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.”