When Roger Penske went looking for a driver to fill out his NASCAR Nationwide team a few years ago he found Brad Keselowski, who was then driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports.
Penske was attracted not only by Keselowki’s obvious talents but for his seemingly boundless enthusiasm for the sport of stock car racing.
It was that enthusiasm that was the key ingredient Saturday night in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway where Keselowski picked up his Sprint Cup leading third victory in the No. 2 Dodge.
Keselowski, even in the searing heat, appeared fresh as a spring daisy after the race.
There had been questions about how he would hold up as the Sprint Cup race was his third NASCAR race of the week — having driven in the Camping World Truck where he finished second and Nationwide Series where he finished seventh.
“Do I look like I’m missing any energy?” Keselowski said after the Cup race. “No, I’m great, man. I feel good. I’m going to sleep in tomorrow, but I would have done that either way.”
The win all but guarantees him a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship that starts in just nine races.
This even though Keselowski is 10th in points.
His three wins, however, come with bonus points that will probably land him as the No. 1 seed when NASCAR’s version of a playoff begins and Keselowski is well aware of how it works.
“I think (the media) got the points backwards,” he said. “You look at who’s leading with the most points earned, that don’t mean anything.
“The only thing that means anything is where it’s going to restart when the Chase starts. It’s going to be based off of who’s in the top 10 and who’s got the most wins. That’s the only think that matters.”
Keselowski said that his early season woes — a pair of 32nd finishes at Daytona and Las Veags and a 36th at Texas — are now in his rear view mirror.
He said he looks at defending Cup champion Tony Stewart’s run last season as an example of how to rebound in the Chase.
“(You) got to win races,” Keselowski said. “Tony proved that last year. You don’t back your way the Chase. Don’t rest on your laurels. You’ve got to have fast car when’s the Chase starts with great reliability and great execution. It’s going to take all three, and those three are going to win races.”
BOURDAIS SET FOR T.O.
Four-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais figured he wanted to be in race trim for his return to the Honda Indy Toronto this week, so rather than take a weekend off, the 33-year-old native of Le Mans, France, went to Watkins Glen, N.Y., for the Rolex Grand Am Six Hours at The Glen.
Bourdais, a winner at the Honda Indy for Newman Haas Racing in 2004, got the call for The Glen a week ago from Starworks Motorsport boss Peter Baron to team up with regular drivers Ryan Dalziel — another veteran of the Toronto race — and Enso Potolicchio.
Bourdais said he took the opportunity because Watkins Glen — even though it’s a road course — comes close to replicating Toronto’s temporary street course.
“It’s like a super fast street course, so you know there’s not much room for error,” Bourdais said.
Bourdais finished the race in third.
In Toronto Bourdais will be driving the Lotus-Dragon Racing Chevrolet.
Happy Birthday to “The King” Richard Petty. Petty, the seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and owner of 200 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins, including seven Daytona 500 victories, is celebrating his 75th birthday Monday in the same town he was born, Level Cross, N.C. Petty will spend time working at the current location of Petty’s Garage and will later spend time with his family. ... Montreal’s Bruno Spengler had another podium finish on Sunday finishing third in the Schnitzer BMW at the DTM Series race at Norisring, Germany. Toronto’s Robert Wickens was ninth in a Persson Mercedes.
NASCAR Sprint Cup
Brad Keselowski wrecked his primary No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge in practice on Friday for the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
No problem, he won the race in his back-up car.
The team got the back-up car ready in 40 minutes after Keselowski tangled with Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 42 Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
It was Keselowski’s third NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the season and all but puts him in the Chase for the Championship.
He said it was his team of “bad asses” that should get all the credit for the victory.
“They put together a backup car from last year in the hundred degree heat in an hour’s time,” Keselowski said. “Not even an hour; I think it was like 40 minutes.
“Got it on the racetrack, and got to run our laps for practice to make the adjustments we needed to be fast and that’s what bad asses do.”
Kasey Kahne recovered from some early problems to finish second in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, followed by Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
“We got a lap behind there with the loose right front, and then we had another slow stop later,” Kahne said.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., in the No. 88 HMS Chevrolet was fourth.
His teammate Jeff Gordon came home fifth in he No. 24 HMS Chevrolet.
One spot back was Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 HMS Chevrolet putting all four Hendrick cars in the top six.
Matt Kenseth was seventh in he No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford to maintain his championship points lead.