Keselowski Back Behind the Wheel

B.Keselowski

Brad Keselowski sets his sights on the 2013 season – with hopes of becoming the 11th driver in NASCAR history with back-to-back Cup championships. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Just 11 days after being formally crowned 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Brad Keselowski will be back behind the wheel of his No. 2 Penske Racing entry.

Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano are among the drivers expected to participate in a two-day test of NASCAR’s newly designed 2013 racecar next Tuesday and Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

In looking back at this season, the freshly minted champion says he learned some hard lessons in his first two years that helped steer him to a title in 2012.

“I had a pretty good idea of what we needed to do to win the championship at the end of last year, to be quite honest,” said Keselowski, who claimed the crown in just his third full season of competition. “We didn’t quite execute as strongly as we needed to. We finished fifth in points, but that was a learning process.”

In 2011, Keselowski was a Wild Card entry in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, thanks to three regular-season wins. Four top-five finishes in the first six post-season races lifted Keselowski to third place in the standings. But he failed to crack the top 15 over the final month of the season, with a best finish of 17th at Martinsville Speedway.

“I think we applied some of those lessons learned to 2012,” said Keselowski, who graded out to an “A-plus” this fall.

He won two of the first three Chase races – at Chicagoland Speedway and Dover International Speedway, building a five-point lead over five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Keselowski kept his foot on the gas the rest of the way, with an average finish of seventh over the next six races.

Keselowski entered the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway needing only a finish of 15th or better to deliver Penske Racing’s first Cup Series championship and that’s exactly what he got.

In the days since, Keselowski has humbly thanked many who helped develop his career as a racer – most notably members of his family. The third-generation driver has followed in the footsteps of his father Bob, uncle and grandfather in pursuing racing as a livelihood.

Keselowski didn’t always have the best equipment or the fastest cars at his disposal. But that changed dramatically for the 2007 Nationwide Series, when he joined JR Motorsports.

“I had the ability to drive a car like (team owner) Dale (Earnhardt) Jr.’s and I respected that situation,” Keselowski said. “I had respect for the crew members and the role they have every day to make sure you have the best possible car. When you respect them, they tend to respect you back and things go in positive direction.”

Keselowski won six races over his final two years with JR Motorsports, finishing third in the championship standings both seasons. He then joined Penske Racing and won the 2010 Nationwide Series crown in the No. 22 Dodge.

Two years later, Keselowski has added a Sprint Cup Series title to his resume and sets his sights on the 2013 season – with hopes of becoming the 11th driver in NASCAR history with back-to-back Cup championships.

Fans will be able to view the two-day test session Dec. 11-12 free of charge at Charlotte Motor Speedway, from the Ford Grandstand along the frontstretch of the 1.5-mile oval. Teams expected to participate include Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing and Wood Brothers Racing.

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