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NASCAR's Mr. August

Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor

The Inside Line Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - What a month it's been for Brad Keselowski. Driving with a broken left ankle and a sore back, Keselowski was nearly perfect in August with two wins and finishes of second and third. Now he's on the verge of clinching a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Since suffering his injuries in a crash while testing on August 3 at Road Atlanta, Keselowski has been the hottest driver in NASCAR's premier series. He has climbed from 21st to 11th in the point standings.

Keselowski is currently 21 points behind 10th-place Tony Stewart, but his three wins so far this season have essentially guaranteed him at least a wild card position in the Chase.

To think of Keselowski as not only a Chase contender, but also a threat to deny Jimmie Johnson from winning his sixth straight title would have been considered a joke at the beginning of the year.

Guess who's laughing now?

Brad Keselowski has been the hottest Sprint Cup driver suffering his injuries in a crash while
testing on August 3.
"This sport works in cycles," Keselowski said. "I've been at the bottom of the cycle since I've come in, and we're just now getting back to the top. You've got to capitalize when you're at the top. You've got to find a way to win and find a way to get good finishes. I know we'll cycle back to the bottom. It's just a matter of time. Every team does."

Keselowski's surge this season has been a steady progression. He qualified for this year's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race after finishing second in the Sprint Showdown. He then claimed the pole for the 600-mile event at Charlotte before winning the inaugural spring race at Kansas.

After a rigorous first full-season in Sprint Cup last year, Penske Racing moved Keselowski into the seat of the No.2 Dodge when Kurt Busch shifted to the team's No.22 car. Paul Wolfe also took over crew chief duties for Keselowski in Cup after guiding him to the Nationwide Series championship last season.

"We've definitely got things going for us right now, and it's weird, because it's not really doing anything different," Wolfe said. "It's been a lot of small things over the past couple months just starting to add up. "We've got fast race cars, the driver is doing his part, the pit crew is doing their part and we're making good calls and adjustments on pit road."

Can Keselowski and the Blue Deuce team keep the momentum going for the final two regular season races (Atlanta and Richmond) and then the 10-race Chase?

"I haven't heard any voices in my head yet, so it should be all right," Keselowski said. "I'll have to ask Jimmie [Johnson]. But I'm going to have fun with it. It's an honor just to be in the Chase. At the start of the year, it was certainly one of our goals. And to come in on a high note is just great."

One thing is for sure, Keselowski has gotten everyone's attention in the garage.

"They are, to me, as strong of a team out there that there is right now," Jeff Gordon said. "I think it's really ironic that he had the issue at Road Atlanta, and ever since then, he's been on fire.

"I think he proved to all of us he's tougher than we thought he was, and we always knew he was a good race car driver, but he's stepping it up, so you've got to give him a lot of credit."

Harry Gant earned the nickname "Mr. September" after his remarkable run of four consecutive victories in September 1991. Even though Keselowski did not win four in a row, he does deserve the same recognition for the month of August.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Symeon at csymeon@sportsnetwork.com.

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