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NASCAR's Brad Keselowski: A new generation's champion

November 19, 2012|By Jim Peltz
  • Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski (Chris Graythen / Getty Images )

If there's anyone who can appreciate what it means to have 28-year-old Brad Keselowski as NASCAR's new Sprint Cup Series champion, it's Jeff Gordon.

Gordon won his first Cup title in 1995 when he was 24, earning the nickname "Wonder Boy." He would go on to win three more.

Now 41, Gordon was asked about Keselowski's ability to be NASCAR's leading face, after Gordon won the season's final race Sunday at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway and Keselowski captured the championship, the first driver born in the 1980s to do so.

"He'll do great," Gordon said. "He's entertaining. You never know what you're going to get with Brad."

Keselowski, who drives for Penske Racing, is not your average stock-car racer. The Michigan native not only is skilled behind the wheel, he's articulate, thoughtful, self-assured and exceedingly driven.

Keselowski also is unafraid to speak his mind -- witness his profanity-laced outburst about the type of racing at Phoenix a week ago -- and he's one of NASCAR's most active users of Twitter.

Keselowski would even tweet in his No. 2 Dodge during red-flag periods when the cars were stopped on the track -- until NASCAR fined him $25,000 a week ago and banned smartphones in the cars.

Regardless, Gordon noted Keselowski's "ability to reach out to the social media and the younger crowd" and "I enjoy or look forward to watching him."

As Cup champion, Gordon said, Keselowski "will just mature to a whole other level because of being in this position and carrying this responsibility."

But with NASCAR's attendance and television ratings under pressure, it remains to be seen whether all of that translates into Keselowski drawing a new generation of fans to stock-car racing.

ALSO:

Brad Keselowski wins his first NASCAR Sprint Cup title

Formula One sponsors delighted series is returning to U.S.

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