Brad Keselowski, 29, combines the hard-working intensity of a kid who came through the ranks driving for his family with the swagger needed to make a success of a NASCAR career. Once just a driver trying to get noticed, he surged in popularity once he landed a ride with the Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series. Then he made his own mark, handing veteran racing team owner Roger Penske his first title in any NASCAR series in winning the 2010 Nationwide driver championship. It’s not Keselowski’s first accomplishment, though. Here’s a look at 10 of his top career moves:
Keselowski (left) can obviously take the pressure of a high-profile ride, as he’s already proven through his ties to JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports in the past. He has continued that tradition by moving into the seat of the historic Miller Lite-sponsored machine. Keselowski followed former Penske driver Rusty Wallace and his former teammate Kurt Busch (right) into the well-known car as he continued his tenure with Penske.
In 2009, the young driver launched the Brad Keselowski Checkered Flag Foundation. The organization supports families and other non-profits, particularly first-responders or military families in need.
Keselowski was 14 – too young to drive a street car – when he went from working on the family-owned K-Automotive Motorsports team to racing himself. He made his foray into Quarter Midget racing – and found quick success. Keselowski earned six feature wins in his first season and began his path to NASCAR.
Although he’s still relatively new to full-time Cup racing – this is Keselowski’s third full season on the circuit – the driver has performed consistently enough to snare his share of the winnings. Keselowski has already netted winnings in excess of $17 million.
Keselowski formed his own race team in 2007, and it began competing in the Truck series in 2008. The team has also fielded entries in the ARCA and Outlaw Super Late Model series. The driver himself has piloted his Brad Keselowski Racing truck from time to time.
Keselowski not only began winning, but also capturing fans’ attention, when he moved full time into the Nationwide ranks driving for the Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned JR Motorsports. In 2009, he was the fan-voted Most Popular Driver in the Nationwide ranks.
Keselowski may be relatively new to his full-time NASCAR career, but he’s certainly found success quickly. He raced full time in what is now the Camping World Truck Series in 2005, then ran most of the Nationwide schedule in 2007. Since 2008, he’s run full time there and slowly worked his way to Cup, where he now competes full time as well for Penske Racing. Overall, he’s tallied 29 career NASCAR wins, nine of those in the Cup series.
Keselowski wasn’t even competing full time in the Cup series when he snared his first victory. He was competing for both Hendrick Motorsports and Phoenix Racing in limited appearances when he stunned the racing world at, of all places, Talladega Superspeedway. Keselowski was barreling toward the finish in the 2009 race when contact with Carl Edwards sent Edwards car flipping across the hood of Ryan Newman and against the catchfence. As fans watched the crash, Keselowski swept to the win in just his fifth career NASCAR start. He has since earned eight more Cup wins.
Keselowski has managed what no other NASCAR driver has – giving Roger Penske a coveted title in the stock car ranks. Keselowski dominated the Nationwide Series in 2010, winning six races to clinch the title with two races to go in the season. He was a force throughout the season and took the title with a massive 465-point lead over Carl Edwards.
Take it all
In 2012, Keselowski pulled off the ultimate win - NASCAR's Sprint Cup title. In just his third full season of Sprint Cup competition he took the lead entering the season finale and held off for the championship. Not only did the young driver steal the to prize from a host of veterans, he did what no driver before him had been able to accomplish - he made team owner Roger Penske a Sprint Cup champion as well.