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Continued: Brad Keselowski on outside looking in as Chase for championship field begins to take shape

  • Article by: JENNA FRYER , Associated Press
  • Last update: July 2, 2013 - 6:42 AM

Working against Stewart is that he really hasn't been running all that well this season. The No. 14 team had only one top-10 finish before Memorial Day. He was seventh at Charlotte and won at Dover for his first back-to-back top-10s all year. He carried the momentum into Pocono and Michigan with a pair of top-fives and he'd suddenly climbed from 21st in the standings to 10th.

But the last two weeks have been two steps back, with a 28th at Sonoma and a 20th-place finish Sunday.

"Not the greatest showing, but we did what we could with it," he shrugged.

— Denny Hamlin: He's never missed the Chase since his 2006 rookie season, but time is running out on Hamlin's comeback story this year.

In fairness, a compression fracture in a vertebra in his lower back sidelined him for four races and likely cost him any chance at the Chase, anyway. But he returned determined to grab a wild-card. He finished second at Darlington in his first full race back, then won the pole at Charlotte and finished fourth to go from 31st in points to 24th.

He won the pole the next week at Dover, but a crash ended his streak of top-five finishes. He was also wrecked at Sonoma and had a hard hit Sunday at Kentucky. Now he's 25th in points and must win over the next nine weeks to keep his Chase hopes going. At this stage, it will likely take him at least two wins to make it happen.

Team owner Joe Gibbs dismissed talk of Hamlin getting out of the car anytime soon to fully heal, insisting the goal is to salvage the season.

"I think Denny wants to stay after it and we have a chance to get some wins," Gibbs said. "Who knows what's going to happen? We could get hot. I know he'll be the favorite at several of these race tracks we have down the stretch over these next nine weeks. Who knows? Maybe a miracle in there. You can't have a great comeback unless you're behind, so we'll just go after it and do the best we can. He's got a good attitude and we'll keep swinging."

  • related content

  • Brad Keselowski heads into Saturday night's race at Daytona ranked 13th in the standings and winless this year. He's got nine races left to claim a berth in the 12-driver Chase field.

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Los Angeles - LP: P. Maholm 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 12
San Francisco 5 Bottom 9th Inning
Philadelphia 5
Texas 0 Top 12th Inning
NY Yankees 0
Boston - LP: J. Peavy 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 7
Miami - WP: J. Turner 6 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 5
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: K. Hendricks 6
Cincinnati 3 Bottom 8th Inning
Milwaukee 3
Cleveland 4 Bottom 8th Inning
Minnesota 2
Kansas City 5 Bottom 7th Inning
Chicago WSox 1
Tampa Bay 6 Bottom 7th Inning
St. Louis 2
Washington 4 Bottom 6th Inning
Colorado 4
Detroit 2 Bottom 4th Inning
Arizona 2
Houston 0 Top 3rd Inning
Oakland 0
Baltimore 0 Top 3rd Inning
LA Angels 0
NY Mets 2 Bottom 2nd Inning
Seattle 0
Calgary 7/24/14 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Winnipeg 7/25/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 7/26/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Tulsa 93 FINAL
San Antonio 95
Atlanta 108 FINAL
Minnesota 112
Indiana 57 FINAL
Chicago 60
Phoenix 34 2nd Qtr 6:37
Seattle 23
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