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Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup fifth-place finisher, Brad Keselowski , gives a speech at the Sprint Cup Series Awards in Las Vegas.
Albert: 2012 series champ back to take-no-prisoners mindset RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota If Brad Keselowski clinches his second title at NASCAR's highest level this season, might his introduction as reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion draw the rarest of receptions? Polite, obligatory applause more befitting for a golf gallery. Or worse, crickets. Worse yet, boos. Two years ago at the finale of Champion's Week ceremonies in Las Vegas, Keselowski struck a gracious note in his speech before an audience of his peers, with the unscripted line "I want to be your leader" becoming the night's defining sound bite. Fast forward to 2014 and it's a much different, take-no-prisoners tone coming from the driver of the Team Penske No. 2 Ford. Keselowski may well hoist the Sprint Cup trophy by season's end, but barring a dramatic, 11th-hour mending of the fences over the next few weeks, the method will be by winning races instead of winning over friends. Still, he has to get there first -- a task made much more difficult when you're potentially perceived in the garage as Jean Girard, Russ Wheeler and Chick Hicks all rolled into one. During his first title run, Keselowski was regarded as an upstart, wielding the same brash, speak-first-and-apologize-later approach that has become especially familiar in recent weeks. As wins became more prevalent, the garage became acquainted with Keselowski's outspoken nature and, to some degree, welcomed it. At the same awards banquet in 2012, Tony Stewart offered his congratulations in prophetic words that ring just as true today: "I don't think Brad has learned to be cautious yet. Hopefully that won't bite him like it has a lot of drivers in the past. But it's refreshing. It's nice to see somebody that just speaks from the heart and isn't guarded when he speaks." Keselowski never lost his knack for candor, but last season, he lost out on the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs and won just once -- a subpar year that he attributed to straying from the aggressive mindset that had worked so well in his championship season. That mindset is back in a big way. Last Sunday's major dust-up at Texas Motor Speedway marked the second incident in the previous four races with Keselowski at the center of the conflict. In the process, he shifted four of the other seven remaining title-eligible drivers in the Chase solidly over to the "enemy" side of his ledger, a list that now includes Jeff Gordon , Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth . Hamlin figures prominently in that group, not only because of their deep-rooted antagonism from years past but their most recent flare-up post-race at Charlotte Motor Speedway last month. In a frank, unflinching appearance on NASCAR's weekly teleconference Wednesday, Hamlin flatly admitted that, "it's tough to win a championship if nobody likes you." Keselowski's current focus on the championship race is so single-minded that being well-liked is far down the priority list. He's said he's "comfortable" with upsetting the status quo and rankling the feelings of others if winning is part of the trade-off. While Keselowski has embraced wearing the black hat, Hamlin said he's come to realize the merits of discretion as his career has grown. "If you ask me do you want a championship trophy or do you want the respect of your peers, I will take the respect from my peers because that trophy, they can't put in my casket," Hamlin said. "What's the fun of a NASCAR party that nobody shows up to?" Keselowski isn't running for office, nor is he trying to win a popularity contest. With a majority of the Eliminator 8 field against him and the rest at least neutral, the Chase's delegate from Michigan has faint chance at the ballot box. What Keselowski does have is a loyal teammate in Chase driver Joey Logano , a venerable team owner in Roger Penske that supports his hard-nosed racing, and top-notch equipment. That just might be enough. The jury's still out on whether Keselowski reverses course and makes heartfelt apologies for his rivals' ruffled feathers. Saying "I'm sorry" is a lot easier to stomach when you're sitting at the awards gala's head table, but it's also a lot easier to hear over the sound of crickets. With two races left, expect more chirping of a different sort. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Late caution allows veteran to pass Kyle Busch for victory RELATED: Race results " Series standings AVONDALE, Ariz. - Brad Keselowski took advantage of a late-race caution to edge Kyle Busch for a Nationwide Series victory at Phoenix International Raceway , but Chase Elliott was the day's big winner at Saturday's DAV 200 - Honoring America's Veterans . Elliott, the 18-year-old son of 1988 Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott , finished fifth to clinch the NASCAR Nationwide Series title, becoming the first rookie to accomplish the feat. The Elliott family joined the Pettys, Pearsons, Jarretts and Earnhardts in becoming families with father-son national touring series champions. Elliott, who won races at Texas, Darlington and Chicagoland this season, did what he needed to, finishing ahead of JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith , who entered the race 48 points behind Elliott in the series standings and ran 10th. Elliott said he wasn't sure how to celebrate his series triumph. "I wasn't sure if it was OK to do a burnout lap or not," he said. "But I did one anyway because I was too excited not to. "I never would have even believed this was in my future. At the beginning of this season I had only run a couple of truck races. I feel lot of this is just due to the group of guys I was able to work with. Those guys were bringing me super-fast cars every week." Elliott's NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet did what Busch's Toyota could not do -- survive a green-white-checkered finish after Alex Bowman was slow on the track, bringing out a race-changing caution flag with slightly more than a lap to go. To that point, Busch had been dominant, seemingly on his way to his eighth win in 25 starts this season by leading 187 of the race's 206 laps. But Keselowski had other ideas, swooping to the inside and driving past Busch in Turn 1 of the final lap to prevent Busch from winning his fourth consecutive Nationwide start at Phoenix. "We didn't give up," Keselowski said. "Kyle was really fast – probably a 10th (of a second) or two faster than everybody. Then, that yellow came out and I really don't know what happened. I think we grabbed a gear and he slipped. "It was a little bit surreal. I really didn't even know the race was over. We were low on gas in that whole (end-of-race) situation." Busch was similarly at a loss for words. "The Monster Energy Camry was faster than everyone else – just not at the right time," said Busch, who said he knew he was in trouble when Keselowski's car "cut better than mine in Turns 3 and 4. "I tried to let him go into (Turn) 1 and cut back underneath, but my (car) wouldn't turn," Busch said. "(Right there) his stuff doesn't turn but it still turned better than ours 'cuz he still got me." Neither Keselowski nor Busch are eligible for the series title because they are full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers. For much of the race, Smith appeared primed to put his teammate's title hopes on hold. But Smith struggled after leaving the pits with 29 laps to go after taking left side tires on a yellow-flag pit stop. Elliott leaped from ninth to sixth in the running order and held serve the rest of the way. Busch took fresh tires during that same caution and restarted fifth. The strategy seemed to pay off as he easily got around Keselowski , Elliott Sadler and Bowman, each of whom elected to forego the pits on that final stop. But Keselowski made it happen in the final two laps of his Nationwide Series campaign. "We have a great team," said Keselowski , who did not finish worse than fourth in any of his 10 Nationwide starts this season. "I'm proud to be a part of it. It's been a phenomenal year and I'm going to remember this one for a long time." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
• 2014 Season In Review Also Features Year In Photos, Video Highlights Package FORT WORTH, Texas (December 16, 2014) - The year at Texas Motor Speedway opened with pyrotechnics celebrating the unveiling of the world's largest, high-definition LED video board in March and culminated in November with additional fireworks courtesy of the post-race melee involving combatants Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 Eliminator 8 Chase race. There also was plenty of action and excitement in between as Texas Motor Speedway played host to its annual Duck Commander 500 NASCAR doubleheader in April, Firestone 600 INDYCAR/NASCAR twin bill in June and played host to its inaugural Red Bull Air Race World Championship event in September. The Texas Motor Speedway 2014 Season In Review recaps those major event weekends, in addition to the momentous "Big Hoss TV" unveiling, while the accompanying Texas Motor Speedway Year in Photos captures all those key moments in addition to other noteworthy speedway-related events throughout the year. The Texas Motor Speedway Year in Photos features 90 images - primarily from the speedway's official photo agency Getty Images - that were chosen for their significance and/or artistic value and are presented in chronological order. A three-minute video recap of the top on-track moments, including the AAA Texas 500 post-race skirmish, also is available in HD by clicking here. All photos and video are free for media outlets to utilize, especially for their year-end, wrap-ups and can be previewed by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com or downloaded by visiting www.image.net/tmsinreview2014 . Let's take a look back: "Big Hoss TV" Unveiling / Wednesday, March 19 The Skinny: The world's largest, high-definition LED video board is unveiled amid fanfare and will be one of the most impactful fan enhancements in the history of Texas Motor Speedway and the world of motorsports. The Recap: Texas Motor Speedway unveiled the world's largest, high-definition LED video board in grand fashion as the evening featured fireworks, motorsports stars, reality television celebrities, dignitaries and the showing of an episode from A&E's hit reality show "Duck Dynasty" for more than 8,000 fans situated in the infield of the world-class sports facility. The official debut of the Panasonic-built "Big Hoss TV" was part of a star-studded evening that included appearances by Duck Commander CEO and "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson and his wife, Korie, along with the heralded racing duo of NASCAR's Kyle Busch and INDYCAR's Helio Castroneves. Also in attendance were dignitaries such as NASCAR President Mike Helton, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, Panasonic Eco Solutions North America Vice President Richard Ballard, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Chairman Bruton Smith, SMI President and COO Marcus Smith and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. Positioned in the middle of the backstretch and stretching 218 feet wide by 94.6 feet tall, "Big Hoss TV" features 20,633.64 square feet of HD LED imagery that contains 281 trillion colors. The video board, constructed in just four months, surpassed fellow Speedway Motorsports, Inc. facility Charlotte Motor Speedway (16,000 square feet) as the Guinness World Record holder for the world's largest HD LED video board. The size of "Big Hoss TV" is staggering as it is 79 percent larger than the video board at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, which is 11,520 square feet. "It is the ultimate fan amenity," Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. "To have the biggest one in the world, that's just one of those 'Everything is Bigger in Texas' stories that we are really proud to be a part of." NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 / Monday, April 7 The Skinny: Rain forces a Monday matinee for only the third time in speedway history and Joey Logano wins the Duck Commander 500 for an automatic berth in the reformatted Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The Recap: With Duck Commander on board as the title sponsor and the "Duck Dynasty" stars on hand en masse, the weather was more conducive for duck hunting that NASCAR racing. The Duck Commander 500 , moved from its Saturday night slot to Sunday afternoon to avoid a conflict with the NCAA Final Four men's college basketball tourney being in Arlington, was washed out due to continual rain showers and rescheduled for a Monday matinee. It was just the third time in Texas Motor Speedway 's 18-year history that a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was run on Monday due to inclement weather, the most recent coming in 2010 when both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races were run on the same day. Penske Racing's Joey Logano punched his ticket for a berth in the restructured Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format after surviving a green/white-checkered finish to win the Duck Commander 500 . Logano was cruising to victory with a two-second lead over teammate Brad Keselowski with just over one lap remaining in the scheduled 334-lap event, but a caution for debris forced a two-lap overtime shootout. Logano restarted third after pitting for four tires while Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers opted for two tires and restarted first and second, respectively. Gordon held off Logano on the first lap, but Logano got a strong run inside on the frontstretch and was able to overtake him in Turn 1 and pull away to a 0.476 of a second margin of victory in the race that was extended to 340 laps. The victory was Logano's first since August of 2013 at Michigan and the fourth of his career. It also was his first Sprint Cup win at Texas Motor Speedway , which was highlighted by him becoming the youngest Cup winner in TMS history at 23 years, 10 months and 14 days. NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 / Friday, April 4 The Skinny: Rookie Chase Elliott , the 18-year-old son of NASCAR great Bill Elliott , lands his first career Nationwide Series victory in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 to become the second-youngest winner in series history. The Recap: Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 provided a historic milestone for a second-generation NASCAR driver and a glimpse into the talent that would flourish and lead to a series championship. Rookie Chase Elliott , the 18-year-old high school senior and son of NASCAR great Bill Elliott , needed just six starts in the Nationwide Series for his first career win that came in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 . Elliott made a bold move on the high side of Kevin Harvick in the elbow of the frontstretch to take the lead on Lap 185 and then held on for a 2.251-second victory over Kyle Busch in the 200-lap event. Elliott became the second-youngest winner in series history at 18 years, 4 months and 8 days. Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 / Saturday, June 7 The Skinny: Will Power's late pit lane penalty opens the door for Ed Carpenter to capture the Firestone 600 and become the first American winner at TMS since Sam Hornish Jr . in 2007. The Recap: The annual INDYCAR/NASCAR summer doubleheader yielded two first-time Texas Motor Speedway winners as Matt Crafton won the Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino 350 and Ed Carpenter was victorious in the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600. Carpenter took advantage of a strong second-half race performance and a critical late pit lane penalty by Will Power to record his first series victory since 2012 in the Firestone 600. The victory was the third of Carpenter's career and his first since winning the 2012 season finale at Fontana. In his previous 12 starts at Texas Motor Speedway , he had just one top-five finish and led one lap (2009) before breaking through to become the first American to win at Texas since Sam Hornish Jr . in 2007. Carpenter led 66 of the final 67 laps of the 248-lap event and avoided a potential shootout for the win with Power, who was running second when he was caught speeding in pit lane on his final green-flag pit stop. With 36 to go, Carpenter and Power pitted together and came out 1-2, but Power received a drive-thru penalty for speeding and fell a lap down. Carpenter suddenly had a nine-plus second cushion over second-place Tony Kanaan and was coasting to victory with an 18.5-second lead before a final caution came out with seven laps remaining. The race became a two-lap shootout and Carpenter was able to stave off Juan Pablo Montoya and the hard-charging Power, who moved from sixth to second and finished 0.52 of a second behind Carpenter. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 / Friday, June 6 The Skinny: Defending Camping World Truck Series champ Matt Crafton snaps a 26-race winless streak at TMS with a dominant victory in the WinStar World Casino & Resort 400. The Recap: Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton had it easy compared to Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ed Carpenter in earning his first career win at Texas Motor Speedway . He led a career-best 118 laps en route to the victory in the WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 that snapped a 26-race winless streak at the speedway. Crafton led 118 of the 167 laps - the most he led in a single race in his 14-year career - and cruised to a 13.302-second victory over runner-up Justin Lofton . It was the fifth win of Crafton's career and second of the season, marking the first time in his career that he had recorded multiple wins in a season. His dominant performance established a track record for largest margin of victory in that series, eclipsing the previous mark of 11.817 seconds set by Dennis Setzer in this event in 2004. Red Bull Air Race World Championship / Saturday, Sept. 6, & Sunday, Sept. 7 The Skinny: Texas Motor Speedway plays host to the first race in the United States since 2010 for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, which returned to competition after a three-year hiatus. The Recap: The Red Bull Air Race World Championship made its return to the United States for the first time since 2010 as Texas Motor Speedway played host to the sixth stage of the eight-event international plane racing series. Before a crowd of more than 20,000 for the first of two U.S. stops, Frenchman Nicolas Ivanoff captured his first victory of the season in the elite Master Class on the challenging, seven air gate, 3.7-mile course that was built in the infield of the motorsports venue. Ivanoff posted an individual two-lap run of 54.118 seconds to defeat Great Britain's Nigel Lamb, Canada's Pete McLeod and Germany's Matthias Dolderer in the Final 4 showdown on Sunday. Ivanoff gave his country a sweep of the weekend competition as fellow Frenchman Mikael Brageot won the Challenger Cup race the day prior. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 / Sunday, Nov. 2 The Skinny: A post-race confrontation between Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski and ensuing melee steals national headlines from six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson winning the AAA Texas 500 for a third year in a row. The Recap : With the remaining eight Chase for NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers looking to win the AAA Texas 500 and automatically advance to the championship round, six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson played the role of spoiler as he won the Eliminator 8 race in a dramatic second green/white-checkered overtime finish. Johnson, eliminated from championship contention in the previous round, won the AAA Texas 500 for a record third consecutive year, but it was the post-race scuffle that made national headlines the following day. While Johnson was celebrating his track-record fourth Cup win with burnouts on the frontstretch, chaos ensued on pit lane after an angry Jeff Gordon confronted Brad Keselowski and a fray quickly developed between the Chase contenders. Fellow Chase competitor Kevin Harvick pushed Keselowski while Gordon was jawing with him and the situation quickly escalated as the crews got involved and transformed into a melee. The disagreement stemmed from the first GWC finish, where Gordon took the restart with the lead and Johnson beside him on the front row. Johnson grabbed the lead when a bold move by Keselowski resulted in contact with Gordon, which ultimately led to a flat tire, contact with the wall and a 29th-place finish that would derail his title aspirations. The caution flew for Gordon that set up the second GWC finish, where Keselowski found himself lining up front against the leader Johnson on the restart. Johnson, on the inside, maintained the lead on the restart while Keselowski found himself also trying to fend off a charging Harvick. Harvick got past Keselowski on that lap but didn't have enough time to chase down Johnson, who won by 0.513 of a second for his fourth victory of the season and 70th of his career. Johnson led nine times for 191 laps, but a record 13 cautions continually bunched the field as well as changed race strategies to give a number of drivers a shot at the victory.Johnson, Harvick and Keselowski took the top three positions, respectively, while Kyle Busch , who was looking to sweep all three NASCAR races after truck and Nationwide wins earlier, finished fourth. NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge / Saturday, Nov. 1 The Skinny: Kyle Busch gives Joe Gibbs Racing its 100th career Nationwide Series win and sets his sights on rare NASCAR tripleheader weekend sweep after winning the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge . The Recap: Kyle Busch added to the weekend drama and intrigue when he secured the second leg of a rare NASCAR tripleheader weekend sweep with a win in the Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge . Busch completed the Nationwide Series/ Camping World Truck Series sweep for the second time in his career at Texas Motor Speedway , with the first coming in the fall of 2009. That only left Sunday's AAA Texas 500 as the missing prize for the triple, which had only been accomplished by Busch (Bristol 2010) in the history of NASCAR. Busch extended his record for career Nationwide Series victories at Texas Motor Speedway by adding his seventh with a 1.562-second win over Joey Logano . Busch, who led six times for a race-high 116 laps, and Logano, who led five times for 59 laps, exchanged the lead six times over the final 85 laps in the 200-lap event before Busch took control late. It also was his seventh NNS victory of the season, 70th in his career and a milestone 100th for Joe Gibbs Racing . NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 / Friday, Oct. 31 The Skinny: Kyle Busch wins the WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 as Kyle Busch Motorsports ties the Camping World Truck Series record for most victories in a season. The Recap: Kyle Busch , competing in all three NASCAR races during the weekend and chasing a rare sweep, endured a green/white-checkered overtime finish to secure the first leg with a victory in the WinStar World Casino & Resort 350. Busch, who led a race-high 80 of 152 laps, was cruising to victory when two late cautions put a scare into his bid to secure his seventh win in just nine NCWTS starts this season. Following the final caution that led to the two-lap shootout, Busch got a strong restart on the outside of leader German Quiroga and took command of the lead coming out of Turn 2. He was pulling away with one lap to go when Quiroga hit the wall in Turn 2 to force the conclusion of the final lap to finish under caution. Busch's series-leading seventh win was his third truck victory at Texas Motor Speedway that pushed his career total in the series to 42. It also was the 12th victory overall for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 20 starts this season, tying the series record for season victories set by Ultra Motorsports in 2001. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
After Texas brawl, team owner backs 2012 champion in statement MORE: See the scuffle " Keselowski reacts " NASCAR to review RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Brad Keselowski may have heard a raucous response from fans at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday evening, but Monday he received a thorough show of support from the venerable team owner signing his checks. Roger Penske gave Keselowski a vote of confidence less than 24 hours after a frantic finish touched off a post-race brawl in the Lone Star State. The Team Penske driver finished third in the AAA Texas 500 to keep his title hopes alive in the first year of the new-look Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, but his on-track methods angered Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick , who both initiated physical contact with the championship contender on pit road. Monday, Penske backed his driver. "The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has provided great excitement and intense competition," Penske said in a statement released by the team. " Brad Keselowski is a champion who competes to win in every race, which is what I expect of him. While the actions by others following the race in Texas were unfortunate, Brad has my 100 percent support as we now move on to Phoenix for the next stage of the NASCAR championship." The 77-year-old racing magnate's remarks substantiated those of Keselowski in his post-race media availability. "A lot of my strength personally comes from my team, whether that's the guys who work on the team or my boss, Roger Penske," Keselowski said Sunday night. "If Roger Penske came up to me tomorrow and said, 'Brad, you drove that race wrong, you shouldn't have done what you did,' it would affect me. But the management team at Penske tells me to drive the way I did and tells me there's nothing to be ashamed of and continues to support me. And they're my boss. My boss isn't the other drivers in the field. My boss is them. "As long as they're on my side, I feel strong and I feel proud and encouraged to continue." Keselowski dove to the inside of Gordon's car during a restart in a green-white-checkered finish in the late stages Sunday, and the two cars made contact. Gordon took the worst of it, cutting down a tire and spinning out to spiral to a 29th-place finish, worst among the title-eligible Chase drivers. Gordon parked alongside Keselowski's car after the cool-down lap as the crews of both teams engaged in a bitter shouting match. The fracas intensified after Harvick scooted Keselowski closer to Gordon's reach, and both crews became more active in the scrum. It's the second such incident involving Keselowski in this year's Chase. At Charlotte in October, Keselowski's No. 2 Ford came in contact with three other cars on the cool-down lap, and rival Matt Kenseth physically confronted him in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage. The eight remaining Chase drivers -- Keselowski , Gordon, Harvick and Kenseth included -- tackle this Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Phoenix International Raceway . The finale to the Chase's Eliminator Round will whittle the championship-eligible field from eight drivers to four. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Co-points leader shares his thoughts on post-Texas brawl RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Denny Hamlin says he doesn’t know if he would have made the same move as Brad Keselowski at the conclusion of Sunday's AAA Texas 500 , but added that, "I would have to know that I'm not going to make it through that hole without having contact of some sort." There was contact as Keselowski attempted to maneuver his Team Penske No. 2 Ford underneath Jeff Gordon on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish at Texas Motor Speedway . And a scuffle between the two teams on pit road afterward. "That's fine," Hamlin said of the on-track incident, "But … you're going to have to respect retaliation, which I'm sure ( Keselowski ) did." How his peers view him in the garage is the bigger issue for Keselowski , the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said Tuesday during a national teleconference. "I can't speak for many other guys, but I mean … there's a lot of animosity. And that's all you can really say. "You don't have to run into people to be successful. And when I hear Brad say 'this is the only way a person like me can make it,' what do you mean 'like you?' I had to get here just on hard work, too. I didn't have money behind me or anything else. What's the difference? "I hate that statement. (He) made it (this far) because people see potential in the way he drives and that he is fast and he does a great job and has already won a championship in a very short career. I believe that is a bad statement that he throws out there every time. But it's his prerogative and he can do what he wants. He has a job and has an owner that loves him and he's driving for a very fast crew chief. "He's got a lot of really good things working for him. In my opinion, and I want to stress my opinion … he just has got to work on the respect factor from his peers." Keselowski and Hamlin are two of eight drivers vying for one of four spots in this year's Championship Round in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup to be contested Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET, ESPN). Gordon, Joey Logano , Ryan Newman , Matt Kenseth , Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick also remain in contention. Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway (ESPN, 3 p.m. ET) is the final race of the Eliminator Round and will determine the four finalists. If Gordon, a four-time champion, attempts to make his life on the track any more difficult in the coming weeks, Keselowski said last week that it wouldn't be a surprise. Nor would he be intimidated. "Will those guys race me hard or harder than others?" Keselowski said following last week's race. "Absolutely, I'm certain they will. But that's just part of it; I can't fault them for that. "I just feel like I have to go for the gap if it's there and I have to race the way I race or I won't even be in NASCAR. I'd rather have enemies in NASCAR than have friends and be sitting at home." Hamlin said he'd made more than his share of mistakes as well, but that he had learned from them and "I feel like I've gotten the respect of my competitors because of that." It can make a huge difference late in a race when a driver can choose to either help another or make life hard, something he said he "learned the hard way." "These guys can make your job really hard if they really want to," said Hamlin. Former NASCAR champion and 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Rusty Wallace said Gordon "got the raw end (of the deal) because his left rear got bumped and he had a flat tire. "But I don't think there is a driver in the world that would not have tried to put their car in that hole and go for it," Wallace said. A NASCAR analyst for ESPN, Wallace scored 37 of his 55 career wins while driving the No. 2 entry for the Penske organization. He said his relationship with the group has no bearing on how he viewed Sunday's incident or what he thinks of Keselowski . The driver's aggressive nature on the track, he said, reminds him of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt. "He wants to win, he's going for it," Wallace said. "There are a lot of … people backing up Brad's decision, that when Jeff Gordon took the high line going into Turn 1 on the restart and that hole opened up, I'm telling you what, as a competitor, with just a handful of laps to go, when you saw that hole and Brad went for it, he went for it." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Team Penske driver looking to pull off the unthinkable for second time in four weeks RELATED: Keselowski : 'That's who I am' " Watch raw footage of the incident MORE: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota We’re about to find out what Brad Keselowski does for an encore. The scene on pit road Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway was eerily familiar. It was the second race in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and Keselowski had made even-tempered Jeff Gordon angry enough to fight. Wasn't this roughly the same thing that happened three weeks ago at Charlotte, after the second race of the Chase’s Contender Round? There, Keselowski traded paint with Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin on the track and ran into Kenseth's car on pit road. The typically mild-mannered Kenseth was sufficiently riled up to jump Keselowski between transporters, igniting a melee that made national headlines. Keselowski was fined $50,000 for playing bumper cars on pit road at Charlotte. There was none of that after Sunday night's AAA Texas 500 , but the brawl was far worse. It was a bar-room donnybrook worthy of the Old West, with fists flying and connecting. Crew members from teams not remotely involved in the incident that caused tempers to flare were flailing in the pileup, either settling old scores or simply joining the "fun." For the record, Gordon took umbrage at Keselowski's aggressiveness on the next-to-last restart, where Keselowski attempted to split the Chevrolets of Gordon and eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson , only to run into Gordon's car and cut the left rear tire. Gordon spun, finished 29th and saw his chances of qualifying for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway slip from likely to tenuous. After the race, Gordon drove to pit road, parked next to Keselowski (who had finished third), walked toward Keselowski's car and waited for Keselowski to slide out of the driver's-side window. With one of Keselowski's crewmen separating the two drivers, Gordon began shouting at his adversary. The argument didn’t come to blows, however, until race runner-up Kevin Harvick shoved Keselowski toward Gordon. That lit the fuse that set off the explosion and put Keselowski in a similar position to the one he faced after Charlotte -- likely needing to win the next race to stay eligible for the series championship. After the Charlotte incident, Keselowski beat the odds to win at Talladega Superspeedway , but his task may be even more difficult Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway (3 p.m. ET, ESPN). In the first place, Keselowski has never finished better than third at the 1-mile track in the Sonoran Desert, though he has finished in the top six in four of his last five starts there. "I think most likely we're going to have to win Phoenix, just like I felt we were going to have to win here today," Keselowski said after the Texas race. "I'm sure there's going to be some contact along the way, across the board. "Everybody is very desperate. The points are very, very, very close. Anybody can have a bad day and be out of it. And that's just the reality." Everything Keselowski said is true. The Chase standings indeed are close, with 18 points separating Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin (tied for first) from Kevin Harvick in eighth. Keselowski is seventh in points, 17 back of the leaders. There are four spots available for the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway , and three drivers who control their own destiny (Logano and Hamlin advances with a finish of 11th or better at Phoenix; and Ryan Newman with a ninth or better). So, there's the very real possibility that Keselowski faces the same win-or-bust scenario that confronted him at Talladega. It's difficult enough to win a race at a track for the first time, especially with the season on the line. But Keselowski may face an even larger obstacle as he tries to repeat the Talladega miracle. He goes to a track with his sole focus on winning -- where he'll race against a growing list of drivers eager to make sure he doesn't. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Team Penske driver will do what he can to help Logano win title RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Brad Keselowski enters the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale without any playoff pressure. What's yet to be seen is if he also lacks on-track adversaries. Even as the sport's biggest feather-ruffler during this year's new-look Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason, Keselowski said he's not concerned about any retribution for his aggressive nature -- especially since the tensions of competing for a championship have been loosened. "I don't feel I have anything to worry about," Keselowski said Thursday at Homestead-Miami Speedway , site of the Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN). "I mean, payback for what? If payback for anything is racing the way I race, then I don’t really consider that payback. I consider that hard racing, and I support that." Keselowski was at the center of two post-race conflicts during the Chase, one involving Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin at Charlotte in October and another featuring Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick and multiple pit crews at Texas. Throughout it all, Keselowski remained unapologetic for his no-nonsense style of racing. Keselowski failed to advance past the Eliminator Round, the final three-race bracket that trimmed the title-eligible field from eight to its final four. While his hopes for a second championship at NASCAR's highest level are gone, he still has concrete goals for Homestead -- padding his series-best victory total in 2014 to seven and trying to assist Team Penske teammate Joey Logano in his quest for his first Sprint Cup crown. "I'll do anything I can to help Joey within the realms of what we define as fair play," Keselowski said. "I don't know what those things are going to be. You never know until they're right in front of you." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Watch the season finale: 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2) RELATED: Full lineup His Team Penske teammate had been faster Friday, but Brad Keselowski sped to the Coors Light Pole Award during group qualifying Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Keselowski's speed of 166.384 mph puts him on the pole for the Ford EcoBoost 300 . It's Keselowski's fifth series pole of the season and 19th of his career. Ryan Blaney, in the No. 12 Ford, had previously paced both Friday practice sessions and was fastest in the second round of group qualifying. He will line up fifth. Kyle Larson qualified second at 166.353 mph, with Matt Kenseth (166.006 mph) third and Elliott Sadler (165.827 mph) fourth. Chase Elliott, who locked up the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship last week, will start 14th. He finished 24th in the opening round and was the last car to advance in group qualifying. Elliott's JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith , who is second in the standings, will start 15th. Smith has a 13-point lead over Brian Scott in the battle to finish second in the final standings. Derrike Cope, Ryan Ellis , Johnny Jackson, Kevin Lepage and Martin Roy did not qualify. The Ford EcoBoost 300 is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday and will be televised on ESPN2.