NASCAR & Auto Racing

Brad Keselowski eyes second title to cement place in NASCAR history

Sprint Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski at Kansas Speedway.
Sprint Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski at Kansas Speedway. jledford@kcstar.com

Brad Keselowski is an analytical guy.

Ask if he’s worried about the future of NASCAR, and Keselowski cites attendance, TV ratings and revenue among the factors that determine the sport’s health.

“Anything can be measured as a success or failure off those three metrics,” Keselowski said. “It doesn’t need my opinion.”

The same is true for Keselowski when considering his place among NASCAR’s elite.

Keselowski, 32, won the 2012 Sprint Cup title during his third full-time season, making him one of only 31 drivers in history to win stock-car racing’s top prize.

Of course, only 15 drivers have won multiple Sprint Cup crowns, a more select and career-defining club in his mind.

“The two club is important, not just for championships, but it’s important to me as a professional,” Keselowski said. “In almost every metric of success, two means more than one. But what two means is something significantly different than one. It’s not just in addition to. I think two is a validation of number one and … the second is really what kind of earns your spot.”

Rival Kevin Harvick, who won his first (and so far only) Sprint Cup title in 2014, agreed.

“You want to be on the short list,” Harvick said. “We’ve been fortunate to win a lot of races and win all the crown-jewel races. We’ve won a championship, so winning another championship and being on a shorter list would definitely be a lot cooler than the list we are on right now.”

The quest to drive up NASCAR’s all-time championship charts is what drives Keselowski as he motors into Kansas Speedway for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.

He’s tied with Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. with a series-leading four wins this season, but 2016 won’t feel like a complete success unless Keselowski can keep advancing through the Chase for the Sprint Cup and claim another title in six weeks at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The good news is that even years have been kind to Keselowski. He won a championship four years ago and claimed a career-best six checkered flags two years ago.

“I’m starting to believe in numerology … (but) I don’t really have a great answer for you,” Keselowski said of his success in even years. “I hope that next year we’ll have as strong of a year as we’re having this year. I’m very proud of the year we’re having so far. There certainly has been a trend there. I would acknowledge (that).”

Keselowski, who topped $50 million in career earnings this season, currently sits in fourth place in the Chase’s Round of 12, a solid position to advance to the Round of Eight for the third straight season — though nothing’s a given with two races remaining in this round, including an unpredictable cutoff race at Talladega Superspeedway looming.

“We’re executing well,” Keselowski said after a seventh-place finish Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We just need to find a little bit more speed to be able to make that execution and speed and win races.”

He hopes to find the right mix at Kansas, where Keselowski won the spring race in 2011 but has only cracked the top five one time since in the last 10 races.

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer

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