Jeff Gluck, SBNation.com
Go Away, Brad Keselowski; It’s Not Your Time
Brad Keselowski finally lost the Sprint Cup Series points lead on Sunday, and it's about damn time.
He never should have been in first place in the first place. An under-30 driver trying to go head-to-head with the established stars of NASCAR? Scram, kid. Move over and let the big boys play.
Keselowski had no right to even make the Chase. Conventional wisdom said a driver with a lame-duck manufacturer like Dodge would see a significant drop in performance, but Keselowski has 15 top-10 finishes in the 17 weeks since it became clear Dodge was on its way out.
It's impolite to make everyone look bad, don't you think? Keselowski should probably apologize.
Plus, that hot streak included the tumultuous period where former teammate AJ Allmendinger was suspended and then dismissed for failing a drug test. Keselowski was supposed to fall on his face without getting consistent information from his teammate; but that didn't happen, either.
What the heck is wrong with this guy? He should have just done what people thought he would do: Fail.
Keselowski made the Chase anyway (RUDE!) and then won two of the first three races despite having no business doing so. Those victories included Dover, which had been considered one of his worst tracks (by everyone except him).
Quite frankly, his gall was outrageous. It was as if Keselowski didn't even care what others' expectations were, as if he wanted to go out and contend for the championship as some sort of underdog. Not cool at all. Don't drivers have to apply for some sort of license before they're allowed to win the Chase?
In the following weeks, Keselowski had a chance to choke, but didn't. He retained the points lead by surviving Talladega when he should have wrecked, got a solid result at Charlotte despite running out of gas and dodged mayhem on a wild day at Kansas for another top-10 finish.
Who did he think he was? Jimmie Johnson?
Young drivers who haven't paid their dues like Keselowski – a 20th-place also-ran just 18 months ago – shouldn't be permitted to thumb their noses at the NASCAR establishment like this. Unless a driver has been around for at least five years or done the whole "lose a championship before you can win one" thing, he should move over and let the real stars take their places atop the standings.
Think how poor Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin would feel if Keselowski won a title before they did. Heck, how about his friend Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Keselowski should stop being a punk and show some respect for his elders.
Sunday's Martinsville race was supposed to restore order to the Chase, a race where Johnson would certainly take the points lead away from Keselowski. Johnson would be like a parent slapping the hand of a kid reaching for more candy when he's already had too much, and it would be fun for all the No. 2 doubters to watch.
Keselowski, who qualified 32nd, figured to be like a Little League pitcher facing Miguel Cabrera. He had no shot of real success and was likely headed for the type of disastrous day which would ruin his Chase hopes. He would surely crack under the immense pressure, even though he kept saying he didn't feel any (everyone knew better than to believe him).
Instead, the plucky upstart somehow got a sixth-place finish on his own merits – he just drove up through the field over 500 laps – and has insisted on hanging around for yet another week.
Fortunately, five-time champ Johnson has the points lead now, and his massive two-point advantage should be enough to send Keselowski into timeout, sitting on a stool in the corner with his head hanging in sadness. Keselowski will finally realize the Chase is no place for someone with his limited resumé to try and make a name for himself.
So run along, Brad. No one believed you'd be here, which means it's best you just disappear – lest you make us all look like fools (again).
Oh, and one more thing: Can you please leave the trophy behind when you go? We already engraved Johnson's name on it a few months ago.