Brad Keselowski has won the Sprint Cup championship, making him the first driver to win the trophy for owner Roger Penske since “The Captain” began his career in NASCAR in 1972.
Keselowski was the kid who stole the show in February’s Daytona 500 and when he beat Jimmie Johnson in Sunday’s race, he ended the year under the biggest spotlight in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, reports ESPN. Keselowski said from the championship stage:
“Always, throughout my whole live I’ve been told I’m not big enough, not fast enough, not strong enough and I don’t have what it takes. I’ve used that as a chip on my shoulder to carry me through my whole career. It took until this year for me to realize that was right, man, they were right. I’m not big enough, fast enough, strong enough. No person is. Only a team can do that.”
Keselowski’s 15th place finish during Sunday’s race in Homestead allowed him to grace the championship stage for the first time, beating out five-time champion Johnson — the only driver who could have challenged him, notes Yahoo! Sports.
Johnson wasn’t even on the track when teammate Jeff Gordon took the checkered flag in the race, because he went to the garage with 40 laps to go for a reported driveline issue. Keselowski added of his team:
“My team finds a way. They don’t give up. They don’t surrender. Like Winston Churchill, they never, never, never, never give up.”
Johnson’s critical moment happened with 54 laps to go when his crew missed a lug nut during a pit stop. The resulting return to pit road meant the driver of the number 48 lost a lap. Johnson stated after the race:
“This is definitely disappointing, but I feel that we had the speed. We had 80 percent of the Chase that we needed to have. So it’s hard to be real down on myself or real down on where we finished. These championships are special, and it takes an entire 10-race — clean 10 races — to win one of these things. We did all we could and came up a little short.”
While he is certainly celebrating teammate Jeff Gordon’s win during the final race of the season, no doubt Johnson wishes he was in Brad Keselowski’s shoes as the 2012 NASCAR Spring Cup Champion.