Sometimes Brad Keselowski doesn’t act like he’s 28 years old. To put it another way, he doesn’t act his age – maybe it’s more 18 rather than 28.
But that’s a good thing. Beyond just outgoing and sociable, I daresay the driver from Rochester Hills, Mich., can be downright mischievous.
He’s the guy who gained a lot of notoriety when it was learned he was on Twitter during races. He has fun with it and, I daresay, a lot of other things.
Like many of you, I’ve read several of his “tweets,” (I trust that is the correct word) and sometimes he sounds like a standup comedian.
Once I thought I’d get into the Twitter act and see what would happen. I had just written a piece about him and afterward he won that weekend’s race.
So I sent: “Great race. You made me look like a genius.”
His response: “Anything to help, bro.”
I admit I got a kick out of that.
However, while personality and a good sense of humor do count in racing, they do not, alone, make a successful driver. Results count for much more.
When the results are good, and happen often, a driver eventually becomes acknowledged as one of the best in NASCAR.
For Keselowski the results have been good. And they have occurred often.
That is the reason many think he is destined to become a NASCAR star – if he’s not already. It can’t be denied his star is on the rise.
Keselowski has proven to be a winner. That first happened in 2009, when he drove in 15 Sprint Cup races.
Six of them were with James Finch’s Phoenix Racing team.
Keselowski won at Talladega for Finch in April, a truly surprising victory because he had only a few Cup races under his belt and he won with a second-tier team.
That certainly raised eyebrows. But Keselowski wasn’t immediately tagged as a driver with a bright future. After all, unpredictableTalladega has produced more than its share of surprise winners.
In 2010, Roger Penske, a team owner with a well-known eye for talent, hired Keselowski. Their first year together was mundane with no wins, only two finishes among the top 10 and a 25th in points.
But that was not unexpected. After all, it was Keselowski’s first crack at full schedule.
What was unexpected was Keselowski’s 2011 season with Penske. The third-generation driver won three times.
Two of his victories came later in the season and helped propel him into the Chase. He was 11th in points before it began and fifth at the end of the season.
“We were focused on 2011, what we could do to maximize it and we’re very proud of the season that we had,” Keselowski said last year.
“I’m very, very happy with Penske Racing.
“You know, I think we’ve got a lot to be proud of. I think as time goes on, if we can continue to grow like we have this year the sky’s the limit for all of Penske Racing.”
So far Keselowski has been proven right. He’s already won three times this year, at Bristol, Talladega and most recently, Kentucky. His three victories tie him with Tony Stewart for most this season.
Keselowski is 10th in points and with his three victories is all but guaranteed a place in the Chase for the second time in three seasons.
Lest anyone think Keselowski is just a gifted driver making the most of good equipment, at New Hampshire there was strong evidence that he is a tough, resilient competitor who can make the most of unfavorable circumstances.
Keselowski finished fifth at New Hampshire, his sixth top-five run of the year – which ties his output for all of 2011.
It wasn’t so much that Keselowski finished fifth; rather, it’s how he did it.
He started 22nd and by the 90th lap he was among the top 10. He was the only driver who started outside the top 12 to finish inside it.
He was able to do that at a track on which it is notoriously difficult to pass and in a Dodge that wasn’t, well, perfect.
“We had really good long-run speed but we weren’t as good as we needed to be on the short runs,” Keselowski said. “Our balance was a little bit shifted.
“That played a big role in it all. Track position is everything and the further up you are, the better air you’ve got. We just never really had that.”
Keselowski agreed that to finish fifth from a poor starting position was indeed a good day.
“But it wasn’t easy,” he added. “It was tough. It was hot. That’s racing and it’s not supposed to be easy.”
Clearly, Keselowski can meet the physical and mental rigors of the sport. He can overcome. That certainly enhances his status.
“It was hard fought,” he said of New Hampshire. “We drove from the back to the front. Had a really strong run.
“You hate not to be happy about it. Being happy for us is winning. But at New Hampshire, that was all we had and we all had to make the most of it. I’m proud of our effort.”
I have no doubt that many other people are as well.
For them, probably the best way to let him know is to “tweet.” He’ll get the message, for sure.