Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Could Darlington Save Keselowski’s Season?
For Brad Keselowski, the Southern 500 has been much-like his chase for a second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
He’s showed strength, leading laps in each of the last three races at Darlington Raceway, similar to how the Michigan-native has been strong in the playoffs. However, the result is always has been the same, coming up short in every attempt.
Though a win at the track this year could mean more than ever.
Through 24 races, 2018 has stood to be one of Keselowski’s worst as a full-time driver under owner Roger Penske.
The No. 2 team has only captured six top-fives and has continuously struggled to find momentum. However, the most significant stat may be about the zero in the win column.
While the Team Penske organization has only one win (Joey Logano, Talladega), Keselowski seems to be affected the most, as he currently sits eighth in the points standings, the lowest of the team’s three drivers.
It’s especially surprising considering with dominance in recent years. While the 34-year-old hasn’t been the best of the sport, he has still scored three or more wins in the last two seasons, proving to be a constant threat.
It is not time to hit the panic button yet, but it might be soon; with only two regular-season races left, they need to establish momentum.
This is where Darlington comes in to play.
A victory in a crown jewel race would be huge for morale, but this isn’t the Daytona 500, where the restrictor plate track equalizes the competition. You will likely need either the best car or strategy to win this event; while Keselowski’s performance has been up to par, it’s not out of the question to think of him as a contender.
As pointed above, he has a good history at “The Lady in Black,” and Penske has seen an improvement recently with Ryan Blaney, so it is possible.
So, let’s say Keselowski wins the 500-mile race. What would this mean heading into the playoffs?
A win Sunday night would be a game-changer heading into the final 11-races of the season. Suddenly, the 2012 champ has confidence at arguably the best time, and maybe it allows him and his team to establish the consistency they have been lacking to contend with the “Big Three.”
Now, it’s not a guarantee that a win gives him a second championship but, it would certainly be a statement that the No. 2 team can still get the job done.
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