Brad Keselowski is so far beyond a "surprise" this season that you can't even consider him the year's biggest surprise. His run exists on a plane unto itself, a surprise so unexpected it's like coming downstairs one August morning and finding Santa showed up a few months early.
It began at Kansas, with a surprising win that suddenly put him on the edges of the wild card conversation, even though he was still outside the top 20. But then followup wins at Pocono and Bristol, combined with a run of six straight top 10s, hammered down his Chase spot and secured his season as one of the most unexpected in recent NASCAR history.
Good news for Keselowski fans: he's won this year at three very different types of tracks, though only one of those will be in the Chase. Also, with exactly zero Chase experience trying to take down Jimmie Johnson, perhaps he'll be able to work that "doesn't know he's supposed to be scared" angle.
Jet Ski's best Chase track: We're talking a very small sample size here on both ends of the rankings for Keselowski, but unsurprisingly, Kansas ranks as his best. He's got one win, one top 5, and one top 10, all from the same race earlier this year. His average finish is still 12.3, which gives you an idea of how he's run here before this year.
Jet Ski's worst Chase track: Again, you could throw out the stats based on how well he's run, but at Phoenix, Keselowski has no top 10s and an average finish of 27.5. If Keselowski's going to make a run, he's going to be fighting his own history.
Key question: When will the mojo run out? Hot streaks, by definition, have an end. Like a freshman college basketball player who's well-seasoned by NCAA tournament time, Keselowski is not the same driver he was at the start of the season. But can he make his current hot streak the new normal?
JB's Prediction: 6th. Keselowski will be a Chase fixture for years to come. This year, he'll be learning how to find that extra gear he'll need for the most important races of the season.
- Brad Keselowski