Call me a picky NASCAR fan, it's how I was raised.
I learned from my father growing up cheering for Dale Earnhardt that the drivers in stock car racing are much more than just a name with a manufacturer and a sponsor; more than most other athletes they don't hide who they truly are from the public eye.
The drivers come from every walk of life; there is just something about Brad Keselowski that's impossible not to cheer for. He's young, modest, loves the sport for the right reasons and something about him reminds me of drivers of the past like those names lining history books such as Petty, Waltrip and Earnhardt.
While I'm a fan of him, I'm still able to be critical. After all, writers must be able to maintain some mark of objectivity, right?
For Keselowski, Sunday's race at Kansas Motor Speedway could make or break his Sprint Cup hopes. After a dominating win in the Nationwide Series in the No. 22 Discount Tire car, to turn around and say the No. 2 is a "fast car" means something, right?
He's had successful runs at Kansas before, could he be gearing up for another?
The No. 2 Dodge will be staring in 12th position, a good distance farther back than he started with Nationwide, but with the added mileage, if the car is as good as Keselowski seems to pass it off as, it should be a top-five car, right?
Suddenly the logical rubber meets the road. The level of competition around Keselowski is much greater than on Saturday afternoons.
For Brad Keselowski, the intangibles don't matter. The math, the numbers, the statistics, even the moron writers with know-nothing opinions don't matter. What does matter is for him to remain a contender in the Chase.
For that, he must win at Kansas.
Whether it be a domination win like on Saturday, or a last-minute change in setup, Keselowski must rise to the occasion of the masters of the Chase around him, such as Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards, and place himself firmly among the names to be reckoned with.
A win would also certainly earn him the right to be adored alongside the legends—the men at times he seems to remind me of. Back-to-back wins in the same weekend in Penske Dodges at Kansas would put him in some elite status for the remainder of the Chase, while also providing a nice momentum shove.
If Keselowski can pull off a win or a top-three placement, keep a close eye on him for the remainder of the Chase. The No. 2 Dodge has some magic working in it's corner, it's just a matter of bottling it right.