NASCAR

Keselowski stays title hungry

The Charlotte ObserverJune 29, 2014 

  • Race Rewind

    •  Kentucky Speedway’s lone Sprint Cup Series date might be killed off without having a chance to live. Attendance has dropped each season since the inaugural sellout in 2011, which was accompanied by a massive traffic and parking problem that left fans stranded hours on nearby highways. The old adage “You get one chance to make a first impression” apparently still rings true. Less than half of the grandstands were filled for Saturday night’s race. How long before owner Bruton Smith decides he would be better served by a second date at Las Vegas than continuing to struggle to recover what’s left of the Kentucky track’s fan base?

    •  Every race TNT has broadcast this season has included audio problems that have raised the ire of race fans. Saturday night’s broadcast from Kentucky once again included the same audio issues but also included a video disruption. In a statement, a TNT spokesperson called the issue “isolated breaks” in its satellite transmission. One time is an accident, twice is a problem that needs to be addressed. Five times? Unacceptable.

    •  The performance by Team Penske in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races this weekend at Kentucky indicates the gap between it and the rest of the Ford teams – particularly in performance on intermediate tracks – seems to be growing wider as the season goes on.

    Jim Utter

  • Next race

    WHAT: Coke Zero 400

    WHERE: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.

    WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

    TV: TNT

    RADIO: WWNQ-FM 94.3

— Brad Keselowski wants another Sprint Cup Series championship.

The time is now.

And the launching pad for his second title run turns out to be a familiar one.

Keselowski dominated Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway from start to finish, leading a race-high 199 of 267 laps on his way to his second series win of the season.

With NASCAR’s new format change for the Chase, Keselowski’s second victory guarantees he will have a chance to compete for his second title in three seasons.

“I don’t want to win one championship and that be it for my career. I’m not going to be happy with that. And I want to win another championship, but I don’t want it to be five or 10 years from now,” said Keselowski, who now owns 12 wins in his Cup career.

“I don’t want to be a guy that contends for a championship every three or four years, I want to do it each and every year, and I know that opportunity is here, and it’s present, and I want to make the most of it, and I’m not afraid to communicate that.”

Two years ago, Keselowski’s victory at Kentucky helped vault him into the top 10 in the series standings, which eventually led to his second appearance in the Chase and his first series championship.

The dominance displayed by Keselowski and his Team Penske teammate, Joey Logano, on the intermediate tracks such as Kentucky this season should go a long way toward assuring both drivers are competitive in the Chase.

“The things it takes to go fast here aren’t too far off from those other tracks, and I think when you hit this mark in the season, some cars might show a little bit more development but not a lot,” Keselowski said.

“I think you pretty much get to where everyone has almost what they’re going to have to finish off the year around this time. And when you can run well at this point in time in the year, it bodes well for the final half of the season.”

Keselowski started from the pole and led the first 78 laps of the race. For much of the night, his closest competition came from Logano, who three times beat Keselowski off pit road during pit stops.

Aric Almirola’s wreck on Lap 214 brought out a caution just after several teams began green-flag pit stops. Kyle Busch, one of those who had already pit, took over the race lead on the restart on Lap 220. Keselowski, among those who had to pit, lined up sixth.

Busch did his best to hold of Keselowski’s advance, but Keselowski moved back out front on Lap 248 and led the rest of the way.

“We had good speed, so I was real proud of that effort. I got so loose there at the end – the loosest I’d gotten all day and the loosest I’d been in traffic all day, too,” said Busch, who finished second.

“I just couldn’t hold on and couldn’t keep it where I wanted it, and was sliding all over the place and just trying not to wreck basically.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to have races like this and opportunities to run for a championship.”

Note: Winning hurts for Keselowski: Brad Keselowski dominated and won Saturday night's race but not long into his Victory Lane celebration he was on his way to the infield care center.

While shaking a champagne bottle in Victory Lane, the bottle broke and Keselowski received a nasty cut on his right hand which required four stitches to close.

“We were playing around with some champagne bottles and as I told my good friend, ‘We should have stuck with beer.’ We were having too much fun with champagne and one of the bottles broke and I cut my hand open,” he said.

“I’m just glad we won. It’s a lot better story when you win and get hurt.”

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