Keselowski: Winning “the only thing that’s going to matter for us”

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If there is a game plan for reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski tonight at Richmond International Raceway, it probably consists of four words.

Win. And then hope.

Keselowski’s chances to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup took a potentially fatal blow last weekend with an engine failure in the closing stages at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Now, he must pull off a victory in Richmond and get some help in order to make it into the post-season.

“I haven’t put too much thought into the actual race other than just going out to win it because that’s probably the only thing that’s going to matter for us,” he said Thursday at RIR. “Even that might not be enough. If you win it, you’ve done all you can do.”

Should Keselowski fail to make the Chase, talk will naturally gravitate to the 25-point penalty he suffered back in April at Texas Motor Speedway, where NASCAR confiscated parts from his and Penske teammate Joey Logano’s cars.

But the champion believes that much more than 25 points have been left on the table by himself and his No. 2 Penske team – a group that he still has deep faith in.

“I feel like we’re a great team,” he said. “I feel like in the sports world, especially racing, you can only really control how fast you are and how well you execute. You can’t control the luck side. We’ve had a lot of bad luck. There’s been some times where we haven’t executed.

“…I said this last week at Atlanta, we could turn a corner tomorrow and win the next five or six races.  That’s where we’re at as a team. Obviously, that hasn’t happened, it hasn’t clicked that way. That doesn’t mean we’re not capable of it.

“What’s happened to us this year could quite honestly happen to any team.”

Indeed, racing is a sport that can take drivers and teams from peaks to valleys and valleys to peaks in a short time.

Ask Tony Stewart, who after winning his second Sprint Cup title in 2005, failed to qualify for the Chase in 2006 – and then rattled off three victories (Kansas, Atlanta, and Texas) in the final 10 races that year.

Win or lose tonight, Keselowski feels confident that he and his team can get back on the right track.

“Whether I make the Chase or we miss the Chase, I still plan on going out and trying to win the next 10 races,” he said. “I think that we can have a shot at doing that.”

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”