Good fortune is every bit as important as talent and preparation when it comes to advancing in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
A few drivers in contention didn’t have luck on their side at Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. They’ll need it next week. Ten drivers will be competing for the last six spots when the Chase field gets trimmed to eight drivers after next Sunday’s race at always-chaotic Talladega Superspeedway.
Nobody had a worse day Sunday than Brad Keselowski, who started the day fourth in the point standings.
Things were going well until lap 190. Keselowski got loose coming out of turn four and slid up the track, where he bumped into Denny Hamlin.
The contact sent Keselowski onto the infield grass, and the impact ripped off the front end of his car.
“I probably could have raced less hard with a big points gap coming in,” Keselowski said. “With this format, I had a big points gap coming in. With this format it is probably the smart thing to do, but I don’t want to race like that. I want to race my guts out and go for wins. I don’t want to points-race. I don’t care what the damn format is, I am going to give it my best.”
Keselowski’s crew put a new nose on the car, but his return to the track was short-lived. A fluid leak sent Keselowski back to the garage and ended his day. He finished 38th in the race, and tumbled to 11th place in the Chase standings — after finishing in the top 10 in nine of the previous 10 races.
Now there’s a lot left to do next week.
“We are going to Talladega. I like Talladega,” Keselowski said. “Talladega has been good to me and I am going to drive my butt off, and at the end of the day I have faith that if it is meant to be it is meant to be. We can’t get down. There is a long way to go still.”
Rookie Chase Elliott started the day 10th in points and finished 12th, at the bottom of the Chase standings. Elliott led Sunday’s race at one point but got a flat tire one lap after a pit stop. It was the first in a string of problems that led to a 31st-place finish.
Even Joey Logano’s third-place showing on Sunday wasn’t all that lucky. Logano moved from 11th to eighth in points, but his season is still in a precarious spot because of Kevin Harvick’s victory.
“Yeah, the big thing that swung everything around was Kevin winning,” Logano said. “We would have been in pretty good shape if he had finished second today. It isn’t disappointing because we still should be proud of the effort we had today, but it would have meant a lot if he finished second.”