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THROUGH THE GEARS: Elliott gets limelight, Keselowski gets wins

June 04, 2020 - 06:00
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  • Elliott gets limelight, Keselowski gets wins
    Brad Keselowski lifts the sword of victory after winning Sunday’s Cup race at Bristol, which is called “The Last Great Colosseum.” [AP/MARK HUMPHREY]

Everything is happening so fast in NASCAR, we’re out of breath trying to chase down all developments, including some bounty hunter money.

As the Cup Series plays catch-up with its regular season, competitors staged five races over 14 days and it seems like Chase Elliott’s name pops up at every turn.

The clutch is in and it’s time to stomp the gas pedal …

FIRST GEAR: NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver has been the center of attention since stock-car racing came off its coronavirus break.

Elliott lost two races he should have won, then beat nemesis Kyle Busch in a Truck Series event (May 26) at Charlotte Motor Speedway and collected a $100,000 bounty, which is earmarked for charity.

After that, he won a Thursday night Cup Series race (May 28) at Charlotte, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, but postponed because of rain from a tropical storm.

Elliott was in the eye of another storm Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway when he crashed out while fighting for the lead with Joey Logano on Lap 497 of 500.

“Oh, just going for the win, you know, trying to get a run underneath and got really loose-in,” Elliott said. “As soon as I turned off the wall, I had zero chance of making it. I’ll certainly take the blame.”

Who benefited from the late-race, sheet-metal battle? Brad Keselowski, who stole the Coca-Cola 600 (May 24) from Elliott with pit strategy, then scored his 32nd career win at Bristol.

“This team needs to go to Las Vegas,” Keselowski said of his good luck in recent races. “Is it open yet?”

SECOND GEAR: Keselowski is getting a lot of attention right now because he has scored two Cup Series wins and stands fourth in the points standings.

The 36-year-old driver picked a good time to get hot because he doesn’t have a contract with Team Penske beyond 2020. There is talk the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, now wheeled by Jimmie Johnson, could come into play.

“I haven’t put that much thought into anything other than competing and winning and wanting to be in a spot to compete and win for a long time,” Keselowski said after winning Bristol.

THIRD GEAR: NASCAR will continue its stay-close-to-home schedule when it heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for a tripleheader this weekend.

There’s a Truck-Xfinity Series doubleheader on Saturday followed by a Cup race on Sunday.

The formula stays the same. A lot of face masks and gloves, but no practice, no qualifying and no fans allowed.

“I said earlier this week that I feel like NASCAR struck gold with these formats,” Keselowski said.

FOURTH GEAR: Atlanta may be the track that gets Kevin Harvick’s season back into high gear.

Since making his Cup debut there in 2001, he has led 1,197 laps. But who is the defending Atlanta race winner? Keselowski, of course.