Brad Keselowski has no idea what his NASCAR Cup Series championship chances are, and goes into the 2021 edition of the playoffs not knowing what to expect. And it’s partially by design.
“I think we’re on the sixth or seventh year of this playoff format, and I don’t recall a single (one) yet where it’s gone as I would have anticipated,” Keselowski said. “So, I think in that light, I’ve kind of stopped having expectations of what the playoffs are going to be. I think it can be very dangerous to have too many expectations on the front end of your performance because you take things for granted, and you’re maybe not as cognizant of a dynamic environment as you should be.”
Part of Keselowski’s mindset comes from previous experience. Keselowski has entered the postseason riding the momentum of recent wins only to get knocked out early. He’s also started the playoffs without speed, not feeling very confident, and advanced to the title race.
Keselowski does believe Team Penske has the strength to succeed in the playoffs, while acknowledging teammate Ryan Blaney has shown the most promise of its three drivers given his two-race win streak to end the regular season. Keselowski praised Blaney for his execution and taking advantage of the cards he was dealt at Michigan and Daytona.
“He deserves a lot of credit for that,” Keselowski. “But I don’t think we’ve gotten to a spot where we’re dominating races, and that’s where we need to be to be super confident in my mind.”
Keselowski, the 2012 series champion, is seeded 10th on the playoff grid with 2008 points. Take note, though, that Keselowski’s only win this season came back in April in a superspeedway race (Talladega). While a return trip to Talladega happens in the playoffs, most of the postseason features 750-horsepower tracks. But that’s fine with him, because Keselowski doesn’t believe the Fords have the speed to legitimately contend on the low-horsepower (550hp engine package) tracks.
The 550 package tracks are Las Vegas, Texas and Kansas. Among the high-horsepower tracks are places Keselowski likes, such as Richmond, Martinsville and the season finale at Phoenix.
So even with the unknowns of what’s ahead over the next two months, Keselowski said, “we have a chance” to contend for the title.
“I think there’s going to be at least one non-Hendrick or Gibbs car in that last four, so it’d be nice to be that one guy if possible,” he said. “In order to do that, Martinsville is a good track for us, Richmond is a good track for us, Talladega is a good track for us. So, got a lot of opportunities to put some points up on the board or wins, preferably, and get ourselves qualified.”