By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Brad Keselowski entered the Round of 8 on the outside looking in. He’ll still leave Texas Motor Speedway outside the top-four standings despite finishing fourth in Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500.
In fact, he cut the gap from 16 to 15 going into next Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway. It might’ve been just a point, but Keselowski’s No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang showed good pace.
This was the case during long runs when Keselowski had one of the better showings outside the Hendrick Motorsports duo of Kyle Larson and William Byron. In fact, Keselowski was the second-highest finishing driver among the Round of 8 contenders.
However, the biggest detriment for the 2012 champion were the series of cautions in the final stage. From his vantage point, it hurt his chances of being in the mix for the win.
“We didn’t need all those yellows,” said Keselowski after the race. “We had the car balanced really well with the Discount Tire Ford on the long runs.
“The last few times we have been here you get 40 or 50 or 100 lap runs at the end but today, we didn’t run more than two laps at a time for the last 45 or 50 laps. That is just not what we needed. We needed the long runs to be able to keep them honest.
“We had long run speed but the 5 and 24 were just blistering fast on the restart and drove away from me. I just wanted some laps to let their stuff wear down.”
Going into Kansas, Kyle Busch is the man holding onto the fourth and final spot with two races left. That’s all Keselowski has if he wants to make it into the Championship 4 for the third time in his career.
Optimism was there as his time with Team Penske is coming to a close in three weeks.
“We gained a point but we moved up from eighth to sixth so that is a nice little win for us and gives us a better pit stall for next week,” said Keselowski. “If we can keep running like that and scoring high 30’s or low 40’s in points then I think we will transfer in.”
Coverage of the Hollywood Casino 400 begins Sunday, October 24 at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Keselowski is a two-time winner, but those taking place in the spring. His last fall top-three result was in 2011 when he finished third. A year ago, he finished fourth.