Brad Keselowski's average finish in eight Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway is slightly better than 26th, but the second-place driver in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship appears set up for a strong run in Sunday's AAA Texas 500.
Keselowski had the fastest car in both practice sessions Saturday, peaking with a lap speed of 186.929 mph.
However, points leader Jimmie Johnson will start with the advantage after winning the pole position in Friday's qualifying. Keselowski, who is two points behind Johnson, will start eighth.
The only other legitimate Chase contenders, Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne, will start fourth and 13th, respectively.
KEEPING THE CHASE FUN
While the Chase might seem like a tense situation, Keselowski's team was keeping the mood light with Bowyer, who is in third place, one spot behind Keselowski in the standings.
The two teams were placed next to each other in the Sprint Cup garage for the weekend, and during Saturday's first practice session, members of Keselowski's crew sneaked next door to place a few Miller Light stickers — Keselowski's primary sponsor on the No. 2 car — on some of Bowyer's equipment, including the bumper of his car.
DANICA CHASING TOP-10 SEASON
Danica Patrick is nearing the end of her best Nationwide Series season since coming over from IndyCar.
She is in 10th in points, 10 points ahead of Joe Nemechek, with two races to go in her first full season on the circuit. Patrick was running in the top 10 for a good portion of the race Saturday, but faded late and finished 14th.
Patrick was 26th in points last year, running only 12 races. In her first season, 2010, she was 43rd after running 13 races.
On Sunday, Patrick will make her ninth career start in the Sprint Cup on her first weekend with new crew chief Tony Gibson. The pair will have two Cup races this year to prepare for next season together.
“These two races will be crucial in gaining a head start,” Gibson said. “So over the winter we can make plans and do some testing and get further down the road for us. She has the capability of winning races. She's a winner, so we don't have to teach her how to win.
“We just have to make sure that our team is solid and can comfort her and give her the things she needs to win in the Cup Series.”
NEWMAN IN NATIONWIDE
Ryan Newman was among 11 Sprint Cup full-timers driving in the Nationwide race Saturday night, but Newman isn't a regular double-dipper.
This was his second Nationwide appearance since October 2010. As the ninth different driver to pilot the No. 30 Chevrolet this season, he finished 19th.
SUPPORT FOR SANDY VICTIMS CRASHES NASCAR SITE
In support of victims of Hurricane Sandy, NASCAR set up a website on its community service page, NASCAR.com/Unites, to raise funds for relief efforts.
The storm impacted people from the New England area down to North Carolina, where many NASCAR organizations are housed. Supporters overwhelmed the donation page after it opened, briefly causing the website to crash.