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Ragan fades as Keselowski shines

But he also knows that, however good things look right now, it could all slip through his fingers all too easily in the five races remaining before the cut for the Chase. "I think winning two races is probably really good for our Chase hopes, gives us pretty high odds if we were playing poker, but nothing is 100 per cent until it's 100 per cent," he insisted. "So lots of races left. Keep plugging away. Maybe if we keep running like this, maybe we can get a third win and we'll be damn near immune, unless we fall out of the top 20."

Keselowski couldn't afford to miss Pocono, but with an estimated six weeks to allow the avulsion fracture to properly heal there is a question of whether he might decide that his chances on a more physical road course are so reduced that he might as well sit out next weekend's Watkins Glen outing, and put all his energy into getting ready for the gruelling 500 laps on the Bristol short track at the end of August.

"I'm a little tired in the car," he admitted after finishing the Pocono race, despite the rain delay that caused a one hour, 40 minute hiatus shortly after the midpoint of the race. "We got that rain delay, which was a great recharge session for me, and it's what we needed," he said, adding that before the red flag "I wasn't sure we were going to be able to win, but I felt we could finish somewhere around fifth."

Although the spectacular swelling on his fractured ankle had reduced in the interim period, Keselowski still needed a brace on it in order to race and he agreed that it had proved to be "a huge factor because you have to modulate the brakes as you come into your pit stall. You brake real hard and then you come off, and I can't just modulate them. Once they lock up, I just can't stop," he said, explaining why he slid through his pit box during one visit to pit road during Sunday's race.

But all in all, it was still much better than Keselowski could have dared hope for just a few days before. "I was pretty sure after I hit the wall [during testing on Wednesday] that I had broken everything that I could break," he said. "I was hurting pretty good. I guess, you know, a few days recovery and I just healed up. I feel pretty decent now. Walking isn't all that easy, but that's just the deal. You get in the race car and make it work somehow."

Keselowski judged this injury as "probably my worst" in his career. Talking about the testing accident itself, he said: "I hit about as hard as you can hit in one of these cars and I'm still here somehow.

"As a driver, probably one of your worst nightmares is going through a corner, like that one was, without a safer barrier, without any of the stuff that we've got used to and got accustomed to, without brakes. And knowing that I had two or three seconds staring at a wall, knowing that I was going to hit it about as hard as you possibly could. Probably less comforting was knowing that it was a temporary wall and on the other side was trees, so I figured I was going to end up in the trees. Somehow, I made it through it, broke the wall down and came flying through on the other side.

"I consider myself a lucky guy to have walked away and be here," he said. "I've been really lucky that each day I've recovered tremendously ... I'm able to walk and do the things it takes to be a race car driver."

The result on Sunday proved that the accident hadn't shaken Keselowski's resolve one bit, or caused him to run any slower than before - although he did admit that in his first outings at Pocono after the accident, "I can tell you - I've checked my brakes a couple extra times before each corner."

As for the road course this weekend at Watkins Glen, some are suggesting that a savvy application of the NASCAR rules could be made to work in Keselowski's favour: if he were to start the race and then hand over to a relief driver - Jacques Villeneuve's name has been mentioned as a road course specialist appropriate for the task - then Keselowski would still collect any driver Cup points going at the chequered flag which could prove crucial to keeping Keselowski in the top 20 to be able to claim his wildcard advantage next month. Such a rule-dodge might not go down too well with others, but any criticism is likely to be muted now that Keselowski had proved his mettle with his win against all odds at Pocono despite his injuries.




Related Pictures

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Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 7 in Long Pond, Pa. [Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, sits in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 5 in Long Pond, Pa. [Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Roush Fenway #6 driver David Ragan talks to the media. [Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR]
David Ragan`s car gets repairs after an early spin at Pocono as the driver is interviewed by the media. He rejoined the race, 149 laps down by the end of the race. [Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Resers Toyota, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, leads the field out of the pits during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, drive driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinios.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet, wins the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Cars race after a restart lead by Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet (L), Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Cartwheel by Target Chevrolet (R) during the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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