|Jimmie Johnson recovers from a wreck to finish ninth at Kansas, perhaps saving his Chase hopes. (US Presswire)|
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- There's still a ways to go before this year's Sprint Cup Series championship is decided, but Brad Keselowski might be feeling pretty confident about his chances.
After the way he dodged a major bullet in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, who would blame the Penske Racing driver for feeling there might be a little divine intervention on his side.
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Keselowski's incredible save behind a wreck that broke out directly in front of him might just be the defining moment of his first Sprint Cup title.
"Yeah, I feel like surviving Talladega right here," Keselowski said of Sunday's crash-filled race, the first on the Kansas track's new asphalt surface. "I said when we finished Talladega that somebody should make, 'I Survived Talladega' t-shirts. Well, I didn't know coming to Kansas it was going to be the same. Just wrecks and accidents and blown tires, everything you can imagine happened today. I felt really lucky to survive it."
While Keselowski didn't throw the track's facelift under the bus as the only cause for Sunday's mayhem, he can't dismiss its role in rough and tumble afternoon.
"I don't think that it's fair to blame one thing, whether it's the track, or the driver, or the tire," said Keselowski. "It's a combination of a car that's really heavy and fast that requires a tire that's really hard with poor grip and is at the limit of blowing out. You combine all those factors and it puts the drivers in a position to where we have to make risky and dumb moves. That's cool.
"Some people would say that's good, some would say it's bad. And then, it also creates some of the blown tires as well. It's just a combination of things."
Keselowski's survival mode maintained his Sprint Cup Series lead with only four races left in the season. But after Sunday's wild day in Kansas, he's not taking anything for granted.
"I see it coming all the way down to Homestead," he said. "It will be decided there. I'm happy with the season that we've had so far and the position that we're in. It's going to come down to the last race, that's pretty obvious after today."
Last week's rankings in parenthesis
1. Brad Keselowski (1): We might look back on Sunday's incredible save at Kansas as the defining moment in Keselowski's Sprint Cup Series championship season. He avoided disaster to maintain his Chase point lead.
2. Jimmie Johnson (2): The same might be said for Johnson about Kansas should he go on to score title No. 6. The 48 team did an incredible job to get Johnson's car repaired and to a top-10 finish after a vicious hit into the wall.
3. Denny Hamlin (3): Once again had some fuel mileage calculations not go his way, which were compounded when Hamlin was caught on pit road as caution came out.
4. Clint Bowyer (4): Wasn't able to follow his Charlotte win with a victory at his home track, but Bowyer remained in the championship picture with a decent day in Kansas.
5. Kasey Kahne (6): Won the pole with a new Kansas track record, but pit road miscues had Kahne playing catch-up most of the afternoon.
6. Tony Stewart (5): Made a nice save of his own with a slide for life to avoid mayhem early in the race Sunday but fought an ill-handling car most of the race.
7. Martin Truex Jr. (7): Might have had one coming after dominating Kansas back in April but followed that performance with an impressive second place run.
8. Kyle Busch (13): Keeps knocking down good finishes during the Chase despite not being in the title race.
9. Jeff Gordon (9): Car came to life in the final stages of the race and Gordon rebounded from last Saturday night's Charlotte disappointment with a 10th-place Kansas finish.
10. Kevin Harvick (10): A finish just outside the top-10 for Harvick, who was probably wondering what his second-place finishing Richard Childress Racing teammate Paul Menard was doing so right.
11. Ryan Newman (13): Caught up in the melee with Kyle Busch that ended his day but maybe more to come?
12. Greg Biffle (11): Lightning fast early in the week during practice and was in contention for a possible win until he slid through the infield grass.
13. Matt Kenseth (15): A second win in the last three weeks for Kenseth, who did it in comeback fashion Sunday after hitting the wall.
14. Joey Logano (12): A 19th-place finish to continue his Kansas Sprint Cup career misery.
15. Carl Edwards (15): Was looking for more at what he considers a home track in Kansas.