After wrecking and finishing 38th in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400, Brad Keselowski left Kansas Speedway in 11th place in the Chase standings, 44 points behind series leader Jimmie Johnson and seven points below the Chase cutoff line heading to Talladega next Sunday.
But to hear Keselowski, a four-time winner at Talladega, he’s feeling very confident that not only will he have another strong finish at NASCAR’s largest superspeedway, but that he’ll also make the cut when the Round of 12 is whittled to the Round of 8 after next Sunday’s race.
“I don’t think it is a must-win situation; I am not worried about it,” the 2012 Sprint Cup champion said. “I am going to go there and bust my butt to try to win but I don’t think it is a must win yet.
“I like Talladega. Talladega has been good to me and I am going to drive my butt off and at the end of the day I have faith that if it is meant to be, it is meant to be. We can’t get down. There is a long way to go still.”
Keselowski had a promising race going at Kansas until he slid up in front of Denny Hamlin on Lap 189, got loose and Hamlin couldn’t slow fast enough to avoid hitting the rear of Keselowski’s car.
That contact sent Keselowski’s Ford Fusion sailing left, where it made heavy contact with the concrete rumble strip at the entrance to pit road, causing extensive damage to his front end.
“I don’t know what happened,” Keselowski said. “Days like today are going to happen to anybody and everybody in the Chase. It is about the effort you have when that happens.”
Keselowski lost 29 laps while in the garage as his team worked feverishly to install a whole new front end on his race car.
Unfortunately, he got back out on the racetrack when a huge plume of smoke came out from the back of his car, signaling the end of his day once and for all.
“The guys busted their butt to get me back out,” Keselowski said. “They put on a whole new front end. There must have been some kind of damage to the engine (that caused the heavy smoke) from the spin.
“It was running fine before that. I think it is just unfortunate. I am not going to say for sure what happened to cause the spin. We will move forward. If we keep getting the effort like they did to fix this thing we will be fine.
“If my team keeps putting up this kind of effort, I don’t worry about today. We will win another race. We will win Talladega and other races and be fine. … I am proud of my guys for doing their best to recover and we will move on to Talladega and give ‘em hell.”