You have to tip your hat to Brad Keselowski. The 27-year-old from Michigan scored an impressive win in Sunday’s NASCAR race at the 2.5-mile Pocono tri-oval in Pennsylvania. Five days before his win Keselowski crashed heavily when his brakes failed while testing a second-division Nationwide car at Road Atlanta. He broke his left ankle and badly hurt his right foot and back in the accident but refused to stand down from racing at Pocono.
You might recall that Keselowski was sent flying by Carl Edwards in a spectacular accident last year and has earned a reputation as a tough guy who’s not averse to retaliating to aggressive knocks from others. He comes from a stock car racing family from the Upper Midwest and is a third-generation racer. His father Bob won the ARCA championship in 1989, while Brad broke into NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series in 2008 and scored his first win in privateer James Finch’s car at Talladega in ‘09.
Roger Penske hired Keselowski at the end of ’09, and this year he’s replaced former Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish beside Penske’s NASCAR team leader Kurt Busch. Busch has moved into a new #22 Pennzoil/Shell car with Keselowski taking over his familiar #2 Busch beer entry and he’s been very competitive in many races, scoring his first win at the Kansas Speedway in June.
Two days after his big crash at Road Atlanta, Keselowski arrived at Pocono with a brace on his ankle insisting that he was going to race. “I just didn’t know how I was going to convince [crew chief] Paul [Wolfe] and Roger Penske that I could do it,” he said.
But race he did. Helped by a mid-race rain delay for 1hr 40min Keselowski was ready for the restart. He shot past Kyle Busch and pulled away to win the 500-mile event by half a dozen car lengths despite Busch’s best efforts to chase him down.
Afterwards Keselowski climbed gingerly from his car and gathered himself together to celebrate. “It doesn’t feel good, but I’ll be alright,” he grimaced. “It just hurt all day but it felt a whole lot better on the way to that chequered flag.”
Team-mate Busch finished third after banging fenders with Jimmie Johnson on the final lap and then went to victory circle to congratulate Keselowski. “I was amazed he raced the full race,” he said, shaking his head.
Without doubt Keselowski’s performance was one of the great iron man acts in motor sport this year and it’s surely helped cement his already solid position in Penske’s team. In the coming years you’ll be hearing more from this tough and talented young racer.