After the eventful incidents that Brad Keselowski endured prior to Sunday's Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono, there ought to be a song called "What a Difference A Week Makes."
From his grinding accident during a testing session at Road Atlanta on Wednesday that left him with a fractured ankle to the passing of his cousin's friend in Afghanistan, Keselowski is certainly a stock car racing warrior.
Putting on one of the most gutisest performances in a while in NASCAR, the 27-year-old Rochester Hills, MI native drove with all his might, charging from his 13th starting position to capture the second Pocono race of the season.
Wearing a brace on his ankle, Keselowski pressed on as he picked up his second victory of the Sprint Cup season, a much needed boost for his bid for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship which starts just next month.
"I might not be feeling great, but those are the guys that are really making sacrifices," Keselowski said per AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston's article. "Whenever I got in the car and felt like, man, this really hurts, it was good inspiration as to what it takes to `man up’ and make it happen.”
Dedicating the win to the troops in Afghanistan, he performed a patriotic salute and burnout to the armed forces, driving around the track with an American flag in his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger.
Leading 19 of the 200 laps of the race, Keselowski defeated Kyle Busch, teammate Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, and Ryan Newman to the stripe.
For Kurt Busch, it was a mixed bag race. While he certainly boosted his chances of locking a Chase seed, he wasn't too pleased with Johnson following their last lap paint-trading affair along the Long Pond backstretch and Tunnel Turn.
“You want to race, let’s race,” Busch said. “I raced him smart, raced him clean, and he wants to come back here and bitch about it. Why can’t we race each other like this and put on a show for the fans?”
That said, it wasn't a race that looked like it'd be won by Keselowski. Instead, it appeared as if Joey Logano was finally going to put an end to his two-year winless streak, as he held the lead during a red flag period on lap 125.
Unfortunately for the 21-year-old Middletown, CT native, he lost the lead and a chance at a great finish once the race resumed, dropping all the way back to a 26th-place finish with a blown tire during the final laps.
The race at Pocono was somewhat like the one in June, with daring passes and manuevers, especially after restarts. Drivers took to the first corner going in three to five wide formations, trying to gain any advantage before the field strung out.
Jeff Gordon, who won the June race earlier this year, came back from his 31st starting position to place sixth, which kept him seventh in the points standings, just 52 markers behind points leader Carl Edwards.
Rounding out the top-10 were Edwards, Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Paul Menard.
Denny Hamlin, who led the most laps (65) on Sunday, faded to 15th, yet another disappointing finish for the perennial Pocono favorite. Although he didn't experience a tire valve problem like in June, nevertheless, his finish wasn't indicative of the kind of car that he had for the field.
Next Sunday (Live on ESPN at 1 PM EST), the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit hits up the road course at Watkins Glen, NY, where Juan Pablo Montoya looks to duplicate his feat of a year ago while Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon look to captialize on maximum points and locking up their Chase seeds with a victory.
Allen Bestwick, Dale Jarrett, and Andy Petree will commentate from the booth while Dr. Jerry Punch, Vince Welsh, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro, and Shannon Spake will cover the action from the pits.
Here's a look at the top-12 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship standings, which include the current wild-card seeds heading into next Sunday's race at Watkins Glen:
- Carl Edwards (Roush-Fenway/Ford/1 win)
- Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick/Chevy/1 win)
- Kyle Busch (Gibbs/Toyota/3 wins)
- Kurt Busch (Penske/Dodge/1 win)
- Kevin Harvick (Childress/Chevy/3 wins)
- Matt Kenseth (Roush-Fenway/Ford/2 wins)
- Jeff Gordon (Hendrick/Chevy/2 wins)
- Ryan Newman (Stewart-Haas/Chevy/1 win)
- Tony Stewart (Stewart-Haas/Chevy)
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick/Chevy)
- Denny Hamlin (Gibbs/Toyota/1 win)
- Brad Keselowski (Penske/Dodge/2 wins)
[Associated Press via Yahoo! Sports]