BROOKLYN, Mich. – With three wins this season — and a near-victory last weekend — Brad Keselowski has established himself as one of NASCAR's top drivers.
Now, he just needs to reverse an unpleasant trend at a place near and dear to his heart.
Keselowski is from Rochester Hills, about 90 miles from Michigan International Speedway, but he's never won in six Sprint Cup starts at the track — and he has only one top-10 finish.
"If you don't want it enough you won't be successful and if you want it too badly it seems like you force things and they don't come naturally," Keselowski said. "That's something I try not to do but I would probably say that I'm guilty of it when I come here at least on the Cup side, because when anything goes wrong I get madder than hell about it."
Keselowski has won this year at Bristol, Talladega and Kentucky, but he was 13th at MIS in June. That's actually his second-best finish at the track. He was third last August after ending up out of the top 20 in his other four starts.
The 28-year-old Keselowski is fifth in the points standings, and with three victories, he's in great shape for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which starts next month. Drivers can earn bonus points for "regular-season" victories. Points leader Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart are the only others with three wins.
"I'm looking at it off of wins and I think that's the common-sense way to look at it. It doesn't matter when the Chase starts what points you had," Keselowski said. "As far as I'm concerned, by those calculations, we are the points leader, maybe tied for it, but we are the points leader in that sense and I think that's great. I think that's what this sport should be about. It should be about winning."
Victory No. 4 nearly came last weekend at Watkins Glen. Kyle Busch was leading but skidded wide coming out of the first turn of the final lap and was bumped by Keselowski's fast-closing No. 2 Dodge.
Keselowski apologized after the race on Twitter and discussed the incident again Friday.
"Like I said after the race, it was unfortunate because dumping the leader on the last lap is not something that I want to be known for," he said. "I feel like we're all going for the same spot. I obviously pushed real hard and he wasn't going to give it up."
Marcos Ambrose eventually won, and Keselowski settled for second.
Back in his home state, Keselowski was 19th in qualifying Friday. He has won at MIS on the Nationwide Series, but never on the Cup circuit.
"Obviously this place is special to me and I'd like to be able to bring home my first Cup win this weekend or as soon as possible at my home track. ... I'd rather be the guy that screwed up because I wanted it too badly than the guy that screwed up because he didn't want it enough," Keselowski said. "I'm always going to go toward that side of pushing harder and harder maybe than what even I'm capable of. ... I'm going to strike out swinging. I'm not going to strike out staring at the ball."