In the midst of a sparkling season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Brad Keselowski and his No. 2 Team Penske Ford Fusion crew, led by crew chief Paul Wolfe, look to make some noise heading into this year's Chase for the Championship. With just three races left before the 10 race battle for the ultimate prize in stock car racing, the 2012 Cup champion's journey in NASCAR has been a journey defined by success and the ability to overcome adversities.
Keselowski has won at Las Vegas, Kentucky, and New Hampshire this year and is looking to capture his fourth victory at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night. Sitting third in the Chase Grid points standings heading into Round 24 of the Cup season, the 30-year-old Rochester Hills, MI native has been executing on all aspects of his race weekend strategy, solidly amongst the top qualifiers with an average starting position of 6.9 and has collected nine top-fives and 11 top-10's thus far.
Prior to qualifying for the Irwin Tools Night Race (Live on ABC, Saturday night at 7:30 ET), I caught up with Keselowski and talked briefly about his season, his team's strategy for the Chase, and an overview of his NASCAR career. To say the least, he's humble and grateful of his opportunities and most of all, he's determined to win his second Sprint Cup title for Team Penske. Now, he talks about his racing story, right here, exclusively on The Podium Finish!
Rob Tiongson : It’s been a strong season for you and the No. 2 team, with three wins, good enough to currently sit second in points as we enter Round 23 at Michigan. It seems like the makings are there to win a Sprint Cup championship. Would you say that compared to the 2012 season, that you’re happier than you were then and having as much fun with racing this year?
Brad Keselowski : I don’t know if I am happier now than I was then as it applies to the team and our results. The team is doing very well this year and I am proud of the effort and the results we’ve had to date.
RT : As you’ve clinched a spot in this year’s Chase Grid, have you and Paul Wolfe approached the summer races in three race segments to evaluate the team’s performances in the three race rounds?
BK : The whole team has been working diligently to prepare for the Chase. Since it is the first time with this new format, we have an opportunity to use our resources and strengths as an organization to our advantage.
RT : We saw some good hard racing with your teammate Joey Logano at Watkins Glen in the Nationwide race as well as throughout the season. While he’s your teammate, when it gets time to the Chase, do you and the 22 team somewhat close the doors with sharing notes or is it business as usual in the final 10 races?
BK : The No. 2 and No. 22 teams work well together which is what got both teams into the Chase. We will continue to share and do our best to push each other to improve. While I want to win another championship – I also want Roger to win another one.
RT : Could you ever imagine having the kind of success that you’ve earned and enjoyed, especially when reflecting on those early years in the sport as a racer in the Truck Series?
BK : On the one hand, I kind of did imagine being successful as I just wanted to be a race car driver. Once I started having small successes, one thing led to another and now here we are, working hard to win more races and another championship. I don’t think I knew exactly was going to happen, but I knew if I worked hard, gave it my best and did not give up – I’d make it.
RT : You were the first NASCAR racer to truly embrace the Twitter phenomenon a couple of years ago, being a trendsetter amongst your colleagues. How important has it been to keep that visible presence with the press and fans on that social media outlet?
BK : Twitter allows me to connect with the fans. That is important to me. During a race weekend, I don’t get as much time as I’d like to interact with the fans so Twitter gives me that opportunity.
RT : What advice would you share with those looking to make their opportunity into the sport, whether as a racer or a journalist?
BK : Follow your dream, work hard, and never quit. Also, buy some golf clubs and learn how to golf (a lot of deals are made on the golf course).
Author's Notes - I'd like to thank Brad Keselowski and Team Penske for letting me have the opportunity to do this interview for our fans here on The Podium Finish! The photos in this piece are courtesy of Team Penske. Catch up with Keselowski and Penske's Twitter pages now! Also, I dedicate this piece to my sister Tess on her birthday. Happy Birthday and thanks for being my rock through it all!