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Harvick, Keselowski have different outlooks

June 29, 2012, Jarrod Breeze, NASCAR.com

SPARTA, Ky. -- No. 29 team still winless in 2012 after mistakes; No. 2 team just trying to build

Kevin Harvick is the highest-ranked driver in points (sixth) without a win in 2012. He's 42 points clear of 10th-place Brad Keselowski, the lowest-ranking driver among the four with two wins this season.

Saturday's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway begins the Race to the Chase portion of the season, the 10 races leading up to Chase for the Sprint Cup. Chances are good both Harvick and Keselowski will be among the 12 drivers eligible for the championship.

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For Keselowski, it's a matter of guarding against a letdown. The two wins have him in good shape if he were to fall out of the top 10 and need the wild card to make the Chase. His lead over 11th-place Carl Edwards is just 11 points.

"Having the two wins that we do takes a lot of pressure off my team but we can't rest. We can't become weak because of that," Keselowski said. "We need to go out there and continue to have strong runs and execute. We really need to get another win, in my eyes."

To that end, Harvick really needs a first win. Mistakes have taken their toll on the driver, so much so that Harvick had choice words for his crew when he ran out of fuel at Sonoma.

Thursday at Kentucky, Harvick offered an explanation.

"I said we were all going to lose our jobs if we all kept losing," Harvick said. "You can't win a championship and you can't win races on a week-to-week basis making the mistakes that we've made. You just cannot do the things that we've been doing and expect to win races in this garage."

Harvick said he had "probably one of our worst races last year from the Cup side," in the inaugural event at Kentucky. He cited a lack of speed for his 16th-place finish. Speed hasn't been an issue this season.

"There is nothing to hide ... the cars run fast enough to win races. The cars run fast enough to be in the top 10 and until the mistakes stop ... stuff can't fall off the car, you can't run out of gas for the fifth time this year. It's just flat out mistakes and those guys know that," Harvick said.

"It's very obvious as to why this team hasn't won a race. We are fortunate to be in the position that we are in points, but we can't scramble."

But as the Chase cutoff approaches, expect a lot of scrambling by drivers and teams jockeying for position.

"It's definitely wide-open," Keselowski said of the Chase push. "I think it's really going to come to a head here over the next few weeks."

And Keselowski would rather think about moving up rather than resting on his laurels should he drop down.

"I think that we're working on the right projects to be fast over the next few months and we'll be in great shape," he said. "If we can do that, I think we'll have no problem at all staying in the top 10 and we have a strong shot at moving up closer to the top five, if not winning more races in the process."

Keselowski finished seventh last year at Kentucky and led 79 laps, second to winner Kyle Busch's 125. Keselowski saved his best for the second half of the race, with stretches of 26 and 37 laps led before being overtaken for good on Lap 240 of 267.

"A strong showing ... had a shot at it at the end," he said. "I think that's all you can really ask."