ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Keselowski makes a statement with Chicago win

Updated on September 16, 2014
As the back bumper says, Keselowski is going for his second title in 2014
As the back bumper says, Keselowski is going for his second title in 2014 | Source

For those who thought Brad Keselowski might lay back and points race, think again.


With 18 laps to go, Keselowski restarted behind Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson, who spent two laps battling side-by-side for the lead. The two were doorhandle to doorhandle and it was worth wondering if they might well wreck each other in pursuit of the victory. With the 12 bonus points Brad had from winning four regular season races, the logical choice seemed to lay back and protect his top five finish. After all, for his team to advance, he simply needs to be above the bottom four drivers. A third place finish would get any team off to a great start at that goal, particularly when starting with those bonus points.


Instead of laying back, Keselowski closed in on the pair and split the difference between them with 16 laps left in the race. Larson gave way while Harvick desperately tried to break Keselowski's momentum by coming up the track. It was all in vain. Even a final restart couldn't knock Brad off the lead as he dominated the closing laps and took the checkered flag going away.

Watch Keselowski's amazing pass for the win at Chicago

Busch won at Watkins Glen a year ago in part because Keselowski refused to turn him
Busch won at Watkins Glen a year ago in part because Keselowski refused to turn him | Source

The win was a statement both to himself and to his competition; the #2 team is better than its ever been and will be a factor in the weeks ahead. Moreover, while points are important, Keselowski is willing to take the kinds of chances that will separate the field over the first three Chase rounds. The much-dreaded idea of “points-racing” may have its place but if Keselowski has his way, it won't determine a champion.


What a difference a year (and missing the 2013 Chase) makes. A year ago at Watkins Glen, Brad elected to avoid contact with Kyle Busch as the laps wound down. He had the opportunity to move Busch out of the way and win the race- a move that would have gotten him into the Chase while making him into a fan favorite. Yet Keselowski decided to race hard but clean, pulling back when the moment of contact arrived. In his post-race interview, he had a chance to win but shied away. “I almost had him but I was going to have to wreck him to do it and I've had enough drama.” A good finish was better than a wreck while going for the win.


That Brad Keselowski was a more “grown up” driver than the one who once earned the nickname 'Bad Brad' for his on-track feuds. He looked at the bigger picture and decided that bringing the car home in one piece outweighed the possible benefits of punting Busch. It seemed like a logical decision at the time and a lot of commentators praised Brad for “doing the right thing” and “racing him clean.”

Keselowski added a fifth checkered flag sticker to his collection on Sunday
Keselowski added a fifth checkered flag sticker to his collection on Sunday | Source

The problem was that the “grown up” version of Keselowski was ultimately on the sideline once the 2013 Chase began. Points racing is a necessary evil in today's NASCAR but to win a championship, drivers need to first win races. The need is even more important under the new Chase system, which guarantees a slot in the next round for winning in the current one. Anything short of a win leaves a team at the mercy of fate in the other two races.


So when Keselowski split between Harvick and Larson, he was doing far more than just taking an opportunity that presented itself. He was stating to one and all that he and his team are prepared to do the kinds of things that lead to race wins. They are willing to take chances to get up front- even if those chances could ultimately put the car in the wall. Keselowski isn't going to simply points race and do the bare minimum to survive in advance. He's going to seize the moment.

Two years ago, Keselowski took on Jimmie Johnson- and won
Two years ago, Keselowski took on Jimmie Johnson- and won | Source
The 2012 series champion is looking to add another Sprint Cup trophy. Sunday's win showed he just may get it
The 2012 series champion is looking to add another Sprint Cup trophy. Sunday's win showed he just may get it | Source

It's the same kind of attitude that Keselowski showed two years ago during his title run. As the 2012 season wound down, the championship race essentially became a two man competition between himself and Jimmie Johnson. Unlike other challengers who'd failed to defeat Johnson in the past, Keselowski embraced the battle. He spoke of racing Johnson hard and then backed up his words with aggressive driving on track. Instead of folding under the pressure (as other drivers had done in years past), Keselowski was up to the challenge. And in the moment of truth, it was Johnson who fell, finishing 32nd at Phoenix and 36th at Homestead.


The Keselowski that was on display Sunday is the same kind of driver. It's also the same kind of driver he's been all season long, winning four races during the regular season and heading into the Chase as the number one seed. And it's the kind of driver that he'll need to be if he's to become a two time Sprint Cup series champion.

Certainly the performance of Penske Racing overall hasn't hurt. Teammate Joey Logano entered the Chase with three wins and finished fourth at Chicago. Unless his team hits a major roadblock at one of the next two races, they'll likely advance to the next round as well. The two have combined to lead over 2,000 laps so far this season, the highest total of any two teammates. While the other Ford teams have struggled, Penske has led the way despite having only two teams.


But with five wins in 27 races, it is Keselowski who is now the unquestioned favorite heading into the next round. He will need to fight against complacency; Matt Kenseth won the first two Chase races a year ago and still ultimately fell short to Johnson. And at some point, the two Penske drivers may have to begin seeing each other as a threat to the title instead of a teammate to learn from. The dynamic they've built over the past two years would then be at risk.


However, those seem more like parts to the narrative instead of insurmountable roadblocks. With eight more races to go before the finale at Homestead, Keselowski is rounding into championship form. His second straight win shows the regular season was no fluke. Just as important, his pass for the win Sunday showed Keselowski isn't going to simply points race his way there. It's a statement of purpose, a statement of will that his team will not be denied in 2014. The only question is, who will stand up to challenge him?

Need more NASCAR news and opinion?

Another Left Turn columns on hubpages at http://anotherleftturn.hubpages.com
Contact me via email at anotherleftturn@yahoo.com
Follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/astheleftturns

Now it's your turn!

Is Brad Keselowski now a favorite to win the Sprint Cup championship?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)