Brad Keselowski opened the Chase for the Sprint Cup with a win at Chicagoland Speedway that moved him through to the Contender Round. He then closed the Challenger Round with a seventh at Loudon and a runner-up at Dover.
Since then, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion’s been on a roller-coaster ride.
A tire failure and crash at Kansas plus a 16th-place finish (and one post-race fight) at Charlotte put him on the verge of elimination. Then he won the Contender Round finale at Talladega to advance into the current Eliminator Round.
Sunday’s Eliminator opener at Martinsville saw Keselowski take another big dip with a crash “assisted” 31st-place finish. But since all Chase wins mean a jump to the next round – and at this point, that means the final Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway – the up-and-down performance may not exactly be a bad thing from his perspective.
“This format really lends itself to inconsistency,” he explained during a break in today’s testing at Homestead. “It seems like you can either be very inconsistent and win and have a bad finish, have a bad finish, win – or you can be very consistent and have third and fifth-place finishes.
“All of that will carry you into the last round, but we’re all entering the last round with the thought process that you’re gonna have to come here and win the race.
“And if that’s the case, I don’t really wanna be consistent. I wanna be the guy that can get hot on any given week and kind of own a race, so to speak.”
Keselowski is certainly capable of doing that as his six victories this season can attest.
He wouldn’t completely discard being a regular front-runner, citing the fact that had this year’s Chase format been implemented to last year’s Chase, Dale Earnhardt Jr. would’ve been crowned champion despite going winless in that particular stretch.
However, Keselowski thinks that such a mindset will not do for him if he manages to make the finale.
“I think you have to count on coming here needing to deliver a clutch performance to win, and I think our teams at Team Penske have that capability,” he said. “We’d like to have a little more consistency, but with this format, it’s not really a necessity.”
Keselowski is currently 26 points behind the cutoff to advance heading into Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.