Brad Keselowski captured the pole position at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when he needed it most. Keselowski captured pole on a track where passing is difficult. He now needs to assert his dominance as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series charges towards Richmond International Raceway in eight races.
“This is our time,” the pole sitter said to the media. Keselowski finds himself outside of The Chase for the Sprint Cup standings in 13th. In front of him are Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne, three drivers who have won this season, and have three different reasons to risk it all for the chase.
Stewart will always get hot down this stretch. It is a fact of nature at this point in the driver’s historic career. 2006 was the only year Stewart has finished outside the top 10 in the standings. He is absolute money at Loudon, where he has won three times and finished in the top five 50 percent of the time. Stewart will roll off 17th.
Truex Jr. is one of the hottest drivers in NASCAR. The winless streak is history, and 10th place is just six points away. Truex at New Hampshire has an average finish of 14.9, and didn’t live up to his average starting position of 11.9. He will start 20th on Sunday with a lot to prove.
Kahne is also on the outside looking in. But he won the race last year and also has a lot riding on this year, as he could move up on the Hendrick Motorsports power rankings ahead of four-time champion Jeff Gordon. Kahne is starting ninth, and has not finished outside of the top five while driving for Hendrick at New Hampshire.
That brings us back to Keselowski. He has absolutely the most to lose out of all of these drivers. Stewart has a legacy, Truex has limited expectations and Kahne has never won a championship. Keselowski must be able to legitimately defend his championship to silence all the remaining critics.
More importantly, thanks to The Chase, he has to be there to defend his title. This final stretch is where legacies such as Tony Stewart’s are made. For Keselowski, it all starts again this week at New Hampshire in a familiar position, with the entire field behind him.
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