The Long and Short of It
The Long and Short of It
Brad Keselowskiâs victory in Sundayâs Aaronâs 499 at Talladega did more than put him in position to make the Chase again, it reaffirmed his position as one of the sportâs top drivers.
Over the past 26 races â the length of the âregular seasonââ in the Sprint Cup Series â only Tony Stewart has more victories than Keselowski. Stewart has seven; Keselowski four. No other driver has more than two in that span, which dates to Pocono in August 2011.
Keselowskiâs victories during that stretch have come at Pocono, both Bristol races and Talladega. Heâs finished second twice.
Keselowski has done more, too. He has finished in the top 10 in 14 of the last 26 races and placed in the top five in 11 of 26 races as well as led at least one lap in 18 of 26 races.
âHeâs matured a lot,â car owner Roger Penske says of Keselowski. âHeâs been a tremendous asset to the team, not just for Brad Keselowski, for Penske Racing. You can see when he comes in the shop, heâs spending a lot of time. I wouldn't trade him for anybody right now.
âHe came to me before he went to work for us, he said, âIâd like to come to Penske Racing and help build a winning Cup team.â Heâs certainly demonstrated that from the driving ability. His chemistry with (crew chief) Paul Wolfe and that whole team has made a difference.
âThis is not about the driver, the car, the sponsor â itâs about the whole team. He's the real package. What we're trying to do is give him everything we can to make him a winner.â
Keselowski made the Chase via a âwild cardâ entry last year with three victories. Discounted as a title threat, he climbed to third in the standings and was 18 points out of the lead with four races to go. He was in position for a top-10 finish at Martinsville until he was wrecked in the final laps and finished 17th. That dropped him to fourth in the season standings, 27 points out of the lead. Keselowski and Wolfe were more aggressive with their strategy after that and it backfired as Keselowski ultimately finished fifth.
What he and the team learned last year could make it a stronger contender this year. With two wins in 2012, he seems sure to at least take a wild card spot again.
âI refuse to label this year a failure if we donât win a championship,â Keselowski says. âPart of what defines a man is what code you live by. One of my codes â itâs probably my strongest code â is to be better today than I was yesterday, and to be even better tomorrow than I was today.
âWeâve shown that weâre better here at this point in the year than we were last year, at this point in the year, and we were better last year at this point in the year than we were the year before. You know, thatâs my code. I'm surrounded by the proper people to execute it.â
Itâs worked so far.