|Bristol Power Rankings|
|Brad Keselowski's sense of momentum should be all-consuming by now, especially given his change in perspective. Six weeks ago he was 23rd in driver points, looking as if his win at Kansas would be wasted, insufficient to push him inside the top 20 and therefore eligible for a first-ever Sprint Cup wild-card spot. Race-winners Denny Hamlin and David Ragan seemed laps ahead in the points standings. |
Four weeks ago Keselowski languished inside a race car with a freshly fractured ankle after a test crash at Road Atlanta. His inertia has increased dramatically since that point of sudden deceleration into a barrier. There was an unlikely win at Pocono in the days after the wreck, and then subsequent second-, third-, and fourth-place finishes. Then there was another victory on Saturday at Bristol, which vaulted him to 11th place in the standings. Considering his momentum, the 21 points between him and 10th-place Tony Stewart seem trifling.
But a driver accustomed to rapid acceleration and abrupt stops discounted that thinking on Saturday.
Brad Keselowski celebrates his first Bristol win and third of 2011 under the lights in Victory Lane.
"Tony is pretty good," he said of the two-time Sprint Cup champion. "He's pretty good at Atlanta and Richmond. Richmond we really struggled at in the spring, so I'm really not sure what to expect going back. Twenty-one points is still a lot of points. That means you've got to beat the guy by over 10 positions over the course of two races. Beating Tony Stewart by an average of 10 positions over two races, that's going to be pretty tough to be honest."
Tough, but lucrative. Only drivers inside the top 10 earn three bonus points per win when the Chase reseeds, and even with a new scoring system being utilized during the Chase for the first time, the history of the NASCAR playoffs suggests that each point will be precious.
"Maybe this one will be different and maybe we'll be kicking ourselves if we don't get in the top 10 and it comes down to Homestead and we lose whatever points those are," he said, "but there's no point in sitting and pouting about it. We've got to look forward and continue to do the best we can."
That's been good enough, so far, for a mad dash up the weekly power rankings.