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article imageNASCAR: The 'Chase' is on, Keselowski leads the way

By John Duarte     Sep 15, 2014 in Sports
Joliet - Brad Keselowski fed off the momentum of winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season, prior to the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and rolled into Victory Circle after winning the opening round of the this year's championship run.
“We want to run for another Cup,” Keselowski said after winning last weekend at Richmond International Raceway. “We're ready.”
This weekend, Keselowski proved he is indeed ready.
“Just phenomenal with the way things played out. I don't know if we were the fastest car. We were able to take advantage,” he said. “You couldn't ask for a better way to start the Chase other than starting up front.”
A win in the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup is always a good way to start in the final 10 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as Keselowski found out in 2012 when he went on to win the title after opening with a win at Chicagoland Speedway.
This year, winning Round 1 of the Chase has even greater significance, Under the new playoff-type format instituted by NASCAR, wins are most important and winners are automatically entered into the next round of the championship chase. Keselowski said that while “I want to enjoy the moment,' he has only won one race, the battle rages on.
“There's nine weeks to go,” he said. “We have a bit of a hall pass for the next two weeks. But those other seven, nobody cares that we won Chicago. It keeps resetting. You have to reset yourself. You have to keep developing the car and pushing as a team.
“Today was about as much of a statement as you can make on Week 1,” Keselowski said. “I don't want to understate it, but I certainly don't want to overstate it.”
The crucial moment in the race for Keselwoski came after a restart on Lap 250. Two laps later, Keselowski was behind Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick, as they battled at the front of the field. A small gap opened up and Keselowski made his move to take the lead with 15 laps to go in the race.
“I just saw a hole and I went for it,” he said. “I didn't know if my car would stick or not, but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't try it.”
This week's win was Keselowski's fifth of the season. He also won five races during his championship year, in 2012, including the opening round of the Chase in Chicago and the third round in Dover, Delaware.
Jeff Gordon finished second in the MyAFibStory 400, with Larson ending up third.
Gordon said that he was happy with the result and it would have been difficult to expect any better. He said he felt that “Kevin (Harvick) and Kyle (Larson) were the best cars out there today,” but Keselowski has been tough all season and can never be discounted.
“This is a great way for us to get going. I'm not going to complain too much with second because I've come out here before much worse,” Gordon said. “If it comes down to a short run like that, it's hard to beat (Keselowski). I thought we were close. Just needed to be a little bit better.”
And that is Gordon's plan of attack heading into next week's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Gordon has finished third in the Sylvania 300 the past two years and won the race twice, though not since 1998.
“We're going to certainly debrief and evaluate what happened here today,” he said. “We're going to go through everything we can to try to see what our competitors are doing, (and) what we can do to be better, make sure that happens in the next race.”
The Sylvania 300, on Sept. 21, is Round 2 in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup schedule. The championship in NASCAR's top-level racing series will be decided on Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway when four drivers will battle for the title in the final race of the season.
More about Nascar, Sprint cup series, chase for the Sprint cup, Brad Keselowski, chicagoland speedway
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