No miracle for Keselowski, who misses out on post-season

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The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have a new champion in 2013.

Brad Keselowski led a race-high 142 laps on Saturday at Richmond International Raceway, but ultimately faded to a disappointing 17th-place result on a night where he needed to win in order to have any hope of a spot in the Chase.

“We were pretty good at the start and led a lot of laps…But we just weren’t strong enough to really stay up there,” Keselowski said. “We needed clean air to really run well and once we lost that, we just weren’t strong enough.”

Saturday may well have been a microcosm of Keselowski’s season, which has seen him show blazing speed at times but also extended periods of inconsistency as well.

After taking the lead twice for short periods in the opening stages, Keselowski settled in for a longer run up front after passing Jamie McMurray for the point following a restart at Lap 143.

He would repeatedly lose and regain the lead as the race went across the halfway mark, but was still running second with 100 laps to go in the 400-lap event. Then, it seemed his car began to get away from him as he started to slip down the running order.

A run-in with Kevin Harvick caused Keselowski to declare over his team’s radio that he would “use the [expletive] out of the 29 [Harvick]” once he got new tires. But by the time he got those fresh Goodyears during a stop with 60 laps left, he had already lost critical track position.

“That is just the way our cars have been this year,” he said. “They haven’t been good enough and we haven’t executed as well as we needed to. We have work to do.

“At the end of the day, the thing about points is it is the best measuring stick in sports. You know who deserves to be where because the results speak for themselves. We didn’t have enough results to get where we needed to be.”

Keselowski has now become the second defending champion to miss out on the Chase the following season since its inception in 2004. It will be interesting to see how much support he’ll give Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano, who did manage to clinch a Chase berth in Richmond.

For his part, Logano believes that Keselowski will make a return to Victory Lane before the year is out. But he needed to do that on Saturday night, and couldn’t.

“I don’t really have any emotions right now,” Keselowski said. “We weren’t good enough to make it and we didn’t. That is the reality.”

A cold, hard reality.

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.