Kevin Rutherford · Monday July 1, 2013
Hey, remember Brad Keselowski?
You might, actually! In fact, just over three months ago, the guy was leading the Sprint Cup points, perhaps on his way to a second straight Cup championship.
And then? Down, down, down.
Brad Keselowski’s downward spiral took its biggest drop yet Sunday. While racing for position in the early going at Kentucky, Kurt Busch, the former driver of Penske’s Miller Lite No. 2, tapped the defending Cup champion, sending him spinning down the track and then back up into the path of approaching cars. The incident effectively ruined his day; though his crew was able to make repairs to get the car back onto the track, Keselowski could only manage a 33rd-place finish, over 100 laps down.
The poor finish dropped Keselowski out of the top 10 in the points standings for the first time all season. Now, he sits 13th, 14 points out of 10th. As of now, because of his lack of wins in 2013, he won’t be in the Chase.
It wasn’t always this way. In the first eight races of the season, Keselowski set a blistering pace. Yeah, he didn’t win, but he only finished outside the top 10 once — a 23rd at Fontana. Four top-5 finishes, and seven top 10s.
But since Kansas, he’s only managed one finish inside the top 10 at all. He finished fifth at Dover, and that’s it. Literally it. That includes four finishes outside the top 30, counting Sunday’s subpar showing.
What’s wrong with Brad Keselowski?
It’s a streak of bad luck, or so it appears. Though he was off completely for awhile, Dover definitely marked what appeared to be a turning point for the team. Keselowski was qualifying better and running better for much of the race. He was leading laps, which of course benefits his points position. He wasn’t even that bad at Pocono and Michigan, finishing just a few spots outside the top 10 but still on the lead lap.
He just can’t have races like Sunday. Like, not at all. Zero. It’s getting to crunch time in the Sprint Cup Series, with the finalizing of the Chase spots only nine races away. That may seem like an eternity, but remember that everyone’s on the same playing field here. No one’s completely safe, so the entire field is vying to make sure they make it into the top 10 or at least can rattle off some wins so that they have wild card potential.
Point is, everyone is going harder now. Rather than having a cushion, like Jimmie Johnson currently does, Keselowski has to work his way in. And that won’t be easy.
Ahead of him in 11th and 12th are Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon, two Hendrick drivers sure to be unleashing some of that bona fide Chevy power in order to make it in. Behind him, Kurt Busch, who’ll be driving like a bat out of hell to get Furniture Row Racing a Chase berth.
Plus, 10th place right now is none other than Joey Logano, Keselowski’s teammate. You know, the guy who’s kind of stolen Keselowski’s thunder and rattled off some solid top 10 finishes while the defending champ has his woes.
Yeah, this one isn’t going to be easy. Luckily(?), he doesn’t seem too fazed.
“We’re just going to do our thing and we’re just on a streak of bad luck,” Keselowski said after the race. “It will turn around and when it does, we’ll be in victory lane and be all right.”
That may not be a horrible attitude to have, as getting down on oneself isn’t exactly going to solve the problem, either. Kill it with positivity.
Brad Keselowski’s troubles may just be poor luck; he’s never been ridiculously slow, per se. That said, he needs to snap out of it now. If he can’t, he needs to at least score a win or two so that he can potentially sneak into the Chase and then shake off the rust. Because if he can’t, this downward spiral is just going to continue. The defending Cup champion has never missed the Chase, and I’m sure Keselowski doesn’t want to be the first to own that statistic.
Connect with Kevin!
Contact Kevin Rutherford
©2000 - 2008 Kevin Rutherford and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!