That’s Racin’: Not a one-hit wonder |

That’s Racin’: Not a one-hit wonder

Jim Utter
Knight-Ridder Newspapers

The biggest turning point in Brad

Keselowski’s fast-rising career as a

NASCAR driver, oddly enough, may have

been happened off the track.

Keselowski was driving the Nationwide Series

entry for team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. at

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Charlotte in May when he got into a couple inci-

dents under caution with Denny Hamlin. The final

run-in involved Hamlin turning Keselowski’s car

as the race neared a close, which prompted a scuf-

fle between the two crews on pit road.

After the incident Hamlin and Keselowski

ended up sitting next to each other in the media

center to answer questions, because they finished

second and third, respectively. Hamlin came

across as arrogant and speaking down to his

younger rival; Keselowski stood his ground and

stuck up for himself and his team.

Keselowski’s performance that night was

praised by his car owner, other competitors and

the media.

“The incident in Charlotte really forged a bond

between the entire team, it really welded those

guys together very tightly,” Earnhardt Jr said.

“They felt very strongly they had some injustice

done to them at Charlotte, and I felt it really moti-

vated them.”

Since then, Keselowski has earned his first two

Nationwide Series wins ” at Nashville and an

impressive come-from-the-back victory last

Friday at Bristol, Tenn., which moved the 24-

year-old native of Rochester Hills, Mich., to with-

in 122 points of series leader Clint Bowyer with

nine races left.

The Bristol victory also provided Keselowski

with a boost of confidence and reassurance that he

was not, as he said, “a one-hit wonder.”

“A second win is very important, especially in

the same season. There are a lot of drivers who

can say they won a race but there’s not a lot that

can say they won two,” he said. “It puts your foot,

not just in the door, but it gets you all the way in.

“It doesn’t seem like it but we’ve been racing

like 17 straight weeks now and Nashville was

almost 10 races ago. We were on a mini-drought.”

Keselowski’s development this season has been

fast and constant. He debuted with JR

Motorsports late last season and, after turning in

some impressive performances, was asked to

return for a full season in 2008. He quickly gained

a reputation as a smooth driver on the track and a

personable and engaging personality out of the

race car.

“We saw a lot of development in him last year

after we made the driver change. We put him in

the car and he did exactly what Dale Jr. thought

he would do,” said Keselowski’s crew chief, Tony

Eury Sr.

“Some of the race tracks we’ve been to this

year, he’s been a rookie at and he hasn’t per-

formed like a rookie. We’re working hard for this

championship. We’re going to give Clint a run for


Eury Sr. speaks from experience. He won two

championships as Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief in the

series in 1998 and 1999.

“I think working with Tony Sr. ” he’s a great

mentor and I’ve experienced that myself,”

Earnhardt Jr. said. “Tony Sr. definitely has your

back at all times.

“Tony Sr. has been a good leader. He gets

people under to work hard in any situation

and put forth the effort.”

Keselowski is equally opti-

mistic about his champi-

onship chances.

“I think we have been

equal to if not better than

Clint. I said before that

we need to win races in

order to have a shot at

that and we did exactly

what we needed to do,”

he said. “This is going

to be a nail-biter. It’s

going to be a battle.”