Non-Chase drivers are not supposed to win Chase races. It seems like that is the consensus among everyone when the final 10 races begin. It has not happened very often when someone not going for the championship is the one celebrating in victory lane.
But then again, none of those previous winners were the defending champion.
It has not been a great follow-up to a championship for Brad Keselowski. Sure some of it could be attributed to the pressure to perform, and the new manufacturer, but at the same time he is the one that drove to the championship, beating out someone who seems to make the Chase his own personal playground.
This season, not making the Chase certainly made it a painful experience, but also not getting to victory lane made it much harder to swallow.
But now, or finally, Keselowski got the burden off his back. When it mattered the most, he performed. His late-race battle alongside Kasey Kahne was a classic back-and-forth duel for position. But the Miller Lite Ford just would not quit, and would make it matter the most when the pressure was on. After over a season passed since his last victory, Keselowski can say he closed the deal, taking the checkered flag on Saturday night in Charlotte.
The writers did not get a win this week, but compared to a week ago, everyone had strong weeks. There's still a familiar leader at the top, but the standings remain close, with each position mattering more each week.
Here's how they stand after the Bank of America 500:
Rob Tiongson (2197) Matt Kenseth finished 3rd (3)
Sal Sigala Jr. (2194) Jimmie Johnson finished 4th (1)
Rob Blount (2185) Kevin Harvick finished 6th (2)
Kelly Crandall (2185) Jeff Gordon finished 7th (1)
Patti Rodisch (2183) Kyle Busch finished 5th (0)
Misan Akuya (2183) Kurt Busch finished 14th (2)
Ryan O'Hara (2179) Carl Edwards finished 10th (1)
Dustin Parks (2177) Kevin Harvick finished 6th (0)
Billy Fellin (2168) Joey Logano finished 18th (2)
Kara Martin (2165) Jeff Gordon finished 7th (1)
James Broomhead (2147) Jeff Gordon finished 7th (2)
Michael Hirshbein (2133) Kurt Busch finished 14th (3)
Next Race: The top-11 pool participants are within a race of each other, making each race that much more important. But, what happens when the control of the race is not in the drivers' control? What if they had to rely on others to get a win, and had to hope that no one makes the mistake that costs them, and everyone else.
The spoilers are shorter, the engines are restricted, and the draft is the best friend of everyone.
The second half of the Chase begins with the race where trust is more important than handling, and picking your line takes priority over being loose or tight. This is restrictor plate racing. This is...Talladega.
Writers, it's win or just survive this week. Have your picks submitted by Thursday, October 17, at 10 p.m. ET for the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500.