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Brad Keselowski off to hot start with 3 top-five finishes

Sunday, Mar. 10, 2013

Brad Keselowski, fresh off his first Sprint Cup Series championship, is off to the best start of his career.

Following his third-place finish in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Keselowski is the only driver to have top-five finishes in the first three races.

He didn’t earn his third top-five until the 10th race of his championship season.

Keselowski should be ecstatic about his early success, but not so much.

“I want to win,” he said emphatically after the race.

Asked if he had a different perspective to the start of this season, Keselowski said, “It is a different perspective because I’m not happy with top-fives; I want wins.

“We’ve had a shot at winning all three races and come up short, whether it was circumstances or bad luck or today, just a little bit of execution,” he said.

“In retrospect, once you get a day to cool off from it, you say, ‘Wow, that’s really good, three top-fives, that’s how I’d have wanted to start the year.’ But with the way I finished last year, I wanted to win all three of these races.”

Still, Keselowski and his No. 2 Penske Racing team find themselves in a much better position than even a year ago.

In his previous three full-time seasons, Keselowski had never been better than 13th in points after three races. He is second in points entering next weekend at Bristol, Tenn. – five behind Jimmie Johnson. The two drivers battled for last season’s title.

Keselowski had to overcome some adversity in Sunday’s race before rallying for a chance at the victory. On a pit stop on Lap 162, his team dropped a lug nut, which resulted in an unusually long stop.

By Lap 231, he was back up to second following a fuel-only pit stop.

“Certainly didn’t give up there at the end. I thought I might have had a shot,” Keselowski said. “I would have loved to have gone up there and put a little pressure on (Kenseth) and see if he would have given me a shot, but that opportunity didn’t come up unfortunately.

“Still, like I said, solid day, great effort, and we’re off to a really solid start.”

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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