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.
MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Ryan Briscoe. Despite not having a ride to start the year, Briscoe ended strongly courtesy of a series of strong runs at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 18th Place (8 starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 2nd, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 17.8 Avg. Start, 12.0 Avg. Finish
For those who slag on Briscoe as being undeserving of top level equipment, his 2015 second half provided a friendly reminder of his overall ability level in what might be less than the best machinery.
Briscoe was thrust into the No. 5 car under trying circumstances to begin with, getting all of an hour’s worth practice replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe ahead of the Indianapolis 500. But subsequent drives on the ovals there, Texas, Fontana, Milwaukee and Iowa – even if the results were less than ideal – showcased a driver determined to show to the paddock he still had it, and then some. His defense against Juan Pablo Montoya in Sonoma was nothing short of brilliant, and courtesy of double points he actually finished ahead of full-season driver Stefano Coletti.
The Australian immediately gelled with the SPM team, engineer Allen McDonald and race strategist Robert Gue. He continues to prove he’s an asset, as he has enjoyed multiple opportunities to extend his career in various arenas of motorsport in both open-wheel and sports cars, the latter of which he won at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Corvette Racing this year.
Following an early retirement for Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton has closed even more on his third Formula 1 World Championship.
View it above in the race recap from the 2015 Russian Grand Prix.