Eleven Chase drivers trying to survive Talladega pressure cooker

TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 24: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 24, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

TALLADEGA, AL – OCTOBER 24: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 24, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

TALLADEGA, Ala. – In last year’s first season of the elimination format in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Brad Keselowski came to Talladega with a singular purpose.

He needed to win the race to advance to the Eliminator Round—and he did.

This year, Keselowski can move on to the next round with a strong finish in Sunday’s CampingWorld.com 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). He’s seventh in the Chase standings, seven points clear of ninth-place Kyle Busch, the first driver below the last transfer position.

Accordingly, the strategy is less clear-cut than it was a year ago, when Keselowski had to go all-out for the win.

“We’re in a decent position, not quite as hectic as last season, but certainly not perfect either by any means,” Keselowski said. “It should be interesting to see how it all unfolds. “

“We know we need to have a very strong day to be able to get to the next round, but the interesting thing is there’s only one car out of the 12 in this bracket (Team Penske teammate Joey Logano) that doesn’t feel that way, so that should be very exciting when it comes to crunch time at the end of this race, especially if something is to happen early in the race and someone gets damaged or eliminated with a wreck.”

Aside from Logano, who won the first two races in the Contender Round, no other Chase driver is safe.

“As far as an approach, people ask me that all the time when I come to Talladega, and it kind of always reminds me, I think it was Mike Tyson who used to say that everybody has a plan until they get in the ring.

“Well, Talladega is the same way. Everybody has a plan here, or an approach, until they drop the green, and then it usually doesn’t work. We’ve had some really good approaches here in the past that have worked, but we’ll just have to see. I’m not really all that interested in sharing what my plan is now, but hopefully it’ll play out.”

Keselowski will roll off 11th Sunday.

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