Brad Keselowski Driven To Win Second NASCAR Cup Title

Tough, tenacious, relentless, passionate, and driven.

Those are some words to describe 32-year-old Brad Keselowski, the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and determined racer from Team Penske.  Since 2008, the Rochester Hills, MI native has made his mark in the most premier level of stock car racing with an old school racing approach on track.

Today’s NASCAR racing is a blend of the established veterans clashing with the youthful talents who are emerging into the Cup series in premier rides.  In the case of Keselowski, he’s worked hard to earn the opportunity to drive the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion.

Racing has been synonymous with Keselowski’s family.  His father Bob made his presence in the ARCA and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series while his uncle Ron raced in the Cup series in the early 1970’s.

Over the years, Keselowski has paid his dues as a hard charging racer who has risen to the occasion throughout his Cup career.

Keselowski scored a solid top-five finish last Sunday at Loudon.

Keselowski scored a solid top-five finish last Sunday at Loudon.

He’s conquered the high banks of Daytona and Talladega while mastering the intermediates like Kentucky and Kansas.  Most notably, he scored the first Cup championship for Roger Penske as a car owner, a truly memorable moment that wrapped up the 2012 season.

Keselowski is in the midst of one of his strongest Cup efforts, entering The Chase with four race wins (Las Vegas, Talladega, Daytona, and Kentucky).

Logging 14 top-fives and 19 top-10’s through the first 28 races of the 2016 season, Keselowski expressed confidence with his No. 2 team when asked if he felt his team was stronger than the 2012 title run.

Keselowski observes some notes with crew chief Paul Wolfe.

Keselowski observes some notes with crew chief Paul Wolfe.

“I mean, I think there’s a lot of things we have going for us now that we didn’t have going before,” Keselowski said prior to last Friday’s qualifying rounds at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “Certainly, I’m more experienced.  I think our pit crew is the best it’s ever been on the over-the-wall side.  And I think we have the best relationships we’ve probably ever had with Team Penske with respect to teammates in the 22 and 21 (Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney) so yea, I would agree with that.”

In recent years, The Chase has truly amplified the intensity and high stakes pressure that sometimes bests even the top racers and teams.

Given the high stakes and pressure that comes with the eliminations after each round, Keselowski tries to keep it simple but recognizes an area of opportunity.

“I don’t always keep my cool and composure,” Keselowski said with a laugh.  “You always try your best but it’s a pressure cooker.  You have your good days and your bad days.  You’ve just got to make the most of the good days and move on from the bad ones.  I think with that mentality, that’s the best I know how to do with it, but I’ve never been a good loser.  I’ve still got room to go.”

There’s no denying that Keselowski has a keen eye for recruiting great talent for NASCAR, ranging from the likes of Ross Chastain, Ryan Blaney, and Daniel Hemric, among others.

Recognizing the kindness and challenges he encountered when he worked his way into the sport, paying it forward has been a principle that this young racer has embraced.

“It’s fun,” he observed.  “It’s important to give back to the sport that’s given me so much.  People took a chance on me and I’ve had the opportunity to do the same and it feels right.”

Undoubtedly, Keselowski has been an influence with some of the younger racers who are working arduously to make their way into NASCAR.

Madyson Mulligan, a young racer from Virginia, has looked up to Keselowski throughout her budding career and pondered if the current Chase points leader would consider having her pilot one of her Truck entries in the future and if he favored a particular track.

"I like the tracks that I win at." - Brad Keselowski

“I like the tracks that I win at.” – Brad Keselowski

“If she goes out and wins, absolutely!” Keselowski observed with a smile.  “We look for winners.  I like the tracks that I win at.  Those are always a lot of fun.  The opportunities are endless in this sport.  If you go up front and win, people will eventually take notice if you take advantage of every opportunity.”

Recently, Keselowski offered his input with NASCAR Heat Evolution, a video game that was released for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.  Chronicling his role with the development of the game, he made note of a particular feature that has been a fan favorite over the years.

“Some of the challenge moments, I think are a lot of fun,” Keselowski said.  He offered his input with the racing experience, as he provided “some of the feedback on how the car drives and how I would want it to race so I could have fun with my friends.”

While Keselowski has focused on scoring his second Cup championship, he has reflected on how his family has changed his mindset and approach with each race weekend.

“I think it affects you but you probably don’t realize it,” Keselowski reflected.  “It’s one of those questions that I’ll answer probably five to 10 years from now and say, ‘Yea, it was a big deal.’  Right now, it’s kind of like they’re too close to the fire to answer.  But I can tell you that I’m having the best time I’ve ever had and I’m really happy.”

Ultimately, Keselowski has made his race fans smile by interacting with them, be it on a Facebook Live session or through his musings on Twitter.

As a sort of pioneer with the tweet liked and shared around the world during the 2012 Daytona 500, he recognizes how critical it is to maintain a presence with fans, press, and others to draw more interest into NASCAR.

Keselowski prepares for a practice run in his No. 2 Ford.

Keselowski prepares for a practice run in his No. 2 Ford.

“Social media is an incredible opportunity to reach out to people that you’d never get the chance to talk to before,” Keselowski offered.  “This sport is driven by its fans and our followers and I think it’s as simple as that.”

Ultimately, a racer like Keselowski has shown the ability to merge old school racing with today’s NASCAR, a trait that’s matched by the remarkable willpower that he’s shown on the track in the No. 2 Ford.  It is as simple as that.

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. Born and raised in the Boston, MA area, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it’s about anything with an engine and four wheels, you’ll likely see an article on The Podium Finish by either myself or one of my talented columnists who absolutely have the motorsports passion.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

One Comment

  1. Tess.carleo@gmail.com'

    Tess

    October 5, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    What a great read! Keep up the fantastic work, Rob! Maybe we will be reading your writing through NASCAR.com soon.

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