Updated: Brad Keselowski will be without crew chief Paul Wolfe for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race in Phoenix

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UPDATE: Paul and Aleia Wolfe welcomed their first child, Caden Paul Wolfe, early Sunday morning. Brad Keselowski tweeted “Newest Member of the Wolfe Pack! Caden Paul Wolfe” and included this photo (right). The new parents and baby are doing well. Wolfe will rejoin Keselowski this week for next Sunday’s Sprint Cup race in Las Vegas.

One day after helping his driver, Brad Keselowski, earn the pole for Sunday’s The Profit on CNBC 500 with a record-setting performance, crew chief Paul Wolfe will not be atop Keselowski’s pit box for the race itself.

Wolfe flew back on Keselowski’s jet to his North Carolina home early Saturday to be with wife Aleia for the birth of the couple’s first child.

Keselowski tweeted Saturday morning, “Gonna miss having my crew chief Paul Wolfe this Sunday. Best wishes to him and his wife Aleah on the pending birth of their first child.”

Wolfe has been Keselowski’s crew chief since 2011 and was atop the pit box when Keselowski won his first Sprint Cup championship (and the first for team owner Roger Penske) in 2012. Nine of Keselowski’s 10 career Sprint Cup victories have been with Wolfe as his crew chief.

It’s expected that Brian Wilson, team engineer for Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford Fusion, will split crew chief duties with Greg Erwin in Sunday’s race.

Wilson will likely make calls for adjustments on the car, while Erwin, who was Sam Hornish Jr.’s crew chief last season and formerly was Greg Biffle’s crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series, will make calls on strategy.

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Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.