Keselowski stays hot, Johnson's in Chase form; more Bristol lessons
Brad Keselowski has been astonishingly successful in the last five races Sprint Cup races, advancing 10 spots to 11th in the driver standings with two wins, a second, third and ninth-place finish that began the burst at Indianapolis. He's shaped the drama of NASCAR's inaugural wild-card process and is in the process of reshaping the top 10 and its automatic Chase for the Championship qualifiers.
And yet, with a victory on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, Keselowski has yet to statistically clinch a Chase with two races remaining in the regular season. That would appear to be just a bookkeeping matter at this point, as his momentum cannot be quantified in box scores, not even Loop Data.
While Keselowski jigged atop the No. 2 Dodge despite a broken left ankle -- the other non-quantifiable variable in his fascinating August -- nearly half of the transfer positions were officially secured, however, as five-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards clinched postseason spots, joining Kyle Busch, who sealed his place last week with a win at Michigan.
And as the titans established their postseason positions, out on the edge of playoff viability, Paul Menard's heart must have sung. Although his 30th-place finish, after being caught up in a wreck, dropped him two spots to 20th in points, he remained just inside the wild-card qualification boundary. If Keselowski is able to overtake Tony Stewart for 10th place, Menard would become the second wild card if able to stay ahead of David Ragan, who is currently 21st in points.
That bit of convoluted arithmetic and high-speed speculation is among five things we learned at Bristol.