Less than two weeks ago, Brad Keselowski was the talk of NASCAR World after he pulled out an improbable victory in a “win or go home” situation at Talladega that propelled him into the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Going into Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on ESPN), Keselowski finds himself in a similar predicament. After finishing 31st in the opening Eliminator Round race at Martinsville, the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford driver is 26 points behind the Chase cutoff line and essentially needs to win one of the next two races at Texas or Phoenix to move on to the Championship final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“We were doing the things we needed to do, we were surviving,” said Keselowski about his performance at Martinsville. “We were gonna probably have ourselves a fifth or sixth-place day, which is certainly something we could be proud of and move forward with, but this kind of puts us in a position now where we need to win.”
Fortunately for Keselowski, winning hasn’t been a problem for him this season. The 30-year-old Michigan native leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with six victories and has captured a checkered flag in each of the first two rounds of the pressure-packed Chase.
Unfortunately, winning at Texas and Phoenix has been a problem for Keselowski throughout his career. In a combined 22 starts at the two tracks, Keselowski has yet to collect a victory.
Recent success at the pair of courses suggests Keselowski is on the verge of breaking through for his first win at either of them. In his last four starts at Texas, Keselowski claims three top-10 finishes, including a runner-up showing in the fall of his 2012 championship season. While Keselowski struggled in his first five career starts at Phoenix with no showing better than 15th, he has placed sixth or better in his last five races at the Arizona track, including a third-place result from the pole this spring.
Keselowski feels confident in his ability to pull off a victory, especially after coming through in the clutch at Talladega.
“Yeah, it’s still tough to do,” Keselowski said. “It’s not like we’re just gonna go and guarantee a win at Texas and Phoenix, but it’s also not impossible, and we’ve got the team, if there is one, to pull it off.”