Thursday, August 18, 2011

Brad Keselowski: Next Sprint Cup Star?

With Brad Keselowski's win at Pocono International Raceway, he moved himself into contention for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  The only person with 2 wins outside the Top 10, he seems to be a shoe-in for a Wild Card berth.  But what is amazing is that Keselowski has gone from running in the 20s to running in the Top 10 and competing for wins every week.  His recent performance begs the question; Is Brad Keselowski the next Sprint Cup Series star?

Since Sonoma in June, Keselowski has only finished outside the Top 15 once (a 35th at New Hampshire).  In that span he has a win, 2 Top 5's and 5 Top 10's.  Even more amazing is that he was injured in a testing crash at Road Atlanta.  Without brakes, he hit the wall at around 100 mph.  The impact broke his left ankle.  No big deal.  Except he brakes with his left foot.  The next races after that wreck were Pocono and Watkins Glen, 2 tracks known for their harshness on brakes.  Many wrote him off at those two tracks, saying he would never do well.  Keselowski thought differently.

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Keselowski got to the front at Pocono, and on the final restart held off Kyle Busch to win the race.  Then at Watkins Glen, he would never do well.  Right?  Once again, Bad Brad proved everyone wrong by soldiering through the injury on his way to a 2nd place finish.  Keselowski is now 14th in points, but he is only 24 points ahead of 20th.  Remember, if he falls out of the Top 20, he won't make the Chase.  Even if he has 10 wins.  Actually, that would be quite amazing, seeing as there are now only 4 races until the cutoff for the Chase at Richmond.

So, is Brad Keselowski the next big thing?  Maybe, maybe not.  He's proven himself a contender in the Nationwide Series, winning the Championship in 2010.  But he has been hit and miss in the Cup Series.  We'll see if this current stretch will become the new norm for Keselowski, or if it is just a little flash of greatness.  I think, one day, Keselowski will be able to fight for a championship at the Cup level.  Whether its now or years down the road.  One thing I know is that he has grown on me.  I never liked him, but he is quickly becoming likeable.  I know the Markaholics will be angry about that, but I already like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, so how much worse can it get?


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