Brad Keselowski Staying Positive Amid Sprint Cup Championship Run

Ben Montedonico@@NASCARBRBenContributor IIINovember 6, 2012

Brad Keselowski sits just seven points behind leader Jimmie Johnson
Brad Keselowski sits just seven points behind leader Jimmie JohnsonTom Pennington/Getty Images

There's a mantra in sports that has served teams of all leagues very, very well over the years.

Don't quit.

It's an attitude that got the New York Giants into Super Bowl XLVI after nearly being eliminated with two weeks remaining in the NFL regular season.

It helped the San Fransisco Giants survive five elimination games in the 2012 MLB playoffs en route to a second World Series crown in three seasons.

It got Jeff Gordon into the 2012 Chase after he was all but counted out mid-way through Race No. 26 at Richmond this past September.

Now, with just two races remaining in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Brad Keselowski is preaching the same message as his team sits just seven points behind five-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the Sprint Cup standings.

"I just continue to learn the strength of a team that does not give up and that will not say no and that will not just fall back when things don't go their way, and that is so powerful," Keselowski told the media in Tuesday's NASCAR Teleconference. 

"That's what I think both Jimmie and I have."

Though he's never been in a position to win the Sprint Cup title (he finished fifth in the Chase a year ago but was well out of contention), Keselowski knows full well just what it takes to overcome the odds and, more importantly, to not quit.

A year ago, Keselowski sat 21st in the standings with six races to go in the regular season. Already written off as a Chase contender, Keselowski proceeded to break his foot in a frightening crash during a test session at Road Atlanta.

Over the next six races, Keselowski rattled off two wins, four top-three finishes and had only one finish worse than sixth as he jumped to 11th in the standings and into a Wild Card spot. He'd finish the season fifth in the final standings.

Perhaps that's why his confidence is so high despite the fact that Johnson has won the last two races and gained 14 points on the No. 2.

Then again, that Keselowski has only finished outside the top 10 twice since the end of June may have a little something to do with that as well.

"I feel like our cars have been very, very strong, and my team has been performing phenomenally," Keselowski goes on. "We've caught a couple bad breaks that I'm not real happy about with cautions and so forth that have kind of compromised our lead, so to speak.

"But I feel confident in our performance and that those things, when they do fall our way, which I feel like they will over the next two races, that we'll be able to go out there and regain the points lead and make a run for this championship."

Johnson coming on so strong towards the end of the season has messed with drivers in the past; most recently, Denny Hamlin, who had the points lead heading into the final race of the 2010 season but let the pressure get to him, as he finished 14th in the finale at Homestead and settled for second in the final standings.

Keselowski has approached this Chase differently. He had to, really. With Tony Stewart virtually winning the championship on wins alone a year ago and Johnson being so dominant in years past, finding Victory Lane is the only sure way to hoist the Sprint Cup.

"For me, my goal is to go to the next two races and win," Keselowski continues. "That's quite frankly where my head is at, and we control our own destiny if we do that. I feel like it's realistic for us to go to the next two races and win, and that's what we're going to try and do. That's the goal I have."

If Keselowski does that each of the next two races, which is a good possibility based on how he's run over the last four months, he'll be Penske Racing's first Sprint Cup champion.

Perhaps this year's version of the Chase for the Sprint Cup hasn't gone exactly as Keselowski would have hoped. Certainly, if he had the chance to rewrite it, he would not have run out of fuel at Charlotte, another car or two would have stayed out with him at Martinsville and there would have been one or two fewer cautions towards the end of last weekend's race at Texas.

But Brad and the Blue Deuce have rolled well with the punches, so to speak. And if the end result should show Keselowski and the No. 2 team as the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup champions, it won't be because the title was handed to them.

It will be because they were the team that didn't quit.

All quotes were obtained first-hand via NASCAR Teleconference with Brad Keselowski.