Brad Keselowski has had the benefit of a long and successful NASCAR career but pinning down the difference of what makes a great season can be difficult.
Keselowski, 36, has won at least one race for 10 consecutive seasons in the Cup Series and during eight of them he has won at least three or more races.
His lone series championship came in the 2012 season, a year when he tallied five wins. Yet two seasons later, when he collected a career-high six victories, he ended up fifth in the series standings.
“It takes so many little pieces to come together to win and to be great,” Keselowski said. “I’ve ran really good here on the Cup level for probably the last eight to 10 years, but I’ve had a couple seasons that were great.
“The difference between good to great is just all the tiny little things and the details, and I feel like a lot of those details are going our way.”
Moving on to the Round of 12
With eight races remaining in the Cup Series playoffs, Keselowski already has four wins this year, including last weekend at Richmond, Va., which locked him into the second round of the playoffs.
He, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have separated themselves from the rest of the 16-driver playoff field with their ability to win multiple times, which will provide them a big advantage trying to grab one of the four spots in the championship race.
There have been many changes this season for NASCAR, Team Penske and Keselowski, starting with an unexpected crew chief swap among all three Penske Cup teams in January.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced a two-month hiatus starting in mid-March and although NASCAR resumed its schedule in May, it’s done so without practice and qualifying each weekend.
Add to that a few change ups to the Cup series playoff schedule this year – including a new championship race at Phoenix – and there were many reasons for Keselowski’s No. 2 team to stumble.
Instead, it’s thrived.
“I put no expectations on the year coming into it other than to run our best and to push myself to be the best driver I can be and be the best leader of the team I can be,” Keselowski said.
“I can’t tell you I had a win quota put up. It is nice to have another four-win season, but I hope we don’t stop there. The most I’ve ever had in a year is six, and I hope I can get seven.’
That seems very possible given Keselowski’s confidence right now in his team’s performance. He also sees the remaining schedule as an added plus.
“I like the (playoff) format. I like the tracks, how they line up,” he said. “I think they fit me personally really well, and I think they fit this team really well. The team is really coming together and continues to click.”
Keselowski’s crew chief, Jeremy Bullins agrees.
“I feel like our cars are competitive week in, week out. I feel like there’s nowhere left on the schedule that we can’t go win at,” he said. “I just look at the schedule and think about things that we can’t control.
“You know, obviously speedways are tough – there’s a lot of things that are out of your hands. The road courses – a lot of things there out of your hands, inopportune cautions, things like that.
“There’s nowhere in the next eight races that a Penske car can’t win in my opinion.”
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