CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Brad Keselowski is doing some basic math to focus on his bid for the Sprint Cup championship: He has added his older sister to his support group and scaled back his schedule.
Keselowski goes into Sunday's race at Talladega, where he won in May, with a five-point lead over five-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the standings. He has won two of the first three Chase races, but knows he must be at the top of his game to claim his first Sprint Cup title.
He said Tuesday that he has dropped the Nationwide Series race at Kansas from his schedule and Ryan Blaney will drive for Penske Racing in his place. Further reductions to his schedule could be coming.
"I've made the decision this week to drastically limit the Nationwide races I'm going to run through the Chase," Keselowski said during an appearance to promote the Oct. 13 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "We're going to play it by ear based on those weeks go."
It's been going pretty good these days for Keselowski, and he credits some of his success to his sister, Dawn Nicholas, who has relocated from Michigan to North Carolina. Keselowski likened the relationship to the one Dale Earnhardt Jr., has with his sister, Kelley.
"Dale Jr. was kind of a role model for me in that sense, with how he has Kelley and the things she does for him - and keeps him straight in some ways," Keselowski said. "Sometimes, you're just looking for somebody that's got your back. I do have other people who have got my back, but it's different when it's family."
Keselowski believes his performance has improved since his sister moved in with him and began helping him run his foundation. She's 10 years older than he is, and he joked that she is his "mind coach" — a riff on what the Carolina Panthers recently said they've obtained to help quarterback Cam Newton.
Since Nicholas moved in, Keselowski has finished in the top 10 in 12 of the last 13 races. He opened the Chase with a win at Chicago, finished sixth at New Hampshire, and won Sunday at Dover.
"Maybe she's my good luck charm," he said.