- David Newton, ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter
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CONCORD, N.C. -- Sprint Cup points leader Brad Keselowski will cut back on his Nationwide Series schedule the rest of the year to focus on the Chase.
Keselowski said on Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway that Penske Racing will put Ryan Blaney in his No. 22 Nationwide car at Kansas. Keselowski will drive in Nationwide races at Charlotte and Phoenix but will sit out Homestead-Miami in addition to Kansas. The race at Texas will be a same-day decision based on where he is in points.
He made the announcement after being asked what he learned from last year's Chase when he got off to a fast start with fifth- and third-place finishes that had him third in points.
He's won two of the first three races of the Chase, including Sunday at Dover International Speedway, to build a five-point lead over five-time champion Jimmie Johnson.
"I thought about it and made the decision this week to drastically limit the amount of Nationwide races I'm going to run through the Chase because of how much the sport has changed just over the last six months on the way the cars drive," Keselowski said during an event to promote the Oct. 13 Cup race at Charlotte.
"It's hard to use your experience to your advantage without allowing sometimes the preconceived notions to close doors that might re-open."
Blaney has five top-10s in nine Nationwide starts. Three of those have come in his four starts for Penske Racing. The 18-year-old son of veteran Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney also has a win and two top 10s for Keselowski's Truck Series team.
"I'm happy for Ryan that he's going to get more opportunities and proud of where that program is and he's able to do that," Keselowski said as he looked ahead to Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway. "So that shows our commitment to the Cup program."
Keselowski's conservative approach to the Nationwide Series won't spill over into the Talladega Cup race. Unlike many Chase drivers who approach the race with caution, riding in the back for much of the day to avoid being caught up in a big wreck that typically occurs, he said, "I don't plan to play defense."
Sprint Cup points leader Brad Keselowski will cut back on his Nationwide Series schedule the rest of the year to focus on the Chase.