With the three drivers ahead of Brad Keselowski in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings all experiencing trouble in Sunday's Dover race, the Penske Racing driver figured his 12th-place result might have been good enough to move him into the top 10 in points.
Surprisingly, it wasn't. Instead, Clint Bowyer leapfrogged Keselowski, who remained 11th but sits just five points out of a Chase spot that would let him use the bonus points he's earned for his two wins.
Still, the Chase Wild Card leader called it a "huge points day for us" because his car wasn't nearly as good as it needed to be (you can see the complete Dover results here).
"We weren't good enough to really earn it on our own with performance," he said. "But we did a good job with executing pit stops and strategy and so forth to gain some of it. We just weren't fast enough. We need more speed."
Keselowski was as low as 19th during the first half of the race, but the team's aforementioned strategy rallied him to fifth place with 100 laps to go until his handling faded.
Overall, the day was a disappointment for Keselowski because his No. 2 car ran well in last fall's Chase race at Dover before the driver ran over a piece of debris and was forced to settle for 20th.
On Sunday, Keselowski's car simply wasn't the same.
"Not really sure why," he said. "Hard to get an answer on those things. But that's racing. That's why you've got to keep working and pushing forward.
"We certainly need to be a little bit better when we come back, and I feel confident we will."
Up next for Keselowski is Pocono, where he began his inspiring run last summer with a win just days after breaking his ankle at a road course test. The driver was optimistic about his chances, though he said the new surface left him unsure what to expect.
With his hometrack of Michigan coming up the following week, there's plenty of opportunity for Keselowski to move into the top 10 in points and let someone else use the Wild Card spot (which doesn't let drivers carry any bonus points into the Chase).
"We're just hanging in, consistent," Keselowski said of his team's recent results. "I'm going to go out on a limb and say we're in good shape to make (the Chase)."