CONCORD, N.C. - Penske Racing's Brad Keselowski reached his goal. It was by one point, but he's still the NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader heading into the first of three consecutive standalone races.
Keselowski wanted to be the points leader as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide schedules diverge in case critics say he's only ahead because Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick aren't running the full Nationwide schedule.
"We’re coming away with top finishes every week and head to Nashville with the points lead, which is cool," Keselowski said. "I wanted to go into Nashville ahead of Kyle knowing that we had the standalone races coming up. That feels really good.
"I’m really going to miss (Kyle). We bring out the best and worse in each other. ... (Leading the points) really means a lot to this team. It’s up to me to go into Nashville with the points lead before some of the Cup guys quit. This kind of proves that we can do this."
Keselowski leads Busch by one point after a second-place finish at Charlotte. Harvick is third, 94 points behind Keselowski. Busch and Harvick won't run at Nashville last weekend, meaning Keselowski leads Nationwide regulars by 257 points. Carl Edwards is fourth, 257 behind Keselowski.
Keselowski ran the Charlotte race with an injured jaw after a hard crash in the Cup car Thursday.
"Yeah, my jaw hurts pretty good," Keselowski said. "It’s all tore up inside my face from the wreck on Thursday. It is what it is; that’s what we get paid to do. My helmet and microphone just hit that hard and it all came up inside and busted my face up."
Keselowski will race at Nashville next Saturday after running Cup practice at Pocono Raceway. Is he prepared?
"Quite honestly, I haven’t made preparations," Keselowski said. "I really have just handed the ball off to different people and they make the preparations. I’m just going follow them and raise my hand like a kindergartner."