NASCAR Martinsville results: Brad Keselowski minimizes points damage with solid finish

When Brad Keselowski qualified 32nd for Sunday's NASCAR race at Martinsville Speedway, it seemed as if the vultures were suddenly circling over his championship hopes.

How could Keselowski, who entered Martinsville with a seven-point lead in the Chase, possibly hope to defeat Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin at the best track for both those drivers?

It seemed entirely possible Keselowski would finish outside the top 15, which would not only force him to relinquish the points lead but suddenly trail Johnson by a significant margin.

Keselowski did lose the points lead on Sunday, but hardly in the way most observers expected. He finished sixth and lost only nine points to the five-time Sprint Cup Series champion – not too shabby in the overall Chase picture – and now has a chance to race Johnson straight up for his first series title.

"It feels like you live another day," Keselowski said. "It's like being in war and surviving a battle. It's not necessarily a win, you're just happy to still do it."

Two of the three tracks remaining – Texas and Homestead – are tracks where Keselowski said he has a high degree of confidence he can not only hang with Johnson, but out-run him on speed. Phoenix is cause for concern, but Keselowski said his team can win the championship by besting the No. 48 team in two of the three.

"I believe we can do this, I really do," he said. "We've got work ahead of us, and I know that, but we're doing all the right things. And if you do the right things for long enough, good things will happen to you."

Keselowski appeared confident on Friday despite his poor qualifying result, and he said Sunday his attitude was not a front. Qualifying, he said, "is not a great indicator of how you're going to race." He knew the team would be able to move up in the running order, as it steadily did throughout Sunday's race while making no mistakes.

"I'm confident if we keep having fast race cars, it's going to be a fun run down the stretch here," he said.

During the penultimate caution of Sunday's race, Keselowski made the call to stay out instead of come to pit road. But his gamble was somewhat thwarted when only one other car decided on the same strategy, meaning there was no buffer between himself and fresh tires.

"We needed about three or four more cars to stay out," he said. "... I'm not upset about that. That's just the breaks. We haven't caught any good breaks over the last three or four weeks. When we do, and you match it with the execution we have, we're going to be really tough."

Ultimately, Keselowski was pleased with a solid finish but said he knew his team can't keep settling for "break-even weekends."

If the No. 2 team wants the championship, its driver knows he must get to Victory Lane at some point in the final three races.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.