LONDON: The Racing Journal


VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. — While many may be surprised that Brad Keselowski is the new NASCAR Cup champion, I’m not.

When Roger Penske signed him I wrote that Keselowski would give Penske his first NASCAR title. Actually he already did, winning the Nationwide Series crown in 2010, but copping the Sprint Cup is another story.

Raised on the tough Michigan circuit, Keselowski watched his father, Bob, and uncle Ron race with that region’s best with less than high-dollar gear under their belts. Some may have forgotten that Keselowski’s ascension to NASCAR came via a break driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Nationwide team.

The talent, though raw, was obvious from the start. Just 28 years old now, Keselowski has a long career ahead of him.

It seems like ions ago that Keselowski and Carl Edwards had their prolonged nasty feud in which Edwards did the most damage. Keselowski got him first Cup win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in James Finch’s car after refusing to react to the chop job by Edwards.

Keselowski decided to ring in his temper. He was dumped by Edwards in a Nationwide race in which he careened upside down. Instead of going that route, this lean, but tough young man kept his nose clean during his apprenticeship with Penske.

He seemed to grow from race to race. He showed maturity. Keselowski is a fast learner. He is able to contend and win at all of the possible NASCAR configurations. This is how he gets to sit at the head table at Las Vegas next week. All this season his driving, while aggressive, was almost flawless. He even “out Jimmied” Johnson in the Chase, not an easy task.

He hasn’t won most of the fans over yet, but he is getting there.

One wonders what this title will mean. Roger Penske, with 15 Indy 500 wins and now a NASCAR Cup title is 76 years old. Will he cut back and slow down his activities? It doesn’t look that way.

How about Dodge? Winning its first championship in 37 years, but has no team affiliation next year. The Mopars had plenty of power and handled great. Penske is switching to Ford. Ford, despite spending unlimited funds had a so-so year, even though Greg Biffle lead the points most of the season. They are losing their steadiest shoe, Matt Kenseth to Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. Edwards was mostly a mid-packer who missed the Chase.

One wonders what Kurt Busch thought when he saw Brad hold that big check. Because of his boorish behavior, Busch was discharged by Penske last year. Now he has to fight to finish 15th.

This might be the era of new faces at the championship table. Look out for Kasey Kahne next year.

If points are as exciting as the TV commentators try to sell, why was Homestead-Miami Speedway almost empty for the truck race Friday and less than half full for the Nationwide race? Points were belabored all weekend. The worst was

Marty Reid, who tried to make Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s margin seem tenuous.

It never was. I didn’t hear an original thought all weekend.



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