The Norman Transcript

Sports

October 8, 2012

Saving a measure of redemption

(Continued)

TALLADEGA, Ala. —

Still leading

Brad Keselowski said leaving Talladega with the points lead was “pretty big” but not the best cause for celebration.

“I just feel lucky to survive Talladega,” Keselowski said.

He maintained his lead with a seventh-place finish after managing to escape the last-lap crash that caught up 25 cars, while running in the bottom lane trying to stay out of trouble that seemed imminent at Talladega.

“It’s not really how I wanted to escape it,” said Keselowski, who won at Talladega in the spring. “I wanted to win the race but the way that it cycled out with the pit stops and everyone being really close on fuel, staying out was certainly the right move because we didn’t get a second green-white checker. I’m pretty confident that a lot of guys would have run out and that wouldn’t have been the right move.

“We made all the right calls today.”

Crew chief Paul Wolfe said Keselowski made a nice move navigating “guys running four deep, pushing and shoving trying to get through a mishap.”

“I knew we were on the bottom line and that helps from getting collected,” Wolfe said. “He got run into, got sideways but found a way to dirt track it through the last corner. It was nice to see him come through the cloud of smoke and make it to the finish line.”

Keselowski is nursing a 14-point lead over Jimmie Johnson heading to Charlotte with six races to go in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Denny Hamlin is third, 23 points back.

“There’s still a lot of racing left,” Keselowski said. “At least we’re not fighting from a hole.”

Hamlin said he hung back and played it safe when the wreck started, just as he planned. The result was a 14th-place finish that kept him from falling too far back in points.

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