Brad Keselowski lost the lead of the Chase for the Sprint Cup at New Hampshire, but says his salvaging of sixth place despite struggling for outright pace is proof of his championship credentials.
In contrast to the opening Chase round at Chicagoland, when the 28-year-old Penske man triumphed to move into the points lead, he struggled for pace at Loudon and was struggling to break into the top 10 at the halfway mark.
A late gamble to change two tires helped him jump to sixth, a result he said embodied all the qualities of a championship team.
"We had a pretty good car - not as good as the 11, [which] was just phenomenal, [but] decent," he said. "We'd like to have been a little bit faster than we were, but you're not going to be the fastest car every weekend.
"This is what a championship team does: they take weekends where they're not the best and they make something of it. I didn't think we were as strong as we wanted to be but the guys on my team made something of it."
Keselowski, who now trails five-time champion Jimmie Johnson by one point, added: "We kept digging and made something happen at the end. Sixth place is a solid effort, [and] one point doesn't seem too bad. You're still in the opening weeks of the Chase, so you have to keep it in perspective.
"We'll go to Dover and give them hell."