NASCAR’s Brad Keselowski: 10 Reasons He’ll Make the Chase in 2011
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Brad Keselowski will begin his 2011 sophomore season behind the wheel of the legendary Miller Lite Blue Deuce for Roger Penske Racing.
Keselowski and his No.12 NASCAR Sprint Cup team will move into the No. 2 made famous by future NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace, and the expectations will be huge.
The Blue Deuce franchise carries not only expectations but plenty of appearances and extra curricular activity for Keselowski.
With all this on the table, it is still a perfect opportunity for Keselowski to make the 2011 NASCAR Chase and the following 10 reasons back this up.
No. 10. Respect
Keselowski's First full season of Cup did not see much respect.
Geoff Burke/Getty Images
Roger Penske has an eye for talent (Sam Hornish Jr. is talented but not in NASCAR) and is rarely wrong.
He sees the raw talent in Brad Keselowski, and with Penske awarding his NASCAR Nationwide Champion with a ride in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, it is obvious that RP has earned "The Captain's" respect.
The big question for Brad Keselowski will be if his fellow NASCAR drivers will have new found respect for him in 2011.
Keselowski made no apologies for his hard driving style in his first full season in NASCAR Sprint Cup but he will earn more respect as the season wears on in 2011.
No. 9. Penske Engineering
Justin Allgaier and Time Cindric. Cindric is Roger Penske Racing President.
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
Penske Racing has the most brilliant minds in racing from the top down.
Tim Cindric, the president of Penske Racing, is a major force when it comes to the success of the Penske NASCAR Nationwide program and the NASCAR Sprint Cup success on superspeedways.
Cindric and Roger Penske will play a large role in the success of Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team this season.
No.8. Crew Chief Paul Wolfe
Paul Wolfe & Brad Keselowski discuss adjustments to the No.22 Ruby Tuesday Penske Dodge.
Jason Smith/Getty Images
Paul Wolfe was named Brad Keselowksi's crew chief for the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge on Nov. 30, and both parties are looking forward to bringing their NASCAR Nationwide dominance to the Sprint Cup series.
The combination of Wolfe and Keselowski combined for six Nationwide wins and 29 top 10's in 35 races.
Their stranglehold on their NASCAR Nationwide competition was in strong contrast to Keselowski's performance in Cup for 2010.
No. 7. Contraction
Sam Hornish ability to find create crashes led to his departure from Cup.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
The contraction of Penske Racing's NASCAR operation will lead to more resources being directed at the two remaining teams: the Blue Deuce and the No. 22 Pennzoil team of Kurt Busch.
With the engineering and strong racing backgrounds in the Penske garage joining forces on two NASCAR Sprint Cup teams, this will be a huge year for the Penske Dodges.
Proving smaller is better sometimes.
No. 6. Learning How To Win
Keseleowski learned how to win on consistent basis in NASCAR Nationwide.
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Learning how to win is important, and Brad Keselowski won six races over the course of the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide season. There is no substitute for learning how to win races and being involved in the pressure cooker of a points race.
Keselowski matured by leaps and bounds over the course of 2010 and will now be in much better shape for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
There are plenty of drivers to come and go from NASCAR Sprint Cup and never reach Victory Lane. Brad Keselowski will reach Victory Lane more than three times in 2011.
No.5. Roger Penske
Roger Penske won his first NASCAR title in 2010 with Brad keselowski.
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Roger Penske is a winner and he does not taking sub-standard performance lightly.
He is also very loyal. Penske's toughest decision at the end of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season was to contract to two teams because of sponsorship woes with Sam Hornish Jr.
When he commits his resources in a focused manner, there is no reason to believe Brad Keselowski will fall short of the Penske Racing goal of making the NASCAR Chase with both Penske Dodges.
Brad Keselowski matured over the course of 2010.
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Brad Keselowski had his moments in 2010. He was flipped upside down, he was wrecked in front of an entire NASCAR Nationwide field barrelling to the checkered flag, and he was manhandled by none other than Kyle Busch.
Through all of it, Keselowski dusted himself off and did not immerse himself in dangerous and destructive vendettas through the season.
The calm and mild-mannered Roger Penske kept the young Keselowski from going off the handle and making bad situations worse in his first full season of NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Keselowski's newfound maturity will come in handy in his quest to make the NASCAR Chase.
Brad Keselowski raced over 70 races in NASCAR's top two series.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
There is no substitute for experience and in 2010 Brad Keselowski experienced plenty. He experienced the wrath of NASCAR Sprint Cup veterans and young upstarts as well.
Keselowski learned to race tracks he never raced until 2010 and he also learned subtle nuances of adapting to NASCAR Sprint Cup on a full-time basis.
There is no substitute for getting in laps with a NASCAR Sprint Cup car and Keselowski logged plenty of laps in 2010 with little success.
The year 2011 will be a huge turnaround with the added knowledge. Keselowski will be confident and self assured when he straps in for the first time at Daytona International Speedway in February.
No.2. Blue Deuce Mystique
Brad Keselowski will jump to No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge in 2011 and expectations will be increased.
Jason Smith/Getty Images
The mystique of the No. 2 Blue Deuce has been legendary since Rusty Wallace teamed up with Roger Penske late in his career.
The car is a fan favorite and it does catch the eye of fellow NASCAR drivers when it comes up from behind.
With Brad Keselowski assuming the role of steward of one of the most recognizable cars in NASCAR, this could be a long-standing connection for years to come.
Brad Keselowski has suffered through setbacks early in his career and has overcome obstacles to make it into Cup.
Harry How/Getty Images
Brad Keselowski's early NASCAR career was a struggle. He was driving in decent equipment but nothing capable of winning on a weekly basis.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. took him under his wing late in the 2007 season and tabbed him to be his primary driver for the No. 88 Navy Chevy. A job Keselowski held until the end of the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide season.
Perseverance is the reason Brad Keselowski will make his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase in his second full year.
Keselowki is unafraid of failure and has learned to win through a tumultuous career that led to many doubters and many enemies as he made his way up the NASCAR ladder of success.
Now Keselowski must bring it all together and live up to the expectations that come with driving the infamous Blue Deuce.