Keselowski Ushers in New Era for NASCAR Champions

Keselowski Ushers in New Era for NASCAR Champions

Just the Facts:
  • Brad Keselowski ushered in a new era for NASCAR champions on Sunday when he won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • Keselowski, the first Cup champion born in the decade of the 1980s, gave car owner Roger Penske his first Cup title.
  • Keselowski won the admiration of a new generation of NASCAR fans through his brash and outspoken attitude and his use of social media.

HOMESTEAD, Florida — Brad Keselowski is being touted as the new face of NASCAR after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Keselowski opened a new era for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series by becoming the first champion born in the 1980s when he captured this year's title with a 15th-place finish Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Keselowski won the admiration of a new generation of NASCAR fans through his brash and outspoken attitude and his use of social media. He used his cell phone to send Twitter messages to a large following of fans, including two times when he tweeted during red-flag periods of races.

"It's 310am and I've heard party rock at least 5 times, this is a sign... What a day!," Keselowski tweeted after the race.

ESPN christened him with the title of the "new face of NASCAR."

Keselowski, 29, from Rochester, Michigan, gave venerable team owner Roger Penske his long-awaited first Cup Series championship title. He also gave Dodge a champion driver — the first one since Richard Petty in 1975 — in the Chrysler Corp. brand's final year before it withdraws from stock car racing.

The new champion won five races, including two of the 10 events in the Chase for the Cup which determined the top driver from a field of 12 eligible competitors.

Keselowski swigged beer from a jumbo-sized glass during a live interview on ESPN's SportsCenter and commented that winning the Cup championship "feels damned good!"

A week ago, in a profanity-laced tirade, he ripped four-time champion Jeff Gordon — who won Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 race — after Gordon deliberately wrecked Clint Bowyer at Phoenix International Raceway. NASCAR did not penalize him for his language, but did fine him for violation of NASCAR rules prohibiting drivers from having electronic devices such as cell phones in their possession while in the racecar.

Keselowski has evoked controversy with his hard-nosed driving style and was involved in a series of on-track clashes with Carl Edwards and other drivers. He won his first Cup Series victory in 2009 at Talladega, Alabama, after a collision that sent Edwards' car sailing into the catch fence in front of the Talladega Superspeedway main grandstand.

On Sunday, Keselowski held off a challenge from five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who failed to finish and ended up 36th after the rear-end gearing failed in his Chevrolet. Coincidentally, Keselowski finished high enough that he would have clinched the title even if Johnson had won the race.

Keselowski joins other drivers who have launched new eras of champions.

Dale Earnhardt became the first Cup Series champion born after World War II (1951) when he won the 1980 Winston Cup title and Bobby Labonte became the first and only driver born in the 1960s (1964) when he won the 2000 title.

Edmunds says: Jimmie Johnson, who enjoyed a five-year stranglehold on the NASCAR championship from 2006-2010, was criticized by some for having a bland personality. There will be no such accusations directed at the new champion, who has attitude to match his abilities.

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