Brad Keselowski Punches His Ticket In The Pits

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 2, 2018 in Darlington, South Carolina.

Sweet relief for Brad Keselowski. The 2012 champion gets that elusive first victory of 2018 in the Southern 500. The win effectively gets him into the playoffs.

It’s been an interesting year for Brad Keselowski and the Penske gang. Thanks in no small part to Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford is having a strong year. While their performance has been no shock, what is mildly surprising is that Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney don’t have more wins to show for their efforts. That’s not saying they haven’t had good moments. The fact is, all three have been competitive. All three Penske cars are in the top ten for points. Closing the deal has been more challenging. Brad Keselowski has a singular win, as does Joey Logano. Ryan Blaney has come darn close, but has been shut out of victory lane so far.

Thankfully for Keselowski, he got a big assist from his pit crew. A great stop at the right time puts Brad in a position to win. Hey- nobody gets their alone. After all, to finish first, you must first finish. That’s been the truly weird part of the season for Penske. Brad Keselowski has five DNFs, Blaney has four and Logano has two. Perhaps more telling is that neither Keselowski nor Logano have a pole award; Blaney has two. It creates a vicious cycle of qualifying in the middle of the field, and the middle of the field is more likely where you get caught up in someone else’s mess, and on and on it goes.

All that aside, Sunday’s Southern 500- a kind of lackluster race if you ask me- is won on teamwork. I’m sure crew chief Paul Wolfe and whomever their pit crew coach is is smiling like a Cheshire cat. All the hard work and practice is justified. Now to see if momentum can be built.