The only guy dressed in jeans and a trendy button-down shirt, Brad Keselowski stood out among his impeccably-suited fellow NASCAR top-12 drivers as they posed on stage during an awards luncheon at the grand Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas last week.
With a major shake-up on his Penske Racing team this week, Keselowski is standing out and standing tall — ready or not — to assume the leadership position with the legendary organization only one full season into his Sprint Cup career.
The announcement this week that Penske Racing and Keselowski’s veteran teammate, 2004 Cup champ Kurt Busch, are parting ways immediately puts the 27-year-old Keselowski on center stage. And judging by his effort on the track and his evolving persona away from it, he’s ready.
Keselowski won three races — including two with a broken ankle — and finished fifth in the Sprint Cup championship in his first full year of competition driving Roger Penske’s famed No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. His candor and humor on the social network Twitter has garnered a large following from fans and even a secret fine from NASCAR, which practically makes him a bona fide star these days.
“I’m having fun,’’ Keselowski said while taking his seat at the luncheon last week, dismissing the smirks and head-shakes from his fellow competitors over his casual clothing choice. Tech-savvy, fan- and media-friendly, and wildly talented, Keselowski is exactly the kind of driver fitted for NASCAR’s new generation and, just perhaps, the guy to land Penske its first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship among 12 IndyCar crowns. Keselowski’s 2010 Nationwide Series championship was Penske’s first NASCAR title. And the fact that he has already established himself among NASCAR’s elite talents will serve him well, as will his ability to prove himself a capable leader on the team. His Twitter adventures serve as good examples of that. He was handed a $25,000 “secret fine” by NASCAR for criticizing — via Twitter — the electronic fuel injection that will be introduced next year.
But when asked about his opinions by Twitter, later conceded, “I think you can continue to have the same candor and continue to be authentic, but . . . you can use a little discretion, absolutely.’’ This week he showed the kind of discretion and professionalism more aptly associated with the Penske organization — traits that ultimately cost Busch his job.
“Kurt has been a great teammate and friend to me over the last 2 seasons. I truly do wish him the best, wherever and whatever he does,’’ Keselowski posted on his Twitter account Monday.
Brad Keselowski takes us on a tour of of his hometown.
Date 8/16/11, Duration 9:06, Views 7267
And just like that, Keselowski is about to have the blessing and the challenge of leading one of the most respected teams in auto racing history. He is “the guy.”
One with a strong season under his belt as he prepares for that new role. “I don’t think anyone really expected that (fifth-place championship finish) out of us, but I never stopped believing that we could be a contender and have a lot of fun and do well as a team,’’ Keselowski said after the Homestead-Miami season finale.
“I think we have a lot to build off of.’’
Source: Fox Sports