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It's small compensation for Brad Keselowski after he was knocked out of the title battle last week at Phoenix International Raceway, but he made up for it as best he could in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday evening.

Keselowski was the first of the non-championship contenders across the line at the end of the Ford EcoBoost 400, coming home in third place behind Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman. That meant he finished the season in fifth place in the championship, the best that he could have done after not making the last four competing for the title this weekend. He was 13 point clear of Jeff Gordon in the final standings.

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"It was a good night - to have another sound finish and bring home the white deuce with a third is not bad," he said after the race. "We certainly wanted to be able to win and Kevin made a great move on that next-to-last restart and got through traffic and by us for the lead. That was pretty cool to see actually.

"It kind of unfolded rather conveniently with for a great finish with a lot of yellows and pit strategy," he said of the race itself. "I thought it was a pretty good race in general. There was a lot on the line and like I said, NASCAR has to be thrilled to death with that. I hope our fans are too.

"It was a decent night [for us]; not exceptional, but a pretty good night. We end up third with some ups and downs and got caught on pit road under a yellow. The team did a great job recovering from that.

"It was a solid season for everyone here at Team Penske," he added, looking over the year as a whole. "We had six wins and I think 17 top-fives, the most top fives and wins in the series and that is a lot to be proud of."

"It was a heck of a season, not just for me but all of Team Penske, the #2 Cup car, #22 Cup car and #22 Nationwide Series team," he pointed out. "It is a year we will look back on with a lot of pride. I am kind of wishing it wasn't over - we still have some work to do to continue to work and get better.

"We had great speed this year which is something I am proud of but were just always a little tick behind," he admitted when comparing his car with that of newly crowned Cup champion Kevin Harvick. "All season long [Harvick's crew chief] Rodney Childers and his #4 car just did an excellent job having speed and certainly capitalized at the end ... I think in the end they leveraged that very well.

"We have to go back and work a little bit harder and find a little more speed and try to keep up with that," he continued. "All in all it was an incredible season for us and something we are really proud of. In some ways I hate to see this season come to an end and I am honestly ready to be at Daytona next week for the 500 but that is probably not the most popular comment in the world - but sometimes I am not the most popular guy!

"I am happy with the year and I think everyone has a lot to be proud of. It is a great season, not just for Team Penske but for the sport. I am proud to be a part of that as well," he summed up.

Despite having fallen foul of the new Chase format for the championship play-offs when he was eliminated from contention last week at Phoenix, Keselowski was still full of praise for the new system of deciding the title.

"The fastest car all season won the championship," he said. "I think that is right. The most consistent car was probably Jeff [Gordon]. He finished sixth in points. We had the most wins and finished [fifth]. You can argue every case for a championship scenario but the reality is that we all knew what it took to win going in and Kevin and his team did it."

Keselowski added that he was taking a long view of the new-format Chase format rather than taking a knee-jerk response after a single year of operation. While he liked what he saw so far, the new play-offs still needed time to bed in properly.

"I am not looking at it in a short term perspective," he said. "I think sometimes we get caught up in too much of the rhetoric around what a champion should reward, consistency or wins and those things. I think I am too close to the fire to provide an objective answer.

"All I care about with the format is that it takes the sport to another level for years to come. I think the jury is still out on that but it looks like it is going to be good. That is the whole point," he insisted. "That is where I think everyone has rallied behind it - a format to grow the sport. I don't have an answer until we see some numbers, good or bad. I don't have any complaints either."

What will make all the difference to Keselowski's view of the Chase is whether he can take everything that he and the Penske team have learned in this year's first season of the new format and use it to their advantage to come out victorious in 2015. And the only way to find out the answer to that one is to be here in 12 months time to see what next season brings.

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