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article imageNASCAR: Win squeezes Keselowski into the final eight in Chase

By John Duarte     Oct 20, 2014 in Sports
Talladega - Brad Keselowski came to Talladega Superspeedway knowing one thing. He had to win the Geico 500 or else his hope for the 2014 title was over.
“I can't believe it. I can't believe we won at Talladega,” he said in Victory Lane. “Talladega is such a wild card and to be able to win here you have to catch breaks and make your own breaks — a little of both. To be able to win here is really a privilege.”
Keselowski started the weekend in an unenviable position. He was sitting in the bottom four of 12 drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He knew that is he was going to keep his 2014 championship hopes alive, he needed to win the Geico 500.
“What a day,” said Keselowski, breathing a sigh of relief. “Kind of feel like Hannibal (Smith, of the A-Team TV show). I love when a plan comes together. Everything just felt right today.”
Keselowski nabbed his sixth win of the Sprint Cup season and, more important for the 2012 champion was the fact it put him through to the Eliminator Round in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Keselowski addressed the events of a week earlier, where he and Matt Kenseth tussled in the garage area after the race. He said, whether it is irony or just coincidence, the same two drivers end up battling on the racetrack a week later. This time around, both were driving for the win, with Kenseth making a run at race leader Keselowski.
“You can't drive Talladega without looking in the mirror,” Keselowski said. “It just happened to be that Matt was leading in his lane and his lane had the best run at the end. I came down and blocked it. That was enough to seal our fate as a winner — seal his fate as second.
“It's kind of funny to me personally how that how that stuff works out,” he said, when asked whether the matter was closed. “I'm sure we'll race each other some more. Maybe something bad will happen. Maybe it won't. That part of (racing). But, for today, we're happy with the result and we'll move on.”
Kenseth, who finished second on Sunday, said he was more concerned about the race and qualifying for the next round than what had happened a week earlier.
“You know who is driving every car. You know who is leading the race. It's not like I am going to go help that guy and shaft that guy,” he said. “You know who everybody is and where they're at, but you're trying to do everything you can to get your best finish.”
Clint Bowyer finished third in the Geico 500.
And, so, four more drivers were eliminated from the 2014 Sprint Cup. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson were all cut from further contention for this year's title. An obviously disappointed defending series champion said there was no point looking at the lack of production in the last few weeks, nor was there any point to pointing fingers or assigning blame. It is time to look ahead.
“Today, I went down swinging and I'll take pride in that,” Johnson said. Am I disappointed in our Chase? Absolutely. We haven't been able to produce like we wanted to. Today, we went down swinging — we had a chance. We came up short and we have to make the best of 2015.”
According to Johnson, all is not lost in the 2014 season. The way the format implemented by NASCAR this season works has drivers revert in points to where they were had they not made the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Johnson still has a chance to finish in the Top 5 in the overall points standings. He said this gives him something to still fight for this season. The lowest Johnson has finished in 13 years of Sprint Cup racing is sixth.
“It's not time to put our feet up,” he said. “We need to finish strong and try to be in the Top 5.”
The final eight drivers resume their Chase for the Sprint Cup at Martinsville Speedway, in Virginia, with the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 on Oct. 26, 2014. Four drivers will be cut after the Eliminator Round — the next three races on the schedule — and the final four drivers will fight for the Sprint Cup in the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, on Nov. 16, 2014.
More about Nascar car, chase for the Sprint cup, Talladega superspeedway, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson
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