From Winless to Winning Streak

Streak Continues for Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski began the Chase in 11th place and now finds himself sitting third in the Championship standings after a strong run at Loudon. Keselowski's string of strong results continued as he finished second to Tony Stewart (photo courtesy: Tom Whitmore, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)

Tony Stewart may not have captured a win leading up to the Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup, but he is making up for it now. Stewart is two-for-two in NASCAR's playoffs after winning at New Hampshire and has taken over the Championship points lead.  The driver of the No. 14 car is pursuing a third NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. His Championship runs in 2002 and 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway make him the only driver to win NASCAR’s biggest prize in both the pre-Chase and Chase era. This year, Homestead-Miami Speedway will crown NASCAR’s Champions for the 10th consecutive year during Ford Championship weekend. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

While Chase drivers around him ran out of gas, Stewart had the fuel to go the distance and injected the Chase For The Sprint Cup Championship with a dose of dominance that has made him a formidable front-runner for a third title.

Stewart passed Clint Bowyer on the second to last lap after Bowyer played a fuel mileage game and lost. Ironically, in a similar dramatic finish last year Stewart ran out of gas on the last lap and it was Bowyer who drove to victory at Loudon. “Smoke” currently leads Kevin Harvick in the championship standings by seven points.

"It was definitely an awesome ending to the day," said Stewart. "It was rough getting there. I think the first two-thirds of the race we hung around 10th or 12th not by choice or design, it just seemed like that was all we could get. We weren't the fastest car, but we were solid and could maintain that pace the last 100 laps."

Chase wild card contender Brad Keselowski continued his hot streak by finishing second.

"It's been a good road here to travel down the last few weeks and today was no exception," said Keselowski. "I'd be lying if I said we were the fastest car, but we made good adjustments to our car. We got it to where it was a good top-10 car. I'm proud of the finish we had today."

Keselowski now sits third in the Championship standings just 11 points behind Stewart, as the series heads to Dover next weekend.

Only a few weeks ago, Stewart considered his car in the Chase a waste of a spot. Stewart is on a roll with eight races left, building on last week's Chase-opening victory at Chicagoland Speedway with another strong late-race surge at New Hampshire. Both of his victories this season have come in the Chase and have propelled him to the top of the points standings. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Even Stewart counted himself out him before the Chase, declaring he would call himself, ''a total bumbling idiot,'' if he won the championship. He might win his third title - but don't expect Smoke to call himself a favorite.

''Got eight long weeks still, man,'' Stewart said. ''It's way too early to start counting chickens.''

Stewart, who won Cup titles in 2002 and 2005, is the second driver to ever open the Chase with consecutive victories. This year, Homestead-Miami Speedway will crown NASCAR’s Champions for the 10th consecutive year during Ford Championship weekend. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

''The potential's been there all year,'' he said. ''You wonder when the bad luck string is going to stop. You hope (good luck) happens another eight weeks now. We hope we're through with it and we can keep clicking off top-fives, top-10s. If we could get a couple of more wins, that would be awesome.''

Stewart led a pack that included four other Chase drivers in the Top 10.

Jeff Gordon was fourth, Matt Kenseth was sixth and defending Ford 400 winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway Carl Edwards finished eighth. Gordon rocketed from 11th to sixth in the standings and is still a legitimate contender for his fifth championship. Edwards was a popular preseason pick to unseat five-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson this fall when NASCAR crowns a Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Gordon ran out of gas last week and was forced to conserve fuel over the waning laps at New Hampshire.

''It's something that we need to be better at,'' he said.

For at least one Chase driver, it's time to start planning for next season.

Denny Hamlin, who entered in 12th and a whopping 41 points out, finished 29th and was the worst Chase finisher. A year after he went into the Championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the points lead, Hamlin's shot at his first championship is over. While the nine drivers behind Stewart range from seven to 29 points behind him, Hamlin is 66 points back and 32 out of 11th.

''We're just figuring out what we need to do to be a little bit more competitive,'' Hamlin said.

Johnson, the five-time defending Sprint Cup champion, finished 18th and is 10th in the standings.

Other Chase driver results saw Kyle Busch finish 11th; Harvick 12th; Dale Earnhardt Jr. 17th; Kurt Busch 22nd; and pole winner Ryan Newman 25th.

Greg Biffle, the only other driver to open the Chase with two straight wins, was third. Ft. Lauderdale resident Brian Vickers was fifth.

Round 3 of the Chase is next week at Dover. This year, Homestead-Miami Speedway will crown NASCAR’s Champions for the 10th consecutive year during Ford Championship weekend. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

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