Gas 'N' Go: Judging Keselowski's Reign

Brad Keselowski

During Brad Keselowski's reign as Sprint Cup champion, he failed to make the Chase, but his connection with fans on social media grew. (Photo: Getty Images)

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The pits are open again and, MotorRacingNetwork.com's Pete Pistone and Dustin Long each answer this week's featured question in "Gas 'N' Go."

How would you classify Brad Keselowski's reign as Sprint Cup champion?

MRN Staff

Answer

Pete Pistone
Pete Pistone

Disappointing.

It's hard to believe 12 months ago that many were heralding Keselowski as a new kind of NASCAR champion. Not only did he bring Roger Penske a long-awaited Sprint Cup trophy, he beat what Penske himself called the sport's "gold standard" in Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports. Keselowski's brash manner, outspokenness, embrace of social media and genuine personality provided NASCAR a shot in the arm.

But then came the 2013 season. Before the year even truly began, Keselowski was called on the carpet by NASCAR management for comments made in a USA Today story that were deemed controversial about the sport's direction. Although he got off to a good start behind the wheel, things really went bad for Keselowski and company in April at Texas when the Penske team was penalized for an illegal rear-end suspension. From then, it was a struggle to find speed and competitiveness until things headed back in the right direction late in the season.

However, Keselowski missed the Chase and wasn't able to defend his crown. Not having him in the mix for wins and the title, along with the ability to speak his mind more often, made for a letdown after what Keselowski accomplished in 2012.

Dustin Long
Dustin Long

A learning experience.

Yes, it was disappointing on the track with missing the Chase, but you have to look at everything. 

Keselowski talked a year ago about wanting to be a leader in the garage. He was in some areas, including his interaction with fans on social media. That’s significant.

He needs to refine other areas. It’s OK to give answers that are not popular - but as one Sprint Cup driver told me, Keselowski needs to back his statements better instead of offering a comment on an issue just because he’s asked a question.

Think back to the first year that Jimmie Johnson reigned. Many complained that he was too vanilla because he would not speak out at all. Johnson evolved. Keselowski will too. 

It’s not easy being at the forefront of a sport. Should Keselowski get the chance with another championship, I’m sure he’ll be better on and off the track.

 

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