|Jimmie Johnson's seven-point lead over Brad Keselowski evaporated after Sunday's race. (US Presswire)|
After Sunday's wild race at Phoenix, Brad Keselowski is not taking anything for granted.
While the Penske Racing driver brings a 20-point advantage over Jimmie Johnson into Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Keselowski is well aware the hand of fate could easily reach out and swat him like it did his championship rival in Phoenix.
"Nothing is over until it's over," said Keselowski. "And the same problems that Jimmie had today we could have next week at Homestead. So we just need to keep our head down and focus on what lays ahead."
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Johnson was not challenging for the lead but still was on track for a decent finish in Sunday's penultimate race of the year until a cut tire with 77 laps to go sent him slamming into the wall.
Although his Lowe's team feverishly tried to repair the damaged No. 48 Chevrolet, the best Johnson could muster was a 32nd-place finish while Keselowski was crossing the finish line in sixth.
But even when Keselowski was informed of the circumstances he remained as detached as possible from thinking too far down the road.
"My initial thought was that I heard he blew a right-front tire and I was thinking what conspiracy theorists are going to come up with a theory on this one, and then you realize that the same thing could happen to you," he said with a half smile. "And so you try not to let that get into you too much and try to just focus on what you got and make sure you don't have the same problem. That was really what I was thinking.
"Obviously there are no guarantees. We could go to Homestead and have the same problem and Jimmie, you know, takes the point lead back over. No guarantees but very proud to have that points lead heading into next week."
So with a 20-point lead in hand, Keselowski looks to close out his most successful season by bringing team owner Roger Penske a first career Sprint Cup title.
However, don't expect him to change the approach he's had all year long.
"Same thing -- we go to Homestead and win the race," he said. "We're going to do all we can to make that happen. When you run up front, you control your own destiny."
Keselowski appears destined to be the next Sprint Cup Series champion.
Brad Keselowski -- Last Week 2
Took over the Chase lead by 20 points thanks to a sixth-place finish and Jimmie Johnson's misfortune. This is now the Penske Racing driver's championship to lose.
Jimmie Johnson -- Last Week 1
Saw his seven-point lead evaporate thanks to a cut tire and trip into the wall on Sunday. Johnson now must hope a similar such fate happens to Keselowski next week at Homestead to have any shot at a sixth title.
Kyle Busch -- Last Week 4
Nearly ran the table in Phoenix by leading all practices and taking the pole had he been able to win the race. But a poor decision on lane choice for a late restart cost Busch a shot at Victory Lane.
Kasey Kahne -- Last Week 5
Ending the year on a positive note but wasn't able to match his Phoenix victory of last November. Still a solid day with a fourth-place performance.
Clint Bowyer -- Last Week 3
Was the victim of Jeff Gordon's revenge that completely eliminated Bowyer from championship contention. He wasn't an angel in the turn of events but Bowyer definitely got the worst of the situation.
Denny Hamlin -- Last Week 8
Hamlin's second-place finish in Phoenix is a welcome rebound from two weeks of disappointment for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He'll be a factor for a win next Sunday in Homestead.
Kevin Harvick -- Last Week 12
Snapped a 44-race winless drought with Sunday's win ironically coming on the weekend when reports of his evacuation from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 broke out.
Greg Biffle -- Last Week 6
A decent day for "The Biff" in Phoenix, who was able to dodge all the last lap craziness to bring home his Roush Fenway Racing Ford seventh.
Joey Logano -- Last Week 13
Minding his own business until getting swept up in the Gordon-Bowyer fight. Logano was on his way to a nice effort to follow up his ninth Nationwide Series win on Saturday.
Ryan Newman -- Last Week 14
Rough way to earn a fifth-place finish as Newman was one of the unfortunate souls to get caught in the last lap crash on the main straightaway.
Tony Stewart -- Last Week 9
Not a god day at all for Smoke who spun late after making contact racing for position. A 19th-place finish for Stewart.
Matt Kenseth -- Last Week 11
Will make the final Sprint Cup start of his career for Roush Fenway Racing next week at Homestead on the heels of a 14th-place effort in Phoenix.
Martin Truex Jr.-- Last Week 10
His race was over nearly before it started with a blown engine. After a stellar regular season Truex Jr. has suffered mightily throughout the Chase.
Carl Edwards -- Last Week 15
An 11th-place finish for Edwards as he brings to a close one of the most disappointing seasons in his career.