NASCAR

Keselowski needs to focus on title

Image: NASCAR drive Brad Keselowski (© Jennifer Stewart/USA Today Sports)
Brad Keselowski needs to keep focus on one thing right now.
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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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I’m a big believer in the basic theory — don’t get off your gameplan in the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship race. Don’t get off of what got you here the first 35 races.

I’m living proof that getting off your gameplan will cost you a championship. We went to Atlanta the final race of the year in 1992 with Davey Allison, Robert Yates Racing and the No. 28 car and we got off of our gameplan. We got almost too conservative, we got almost too confident. If we would have just done what we did the first 30 races that put us in that position, I could say that I have a championship in my pocket.

This weekend, Brad Keselowski and his Penske Racing team have a 20-point lead over Jimmie Johnson. They need to go to Homestead-Miami Speedway and be smart. Keselowski has to finish 15th or better to win the title.

Be smart. Don’t try to stretch fuel mileage. Don’t try to run more laps on fuel than you need to run. Honestly, when you look at the points, he just has to finish in front of Johnson. Nobody else can catch him.

Kasey Kahne is third, 50 points back. It’s Keselowski versus Johnson for the title. Just be smart.

Obviously crew chief Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson, they are going to throw caution to the wind. They have to. Why would you not? They’re going to probably try strategy, they’re going to probably try fuel mileage, they’re going to try everything. That’s all they’ve got left. They’ve got to throw the Hail Mary.

In the media center after the race last Sunday, Keselowski went off about how people raced at Phoenix and how some drivers were on him all of the previous week about having a death wish with aggressive driving. It’s like, Brad, what are you doing? You dodged more wrecks Sunday than the law allows. You are one race away, 400 miles away, from accomplishing something that very few men have accomplished in 60-plus years of NASCAR. I know all you did was answer a question that the media asked you, but you know what, put all that stuff aside for a few more days.

Five more days and you can be Sprint Cup Series champion.

And the way you do that is you and your race team stay focused on only the things you can control. You’re going to have a lot of media questions to answer and you created more by the answer you gave Sunday.

Just put the blinders on through Sunday though and, you know what, you’ll win this championship.

Tagged: Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski

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