NASCAR: Brad Keselowski achieved one key requirement

Brad Keselowski, RFK Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, RFK Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Following his massive penalty, Brad Keselowski reclaimed one key requirement that could go a long way in determining his NASCAR Cup Series playoff eligibility.

Following the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season’s fifth race at Atlanta Motor Speedway last month, a violation was found during teardown inspection of Brad Keselowski’s #6 RFK Racing Ford at the NASCAR R&D Center.

This violation, which stemmed from the modification of a part on the car that came from a vendor, led to a massive L2-level penalty for Keselowski and the #6 team.

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It included the loss of 100 driver points, 100 owner points, and 10 playoff points. Additionally, crew chief Matt McCall was suspended for four races, a ban that has only just expired this past weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, and fined $100,000.

At the time, Keselowski sat in 16th place in the point standings and 17th in the playoff picture with 122 points. He sat four points below the playoff cut line. After the penalty, he dropped to 35th place in both.

With 22 points, he now sat 104 points below the cut line, and more interestingly, he sat 34 points outside of the top 30.

The top 30 is significant because of the playoff format. While a win is an automatic ticket into the playoffs (provided there are not more than 16 different winners), it only counts toward playoff eligibility if a driver ranks inside the top 30 in the point standings.

This seems like a formality, considering the fact that there are just 32 full-time drivers in the Cup Series, and truth be told, it probably is. But the idea that it is a formality doesn’t factor in the possibility of massive 100-point penalties either.

Fortunately for Keselowski, he has already managed to claw his way back into the top 30, meaning that a win would indeed count toward his playoff eligibility.

Following this past Sunday’s race, in which he scored his fifth straight finish of 17th place or better (following a run of three straight finishes of 23rd or worse) he sits in 30th in the point standings with 118 points, one point ahead of Spire Motorsports’ Corey LaJoie.

Could he very well fall back out of the top 30 with a poor result? Sure. However, he has really scored 218 points through nine races, good for an average of 24.22 points per race. LaJoie’s average is 13.00 points per race, so if he does, don’t expect him to stay there.

But Keselowski will more than likely need a win to qualify for the playoffs for the ninth straight year, as even with 218 points, he would not be in the current playoff picture.

He would rank 16th in points, but he would sit 17th in the playoff picture since Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin, who ranks 23rd in points, won at Richmond Raceway.

Fortunately for Keselowski, this Sunday’s race is set to take place at Talladega Superspeedway, where he has six wins, including one last April. He also led a race-high 67 laps of the season-opening Daytona 500 at the very similar Daytona International Speedway. Could this be the opportunity the 2012 champion needs to truly get back in contention?

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The GEICO 500 is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Talladega Superspeedway beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 24. If you have yet to begin your free trial of FuboTV, do so now!