NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

 
     === Keselowski, Johnson ready for Chase showdown in South Florida ===
 
 Philadelphia,   PA   (Sports  Network)  -   It  ain't  over  till  it's  over.
 
 That's  the  mindset of Jimmie Johnson  heading into this weekend's Sprint Cup
 Series season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
 
 Johnson  fell 20  points behind leader Brad Keselowski after finishing 32nd in
 last  Sunday's penultimate  race at  Phoenix due  to an  accident in  the late
 going.  Keselowski  had trailed Johnson by  seven points, but after his sixth-
 place  finish at Phoenix,  he is now in the driver's seat to win the Chase for
 the Sprint Cup championship.
 
 "Certainly  if  you have the choice  you always want to  be in the lead of the
 points, especially in the closing races, so I'm thankful for that," Keselowski
 said.  "But  I also know  that the troubles that  (Johnson's team) had are the
 same  troubles  that we  could have  (this) week, and  so you  try not to take
 anything  for granted. You try to just focus on what lies ahead, and we've got
 to do the best job we can at Homestead."
 
 Keselowski  and  Johnson are the only  drivers who remain in title contention.
 The other 10 members in the Chase field have been mathematically eliminated.
 
 Keselowski  will clinch  his first Sprint Cup championship if he finishes 15th
 or  better at Homestead, regardless of Johnson's performance there. Keselowski
 can  also be  guaranteed the title if  he finishes 16th and leads at least one
 lap or places 17th after leading the most laps.
 
 Johnson  has battled back from a points deficit with one race to go to win the
 championship in the past. Two years ago, he trailed Denny Hamlin by 15 points,
 which  is roughly four under the current points system. Johnson's second-place
 finish  compared  to a 14th-place run  for Hamlin allowed Johnson to claim his
 record-extending fifth consecutive title.
 
 "My  focus is  going  down there  and  winning the  race,"  Johnson said.  "We
 typically haven't had to have that mentality going into this race, but we have
 shown  we  can race  for the  win. We did  it in  2010 against Denny, finished
 second  and won the championship. This 48 Lowe's team can do it again. We have
 nothing  to lose  and can  gamble  and take  chances. Brad  doesn't have  that
 luxury.  This  isn't over.  This team never  gives up, and  we don't intend to
 now."
 
 Johnson  has yet to  win in his 11 races at Homestead. Keselowski, though, has
 finished no better than 13th in his four starts there.
 
 If  Keselowski can win the championship, the 28-year-old would give team owner
 Roger  Penske  his first  title in NASCAR's  premier series. Keselowski's 2010
 Nationwide  Series  championship was Penske  Racing's maiden title in a NASCAR
 national touring circuit.
 
 "When  I first  came to Penske Racing,  I viewed it as an organization with so
 much  potential," Keselowski said.  "I had a vision for what I knew this place
 could become, and I shared that with Mr. Penske in our first meeting together.
 And  as  he began to give  (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe)  and I the things that we
 needed, we began to show results on the racetrack which, in turn, led to a lot
 of trust among myself, Mr. Penske, Paul and everyone else at Penske Racing.
 
 "So having a legitimate shot to win the championship this weekend is something
 that I take great pride in because I know we got there together."
 
 Keselowski  also  has an opportunity  to hand  Dodge a huge going-away present
 before the auto manufacturer bids farewell to NASCAR competition, at least for
 the  time being.  Keselowski  is  seeking to  become  the  first Dodge  driver
 champion  since Richard Petty in 1975. The auto maker departed the sport after
 the 1977 season and returned in 2001.
 
 "I  would hope  that they come back  as soon as possible," Keselowski said. "I
 would love to see that happen. I think it's important for the sport to have as
 many  participating  manufacturers as  possible, especially  one that fits the
 sport as Dodge does. I don't have a good feel for their vibe on it, but I hope
 to see them back soon."
 
 Penske Racing will field Fords for its Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams in 2013
 and beyond.
 
 If  Johnson  can pull  off a  remarkable comeback to  win the championship, it
 would be the record-extending 11th title for team owner Rick Hendrick. A sixth
 championship  for Johnson  would put him one behind the series record for most
 titles, shared by Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
 
 Forty-eight teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Ford EcoBoost 400.
 
 Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, Nov. 18. Race: Ford EcoBoost 400.
 Site: Homestead-Miami Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 3 p.m.(ET).
 Laps: 267. Miles: 400.5. 2011 Winner: Tony Stewart. Television: ESPN. Radio:
 Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.
 
 
 11/14 23:05:53 ET

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