- Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2011 16:13
- Published on Wednesday, 05 October 2011 16:13
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In only nine races, Brad Keselowski has moved from 23rd in points to his current position of third. Since he broke his ankle, a span of nine races ago, he has scored more points than any other driver, by a lot. Over the last eight races, Keselowski has scored 332 points. Second during that span is Jeff Gordon, with 304.
The numbers over the past nine races look like this: two wins, six top fives, eight top
10’s. His worst finish over the last nine races is a still solid 12th at Richmond. Keselowski’s third place points position is the best of his career. He went to Dover last Sunday just 11 points behind the leader Tony Stewart. He’s inching towards the first points lead in his career. There’s no sign of him stalling anytime soon. His stats at the upcoming tracks don’t really tell the whole story. If they did, he probably wouldn’t be considered a favorite: 31 starts, two wins,
Talladega and Kansas, two top fives, and five top tens and past statistics. In three previous Sprint Cup Starts at Dover, Keselowski has finished 18th, 22nd and 13th in the spring race at Dover this season. Keselowski started off last weekend with a second place finish in the Nationwide Race; unfortunately in Sunday’s AAA 400 Cup race he got behind early and ended up with a disappointing 20th place finish. Keselowski left Dover in 6th place, 14 points out of the lead.
Jimmie Johnson has been down but not out before. Three times he’s fallen to ninth in the championship standings, twice in 2004 when he scratched his way back to finish second to Kurt Busch. Johnson opened the Chase for the Sprint Cup ninth after a 39th place finish in Richmond in 2006, the season he claimed the first of his five consecutive championship titles. Two races into this year’s Chase Johnson found himself at an all-time low of 10th place in the Chase standings, 29 points behind points leader Tony Stewart. That doesn’t seem like much at first glance, but consider; this year NASCAR has a new points system. Those points represent roughly 120 points under the previous system. Race fans may recall the somewhat testy radio exchanges between Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus a week ago in New Hampshire and wonder if all is well on the No. 48 team. Johnson cannot race his way back to the top without some help. Wishing for nine rivals to stumble over the course of seven races sounds like a very tall order. Johnson helped his cause Sunday at Dover with a strong second place finish. “Are we out of this?” “Not yet. Not by a long shot,” Johnson said following Sunday’s race at Dover. “Giving up a win by not getting a good restart, I’ll think about it tonight, But big picture wise, we’ll take it.”
It was another day of feast or famine for the Chase drivers. After winning the first two races at Chicagoland and New Hampshire and vaulting into the points lead, Tony Stewart finished a disappointing 25th, dropping him back to 3rd place. Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards are tied for the lead.
With a surprising but very strong win at Dover, Kurt Busch served notice that he is a serious contender for his second Sprint Cup Championship. Busch held Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards down the stretch for his 24th career victory and his second win of the 2011 season. The win moved Busch to fourth place in the standings, just nine points out of the lead. With seven races to go, just 15 points separate the top eight drivers and no one is a clear favorite.