Chase Capsules: Brad Keselowski

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2-Brad Keselowski
Team: Team Penske
Crew Chief: Paul Wolfe
NASCAR Sprint Cup Championships: 1 (2012)
3rd Chase Appearance, Best Finish of 1st in 2012

Regular Season Recap: Inconsistency forced Brad Keselowski to give up his Sprint Cup title without a fight when he failed to make last year’s Chase. But early on in 2014, he made sure he’d be contending for a second championship by taking the checkered flag in Las Vegas. He’s since added three more wins at Kentucky, New Hampshire and Richmond, and he’s also bettered the number of Top-5 finishes that he had all of last year. All in all, an impressive turnaround from a disappointing 2013.

Chris’ Take: With stout equipment that can put up a fight against the Hendrick Motorsports camp, Keselowski definitely has the potential to race into the Homestead finale. Remember that he’s also got two wins on 1.5-mile, intermediate tracks, which make up half of the 10-race Chase.

Considering that such a 1.5-mile track, Chicagoland, and New Hampshire (where he won in July) are the first two on the docket, I could see him taking a win at either one to put himself into the Contender Round and then bank solid finishes all the way to Homestead.

Keselowski and crew chief Wolfe learned some rough lessons last year, and their hunger to get to the top again cannot be underestimated. They could hound the Hendrick camp to the bitter end.

Jerry’s Take: Brad Keselowski is bound and determined to prove that 2012 (when he won the Sprint Cup championship) was not a fluke, and that 2013 (when he failed to defend his crown, not even making the Chase) was the real fluke.

The key for success in the Chase will be for Keselowski to get off to a strong start at Chicago, where he has won before.

Honestly, I envision him getting past the first round (third race of 10 Chase events), but my gut says he gets eliminated after the second round (sixth race).

Tony’s Take: Welcome back to the 2012 champ a year after he missed out a year ago. The Brad K of 2014 is a more dangerous animal than in 2012. Then, he had to prove he could win a championship. Now, with one already in the bank, it’s about earning number two.

All year both Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano have qualified well, and that’s put them in solid position to capture more victories. He should get at least one if not two Chase wins, and seems a very solid bet to rival the Hendrick contingent all the way to Homestead.

Brad Keselowski’s Career Statistics at Chase Tracks
Chicagoland (1.5 mile) – One win, 2 Top-5s, 3 Top-10s in 5 starts
New Hampshire (1 mile) – One win, 4 Top-5s, 6 Top-10s in 10 starts
Dover (1 mile) – One win, 3 Top-5s, 3 Top-10s in 9 starts
Kansas (1.5 mile) – One win, 2 Top-5s, 4 Top-10s in 9 starts
Charlotte (1.5 mile) – One win, 2 Top-5s, 3 Top-10s in 10 starts
Talladega (2.66 mile) – Two wins, 3 Top-5s, 6 Top-10s in 11 starts
Martinsville (half-mile) – No wins, 1 Top-5, 5 Top-10s in 9 starts
Texas (1.5-mile) – No wins, 1 Top-5, 3 Top-10s in 12 starts
Phoenix (1 mile) – No wins, 3 Top-5s, 4 Top-10s in 10 starts
Homestead-Miami (1.5 mile) – No wins, no Top-5s, 1 Top-10 in 6 starts

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.