski