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That’s Racin’: Keselowski ready to rock

By David Poole

McClatchy Newspapers

Within the passing of one year, 24-

year-old Nationwide Series driver

Brad Keselowski had perhaps the

lowest and the highest points in his career occur

at the same place.

In 2007, Keselowski started last in a 43-

car field at Nashville Superspeedway in

Tennessee. He completed only 23 of 225

laps and finished 40th.

“It was about as bad at it gets,”

Keselowski remembers. “We brought a

road course car here and broke down

about five times. I was afraid I was going

to knock the wall down and get myself hurt.

It was one of those times when I was asking

myself, ‘What am I doing?'”

After that race, what he wasn’t doing

was working in NASCAR. The team he

was with folded up after that outing,

and Keselowski was out of a

ride.

That all must have seemed

but a distant memory for him

one week ago after

Keselowski returned to

Nashville and won this

year’s Federated Auto

Parts 300 to pick up his

first career victory in his

49th career Nationwide

Series start.

Keselowski became

the first first-time win-

ner in stock-car racing’s

No. 2 series with that

victory, taking a giant

step forward toward realiz-

ing the potential he showed

in working his way into this

current job as driver of the No.

88 Chevrolets owned by JR Motorsports.

with some lower-level teams and when you’re

doing that and breaking down or blowing up

every week you’re questioning yourself.

“Then you catch a break like I did and

get to drive for somebody like

Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. that vali-

dates and vindicates you. I

have a team that keeps

getting better every

week and I keep get-

ting better with

it. I felt like it

was just a matter

of time.”

Motorsports team had been through

rough patches, too, until

Keselowski came on board. But

Keselowski finished 14th in his

first outing at Chicagoland and

had six top-10 finishes the rest of

the way.

When Earnhardt Jr. joined Hendrick

Motorsports after last season, that deal

also included co-operation between the

Hendrick operation and the JR Motorsports

team that Earnhardt Jr. owned. Keselowski cer-

tainly understands what opportunities that

opened for him in the No. 88.

“When you feel like you have the equipment

to win with, you forget about the rest ” or at

least I do,” he said. “You forget about who

you’re competing against, and you know if you

run the car right you can win.”

With crew chief Tony Eury Sr. providing a

veteran’s seasoning to Keselowski’s youth, tal-

ent and enthusiasm, the team already had six

top-10 finishes ” and a couple of brushes with

victory ” before the win at Nashville.

Going into this week’s race at Kentucky

Speedway, Keselowski is fifth in the

Nationwide standings and just 26 points

behind second-place Carl Edwards. He trails

championship leader Clint Bowyer by 192

points.

The Nashville win and the solid runs in sev-

eral other races this year has whet the young

driver’s appetite for success.

“We’ve had a shot at winning a couple of

times but we just hadn’t caught any breaks,” he

said. “There were some races where we were

fast enough to win but we just didn’t execute,

we made mistakes. Then there were races where

we haven’t been fast enough but ran a perfect

race. (At Nashville) we just made zero mistakes

and that’s what is going to take to win.”