Brad Keselowski talks as though racing continues to be business as usual.
The 28-year-old is leading the standings in NASCAR’S Chase for the Sprint Cup, and while his margin over five-time champion Jimmie Johnson is a mere seven points, and perennial contender Denny Hamlin is only 20 points behind, Keselowski quickly dismisses talk that being chased in the Chase means pressure.
“I know in my shoes, I feel good about our situation,” Keselowski said. “I love the way we performed over the last few weekends, really over the Chase. You want to win every race and obviously that hasn’t happened, but that’s not realistic either. But we’ve been fortunate to win two races and be in contention for others. Even when we don’t win, we seem to be able to find a way to not have a disaster out of it.”
That might be harder today at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway, where Johnson is on the pole, Hamlin is starting fifth and the two have combined to win 10 times. Keselowski, meantime, has never finished better than ninth and will roll off 32nd, back where on-track mayhem can quickly ruin a driver’s day.
Johnson and Hamlin, though, have both started back in the field at Martinsville and rallied for good finishes. Johnson started 22nd in the spring, and rallied to contend for the victory before fading to 12th.
Because of his history of closing the deal in close championship races, Johnson would seem to be the favorite at this point. He won an unprecedented five championships in a row before relinquishing the title to Tony Stewart last season, and is hoping he can leave Sunday night as the points leader again.
Denny Hamlin ducked under Matt Crafton with five laps to go and won the NASCAR truck series race at Martinsville Speedway.
The victory was Hamlin’s second in the truck series and came as the championship standings were significantly jumbled.
Ty Dillon, who has led since mid-September, cut a tire with 48 laps to go and went from running sixth to finishing 28th.
James Buescher, only one point behind Dillon to start the day, finished 18th but assumed the points lead by 21 over Dillon.
VETTEL TAKES F1 POLE
Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel took the pole position for today’s Indian Grand Prix in Greater Noida, edging teammate Mark Webber by 0.04 seconds for Red Bull’s third straight front-row sweep.
McLaren pair Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button qualified third and fourth at Buddh International Circuit, ahead of the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. Alonso trails Vettel by six points in the drivers’ championship.
Seven-time Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher took the No. 1 qualifying position in the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas.
Schumacher powered his dragster to a 3.773-second run at 324.20 mph for his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 71st overall.
Cruz Pedregon topped the Funny Car field in the fifth event in the six-race NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. Jason Line was fastest in Pro Stock, and Eddie Krawiec won the rain-delayed final round from Mohnton, Pa., and qualified first in Pro Stock Motorcycle.