Brad Keselowski held serve through the first half of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, due in part to a smart strategy with his Penske Racing team.
It just didn’t work last week.
Keselowski’s lead in the standings was sliced in half when he ran out of gas at Charlotte Motor Speedway 59 laps from the finish of a race that was a chess match for crew chiefs at the drop of the green flag. He had dominated the race, but had to settle for a disappointing 11th-place finish.
Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe immediately put the miscalculation behind them and got ready for Kansas Speedway, site of Sunday’s race and Round 6 of the 10-race Chase.
“I know I speak for everyone ... when I say we can’t wait to get to Kansas to prove that our finish at Charlotte was an anomaly, a blip on the radar,” Keselowski said.
He goes to Kansas with a slight advantage over the competition: Keselowski got two days of track time on the repaved surface during an August tire test. The track opened Wednesday to the entire Sprint Cup Series for a two-day test, but Keselowski is one of only eight drivers who has already been there.
NO CHANGE: NASCAR doesn’t expect any changes with its sponsorship with Sprint after it sold 70 percent control of the company to Japanese wireless carrier SoftBank.
NEXTEL and Sprint have been the entitlement sponsor to NASCAR’s premier level, the Sprint Cup Series, since 2004. The current contract doesn’t expire until the end of the 2016 season.
“As our premier series entitlement sponsor, Sprint has been successful using our sport as a platform to enhance its brand during its nine years in the sport,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR chief marketing officer. “NASCAR fans have rewarded Sprint with their business and loyalty, and we don’t expect that to change. We are thrilled for our partner that they are getting an infusion of capital and support that will strengthen them going into the future.”
The $20.1 billion deal is expected to strengthen Sprint, the nation’s third-largest wireless company. Sprint’s contract with NASCAR costs more than $70 million a year.
The sale still faces regulatory scrutiny and isn’t expected to be completed for another nine months.
NEW MAN: Dr. Eric Warren is the new competition director at Richard Childress Racing, Fox Sports reported. Warren, who has a PhD in Aerospace Engineering, has worked in NASCAR with Richard Petty Motorsports, Evernham Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing.