Brad Keselowski has quickly gone from learner to leader at Penske Racing
How quickly things have changed for Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski.
The 2011 season started with him still the learner, following a champion teammate and trying to learn from Kurt Busch how to be more consistent and win races on a regular basis.
But a strange scenario unfolded as 2011 progressed. As Kurt Busch imploded, and eventually was fired by Roger Penske, Brad got really really good.
Instead of learning from Kurt, he would often have better finishes that his alleged mentor at Penske. This no doubt furthered Busch’s paranoia about the equipment he was getting, and made his downward spiral that much faster.
Brad busted up his foot, and then he went on a hot streak. He had no shot at making the Chase, then he stormed into it with vigor, winning in surprising fashion several times – well, surprising considering his inconsistent start to the season at least.
Once in the Chase, Brad held his own. While he never contended for the title, he ended up in the top-5. Not bad for a guy who was supposed to be the No. 2 driver at Penske at the start of the year (by the way, Mr. Busch finished out of the top 10 in points and didn’t even get invited to the banquet in Vegas.)
Where will Kurt Busch end up next year? Best case scenario is a Petty car. Worst case, some backmarker looking for a driver with a past champions provisional.
But we know where Brad will be. He has extended his contract with Penske, along with his crew chief, and will now be the team leader.
And you can tell he is ready for it.
I once suggested that Brad’s time at Penske might not go so well, and that he might end up returning to the Hendrick team once Jeff Gordon decided to retire.
After seeing the potential he has in the Penske ride based on 2011, I don’t think that will happen. Not only is Gordon sticking around for a little while, Brad is doing just fine where he is.
He can win races, he can contend for the Cup. His risky move to Penske didn’t turn out to be so risky after all. He is a talented driver, with a crew chief who works well with him, and that right there is a winning combination as long as Penske can get him the right equipment.
What a difference a year makes.
Keselowki, Logano visit Guantanamo Bay on NASCAR/USO Tour
Not many people get to see what it’s like at Guantanamo Bay, but Keselowski and Joey Logano can count themselves on that list. The two went last week down to visit troops at Gitmo and help them celebrate the holidays, and was conducted in partnership with the USO.
During the visit, Keselowski and Logano visited hundreds of sailors and coast guardsmen and their families. The pair dined with troops, visited the U.S. Navy Hospital, signed autographs and patrolled the waters with service members.
This was the first USO tour for Keselowski and Logano, though both have visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center and done other activities involving the military.
“This was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad to be a part of it,” Keselowski said. “I hope to go back on another USO Tour. After meeting the men and women in Guantanamo Bay, I cannot imagine the sacrifices and experiences they have to go through during their time there. It was an amazing experience and I am so grateful that I was invited to go.”
“It was awesome to learn more about Guantanamo Bay and what the mission is down there and how it works,” Logano said. “It was great to meet and talk to the troops, and it was one heck of an experience. We get to see a lot of troops at the race track, but to see them in action and doing their jobs…I am so impressed and have such a high amount of respect for each and every one of them and what they do.”
Become a fan of the Facebook page NASCARBeyond
Follow me on Twitter: