Cup Championship 4 profile: Brad Keselowski

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A former champion, Brad Keselowski, seeks more. He knows that 31 men have won Cup titles but only 15 have won multiple championships. It is that elite category of multi-time champions he’s long wanted to join.

He’ll get the chance Sunday in Miami, the first time he’s competed for a championship in the one-race format that has determined the champ since 2014.

Keselowski, the 2012 series champion, enters Miami after taking the final transfer spot last weekend at Phoenix with a 16th-place finish. It was a struggle, but he made it.

“I don’t know why things opened up this way,’’ Keselowski said after the Phoenix race. “I don’t know why in the past two or three years the doors have closed in strange ways … really the last three years we’ve broken parts that should never break and been eliminated out of this whole format with much faster cars than we’ve had this year.

“Who’s to say? It’s just part of the ebbs and flows and how racing smiles on you and frowns on you at times.’’


Crew chief: Paul Wolfe

2017 wins: 3 (Atlanta, Martinsville I, Talladega II)

2017 Top 10s: 20

Laps Led: 777 (fifth in series)

Championship 4 history: First time in championship round.

Memorable race: Texas earlier this month. His car suffered damage in an incident with Kyle Busch on the first lap and fell back to 39th after repairs. Keselowski rallied to finish fifth, giving him the cushion to advance to the championship round after Phoenix.

Playoff march: Three top-10 finishes allowed him to advance via points out of the Round of 16. His Talladega win in the Round of 12 moved him to the Round of 8. He advanced to the finals via points after Phoenix.

Why Keselowski will win the title: While he’s not been the strongest car on 1.5-mile tracks, he can take solace in that Jimmie Johnson was the slowest of the four title cars last year and came out with the championship. Just needs to put himself in the right spot and avoid trouble.

Why Keselowski won’t win the title: He has finished ahead of Martin Truex Jr. only twice in the first nine races of the playoffs and both were on tracks other than 1.5-mile speedways (Talladega and New Hampshire).

What Steve Letarte says: “It’s accurate to say he’s probably fourth of the four when it comes to speed. When you look at his numbers over the course of the playoffs and the entire season, he just hasn’t matched the speed of the other three competitors. … I think that makes this 2 car more dangerous. I think that Brad Keselowski and Paul Wolfe and the combination of the two are probably the strongest team when it comes to outside the box strategy. If you take this team and make him the fourth of the four on speed, I think he knows how to put pressure on the other three teams just on pit decisions.”

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NASCAR America: Comparing today’s drivers to drivers of yesteryear

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With Kevin Harvick‘s recent run of three consecutive wins, NASCAR America analysts Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte used the opportunity debate which NASCAR legends they compare Harvick and other current drivers to.

Burton compared Harvick to three-time Cup champion Cale Yarborough.

“I think they remind me a lot of each other because they’re both very aggressive, they both got after it, good at every kind of race track,” Burton said.

Earnhardt sees some of 1983 Cup champion Bobby Allison in Harvick.

“Won a championship, won a lot of races, but wasn’t afraid to put his finger in another driver’s chest,” Earnhardt said.

When it comes to Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon, Earnhardt compared him and Denny Hamlin to the late Tim Richmond.

“Mainly in style,” Earnhardt said. “They’re the kind of guys that are a little flashy, a lot of flair outside the car. … Tim was that way. He wasn’t scared to flaunt it a little bit and he enjoyed life outside the race car as much as he did inside the race car.”

Watch the above video for more old school driver comparisons.


NASCAR America: Importance of keeping NASCAR connected to grassroots racing

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The importance of grassroots racing to the future of NASCAR is a constant subject these days thanks to the likes of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson.

Now NASCAR America’s Dale Earnhardt Jr., Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton get their chance to sound off on the subject.

On Tuesday’s episode, the panel of analysts discussed why keeping NASCAR connected to the short tracks and lower series across the country is vital to the sport’s future.

“We don’t have that national series running old short tracks that draws people to the race track but also draws them to the TV on Saturday and Sunday,” Burton said.

Earnhardt brought up an attempt by Bristol Motor Speedway to purchase the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee, last year.  The attempted failed.

“My heart was broken because I thought we had a real opportunity to bring one of the touring series, either the Truck or Xfinity, back to Fairgrounds,” Earnhardt said. “That’s where I think we’re broken or disconnected. The late model guys and the guys that are running on these local tracks don’t have the connection to the Truck Series or Xfinity Series. They need to take those series, Truck or Xfinity, back to the short tracks and bridge that link.”

The three analysts went on to discuss the short tracks and races that were part of their formative racing years.

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America: Scan All from Auto Club Speedway

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Martin Truex Jr. was once again in championship form Sunday at Auto Club Speedway.

That fact frustrated some drivers, especially Kyle Busch.

You can hear his frustrations and more in this week’s Scan All.

Here are some highlights.

— “I mean, he’s a (expletive) idiot for racing that hard 30 laps into a (expletive) race.” – Chad Johnston, crew chief for Kyle Larson after contact with Kevin Harvick wrecked Harvick on Lap 39.

Johnston’s tone cooled once Harvick owned up to his mistake.

“Harvick’s taking responsibility for that, so don’t sweat it,” Johnston said.

— “You did a hell of a job keeping it off that inside wall. I was watching on the roof cam and was like, ‘Oh Lord, don’t hit that one.” – Rodney Childers, crew chief of Harvick.

— “I don’t know what the (expletive) he’s got going on, but damn I don’t have that.” – Kyle Busch observing how much better Martin Truex Jr.’s car was performing

— “This thing went from absolutely horrible to even worse than that.” – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

— “I don’t even know what the hell we’re doing, what the hell’s going on and what we’re going to do next. It’s been the same all day. We haven’t made any ground on it.” – Kyle Busch as he struggled to keep pace with Larson and Truex.

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America: Biggest storylines through five race weekends

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After five races in the Cup season, NASCAR America’s analysts assessed what the biggest storylines are ahead of this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton took turns sharing what’s stood out to them.

Jeff Burton started off by saying Kevin Harvick‘s success was the “easy answer.”

Burton discussed his surprise at Chevrolet teams underperforming.

“It reminds you in racing that you don’t really know what’s going to happen until it happens,” Burton said. “I’m surprised we haven’t seen more performance from the new Chevy body.”

Earnhardt was surprised at how big Martin Truex Jr’s margin of victory was on Sunday. He beat Kyle Busch by 11.6 seconds.

“I felt like in the first couple of races, maybe we got tricked into thinking the new inspections process had maybe leveled the playing field a little bit, even though Harvick won three in a row,” Earnhardt said. “Then Truex goes out and does what he did last year, maybe even better than he did last year.”

Letarte said his “big shock” for 2018 has been the “lack of change.”

“It’s the same players leading laps that we saw in 2017,” Letarte said. “Everyone is trying to catch up. I’ve always found it the hardest to continue to push your guys, continue to push your race cars when you’re already winning. It’s easy when you’re getting beat to motivate everybody.”

Earnhardt also observed how younger drivers have struggled to shine through five races.

“Across the board, the young guys still aren’t measuring up to the veterans yet,” Earnhardt said.

Watch the above video for more.