FORT WORTH, Texas -- Brad Keselowski maintained all weekend that in order to win his second Sprint Cup Series championship, he was going to need to win two of the next three races. The 2012 champion got his one loss out of the way early. Keselowski's No. 2 Ford Fusion was the beginning, middle and end of the story of Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway , dominating the field from the pole to a tune of 312 of 334 laps led -- but a second-place finish resulted after being passed by race-winner Jimmie Johnson on the final run of the afternoon. "We need to win the next two. I understand that. But I think we have a great opportunity to do it, as well," said Keselowski . " … We know if we keep running like we have the last two weeks, you know, we'll win races." Throughout the race, it appeared the only thing capable of stopping the No. 2 was a looming potential tire issue -- something many heavy hitters, including his teammate, Joey Logano , experienced -- but the changes his and Johnson's teams made during the last round of pit stops shifted the performance tide greatly. RELATED: Tire issues crop up early at Texas Keselowski did all he could to hold off Johnson, but the speed of the No. 48 and a potential alignment shift after contact with Martin Truex Jr .'s No. 78 -- which the Team Penske driver admitted, "probably didn't help either of us," -- allowed the six-time champion to take the lead with four laps to go and maintain the position. Despite the contact, Keselowski had nothing but kind words, post-race, concerning the wheelman of the No. 78. Heck of a job. Pleasure racing hard with you as well. If @Team_Penske can't win the championship, I hope you do. https://t.co/tnZHAifcDs — Brad Keselowski (@ keselowski ) November 9, 2015 "The 48 car had mega turn that last run and I couldn't keep the turn and it kept pushing real bad. I did everything I could to hold him off but he was way faster that last run," Keselowski said. "Their team did a hell of a job and found speed and my team did a hell of a job, too. We led 300-some laps and these debris yellows always favor someone and it wasn't our day for them to favor us. "… We had damn near a flawless day … I'm sure we could have done something different. I don't know if I could have, but we could have. We'll have to go to work and try to figure it out." Johnson, whose victory gives him a certifiable monopoly on the Texas fall race with four trips to Victory Lane in a row, mentioned that he "just kept trying to put pressure on ( Keselowski ) hoping for a mistake," but it was evident that a mistake wasn't even needed. Keselowski did not err, he just didn't possess the car necessary on the final run to land in the winner's circle and lock himself into the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks. As it stands, Keselowski is sixth in points and 19 behind fourth-place Truex. As he noted, a win will likely be needed to advance. If he does, the No. 2 car could be the odds-on favorite. Homestead and Texas share many similarities and teams will be using the same Goodyear tire run Sunday at the Fort Worth track. "As strong as we ran today, if we carry that over to Homestead, good Lord, watch out," he said. "We know we need to win the next two to win the championship. The good news is we have that opportunity. That's the way I look at it."
RELATED: Full race results FORT WORTH, Texas — Brad Keselowski 's love affair with the Lone Star State continued in full force on Saturday with a hard-fought NASCAR XFINITY Series victory in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway . Keselowski grabbed the lead from Coors Light Polesitter Austin Dillon on Lap 189 of 200 after a restart with 16 laps left in the race. The No. 22 Team Penske Ford finished 1.137 seconds ahead of the No. 88 JR Motorsports entry driven by Kevin Harvick , who passed Dillon for the runner-up spot with four laps left. The victory was Keselowski's second of the season, his second at the 1.5-mile speedway and the 34th of his career. The eighth win of the season for the No. 22 Ford (accomplished by Keselowski and teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney ) clinched the third straight XFINITY Series owner's championship for Roger Penske. "To get our team owner, Roger Penske, No. 4 as far as XFINITY championships go, I'm really proud of that," said Keselowski , who also won a series title as a driver in 2010. "When I came to ( Team Penske ) in 2010, we didn't have any, and now we have four in five years, so I'm really proud of that accomplishment." In his last four starts at Texas, Keselowski has won twice and finished second twice. In his last 12 XFINITY Series starts at the Cowtown track, Keselowski has posted 11 finishes of seventh or better. Victory Lane, however, hardly seemed a likely destination for Keselowski in the early going. Harvick and Kyle Busch dominated the opening laps and came to pit road running 1-2, respectively, for pit stops under caution on Lap 79. But a broken shifter proved Busch's undoing, as his No. 54 Toyota was limited to fourth gear and fell out of the running for the victory. Under that same caution, the second of the race, Harvick returned to pit road twice because of a loose wheel and spent the bulk of a subsequent 34-lap green-flag run regaining the positions he lost. Kyle Larson also took a turn at the front of the field, leading 50 laps before a tire rub finally popped his left rear on Lap 176 and sent his No. 42 Chevrolet spinning through the tri-oval and out of the lead, handing the top spot to Harvick, who was in close pursuit. Harvick came to pit road with the lead but left in third place under caution on Lap 181, leaving Keselowski and Dillon to battle for the top position after a restart on Lap 185. "First off, Austin Dillon was really good and he was one of the toughest guys to beat," Keselowski said in Victory Lane. "He ran a heck of a race. Harvick looked really good, Kyle Busch looked really good and Kyle Larson I thought was going to run away with the race until he had that flat. "There was a lot of competition out there today, and that makes this win very special for the whole Discount Tire Ford team." Erik Jones ran fourth behind Keselowski , Harvick and Austin Dillon , with Ty Dillon taking the fifth spot. Chris Buescher came home 11th but moved closer to the series title. With two races left, he leads eighth-place finisher and reigning series champ Chase Elliott by 24 points. "It isn't comfortable yet," Buescher warned. "It is a cushion that we have, and I guess you average that out to 12 spots per race, so if we go out and finish top-10 the last two, we should be in good shape. "That would be cutting it too close for comfort, but we need to just have some solid runs the next two weeks." Kevin Harvick snagged the runner-up position, finishing just behind fellow Cup-regular Keselowski . Kevin Harvick snagged the runner-up position, finishing just behind fellow Cup-regular Keselowski .
MORE: See all 43 cars for Sunday's race " Complete lineup for Sunday FORT WORTH, Texas—As a driver who likely must win one of the next two races to keep his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title prospects alive, Brad Keselowski took a giant step in the right direction during Friday's knockout qualifying session at Texas Motor Speedway . The 2012 series champion covered the 1.5-mile distance at a speed of 196.929 mph in the money round to win the pole for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 (2 p.m. ET on NBC/Live Extra, PRN, SiriusXM), the second of three races in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The Coors Light Pole Award was Keselowski's first at Texas, his third of the season and the 11th of his career. It was also the third pole in the last four races for Team Penske . The driver of the No. 2 Ford posted the fastest time in each of the three knockout rounds. Kevin Harvick (195.993 mph) qualified second, followed by Kyle Busch (195.716 mph) and Joey Logano (195.419 mph), as Chase drivers claimed the top four spots on the grid. However, Keselowski and Logano, embroiled in catastrophe and controversy last week at Martinsville Speedway , are on decidedly different agendas from those of Busch and Harvick, who are tied for second and fourth, respectively, in the Chase standings. "This is a good start, but our ultimate goal is to be the fastest at the end of the race on Sunday," Keselowski said. "It's a good start, and it gets us up front with a great pit stall, and hopefully we can make the most of it. "I'm pumped about this race. Track position is important everywhere, and here isn't as much as maybe a few others, because the track wears out, and you see some comers and goers with the way the track wears out—but we will still take it." Keselowski and Penske teammate Logano are sixth and eighth, respectively, among the eight drivers still eligible for the championship. "I think, if you're not in the top five right now, you're in a must-win situation," Keselowski said. "Thankfully, we started out in the right situation with being fast. We feel like we’ll be really strong next week at Phoenix as well. "So all signs point to us having a very strong opportunity to win one of the next two." Non-chase drivers took the fifth and sixth starting spots, with Kyle Larson qualifying on the inside of the third row and Erik Jones , subbing for suspended Matt Kenseth , grabbing the sixth position on the grid. Kenseth must sit out the next two races for wrecking Logano last Sunday at Martinsville. "Sixth is a really good effort for us," Jones said. "We made the final round at Kansas as well (in relief of injured Kyle Busch in May), so it's cool to make the final round in both our starts. "We'll see where it goes from here. Obviously we've got a long ways to go yet for Sunday—500 miles. This definitely helps everybody's confidence a little bit for that." Kurt Busch , who also needs a win to stay in the Sprint Cup title hunt, will start seventh. Chase driver Carl Edwards qualified 13th, missing the cutoff for the final round by .004 seconds. Jeff Gordon , who secured a spot in the Nov. 22 Championship Round race at Homestead-Miami Speedway by winning at Martinsville, will start 18th. Martin Truex Jr . will take the green flag from the deepest position in the field among Chase drivers—23rd. Danica Patrick posted a season-best 11th-place qualifying effort.
RELATED: Practice 1 results Brad Keselowski rose to the top of the leaderboard in opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday at Texas Motor Speedway . Keselowski drove the Team Penske No. 2 Ford to a best lap of 197.059 mph around the 1.5-mile track in preparation for Sunday's AAA Texas 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM), the eighth of 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Defending series champion Kevin Harvick , driving the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet, was second-fastest in the 85-minute session, clocking a fast lap of 196.421 mph. Carl Edwards , a three-time Texas winner, was third-best at 196.249 in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota. Kyle Larson , Chip Ganassi Racing 's second-year driver, was fourth-fastest. Joey Logano , who had his three-race win streak snapped last weekend after a controversial run-in with rival Matt Kenseth , drove the Team Penske No. 22 Ford to the fifth-fastest lap. Erik Jones , the 19-year-old rookie subbing for the suspended Kenseth in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota, was eighth-fastest in first practice as he readies for his second career Sprint Cup start. Jeff Gordon , last week's winner at Martinsville and the first automatic qualifier for the championship finale Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway , was 19th-fastest. His Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet showed minor damage and tire smoke from the left-rear fender in the early stages of first practice. Jimmie Johnson , winner of two consecutive Texas events and four of the last six races in the Lone Star State, was 14th-fastest in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet. The rest of the Chase contenders: Kurt Busch (10th), Kyle Busch (11th), Martin Truex Jr . (20th). Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. ET.
Brad Keselowski is able to hold off fellow Sprint Cup drivers Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick in the final laps of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway to grab his 34th career XFINITY win
Jimmie Johnson makes a pass on the leader Brad Keselowski with 4 laps to go as he wins at Texas Motor Speedway.
Brad Keselowski stays out after the first competition caution and makes a daring move to stay in the top five.
Crash that broke his leg and foot, journey back to racing SHOP: Busch gear Nov. 22: Busch wins first Sprint Cup Series championship In a season fit for the silver screen, Kyle Busch completes his emotional comeback from a devastating season-opening injury to capture his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. " Read the full story " Final 2015 standings Nov. 22: Busch wins title with victory at Homestead-Miami Driver Kyle Busch caps an amazing comeback, winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 to hold off fellow Championship 4 contenders Kevin Harvick , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr . " Read the full story " Complete race results Aug. 9: Busch breaks into top 30 in drivers points standings A runner-up finish at Watkins Glen pushed Kyle Busch into 30th place in the Sprint Cup points standings, a requirement of eligibility for him for the Chase. With four race wins under his belt, he must remain in the top 30 to make the Chase. " Read the full story " Full race results July 11: Kyle Busch wins Sprint Cup race at Kentucky A second win helps Kyle Busch 's chances of cracking the top 30 in points, the second condition he must meet to make the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup . " Read the full story " Full race results June 28: Kyle Busch wins Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Needing victory to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup , Kyle Busch got the victory at Sonoma , a track that had been a concern as he continues to recover because the road course is so physically demanding. " Read the full story " Full race results June 13: Kyle Busch wins XFINITY race at Michigan Kyle Busch goes to Victory Lane in his first race back in the XFINITY Series after breaking his leg and left foot at Daytona. " Read the full story " Full race results May 24: Kyle Busch completes Coca-Cola 600 , finishes 11th Kyle Busch makes his Sprint Cup points race debut for the season in the Coca-Cola 600 , climbing to second place before fuel strategy led to an 11th-place finish. " Read the full story May 18: Kyle, Samantha Busch welcome first baby Driver Kyle Busch and his wife, Samantha, had their first child, a boy, at 9:45 p.m. May 18. Brexton Locke Busch is his name. " Read the full story May 16: Busch finishes sixth in All-Star race After a pleasing top-10 run in his first race back from leg and foot injuries, Kyle Busch looks forward to running in the Coca-Cola 600 " Read the full story May 13: Kyle Busch granted Chase waiver NASCAR has granted Kyle Busch a waiver for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Find out what he has to do to make the Chase. " Read the full story " Official NASCAR release " Cain: Making Chase will cap comeback May 12: Kyle Busch announces return After missing 11 events to open the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season following his injury at Daytona, Kyle Busch has set his return for the Sprint All-Star Race on May 16. " Read the full story " Drivers react to news of Busch's return " Herman Unplugged: Reaction to Busch's return " Busch's return a hot topic at Dover test May 9: Jones' promising run crashes at Kansas Making his first Sprint Cup start filling in for the injured Kyle Busch , Erik Jones was working on a great run at Kansas until he found the wall late in the race. " Read the full story April 16: Accident leads Busch to become unexpected safety advocate NASCAR.com's Holly Cain tells the story of how Kyle Busch 's wreck at Daytona has changed the Joe Gibbs Racing driver into a saftey advocate for the sport. Busch talks about how impressed he was of the breadth and depth of detailed information that has been gathered from his accident. " Read the full story April 16: Busch family bonds, finds strength in recovery With a baby on the way, the Busch family discuss how they've worked as a team to recover from Kyle's injury while prepping to expand their family. The parents-to-be explain that it hasn't been easy, but they're counting their blessings. " Read the full story April 15: Kyle Busch analyzes tape of his wreck Kyle Busch holds his first press conference after his crash at Daytona and uses video to break down his thought process as the wreck unfolded. His doctors are pleased with his progress, but he has no timeline for returning to driving. " Read the full story " Herman Unplugged: Busch should sit out 2015 April 15: Kyle Busch responds to Keselowski blog During his first press conference after his Daytona crash, Kyle Busch also addressed his long-running feud with fellow Sprint Cup driver Brad Keselowski . " Watch the video " More on Keselowski's blog April 15: Kyle Busch , wife discuss crash, impending parenthood In an interview with Charlotte NBC affiliate WCNC, Kyle Busch and his wife Samantha discussed the driver's accident at Daytona in February " Read the full story March 20: Kyle Busch takes next step in recovery Kyle Busch posts a video on Facebook of himself moving around a bit with the aid of a walker, along with encouragement from his wife, Samantha, and their dog. " Read the full story March 17: KBM drivers keep in touch Daniel Suarez says his team owner's advice is invaluable. And Justin Boston reports Busch is 'recovering quickly.' " Read the full story March 14: Kurt Busch hopes brother doesn't rush return Kurt Busch says, 'You can't rush the healing of bones and surgeries.' And teammate Denny Hamlin says Kyle Busch is staying engaged with the No. 18 team despite being sidelined. " Read the full story March 11: Kyle Busch , Samantha, visit KBM Kyle Busch and his wife, Samantha, take a field trip to Kyle Busch Motorsports and tell the team, 'Progress is going well.' " Read the full story March 10: Busch gets walking boots Kyle Busch gets soft casts removed from both legs and moves up to walking boots, which Samantha Busch dubs 'Terminator boots' in a Twitter photo. " Read the full story March 2: Subs announced for No. 54 XFINITY Toyota Denny Hamlin , Erik Jones and Boris Said are tapped as substitute drivers for Kyle Busch in the No. 54 NASCAR XFINITY Series Toyota. "Get Well Kyle" stickers adorn the No. 54. " Read the full story Feb. 27: Kyle Busch heads home after second surgery After a second surgery to treat his injuries, Kyle Busch was in a Charlotte hospital for observation for two days before being cleared to go home. The No. 18 racing team put a "Get well Kyle" on the rear bumper of the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the Atlanta race. " Read the full story Feb. 25: Kyle Busch has successful surgery on left foot Joe Gibbs Racing announces that Kyle Busch underwent a successful surgery on his left foot at a Charlotte hospital. " Read the full story Feb. 24: Kyle Busch leaves Florida hospital Kyle Busch was released from Halifax Health Medical Center. He boarded a plane on a stretcher and was transferred to a North Carolina hospital for further treatment of multiple leg injuries. " Read the full story Feb. 24: David Ragan to sub for Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing announces that David Ragan will sub for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota for several weeks, starting at Atlanta Motor Speedway . " Read the full story Feb. 24: ISC working on 'significant plan' for safer barriers In the wake of Kyle Busch 's severe crash and resulting injuries during the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway , International Speedway Corporation announces a plan to expand its use of impact-diffusing barriers at its 12 tracks. " Read the full story Feb. 22: Joe Gibbs says Busch's surgery went well Team owner Joe Gibbs gives an update on Kyle Busch 's status after surgery and says he is 'resting comfortably.' Doctors reported that things went well with surgery on Busch's lower right leg. " Read the full story Feb. 22: Samantha Busch gives update from hospital Samantha Busch posts a selfie with Kyle Busch from his hospital bed on Twitter with a tweet saying, "Getting ready to watch the Daytona 500 ! Cheering on our 18 boys!" " Read the full story Feb. 21: Drivers wish Kyle Busch well after hard hit Kyle Busch is taken to the hospital by ambulance after a big wreck during the XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway . Fellow drivers sent well-wishes via Twitter. " Read the full story Feb. 21: Hard hit sidelines Kyle Busch for Daytona 500 A crash in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race caused NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch to miss the Daytona 500 after suffering injuries to his right leg and left foot a day before the Great American Race at Daytona International Speedway . " Read the full story
RELATED: Full race results from Talladega Brian Keselowski was all smiles on pit road after finishing 17th in the Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, as he debriefed with his team and chatted with those surrounding him. But under the smile lay a level of disappointment -- his chance at his first NASCAR major series victory in his first Truck start had faded away like his diminishing fuel cell, the culprit of Keselowski's demise in the final laps of the fred's 250 presented by Coca-Cola. "I'm emotional. I'm really proud of how we ran," Keselowski said on pit road after the race. "I'm disappointed that it was probably my only chance. We'll see how it works out." Keselowski -- who is a crew chief for ARCA driver Matt Kurzejewski and part-time driver in the series -- seemed poised for victory, as he was lined up to restart fourth for a green-white-checkered attempt in a Ford owned by his brother Brad Keselowski . His performance throughout the day had shown brighter than his lack of experience behind the wheel of a truck, as he had battled back to the front after getting slapped with a pit road speeding penalty early, and even led 10 laps around the 2.66-mile track. "We worked our way through the pack really quick and I was like, 'Wow, that's good,' " Keselowski said. "… All of a sudden we're out in front of a pack and everybody is starting to pit and we're weaving our way through traffic and the 4 (of Erik Jones ) is with me and I'm like, 'We might be leading this thing.' " But determination can take a driver only so far. Prior to the restart, Keselowski made the disappointing trudge down pit road, his No. 29 truck fuel cell as dry as the Alabama asphalt. It was a moment that was heart sinking for Brad Keselowski Racing team owner and younger brother Brad Keselowski , who had given Brian the opportunity to pilot the No. 29 for injured Austin Theriault . "I really thought he was going to win it," Brad Keselowski said, tilting his head back in dismay in the Talladega garage after Saturday's Sprint Cup Series qualifying session. "… He did great, he really did. I was really happy to see him run up front, disappointed he didn't finish off, but he did everything I could ever ask him to and more." Brad Keselowski 's girlfriend Paige White tweeted at Brian after the race, saying that their motorcoach needed a new floor due to Brad's pacing during the Truck race. "You made him proud!" she said. Despite the finish that was marred with disappointment, Brian Keselowski 's strong showing at the superspeedway gave the 34-year-old driver one crucial element: confidence. "It kind of validated what I always thought -- that I could do it, I just never had a chance." Keselowski said. And win or not, its certainly a performance Keselowski hoped others were watching. "We had a really good truck," Keselowski said. "I hope I showed somebody I could do it."
RELATED: Updated series standings Talking shop Tuesday in the shadow of the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Glory Road, Brad Keselowski only had to look around to find a source of major motivation for his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. "We're in the NASCAR Hall of Fame," said Keselowski , the 2012 premier series champ. "Title number two gives you this." With a seat among stock-car royalty and the Hall's coveted blue blazer among the incentives, Keselowski's quest comes down to its final four races once the Eliminator Round kicks off with Sunday's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 (1:15 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) at Martinsville Speedway . Should he land among the championship quartet and convert in the season's final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway , enshrinement would be all but certain. Every Hall-eligible driver with multiple premier-series titles has been voted for induction. "That comes with a whole other connotation to your name, your career, your life," Keselowski said as he held court in the facility's Great Hall. "I feel like that's something that's really attractive to me, but, beyond that, it's important for me in anything I do in life to make the most of my opportunities and I have a great opportunity right now with Team Penske and I want to make the most of it." Keselowski was buoyant Tuesday, thankful to escape the uncertainty of last weekend's trip to Talladega with his title dreams intact. The 31-year-old driver gave a playful photo-bomb to Penske teammate Joey Logano , grinning for the cameras with a skip-step strut as he arrived for media rotations. Though he may not carry the same sort of momentum as Logano, winner of the last three Sprint Cup races, Keselowski has found new life and comfort in the round-by-round points reset, which has placed the remaining eight-driver field on equal points footing heading to Martinsville. "It's very rejuvenating. I feel very refreshed," Keselowski said. "Have we had the season we want to date? No, we haven't won as many races as we'd like to have won, but it doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter. It matters what we can do from here on out. Last year we won the most races throughout the year, but at this point specifically we'd won the most races of anyone and we went to Martinsville and had a parts failure and we were sitting last in the points. It doesn't matter what you've done to date. It matters what you do from here." From here, Keselowski aims to go one segment further than last season, when he was eliminated before the championship finale. Though he hasn't visited Victory Lane in the Sprint Cup Series at any of the round's three tracks -- Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix -- Keselowski said he still views this three-race series as his team's "best bracket yet." "I feel the opportunity," Keselowski said. "I feel like we're going to at least two great tracks for us and if we can find a little more speed at Texas, three great tracks for us. I feel like we're really in the driver's seat in a lot of ways."