HAMPTON, Ga. – Friday at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Brad Keselowski was in a much better mood than might be expected for a driver who is fighting to make the Chase.
And fighting to make the 2013 Chase one year after winning the Sprint Cup Series championship along with five races. But now, he’s currently winless and sitting 11th in points. Fortunately only four points behind 10th with two races remaining before the Chase field is set.
“Obviously these are two really big weekends for not just our team but for the whole sport as far as making it in to the Chase,” said Keselowski. “Certainly there are a lot of different ways and pressures to make that happen and we know it and I know.
“I’m honestly looking forward to this week and next week because I think we’re gonna be really strong. I feel like both Atlanta and Richmond kind of suit our team very well.”
Speaking to the media, Keselowski was loose and enjoying the side banter before answering every question about the Chase, his chances and what his No. 2 Miller Lite team is capable of. The next two weeks will be pressure packed for Keselowski and other drivers fighting for a Chase spot. This however, is a moment that he’s is enjoying.
“Quite honestly, I’m really looking forward to these weekends,” revealed Keselowski. “I know there are some people that look at it and say, ‘You’ve got to be scared about not making it,’
“I look at this as a tremendous opportunity to prove the merits of our team and that we can operate at a high level because there have been a lot of circumstances out of our control that have put us in this position to not be locked in so late in the season, and our backs is against the wall. But these are the times when great teams step up and they make something happen and where great drivers step up and they make a play.
“That’s what I’m looking forward to, I’m looking to that opportunity to prove what we’re worth and what we’re made of.”
Atlanta and Richmond are two tracks Keselowski has yet to win at, but said on Friday that his team is capable of going on a hot streak. Even noting that should be make it in the Chase, he believes they could go on the same run that Tony Stewart did in 2011 when he won the title. The parallels between the two drivers and their respective seasons are there for comparison.
More important, Keselowski isn’t just satisfied with making the Chase. He wants to make some noise when he’s in it but right now, the team needs to work on their confidence.
A bit different than this time last year when winning never seemed to be a problem. As far as Keselowski’s concerned, it’s still not a problem, feeling as though he doesn’t need to win to make the Chase, but he certainly wants to. Just one win, said Keselowski, would feel pretty damn good.
“In this world it’s easy to get kicked in the gut pretty quick,” he said about how 2013 feels compared to 2012. “In this sport it’s inevitable that the way it works is a bit of a rollercoaster and we’re at the bottom of it right now. There’s no doubt about it.
“I feel like the key to the sports world and, really, the key to life, isn’t about falling down it’s about getting back up. I’m confident because I started from nothing and was able to win a championship that we were able to climb that hill, we were able to climb that mountain, and I’m confident we’ll be able to do it again.
“Obviously, it’s gonna take a lot of hard work and there is a lot of work in front of us and there are two really important weeks for us to really make that happen, but in reality, there are 12 important weeks to me and that’s how I’m looking at it.”