Much of the talk this past week in the NASCAR world surrounded Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. Whether it was their bumping and banging on the final lap of last year’s NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, their fights for the lead in multiple races this season or trading the lead in the waning laps of the Super Smart Batteries 400 at Kansas Speedway on July 23, they’ve established themselves as the heavyweight favorites for the 2020 championship. Brad Keselowski threw his hat into the title hunt ring, Sunday, with a victory at the “Magic Mile.”
And he didn’t steal it, like Cole Custer at Kentucky Speedway. He dominated the Foxwoods Casino 301, leading 184 of the 301 laps; the most he’s lead since Martinsville in the spring of 2019, when he led 446 laps.
Hamlin, who led 92 laps, sparred with him the most, as they accounted for 18 of the 22 lead changes. Notably, the two of them came in the final two laps of the second stage, when both raced side-by-side down the backstretch, with Keselowski coming out on top and winning the stage.
It's going to get INTENSE at the Magic Mile.
If drivers are pushing this hard for a stage win, what will they do with the race on the line? pic.twitter.com/4dkQhIxePv
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 2, 2020
He said that “it was a lot of fun.”
“(Hamlin) was pretty good on the restarts, real short runs,” he said. “We were really good on the longer runs. The PJ1 kept coming and going. One lap it would be in, not in, the next lap it would be in, then it would wear off the racetrack. The low downforce on the cars was awesome because you could run behind somebody and not just be stupid slow. That was really cool.”
To further bolster his claim to the title, Keselowski’s 8.6 average finish is second-best among full-time Cup drivers in 2020. Moreover, since NASCAR’s return to action in May, he’s finished no worse than 13th and finished top-10 in all but three races.
It accelerated his climb in points from 28th to start the season to second, after his win, Sunday.
Of course, considering that four drivers will race for the championship in November at Phoenix Raceway, and the elimination element of the playoffs, he could easily be knocked out before we know who’ll race for the title.
For now, however, Keselowski is in the title hunt in 2020.
Regardless, he moves into a tie with NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, Fireball Roberts, for 24th on NASCAR’s all-time wins list.