All Brad Keselowski needed was a 16th-place finish or better to win the Sprint Cup Championship at Homestead. With 21 laps to go, he clinched the Chase and finished in 15th.
It’s been all about results for the upstart driver in 2012. Keselowski registered a 6.3-average place finish through the 10 Cup Chase races, similar to previous impressive Chase performances.
He earned a Sprint Cup wild-card spot in 2011 and followed that by winning on the whole thing. Who says he won’t repeat for an encore?
The fact is, Keselowski’s rise to stardom opens up a huge window for him to win multiple Chases. The increase in expectations and publicity may make a second Chase win tougher than the first.
By examining his masterful 2012, though, the Penske driver has the tools and now the experience to win the next Chase and many more in the next decade.
Keselowski ultimately beat out the legendary Jimmie Johnson, a five-time Chase winner, when he received a lug-nut penalty and ultimately a dead engine at Homestead.
The high and mighty Hendrick Motorsports car went down and perhaps, their recent domination of the sport. Keselowski became the eighth-youngest champion in NASCAR history with help from Johnson’s crew team.
What makes a repeat so probable is Keselowski’s ability to finish toward the top even when he doesn’t have his best race day.
As a result, the baby-faced champion ended his season with a complete resume. He didn’t lead the field in wins, poles, top-five or top-ten finishes this season, yet he managed to beat out second-place Clint Bowyer by 39 points.
The young driver can certainly repeat after an impressive all-around performance in 2011. Being able to manage expectations as the defending champion, though, may prove to be the toughest test, rather than any opposing driver.