Keselowski Gives Penske First Cup Title

Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski's first career Sprint Cup Series championship was also the first for legendary team owner Roger Penske. (Photo: Getty Images)

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Brad Keselowski's first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship is also the first for legendary team owner Roger Penske.

In just his third full-time season, Keselowski locked up the title with a 15th-place finish in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to become the 29th driver to take home the Cup in NASCAR's 64th season.

"Just how far we've come, Penske Racing - this team is phenomenal and I'm so fortunate to have them," Keselowski said.  "Everybody back in North Carolina and Morrisville that supports this team - none of this was possible without them.  I feel so lucky to have everyone here, just a dream come true to have a car like the 'Blue Deuce,' and to have fast cars, a great team ... this is what you dream of as a driver and I'm just so very fortunate."

Already with an impressive racing resume that includes 15 Indianapolis 500 wins and the 2006 title in the IZOD IndyCar Series, plus a Nationwide Series championship with Keselowski, Penske can now add Sprint Cup champion to his long list of accolades.

"Personally, I feel amazing that I've been able to achieve this in racing," Penske said.  "I've lauded the people that have been on that stage for so many years in Las Vegas and New York, and to be able to join this elite group and say that I'm a champion in NASCAR means a lot, and certainly it takes a lot of people.  But I think it took guts for me to stay in the sport.  We could have thought, 'Well, we won the Indy 500 15 times and we're a big deal,' but I'll tell you one thing: Until you get here and you compete at the top and win it, you really know what's happened and I think I just woke up here tonight.  It's a big thrill."

NASCARCrew Chief Paul Wolfe also took home his first Cup championship to follow up the Nationwide Series title in 2010.  Keselowski and Wolfe are the only driver-crew chief combination to win championships in both of NASCAR's top two divisions.

"It's obviously very special, not only for myself but everybody at Penske Racing," Wolfe said.  "So much has gone into this, and I'm thankful for the opportunity that 'R.P." has given me and Brad.  There have been plenty of lists we've passed his way of things we wanted, and it was our job when we got those things to go out there and perform.  For the most part, we've tried to do that and over the last three years, we've been able to accomplish a lot of great things."

At age 28, Keselowski is the eighth-youngest competitor to win a first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.  It took him 125 races to win the Cup, the fewest starts since Jeff Gordon won his first of four in 1995 (93 races).

"Jeff Gordon won the championship at that early age and you can see he's won multiple championships," Penske said.  "I can tell you this.  Paul (Wolfe) already said to me we've got to go to work Tuesday morning and get ready to go next year.  So it doesn't take long to have it sink in and we've got to think about the future."

Penske Racing made its first Cup Series start in 1972 but only made one full-season run in 1976 with Bobby Allison before stepping up full-time with its flagship car, the No. 2, and NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace in 1991.  Penske's previous best finish in the point standings came with Wallace in 1993, second place (behind Dale Earnhardt).

"It's a special position to be in as an owner," Penske said.  "As I've said before, it's a goal I wanted to achieve and I tried hard.  We were close in '93 with Rusty finishing second and then third in '94.  That's a long time ago.  The competition has gotten tougher.  On any one weekend, there are 10 or 15 cars that can win and I think for us to have the continuity ... we've built a special team here."

The championship is the fifth for Dodge - which announced earlier this year that it is leaving NASCAR - and its first since 1975 with Richard Petty.  Since 2003, Penske Racing has competed with Dodges and scored 31 wins among four drivers (Keselowski, Wallace, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch).  Keselowski won eight races, including five this season.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our engineering team that never gave up all season," said Ralph Gilles, Dodge President and CEO of Street and Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports, "an amazing accomplishment for everyone, for sure.  This project wasn’t one that started yesterday.  This has been an 11-year run with a lot of talented people who spent countless hours to make this championship possible.  That's the Dodge way.  It’s always been the Dodge way.  The underdogs came up and did it today.  Three years ago, people were looking at us sideways when we put this deal together.  Everybody grew from it - from Brad (Keselowski) to Penske to Dodge.  To go out on top makes it all worthwhile.”

Keselowski is from Rochester Hills, Mich., and rightfully proud of “The Wolverine State.”  Penske also has a number of ties to the state that include enshrinement in the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame and the title of chairman of Super Bowl XL that was held in Detroit in February 2006.

"To me, to bring home this championship, I would have to say that's like bringing the Super Bowl to Detroit - with this young man winning and being from the Detroit area," Penske said.  "Hopefully, he'll get his due and what he deserves for being this great champion.  I'm just glad to be part of it."

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