Here’s a tweet for Brad Keselowski: U R NASCAR champion.
Roger Penske must like the sound of that, too.
The kid who stole the show at the season-opening Daytona 500 ended the year under the brightest spotlight of them all Sunday, beating five-time champion Jimmie Johnson to deliver Penske Racing its first Sprint Cup championship.
His first act as champ? Sending a tweet, of course, from his car: “We did it!”
“Always, throughout my whole life I’ve been told I’m not big enough, not fast enough, not strong enough and I don’t have what it takes,” Keselowski said from the championship stage at Miami-Homestead Speedway in South Florida. “ … It took until this year for me to realize that 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.”
So, with the Penske organization behind him, he delivered a trophy that had eluded “The Captain” since his 1972 NASCAR debut. Although Roger Penske’s motor sports organization is considered the gold standard of open-wheel racing — 15 Indianapolis 500 wins — his NASCAR team has always been just average.
Then came Keselowski, the blue collar, Twitter-loving, Michigan native who visited Penske in 2008 convinced the NASCAR team could win, too.
Nearly four years later, they hoisted the Sprint Cup trophy together following Keselowski’s 15th-place finish.
“It’s all about the people in our organization and obviously Brad coming on our board three years ago, and we set a plan and we stuck to it,” the 75-year-old Penske said. “To win this championship is amazing.”
Keselowski needed 125 starts to win his first title, fewest since four-time champion Jeff Gordon won his first title after 93 starts in 1995.
Gordon, who avoided suspension this week but was fined $100,000 by NASCAR for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer last week at Phoenix, overcame the controversy to win the race in a 20th anniversary celebration for sponsor Dupont and Hendrick Motorsports.
It was Gordon’s first victory at Homestead, which leaves Kentucky as the only active NASCAR track where he’s yet to win.
Who did Gordon beat? Bowyer, of course.
Bowyer’s runner-up finish moved him to a career-best second in the final standings. Third-place went to Ryan Newman, who broke in with Penske and praised the team owner for his dedication to motor sports.
Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne finished 21st in the race and slipped to fourth in the final overall standings.
HAMILTON TIPS VETTEL
A bold passing maneuver at the end of a long straightway slipped Lewis Hamilton past Sebastian Vettel, and the McLaren driver went on to win the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, the first Formula One race on American soil since 2007.
The driver championship will be settled next week in Sao Paolo, Brazil, after Red Bull’s Vettel finished second and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was third.
Vettel started the race in the pole position and led the first 41 laps before Hamilton passed him, sneaking past Vettel just before they reached the tight corner on turn No. 12 at the Circuit of the Americas. Hamilton started in the No. 2 position and pushed Vettel at every opportunity.
Vettel, the two-time defending Formula One champion, remains slightly ahead of Ferrari’s Alonso in points going into the final race of the season.