NASCAR »

'The best is yet to come', promises Keselowski

Keselowski went into the penultimate race of the season at Phoenix neck-and-neck with Jimmie Johnson, but a cut tyre on the #48 proved costly for Johnson and put Keselowski 20 points ahead coming into this weekend's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It sounded a lot, but the race proved closer than expected with Johnson on course for a win and Keselowski struggling to stay in the top 15 that he needed to in order to ensure he clinched the title.

Keselowski insisted he'd never been nervous the entire weekend, however: "I don't feel like there was a part before the race where I was stressed out," he said. "There were some doubts at that moment when that whole cycle was going through, and you just don't know who's on what strategy. I don't know, I'm driving a car, and I'm listening to [the team radio], and I can hear their voice and their voice wasn't real confident, I can tell you that."

Crew chief Paul Wolfe admitted that he'd been nervous enough for the both of them during that stage of the race.

"It wasn't going to be easy, and we weren't in the best situation we wanted to be in," he said. "I wish we had a little more speed in our car tonight. I thought we would have. But at the same time I think we were just being smart. It wasn't a great feeling, I can tell you that. It definitely wasn't."

Johnson ducked into the pits under what proved to be the final caution of the day, which put him on a fuel conservation strategy that left him needing one less pit stop than Keselowski from that stage of the race. Johnson's team mate Jeff Gordon did the same, and ended up winning the race - and Wolfe admitted that it had been the right call, and that he and the Penske team had missed it.

"It was tough. I didn't realize actually those guys were going to give up all that track position and come pit. When they all came and we didn't, it definitely put us in a situation," he said, adding that he'd expected the field to be levelled by further cautions that never materialised.

In the end, it was a moot point: a dropped lugnut on the #48's final pit stop pretty much put an end to Johnson's dwindling title hopes, and ten laps later a drive line failure put the car in the garage for the rest of the race. Keselowski's title was secured at that moment regardless of what happened. Even so, the driver was determined to get back to 15th place by the chequered flag, to prove a point to the detractors.

"I'm so thankful that we drove back to 15th so that I don't have to hear for the rest of my life about how if the #48 had not had them problems he'd have won the championship," Keselowski agreed.

"Brad came over the radio and asked what position we were in and I told my engineers up on the box," confirmed Wolfe. "I said, 'You know what he's thinking? He's thinking he wants to finish 15th because at that point it didn't matter what happened to the #48.' And that just shows the dedication and what this means to him. Sure enough, it wasn't but a few laps later when he came over the radio and said that.

"We just think a lot alike," Wolfe added, revealed the secret of a championship-winning driver/crew chief partnership. "I knew what he was thinking at that point. I think that as bad as we ran tonight that that made it more special that we were still able to finish 15th regardless of what happened to the #48."

Of course, like a true racer, anything less than an outright win was an unwelcome compromise for Keselowski no matter how necessary. "I wanted to win the race, absolutely. I was just hoping that the race would play out to give us an opportunity to do so. Obviously it didn't, but I wanted to win the race the whole time.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, and team owner Roger Penske celebrate in Champions Victory Lane after winning the series championship and finishing in fifteenth place for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2012 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, shakes hands with NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France in Champions Victory Lane after winning the series championship and finishing in fifteenth place for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2012 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Chad Knaus (R), crew chief of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, congratulates Paul Wolfe (L), crew chief of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, after winning the series championship and finishing in fifteenth place for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2012 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, and team owner Roger Penske celebrate in Champions Victory Lane after winning the series championship and finishing in fifteenth place for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2012 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, wins, causing his crew to celebrate Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory with a burn-out Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for sixth position Friday, April 24, 2015 for Saturday evening`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. Truex, Jr. is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, April 24, 2015 for Saturday evening`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. Harvick is the points leader in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Scott Products Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Friday, April 24, 2015 for Saturday evening`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. Allmendinger is 25th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, qualifies for third position Friday, April 24, 2015 for Saturday evening`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. Busch is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, finishes in sixth place and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet SS, finishes in third place Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Wix Chevrolet SS, finishes in fifth place and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, finishes in seventh place Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet SS, finishes in third place Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing) and David Ragan (Joe Gibbs Racing) spin out during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2015 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.