Thursday , March 22, 2012 - 6:39 PM
Brad Keselowski is off to a great start on getting famous. He tweeted the fire picture at Daytona, got an hour of bonus prime time exposure and became a part of pop culture.
But nothing will beat what he did Sunday. He won at Bristol. That's what makes your name in NASCAR.
If you win at Bristol Motor Speedway, you are officially something. You're Busch. Stewart. Johnson. Dale Sr. Gordon. Wallace. Jarrett. Waltrip. Kulwicki. Elliott. Yarborough. Petty. Parsons. Pearson.
The "Fastest Half-Mile in Racing" is a track tamed only by champions. It does not produce random winners.
Only 19 drivers have won the last 43 Sprint Cup races there. Only 33 have won the 103 total.
Keselowski is on that list. And now he's done it two times in a row, Sunday and last summer.
He's just 28. He's a kid with a cellphone at his hip, tweeting and posting on a whim as kids do.
But he knows what he's done.
"This is a track where champions win at," he said. "Whether you look at Dale, Darrell, Cale, Alan Kulwicki, you're looking at champion drivers. Tony has won here. Jeff Gordon has won a lot here. The best drivers here go on and win championships."
So that's one solid reason for Keselowski to believe he's got a chance to win a Sprint Cup championship.
But it's not the only one. He already has championship experience, having won the Nationwide Series title two years ago. He drives for a strong organization, Penske Racing, and is its No. 1 driver.
He got experience in the Chase last year and finished fifth.
In only his third full-time year in Sprint Cup, he is gaining seasoning and rising.
The results at Bristol say so.
"There's other places that perhaps have a little more prestige, and I said that last year as well, but this place defines a race team," Keselowski said. "It asks so much of you, whether it's just in practice, being lined up on pit road, dealing with the noise, the havoc that practice can be, or the hot day of getting through tech, making those last adjustments, or as a driver 500 laps in a bowl trying to keep your composure. This racetrack can really test a team."
Keselowski is a long way from a championship. Actually, everybody is at this point, only four races into the 36-race schedule.
But he can count himself a contender. Bristol does not let you win if you're not a contender.