Chase Trivia with Brad Keselowski
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman quizzes former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski on his Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup knowledge.
Keselowski preps for Junior-less 'Dega with motivation, fast car
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Brad Keselowski 's winning Coke Zero 400 Ford was lightning fast. The Team Penske driver led 115 of the 161 laps around Daytona International Speedway to win the July event at the famed superspeedway. But he won't be unloading that hot rod this weekend at Talladega. "The car that we won Daytona with I saw it the other day," Keselowski said Oct. 7 during a Team Penske luncheon at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "It's sitting in the back and completely torn down. The body and everything is still just like it finished at Daytona. I asked the guys, 'Are we really gonna let that car sit? Are we not gonna run that at Talladega?' "And they said, 'No, we've got a car better than that for Talladega.'" Given Keselowski's current circumstances heading down to Alabama for the elimination race this Sunday (Hellmann's 500, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), a fast car is a must. His 38th-place finish last week at Kansas Speedway put the No. 2 driver in a precarious position on the Chase Grid, as he sits 11th of 12 drivers and seven points behind the cut-off spot. RELATED: Keselowski, Elliott lowest on Chase Grid But if anyone can climb out of the hole holding the checkered flag, it's Keselowski. The 32-year-old veteran has a field-high four wins at Talladega, including the spring race earlier this season. For Keselowski, his past success paves the way for future conquest. "There's a self-fulfilling prophecy to plate racing to when you have confidence it transcends, not just through yourself, but to the cars you're running around, other drivers that work with you more, but also to your team, to where your team puts extra emphasis on those race and the drivers year-round cut you a little more slack because they just think you're going to pass them anyway," Keselowski mused. "And that creates a snowballing effect of momentum at plate tracks. So when you can have consecutive quality runs at a plate race, it almost gets easier. "It's kind of hard to explain and funny to explain, but I would say the success we've had this year on the plate tracks has put my team in a spot to where they almost put more effort on those races and developing the car and developing strategy and so forth because they have confidence that we can perform well at those tracks. And that they're not so much of a roll of a roulette wheel." Keselowski isn't the only current driver with a flair for plate racing. Six-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . is always considered a favorite heading down to the Deep South. But Earnhardt, who is out for the remainder of the season due to concussion-like symptoms, will be watching the Talladega chaos unfold from the sidelines -- something that hasn't happened there since Junior began racing in the Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2000. The absence of a veteran plate racer like Earnhardt Jr. is a big deal, Keselowski says. "There's no doubt about it that Dale Jr. at Talladega is one of the best," Keselowski said. "Without kind of putting in how the field feels about Dale himself in the moment, just losing one of the best drivers at the track is going to change the race. When you add in those other components and elements, I think it reduces the likelihood that you'll kinda see the field line up single-file against the wall. "And that itself means that the race is more taxing and an opportunity for incidents goes up dramatically." Multi-car incidents, tagged the "Big One" at restrictor plate tracks, are definitely no-go zones for Keselowski, who likely needs a win to advance to the next round of the Chase. There's no room for mistakes, no room for wrecks -- and likely no room for even just "safe" finishes. "Even being good at Talladega, it still doesn't feel good going there with no win," Keselowski said. "But you know you have an opportunity, especially when you have a great team and all those things. It can be tough -- I think it’s tougher on the guys that go there and don't enjoy that style of racing already. "But for me, I look forward to it."
Truex tames Talladega for Coors Light Pole Award
RELATED: Qualifying results " See every car in the field TALLADEGA, Ala. – Just 13 points to the good entering Sunday's Round of 12 cutoff race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , Martin Truex Jr . gave himself as much of a cushion as possible, winning the pole for the Hellman's 500 at Talladega Superspeedway during Saturday’s knockout qualifying session. Seventh in the Chase standings, and 13 points ahead of Joey Logano and Austin Dillon , Truex covered the 2.66-mile distance in 49.508 seconds (193.423 mph) to claim the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's race (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) that will trim the Chase field from 12 drivers to eight. "It's definitely cool," said Truex, who has never won a restrictor-plate race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. "You come here, and you don't really have a whole lot to say as a driver when it comes to qualifying, so obviously proud of the team and proud of everybody in Denver (Colorado) and proud of everybody at the race track for their efforts. "Built a brand new car to come here, and it's awesome to be the fastest guy in town. Excited about that, and obviously everybody at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) who builds the engines has done a great job too – it takes a lot to get a restrictor plate pole, so excited for all those guys and really neat to lead Toyota to their 1,000th start (in NASCAR’s top three series combined). Hopefully, we'll be able to get the victory when the day is over." Truex didn't allow a pre-qualifying inspection issue to derail his effort. Before his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota rolled out onto the grid, NASCAR confiscated a non-conforming jack screw from the car and required the team to replace it with a legal part. RELATED: NASCAR confiscates part from 78 team The pole was Truex's first at Talladega, his fourth of the season and the 11th of his career. Truex was .015 seconds faster than four-time Talladega winner Brad Keselowski (193.365 mph), who will start on the outside of the front row. Keselowski is 11th in the standings, seven points behind Logano and Dillon. "It's good to qualify up front," Keselowski said. "I think it's a good confidence boost. I feel like when we have cars that qualify well here, we race well. The Miller Lite Ford was really fast here in qualifying, and hopefully it will stay the same for Sunday. "It's been a good track for us, but past success is no guarantee. You have to go out and put the work in, and I think we're ready to do just that." Chase drivers Matt Kenseth (193.189 mph) and Chase Elliott (193.166 mph) will start third and fourth, respectively. Elliott is 12th in the Chase standings, likely needing a victory in Sunday's race to advance to the Round of 8. "As we all know, qualifying here is all about the guys back in the shop preparing these cars," Elliott said. "The Hendrick Engine shop gave me great speed, and the guys gave me an excellent car for tomorrow. "Qualifying here at Talladega isn't a make-or-break-you deal. I think it's good. I think our car has decent speed, and hopefully that will show up on Sunday." Roush Fenway racing drivers Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., both non-Chasers, will start from the third row after qualifying fifth and sixth, respectively. Other Chase drivers qualified as follows: Kurt Busch (seventh), Denny Hamlin (eighth), Dillon (ninth), Carl Edwards (13th), Kyle Busch (14th), Joey Logano (16th), Jimmie Johnson (17th) and Kevin Harvick (22nd). Johnson and Harvick already have earned spots in the Round of 8 by virtue of their respective victories at Charlotte and Kansas, leaving six berths available to the remaining 10 drivers. Reed Sorenson , who was required to make the field on the basis of qualifying time, posted an eyebrow-raising lap of 194.145 mph to lead the first round, a sizable .326 seconds faster than the next-fastest driver, Truex. Sorenson's Premium Motorsports No. 55 Toyota faded considerably in the final round and will start 12th. David Gilliland failed to qualify for the 40-car field. NASCAR will meet and discuss the non-conforming jack screw on Truex's car during its weekly competition meeting, but Scott Miller, NASCAR's senior vice president of competition, characterized the imposition of a points penalty that would affect the Chase standings as "unlikely." "I would say it would be unlikely, but it has to go through our process," Miller said. "We don't typically do that on a weekend, and because this is the playoffs, everybody has a heightened sense of everything. "But this is really no different than things that we've done all year. We'll treat this one like just like we've done all year long." Three Joe Gibbs Racing cars -- those of Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin and Kenseth -- were pulled from the qualifying line just before their speed attempts. NASCAR officials said that they were investigating a potential issue with the rear deck lid and quarter panel area. With those issues remedied behind the wall, all three were allowed to qualify. RELATED: JGR cars brought back through pre-qualifying inspection Contributing: Staff reports &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Logano: Skill, preparation outweigh luck at Talladega
RELATED: Weekend schedule " Chase Grid TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Joey Logano smiled a little and didn't waste any time with his answer. "No." No, the defending race winner will not race any differently at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday afternoon despite needing an overwhelmingly positive result to advance to the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Eight drivers will move on to challenge for the title. Logano is currently ranked eighth -- owning a tiebreaker over ninth-place Austin Dillon . But the eight-year veteran insisted Friday before opening practice at Talladega that his approach and demeanor this weekend would remain the same as it was last year, when he carried a two-race winning streak onto Dega's high banks and ultimately hoisted that trophy, too. "Honestly, (it's) not much different, which is a good thing,'' said Logano, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. "I feel like our team is in a good spot. We had a great run last weekend in Kansas. We did make up some points. We're in a great spot with having a really bad Charlotte, so our team has a lot of confidence in themselves. "We know we can do this. We're coming into a race track that we know we're good at. We know we can win here. Is the situation different? Obviously, it is. Last year, we were locked in. There was nothing to worry about. This year, we're not, but we still have the same goal, so why should we approach the race any different?" Logano opened this second round of the Chase with a 36th-place finish at Charlotte and rebounded with a third-place effort at Kansas Speedway last weekend. Interestingly, when asked if he felt any pressure racing for his championship life at perhaps the most unpredictable venue in the Chase, the 26-year-old reminded that his approach is full throttle. Never defensive. "I don't really think about how people are trying to knock me out, I think about how I'm gonna knock other people out,'' Logano said. "That's my attitude. If I'm on defense, we're not gonna win. We better stay on offense. That's what this 22 team does. We're gonna go out there and race hard because that's what we know how to do when we come to speedways. "Some guys can do it good the other way but, for us, we're gonna go out there and race hard and try to stay up front, try to keep making our car better for the end of the race and to be there at the end." There is reason to believe Logano could solidify a Chase position. He has had solid, if inconsistent, results here outside his victory. And Logano's Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski won at Talladega this spring and at Daytona this summer. RELATED: Keselowski unfazed by Talladega pressure When asked what matters more, skill and preparation or just plain luck -- as many have suggested -- Logano didn't hesitate. "I think it's all skill and preparation -- 100 percent in my opinion,'' Logano said. "You create your own luck. That's what I think. There might be a chance you run over something or something happens, but some things are just meant to be and some things aren't. But if you can work and do everything you can do and prepare yourself to go out there and be the best, then that's all you can do. I feel like that makes it, in my opinion, a lot about preparation." As for Logano, he seemed completely optimistic, perhaps even confident about his chances Sunday afternoon. "Speedway racing isn't as much of a crapshoot as a lot of people like to believe it is,'' Logano said. "It sounds like it's just an excuse to me. I think there is a lot of strategy and a lot of knowledge that has to go into playing this game. "We've had a good, solid speedway program at Team Penske the last couple years and when you come to Talladega you get excited about it. It's not quite like that for everybody, but for us, we get excited about speedway racing and the opportunity that presents itself this weekend, so we're ready to get on the race track and see what we've got.''
No. 78 team finally accepts free beer from Brad Keselowski
RELATED: No 'blood beer' for No. 78 team " Truex wins Dover MORE: A history of drivers giving each other gifts As unappetizing as "blood beer" sounds, it's no surprise that the No. 78 team refused to drink the offering from Brad Keselowski following a mixup between he and Martin Truex Jr . at Watkins Glen International in August. MORE: Kes takes blame for Truex contact at WGI Of course, the free booze in question was just a regular case of Miller Lite -- Keselowski's sponsor -- and it was only deemed "blood beer" because it came as an apology gesture after Kes took the blame for ruining the 78's day. Keselowski once again left a case of beer for Truex and Co. on Sunday at Dover International Speedway , but not as a new spin on a Hallmark "I'm Sorry, Let's Still Be Friends" card, but rather as a celebratory gift after Truex won the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup cutoff race. As Sherry Pollex, Truex's girlfriend, noted -- it's something Brad does for every race winner. Most ppl don't know @keselowski does this after every race win. Very cool and our @FR78Racing guys love the @MillerLite beer #thanksbrad pic.twitter.com/kPftnkQJev — Sherry Pollex (@SherryPollex) October 2, 2016 @SherryPollex @FR78Racing @MillerLite thank you for the kind words Congrats! — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) October 3, 2016 @keselowski @FR78Racing @MillerLite thank you!! Your a class act my friend. — Sherry Pollex (@SherryPollex) October 3, 2016
Twitter-less no more? Edwards vows to join if he wins title
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Carl Edwards joked earlier this week about the possibility of finally, at long last, joining the popular social media site, Twitter. And the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship runner-up was asked again about it Friday at Talladega Superspeedway , where Edwards again promised he would join the social media site if he wins the 2016 season championship. "Yeah, it's going to happen,’" Edwards said, shaking his head and smiling. Among NASCAR's most famous "Twitter-less" drivers, Edwards told reporters he didn't know how popular the social media site would be by the time he finally acquiesced. “By the time I join Twitter, Twitter will be like out of fashion probably," he said. "But that's my plan ... to tweet from Victory Lane at Homestead. That would be good." There's one small hitch: Edwards was admittedly unsure of the details. "I don't know what my Twitter handle would be," he said. Earlier in the week, reporters attending a NASCAR test at Homestead-Miami Speedway had reminded Edwards of his pledge to join Twitter if he clinched the 2016 Cup title. And he surprised the media group by telling them he had considered posting something from that test session on Twitter via his public relations representative's account. Other high-profile drivers such as Jimmie Johnson , Danica Patrick and Brad Keselowski have been active on the site. Dale Earnhardt Jr . famously started using his Twitter account after winning his second Daytona 500 in 2014, and now has 1.76 million followers. Only one thing is stopping Edwards from joining right now. "I committed if we won the championship I will join," Edwards said.
Heads up: Talladega weekend
Here are the hot topics, trending news and key story lines to get you ready for this weekend's races at Talladega Superspeedway . WEATHER Can you say "Chamber of Commerce weather?" That's what you'll get at Talladega. It'll be sunny all weekend, with a high of 70 on Friday and a high of 68 on Saturday, with the temperature nosing up to 77 degrees on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Beautiful outlook for a pair of elimination races. KEY TIMES Sprint Cup Series: The biggest change this weekend is Coors Light Qualifying. Rather than qualifying on Friday, the Sprint Cup Series will do so on Saturday afternoon after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. The single-car spectacle is set for 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The race is Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, also on NBCSN. Camping World Truck Series: The Camping World Truck Series has a pair of Friday practices (beginning at 1 p.m. ET and 3 p.m. ET, both on FS1). The race is Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX with Keystone Light Pole Qualifying just before at 10:30 a.m. ET (FS1). CATCH DRIVERS LIVE We'll stream every driver press conference in the Talladega media center at NASCAR.com/presspass . Among the notables Friday: Chase Elliott (12:30 p.m. ET), Joey Logano (12:45 p.m. ET) and Martin Truex Jr . (3:30 p.m. ET). Click here for a full schedule. LAST TIME Joey Logano swept the Round of 12 last year, beating Alabama's favorite son Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- and eliminating him from the Chase -- in the process. The Team Penske driver led 20 laps to Earnhardt Jr.'s 61, and he held off Junior on an abbreviated green-white-checkered finish. Logano was first and Earnhardt Jr. second as the field's only attempt at a GWC conclusion went green. A wreck just past the start/finish line brought out the caution, ending the race just as Logano and Earnhardt Jr. were racing for the lead. Logano was in the lead at the time and declared the winner. Eventually, NASCAR tweaked its green-white-checkered rule in the offseason, leading to the addition of the overtime line. YOU SHOULD KNOW • With Dale Jr. sidelined for the rest of the season, Brad Keselowski may hold the mantle as the best restrictor-plate racer in NASCAR. The driver of the No. 2 Ford has three top-five finishes in the past four Talladega races, including two wins -- to bring his total 'Dega wins to four. He also won at Daytona in July. And following a wreck at Kansas last week, Keselowski likely has to win to advance in the postseason. • It's not just Keselowski who is in win-or-else mode. Chase Elliott essentially is facing a "must-win" scenario to advance into the next round. The rookie is 25 points behind the cutoff line. • Keep an eye on Joey Logano and Austin Dillon . They are tied for the final transfer spot, with Logano currently owning the tiebreaker thanks to his third-place finish at Kansas. Their stories are quite different. Logano won all three Round of 12 races last year, but his performances and speed slipped this year; Dillon is in his first postseason and one race away from making the Round of 8 after being seeded 15th out of 16 drivers at the start of the Chase. • This is the first elimination race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase, with two drivers getting knocked out of the postseason. Daniel Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek are both 15 points below the cutoff line and will need to make up some serious ground.
Johnson leads final Talladega practice; Biffle tops in earlier session
RELATED: Practice 1 " Practice 2 " Top 10-lap consecutive averages MORE: See the Chase Grid Jimmie Johnson topped the leaderboard in the final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session Friday at Talladega Superspeedway , going 196.386 mph in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Right behind him was Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at 196.338 mph. Rounding out the top five were Chase Elliott in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 196.334 mph, Carl Edwards in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at 196.330 mph and Alex Bowman in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 196.330 mph. Chase drivers Kevin Harvick (already guaranteed to advance to the Round of 8) and Brad Keselowski opted not to participate in the second practice session Friday. All told, 25 cars took the track for the final session before Saturday's qualifying at 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC SportsApp). Edwards felt a vibration in his car, and his No. 19 team changed the transmission in an effort to fix it. In the first practice session earlier in the day, Roush Fenway Racing dominated with Greg Biffle logging the fastest time in his No. 16 Ford at 198.949 mph. Right behind him was AJ Allmendinger in the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet at 198.327 mph. Chris Buescher was third in the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford at 198.261 mph, while two more Roush Fenway Racing drivers rounded out the top five with Ricky Stenhouse Jr . in the No. 17 Ford at 198.261 mph and Trevor Bayne in the No. 6 Ford 198.105 mph. Sprint Cup Series leader Johnson was 15th-fastest in the No. 48 Chevrolet at 195.632 mph. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Chase cutoff in Talladega means drivers swinging for the fences
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Put into a position with nothing to lose and everything to gain, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers Daniel Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek have a simple plan for this weekend. Swing for the fences, they both said. Saturday's fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway is the final race of the opening round of the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase. Only one Chase participant, William Byron, scored a win in the previous two races, thus earning an automatic berth in the Round of 6 that begins next weekend at Martinsville Speedway . Hemric, driver of the No. 19 Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing, is seventh in points, 15 points outside Johnny Sauter in sixth. Nemechek, driver of the No. 8 Nemco Motorsports Chevrolet, is eighth, tied with Hemric for points and also 15 points outside the cutoff. "Everything here is kind of out of your hands," Nemechek, twice a winner this season, said Friday. "Being at Talladega in the spot that we're in … being 15 points out, I think it's way better for me to be able to come here … where anything can happen. "If we finish top five and someone else got caught up in somebody else's wreck and we didn't, we'd have a shot to make it compared to a mile-and-a-half track or short track where they can ride around all day and kind of salvage a finish where they make sure they make it. "I haven't quite called in any favors or anything like that. If we were able to qualify up front and run up front all day, as long as we put ourselves in a position to be top four in, where you can make a move coming to the start/finish line, I think you'll be all right. But who knows?" Christopher Bell , two-time series champion Matt Crafton , Ben Kennedy and Timothy Peters are second through fifth in points. All have won at least once this year, except for Peters. But he's won here at Talladega the last two times the series visited the 2.66-mile track. "In order to win now, we've just got to keep doing what we're doing and not change anything at this point," Hemric said. "All we can do here is control what we can control, go into it approaching every situation that way, whether it's practice, qualifying or the race. If we execute on all ends, I see no reason why we shouldn't have a shot at it. "At the end of the day … I think I would rather be on the end we're on. Obviously if you've won, that's even better. But the situation where we can go down swinging and not playing defense all day, I think, is going to be a good thing for (Nemechek) and I, both."
No. 78 part confiscated in pre-qualifying inspection at Talladega
RELATED: Truex scores pole for Talladega TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Martin Truex Jr . will start on the pole in Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway . It was clear sailing around the 2.66-mile track for the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota on Saturday. Meanwhile, dark clouds had gathered elsewhere. NASCAR officials confiscated the left-front jack bolt from the team during pre-qualifying inspection, and will take the piece back to the sanctioning body’s Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. "They had a jack bolt that we didn’t feel like met specifications that we have in the rule book," Scott Miller, Senior Vice President of Competition for NASCAR, said. "Not a real competitive advantage. We will take it back … analyze everything and decide what we are going to do. "It's no different than … cars that fail the templates and have to go back through. It's our job to officiate the sport and this part and the rest of today’s activities are no different than what we do every weekend." RELATED: JGR cars have to go back through inspection Crew chief Cole Pearn said the bolt was the wrong size, not hollow as was initially reported. "It was a mistake," he said. "We fixed it; we found another one and moved on. Stuff like that happens all the time. We're not perfect. I know people like to think that we’re brilliant geniuses that have malicious plans to cheat the system somehow, but sometimes we're just stupid and make mistakes. "That's really just what happened and hopefully it doesn't turn into anything more than that." Miller said such a violation could result in a points penalty, impacting the team’s Chase status, but that it wasn't always the case. "I would say it would be unlikely but it has to go through our process," he said. "We don't typically do that on a weekend. Because this is the playoffs everybody has a heightened sense of everything but this is no different than things we have done all year and we will treat this one just like we do all year long." Both Pearn and NASCAR said that the issue was only with one bolt. "All other three corners were fine," Pearn said. "We're at Talladega; maybe if you're at Martinsville, and you have all four hollowed out …" Truex edged fellow Chase driver Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske No. 2 Ford) for the top spot. Matt Kenseth ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Chase Elliott ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Greg Biffle ( Roush Fenway Racing ) completed the top five as the lineup for the 40-car field was set. "All the crazy talk going on today is nonsense," Truex said. "I think people speculate on things and don't really know what they are. "The jack bolt issues is really not a big issue. It's not hollow like what was reported. (NASCAR) didn't take both, they just took the left front so it's not a big issue." The 78 team did lose its pit stall selection for a fourth warning related to inspections.