MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Brad Keselowski should have been happier. Much happier.
It was minutes after last weekend's NASCAR race at Phoenix International Raceway, but instead of celebrating, Keselowski was sweating. Profusely. And swearing ... but most importantly, not celebrating.
Keselowski came into the race at Phoenix needing a victory to guarantee he would advance to the championship race at Homestead. And then, things didn't exactly go well. Really, they weren't even close. Keselowski barely sniffed the top 10, and certainly didn't look like a serious threat to win. His season appeared to be over.
Then everything that could possibly go in Keselowski's favor did. The four other playoff drivers competing for the last championship berth all had their own issues -- not finishing the race, or finishing poorly, or in Chase Elliott's case finishing literally one spot away from advancing.
What that all meant was that Keselowski, 16th-place finish or no, was advancing to Sunday's Cup series championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Barely.
"I'm glad I don't have to relive this day," Keselowski said after the Phoenix race. He added on Friday that, "wasn't the best way to enter."
But this week, Keselowski didn't linger on that poor result, or just backing into Homestead, or really anything except the gravity of the moment awaiting him. With a win Sunday, Keselowski would join exclusive company as the 16th driver to win multiple championships in the 69-year history of the sport.
"You've got to look out the front windowshield," Keselowski said. "You look out the rear mirror and that's where you fall behind."
That's exactly what Keselowski is determined not to do. His competitors already likely have an advantage on the track, seeing how Keselowski was the last of the four to qualify. But as past championships have proven -- and last week at Phoenix for that matter -- you can't count anybody out, Keselowski included, until the checkered flag flies.
The race at Phoenix may be the latest example, but it's far from the first time in Keselowski's career that he's been the beneficiary of a close finish.