By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
All year long, the talk of the NASCAR world has revolved around the “Big Three” and everyone wondering who would be the fourth driver to join then in the championship race at Homestead in November.
Well, that question has been answered and it’s Brad Keselowski.
Prior to the last few weeks, two drivers in the “Big Three”, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, had delivered a three-peat of wins, and now that group has a new member in Keselowski. In addition to making it three in a row win Sunday’s win at Las Vegas, he also helped to build his case to be one of the four drivers competing for the championship at season’s end.
Before the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rolled into Darlington three weeks ago, Keselowski was almost an afterthought, with him running up front and leading laps, but unable to break through and capture a win.
After winning that first race in the Southern 500, something has clicked with the No. 2 team, whether it be that they “found a horseshoe” as Martin Truex, Jr. said after Sunday’s race or something else, it’s clear that they are here for the long-haul.
“It’s just really, really special,” Keselowski said of his hot streak.
“To go with that, a lot of things have come together. They have to come together to win. Winning is more about being — is more than being the fastest. Winning is about being the best in all facets and taking advantage of opportunities. We probably weren’t the best today with respect to being the fastest car. But my team was the best today with respect to executing on the pit stops, putting us in a position to control the race, and then getting through the chaos that I think you guys all saw over the last 20 or 30 laps.
“To this date in the season or to date before these three races in the season, we hadn’t been able to do that. I don’t know if I necessarily think we’re any faster than we have been the rest of the season. As much as I would say we’re finding ourselves taking advantage of opportunities at a much higher level, and with that in mind, that’s what great teams do.
“I’m still thrilled to death to see this team do that here over these last few weeks because I can tell you that today, last week and the week before, we weren’t good enough to just dominate a race. It took a total team effort, and that’s what our guys delivered here today to win in Las Vegas.”
Looking ahead to the remaining tracks in the next two rounds, Keselowski has won at all three tracks in the second round (Dover, Talladega, and Kansas), as well as the opening race of the third round, Martinsville, so there is the possibility that he could keep his hot streak going and win his way to Homestead. But with a track record like he has at the upcoming venues, consistency will get him there as well.
While others may be penciling Keselowski into their Championship 4, the 2012 series champion warned of the dangers of looking too far ahead too soon and noted he would be keeping his focus on things that are coming sooner rather than later.
“I feel like we’re proud of this win, but it’s one win in a long grind, and there’s nine weeks of long grinding left,” Keselowski said. “2014 we won the first race, I think, in Chicago, and that was terrific. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But we were eliminated out of the playoffs four or five weeks later. So, you know, it’s a grind, and you look too far ahead, you get in trouble.”