A champion is born - NASCAR NOTES by Lugnut - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

NASCAR NOTES: A champion is born

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR
Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"
Las Vegas, NV -

As the last official function for NASCAR drivers came to an end in Vegas last weekend, it is time to take a look back with our new Champion.

Brad Keselowski hasn't been on NASCAR's main stage for very long. Many would say that he's too young to be the Cup Series Champion. However, as he has done his entire career, Keselowski is proving his skeptics wrong.

Keselowski is a calculating type of person. He studies his surroundings and plans a course of action for everything that he does. So, it is no surprise that after finishing fifth in the 2011 standings, Keselowski knew what it would take to end up on top.

"I had a pretty good idea what we needed to do to win the championship at the end of last year to be quite honest," said Brad on his strategy. "We finished strong and finished fifth in the points, but that process was certainly a learning process. I think we applied some of those lessons to 2012."

The journey to NASCAR's highest position was a struggle for the young driver until he got his big break when Dale Earnhardt Jr. knocked on his door and asked him to drive his Nationwide car. It was the lessons learned at JRMotorsports that molded Keselowski for his path to the championship at Penske Racing.

"To drive a car like Dale Jr.'s and respect the situation, and respect the crew members and the role that they have every day to make sure you have the best possible car," reflected Keselowski on his learning curve. "When you respect them, they tend to respect you back, and things just go in a positive direction."

That positive direction took him to Penske racing for the 2010 season but his first year didn't win over a lot of new fans as he had confrontations with many of the sports stars that led to a lot of negative reaction.

"You're never going to get all of the people to like something that you do. It's not possible," continued the Champ when asked about how he deals with criticism. "Someone's always going to dislike something you do, and you have to roll that off your shoulders and move on."

The 2011 season was a maturing season for Keselowski and as 2012 rolled around; his Penske Racing team was on the list of potential championship contenders. Fan appreciation changed as well and as he celebrated in Vegas this past weekend, the young Michigan driver's dream was realized.

"I think I'm still in the whirlwind part," said Keselowski on his rise to the top. "It will sink in when I get home and get to catch up with everything that's going on. I haven't had that opportunity yet, but I'm looking forward to it."

The critics say he's too young, too inexperienced, and too immature but, I say he's just right. As NASCAR moves into a new era with the G6 race car, increased driver recognition with the fans, and in car technology, the sport needs a fresh approach. It needs someone that will break the mold from champions of the past and move us in a new direction. Brad Keselowski is certainly that guy and I'm looking forward to next season.

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