NORTH CAROLINA: Brad Keselowski was NASCAR’s Sprint Cup champion in 2012. As far as he’s concerned, there’s no time like the present to add another title trophy to his collection.
And he’s having the kind of season that would lead him to think he’s got as good a chance as anybody to emerge from Homestead-Miami Speedway in November with the championship in hand.
The Rochester Hills, Michigan, native is second in the Cup standings entering Saturday night’s regular-season finale at Richmond, Virginia. He trails Kevin Harvick by 43 points, but the seedings for the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup field will be shuffled following Richmond with the drivers who have the most wins rising to the top. That’s where Keselowski, with four victories, shares the top spot with Kyle Busch. Joey Logano, Keselowski’s team-mate at Penske Racing, is third in the points but he’s tied with four other drivers who have been to Victory Lane just once.
Keselowski talked about his title hopes during a Thursday (Friday in Manila) visit to Fort Bragg, where he toured the Warrior Transition Complex and two other venues on post before flying on to Richmond.
“I’ve been very fortunate and very blessed to have the career I have,” he said. “This is my seventh full-time year in the Sprint Cup Series, and it goes by quick. I’ve been … very fortunate to be where I’m at.”
10 Wins at the chase
Keselowski should be licking his chops when the Chase begins September 25 at Chicagoland Speedway. Of his 21 career wins, 10 have come on tracks that are in the Chase: Four at Talladega, 2 at Chicagoland, and one each at Kansas, Dover, Charlotte and New Hampshire. Most of the tracks on the Chase schedule are of 1.5 to 2 miles (2.4 to 3.2 kilometers) — the intermediates — and that includes Chicagoland, Kansas, Charlotte, Texas and Homestead-Miami.
“The Chase … is mostly mile-and-a-half race tracks, so if you can run well at those race tracks … but not all mile-and-a-half race tracks,” he said. “You’ve got to be good at a couple of short tracks with Phoenix, Martinsville and Loudon, and then the tricky [2.66-mile/4.256-kilometer) Talladega where you never know what’s going to happen — that one can always be crazy.
"So, the mile-and-a-halfs are going to be important, but you’d better be good everywhere,” he added.
Keselowski expects to be among the "handful of guys” who will be tough to beat in the Chase. He includes Logano among that group, as well as Harvick, Busch and six-time titlist Jimmie Johnson.
"I wouldn’t say there’s any track I’m not looking forward to in the Chase,” he said. "We have a great opportunity throughout it. I think we can win any of them.”
Keselowski said his first trip to Fort Bragg was intended as a means of showing his appreciation to the military and their families for the sacrifices they make.
"We appreciate all the support that we get from our military and the fans that are in it,” he said, "and also the service they’ve rendered and continue to put their butts on the line for us to have the privilege of doing what we do as race car drivers, and as a sporting community. [We’re] out there entertaining while these guys are doing all the hard work.”
He added, “Motor sports — any sport in general — is entertainment. We’re here to hopefully let people forget about their real job. They have a real job, these guys and ladies that are putting their butts on the line to take care of us and make sure we have the ability to do fun things like go to a race or go to a sporting event and enjoy those opportunities of being an American.”