Monday, November 19, 2012

The Blue Deuce and Roger Penske: Champions in NASCAR

The 2012 Spring Cup Season will be remember for lots of things; some good, some bad.  You will remember AJ Allmendinger being suspended for Adderall in his system and Roger Penske expressing his dismay over that situation.  You will remember this year because it is the one that Dale Earnhardt Jr. sat out for two races because of a concussion.  You will remember the blowup between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer because of the intentional wrecking of Bowyer and the two crews brawling by Gordon's hauler.  You will remember the 100 yard dash by Bowyer to try and get at Gordon.  And while you remember those things and others, there is one thing that will be etched in stone from this year.  the fact that Brad Keselowski and Roger Penske each won their 1st NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, while staring down a 5-time champion in Jimmie Johnson and not succumbing to the pressure.

Some nuggets from the championship season for Brad:

  • Keselowski is the 1st Driver from Michigan to win the Sprint Cup
  • Keselowski is the 2nd Driver to win the Championship driving a #2 car.  (Dale Earnhardt, 1980)
  • Keselowski only has 125 Sprint Cup starts
  • Only the 2nd Driver to win a Nationwide and Sprint Cup Championship.  (Bobby Labonte)
  • Keselowski and Paul Wolfe are the first driver/crew chief combo to win championships together in Nationwide and Sprint Cup.
  • Roger Penske gets his 1st Sprint Cup Championship in the organizations 23rd season in NASCAR.
  • Dodge wins their 1st NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship since 1975 (Richard Petty), their 5th overall.
2012 was a good year for Keselowski in the #2 Miller Lite car.  He only had 4 races where he finished 20th or worse.  3 of those were in the first 7 weeks.  He didn't start out like a house of fire, but came on during the middle part of the "regular season" and secured his place in the chase with 7 Top 10 finishes in a row.  In the chase, the worse finish was at Homestead with a 15th.  There was one other finish that he didn't get in the Top 10 and that was at Chicago.  He averaged a 6.3 finishing place in the chase.  And the most amazing thing was that he didn't show that amazing knack of running over people that he had demonstrated during the past couple of years.

Another part of this team that is amazing is that Brad is almost too hands on.  He has a plan and wants to implement it immediately.  I have read in various accounts that he and Roger Penske are in constant contact.   Mr. Penske has also said in interviews that Brad is always looking for an advantage and is usually trying to figure out a way to get that advantage legally.  It also shows that Mr. Penske has great faith in Keselowski when he took Brad's recommendation and signed Joey Logano to drive for Penske Racing in 2013.

Keselowski said it best, it wasn't until this year that he understood the true meaning of team.  And that is what you need in NASCAR, a team.  Because while the driver gets most of the attention and all the praise by the public, those guys standing in the pits and work on the car back at the shop are the ones that make the team what it is.  It is nice to see that Brad has matured into a champion that everyone should be able to respect, even if he is a bit outside the norm of what NASCAR is used to.

Salute to the Captain and every member of the #2 team!


Anonymous said...

I was very happy to see this happen. I rooted for Brad's dad Bob in the Truck series about a dozen years ago, and became a huge fan when he gave Dennis Setzer a shot in the #1 truck and nearly won a couple of championships with him.

You'd dig Bob. He had Mopar sponsorship in the Truck series and raced a Chrysler LeBaron in ARCA during the 80s and 90s before he got into NASCAR.

dasnake said...

great writeup, glad to see penske get this win, at age 75 being hands on as he is might be dialed down in the future. i met him at the vancouver indy years ago and he really is a class act. glad to see beuscher and stenhouse win the truck and nationwide. the final at homestead could not have been written by hollywood, the two combatants fom last week coming in one,two at homestead. really glad to see bowyer and waltrip do so well in their first season, second in the standings by one point over johnson is pretty amazing.
well as it is, 97 days til daytona, yahoo.

Brent said...

I am sure I would dig Bob. I feel at home in a pit area at a racetrack. That is where I grew up.

I might actually enjoy watching NASCAR next year.

Zebster said...

Great job, Brent, I think you covered everything but I will emphasize again CHAMPIONSHIP FOR MOPAR. I am so sad to see them go AGAIN. Yeah, I remember Bob seemingly always being loyal to Mopar. Didn't he also race in the old TransAm series?
And a respectable season for RPM, especially the way the 43 ran down the stretch. And a very good season for Kasey.