The more I see, read and hear about the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Brad Keselowski, the more I like. When he first came into the sport I found him brash and bit too much on the aggressive side but both he and I have changed in the intervening years.
Brad grew up and I changed my mind; I’m a woman so I’m allowed to do that. Regularly.
I thought the 2012 season would be a great one for Brad starting with the Daytona 500 – like 300,000 of my closest friends, I, too, began following him on Twitter and appreciated Special K’s honesty as he used Twitter for a platform. So I watched through the season and, along with thousands like me willed him to the title. Of course the Penske Racing team and Brad himself got the job done but I’ve got to think the power of positive thinking helped?
During a lunch break, Brad met with the media and discussed the new car, his new fame and the new game he and Penske Racing are embarking on in the coming year. “I think all the signs are there that we have the potential to be just as strong, if not stronger than we were last year, which is very, very encouraging,” Keselowski said. “We still have to work for it and make it happen, but the signs are there.”
In his first test of the very Ford-looking 2013 Ford Fusion race car, Keselowski is pleased with the engagement of the Ford people, including director Andy Slankard. While he couldn’t talk about the properties of the car because of the proprietary items he’s testing, Keselowski feels “more confident than anything else because, at the end of the day this is a people sport,” and the people at Ford Racing are being extremely helpful to him and new teammate Joey Logano.
These two good friends – off the track, anyway – are teaming up for the first time this year, giving Roger Penske a thoroughly modern look to his Cup team. Keselowski believes there’s some areas where Logano can help him improve including Logano’s ability to “unload at a place like this and just instantly be fast. That’s not my style but it’s something I would like to add to my arsenal, because there are times when that’s really, really helpful.
Keselowski relishes the change of equipment from Dodge to Ford – and the new-car change as well – because of the motivation factor for his team. “We have to find ways to make sure that there is no temptation to lose that motivation and I think that’s probably one of the biggest challenges we have. The switch to Ford itself is good, because it lends itself to having something to prove all over again, that we can continue to be successful no matter what the manufacturer or no matter what the circumstance is. I think that’s very healthy.”
He realizes even with the good number of Ford teams he can work with and the centralized engine development, both the Chevrolet and Toyota teams will be strong out of the gate. “It appears that there are a few guys that are just a little bit ahead of everyone else,” Keselowski explained. “”I think the Toyotas have shown that they’re going to be really, really tough to beat with this new car. I really like the way they finished last year and, for them, I think they have the capability of starting out next year even stronger than the field, so that will be interesting to watch, but there’s still a lot of testing and a lot of development left to be done.” He thinks Toyota’s teams are “at the top of the list.”
Some champions can’t wait to find space for the NASCAR Sprint Cup trophy in their arsenal, but for Keselowski the Penske Racing headquarters is the right place for the display. “I don’t believe in building a shrine to myself; it’s kind of weird,” he said. I like that, don’t you?
But Special K is trying to find the kind of unfair advantage that can help him amass more trophies in the coming years. One of the new items he’s trying s a different fire suit that’s lighter in weight and has cooling capabilities. While it’s a work in progress at the moment, “I want to be the best everywhere so I’ve got them helping me out. It’s a work in progress; I’m not all the way there, but I don’t like getting beat at anything.”
Tweet on, brother.