JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Stop Brad Keselowski if you’ve heard this one before.

“I guess you couldn’t ask for a better way to start the Chase,” he said after winning NASCAR’s playoff series opener. “Today was about as much of a statement as you can make.”

That’s because his win at Chicagoland Speedway not only guarantees Keselowski, the top seed in the 16-driver field, a spot in the second round; it also traces the route he took to win the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in 2012. Now a series-leading five-time winner this season, he can race for fun the next two weeks as he awaits the Chase reset following the Sept. 28 race at Dover — when the field will be cut to 12 drivers.

And all because Keselowski went for broke on Sunday.

He had to pick his way through the field twice, and earned the win after watching a spirited, side-by-side battle for the lead unfold between Kevin Harvick and rookie Kyle Larson.