HOMESTEAD, Fla. ‚?? Here‚??s a tweet for Brad Keselowski: NASCAR champion.
Roger Penske must like the sound of that, too.
The kid who stole the show at the season-opening Daytona 500 ended the year under the biggest spotlight of them all Sunday, beating five-time champion Jimmie Johnson to deliver the first Sprint Cup championship to Penske Racing.
His first act as champion? Sending a tweet, of course, from inside his car: ‚??We did it!‚?Ě with a picture of the celebration waiting for him.
‚??Always, throughout my whole life I‚??ve been told I‚??m not big enough, not fast enough, not strong enough and I don‚??t have what it takes,‚?Ě Keselowski said from the championship stage. ‚??I‚??ve used that as a chip on my shoulder to carry me through my whole career. It took until this year for me to realize that that was right, man, they were right.
‚??I‚??m not big enough, fast enough, strong enough. No person is. Only a team can do that.‚?Ě
So, with the Penske organization behind him, he delivered a trophy that had eluded ‚??The Captain‚?Ě since his 1972 NASCAR debut. Although his motorsports organization is considered the gold standard of open-wheel racing ‚?? 15 Indianapolis 500 wins ‚?? and his empire has made Penske one of the most successful businessmen in America, his NASCAR team has always been just average.
Then came Keselowski, the blue collar, Twitter-loving, Michigan native who visited Penske in 2008 convinced the NASCAR team could win, too.
Three years later, they hoisted the Sprint Cup trophy together at Homestead-Miami Speedway following Keselowski‚??s 15th-place finish Sunday night.
‚??It‚??s all about the people in our organization and obviously Brad coming on our board three years ago, and we set a plan and we stuck to it,‚?Ě the 75-year-old Penske said. ‚??To win this championship is amazing.‚?Ě
Keselowski needed 125 starts to win his first championship, the fewest starts since four-time champion Jeff Gordon won his first title in 93 starts in 1995. Keselowski also won a second-tier Nationwide title in 2010, his first season with Penske and the owner‚??s first official NASCAR championship.
Gordon, who avoided suspension this week but was fined $100,000 by NASCAR for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer last week at Phoenix, overcame the controversy to win the race in a 20th anniversary celebration for sponsor Dupont and Hendrick Motorsports.
It was Gordon‚??s first victory at Homestead, which leaves Kentucky as the only active NASCAR track where he‚??s yet to win.
Who did Gordon beat? Bowyer, of course.
And Bowyer‚??s second-place finish moved him to a career-best second in the final standings. Third-place went to Ryan Newman, who got his break in NASCAR with Penske and spent seven seasons driving for the owner.
‚??He deserves this probably as much as anybody else, if not more because of what he‚??s done for motor racing in general, NASCAR, his dedication to all forms of race cars is probably more than anybody else in the history of auto racing,‚?Ě Newman said. ‚??I know this is probably one of the sweetest moments in his racing career.‚?Ě
Keselowski started the race up 20 points on Johnson, who blew a tire and crashed last week at Phoenix to give Keselowski a nice cushion and needing only to finish 15th or higher in the finale to wrap up his first championship. But the Penske team took nothing for granted ‚?? not after Will Power crashed in the IndyCar finale to blow a 17-point lead and lose the championship.
And this one got tight, too, especially when Keselowski ran out of gas on pit road during green flag pit stops. It put him a lap down with Johnson leading, and Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe frantically tried to figure out how dire the situation had become.
AUSTIN, Texas ‚?? A bold passing maneuver at the end of a long straightway slipped Lewis Hamilton past Sebastian Vettel, and the McLaren driver went on to win the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday in the first Formula One race on American soil since 2007.
The drivers‚?? championship will be settled next week in Sao Paolo, Brazil, after Red Bull‚??s Vettel finished second and Ferrari‚??s Fernando Alonso third.
‚??Wicked!‚?Ě said Hamilton, who pumped his fists, waved to the crowd and danced a jig on the nose of his car after his fourth win of the season. ‚??This is one of the best, if not the best Grand Prix, we‚??ve had all year.‚?Ě
Vettel started the race in the pole position and led the first 41 laps before Hamilton caught him, sneaking past Vettel just before they reached the tight corner on turn No. 12 at the Circuit of the Americas. Hamilton started in the No. 2 position and pushed Vettel at every opportunity.
‚??It was a close fight with Lewis. He had one chance and took it. There wasn‚??t much between us,‚?Ě Vettel said.
Vettel, the defending two-time Formula One champion, remains slightly ahead of Ferrari‚??s Alonso in the drivers‚?? championship, meaning the title will come down to the final race of the season.