Heading to Hotlanta

With Atlanta coming up this weekend, there’s no denying that no one is hotter on the Cup circuit than Brad Keselowski.

Coming off of his third win of the year last week at Bristol, Keselowski has rocketed from 21st to 12th in the standings, with a legitimate shot at cracking the top 10 in the final two races before the Chase begins.

I’m still not 100% sold on Brad as a hardcore legit title contender (although it would only take another couple of weeks of him running this way to sway me), but if he is going to compete for the title, I think he absolutely has to make it into the top 10.

With this seeding system after the cutoff at Richmond, drivers earn 10 bonus points for every win they have.  The only other drivers in the Cup series that have as many wins as BK are Kyle Busch, with 4, and Kevin Harvick, with 3.  So unless Jeff Gordon or Matt Kenseth wins one or both of the next two races, Keselowski could start the Chase no lower than tied for second, ten points out of the points lead.

But those bonus points only go to drivers who rank in the top ten after the cutoff, and not the two wildcard drivers who make it in in 11th and 12th.  So Keselowski could be tied for the series lead in wins, and not get the bonus points for them if he doesn’t crack the top 10.

40 points is a lot of ground, almost a full race.  That’s not to say that he couldn’t make up 40 points and contend for the title anyway (especially as hot as he has been in the last month), but if he hopes to carry this momentum in and take advantage of this hot streak and these three wins, Brad has to jump Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart in the next two weeks.

Hamlin and Stewart are both really good at these last two tracks before the Chase, Atlanta and Richmond.  Keselowski’s crowning achievement at Atlanta is getting flipped on his lid by Carl Edwards, but with as well as that team is clicking, his history has to be thrown out the window at this point.

BK could still contend for the title if he doesn’t get into the top 10, as long as he can keep up this hot streak.  But getting in and starting the chase in the top 3 would make his road to a colossal upset that much easier.

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