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Keselowski rides wave of momentum into MIS

August 19, 2011, Mark Aumann, NASCAR.com



Keselowski rides wave of momentum into MIS
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Gains nine positions in past three races and moves from 23rd to 14th in points

Four weeks ago, Brad Keselowski had neither enough points nor wins to consider himself a serious contender for this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Funny how things can change that quickly.

With his win at Pocono, followed by a second-place finish at Watkins Glen on Monday, Keselowski has climbed nine positions in the standings -- and perhaps even more importantly -- has more wins than anyone else outside of the top 10.

"We got a lot of good things going, obviously leading the wild-card standings, but certainly don't take that for granted. That could go away if we don't keep performing."

--BRAD KESELOWSKI

Now sitting 14th heading into Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Keselowski is 24 points ahead of Juan Montoya and Martin Truex Jr., who are tied for 20th. As long as he remains in the top 20, his two wins come into play per NASCAR's new wild card rule.

And perhaps even more importantly, Keselowski's carrying huge momentum into the track in his home state of Michigan, a place where he's struggled in four Cup starts.

Sporting a Block M cap from the University of Michigan on pit road, Keselowski backed up a good morning practice with a strong qualifying run in the afternoon, turning a lap of 189.006 mph, putting him sixth on the grid for Sunday's race.

"We got a lot of good things going, obviously leading the wild-card standings, but certainly don't take that for granted," Keselowski said Friday. "That could go away if we don't keep performing.

"Last week was a big week for us, getting us up solidly in the top 20 and little bit of breathing room on 21st, so we can make sure and utilize the two wins. That was big for us."

However, Keselowski doesn't consider himself locked into NASCAR's version of postseason play.

"We've still got a lot of racing left, four races left until the Chase starts," Keselowski said. "I really would just like to go out and win another race and wouldn't have to worry about it at all. I think that's where our focus is."

And his focus this weekend is on the 2-mile oval located in the Irish Hills and trying to improve on his best Michigan finish, which is 24th.

"I'd like to say that we're spending a lot of time thinking about the Chase stuff, but to be quite honest, I'm really not," Keselowski said. "I'm thinking a lot about how we can win in Michigan. When you win, you don't have to worry about all that other stuff. It takes care of itself. That's where our thoughts are."

The Chase was almost the furthest thing from Keselowski's mind after blowing a tire at New Hampshire and finishing 35th.

"It looked very, very bleak," Keselowski said. "I knew at any time we could get on a hot streak. We had shown some performance, just without the execution.

"... I look at the last few weeks being good execution combined with the speed that we've had for probably the last two to three months."

Even more impressively, Keselowski has been doing this despite injuries he suffered in a nasty testing accident at Road Atlanta. He still was favoring his left ankle in the garage area.

"I guess I look at it and say it hurts, but things have been going well," Keselowski said. "I don't think it's because of or in spite of. I just have been kind of dealing with it, making things happen best I know how. Things have been kind of clicking.

"As a team, that feels good. It's been great to see the camaraderie that has come out of my team through the adversity, so to speak. That's been a lot of fun to see. Maybe that has been the spark we needed, maybe not. Looks good from the outside, that's for sure."

And the perfect prescription for Keselowski's Chase hopes continues to be running near the front every week and remaining in contention for victories.