Brad Keselowski believes he has a psychological edge over title rival Jimmie Johnson after outqualifying him for the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Penske Dodge driver, who leads Johnson by 20 points in the title battle, will start Sunday's race third with his rival back in 10th. After being only the 21st-fastest man in practice, Keselowski took provisional pole with his qualifying effort, and was only knocked back by Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose by the session's end.
"Maybe it's some kind of mental thing," said Keselowski when asked about starting ahead of his Hendrick Chevrolet rival. "I totally expected him to outqualify us, to be quite honest. I was going to be fine with that. At least we were prepared for the worst and that's not what happened so I guess we're OK."
Keselowski expects Sunday's race to be a close one between himself and Johnson as he believes Homestead's characteristics to be similar to those of Chicagoland and Texas, where both were in close contention for victory. While Keselowski won the first Chase race of 2012 at Chicagoland, Johnson turned the tables at the next 1.5-mile track at Texas.
The championship leader expects Johnson to find his way to the front from the fifth row of the grid to be in contention at the front on Sunday.
"I imagine it'll be very similar to what we saw at Texas," he said. "These tracks are probably the most similar, here Texas and Chicagoland, with the grip levels and configurations. So, I'd expect the racing to be similar to that.
"I think we all know that Jimmie is going to have a great racecar and he already has a great team. They'll find a way to make their way up there."
Keselowski will win his first Cup title if he finishes inside the top 15, regardless of what Johnson achieves.