Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hey Now Keselowski's an All-Star

Check out my guest column posted at NASCAR This Week. Thanks to David Cohea for finding me on Twitter. Their site rocks. You should be reading it--and religiously.

By Michelle Dawn

(Editor's note: Twitter does have a few uses beyond chatter on the wires. Curious about a story linked in a a #NASCAR tweet I came upon Michelle Dawn's NASCAR-ista, a smart, tightly-written, funny and fun racin' blog. I emailed her via her blog and asked if she would be willing to submit a guest column. She agreed. Thanks to Michelle--and ya'll be sure to make her blog a regular stop on your blogosphere racin' rounds!)

In just six Sprint Cup starts, Brad Keselowski has racked up one win and one top 10 finish—along with a spot in Saturday night’s All-Star race.Not bad for a guy that, until now, has flown well under the media’s radar.No one would have pegged Keselowski to be this spring’s Talladega champ. Just as nobody would have predicted his seventh place finish at fierce and fiery Darlington—especially when he began the day at the tail end of the field.

To be fair, if Keselowski had only won at Talladega, critics would have likely chalked him up to one lucky SOB. I mean, anything’s possible on a restrictor plate track. But passing the test of Old Lady Darlington proves that this kid has the mettle and the proverbial wherewithal to handle whatever curves a race throws his way.

Let’s compare apples to apples. Even NASCAR’s current phenom and race day hotshot Kyle Busch didn’t have this auspicious a Sprint Cup debut—in his first starts of the series Busch won zero races and scored a season-high 24th-place finish. Plus, Busch entered NASCAR’s top tier with a bit of a problem keeping things cool, a tendency to overdrive and a mouth that sometimes needed a muzzle.

It’s early yet, but so far, Keselowski shows none of Busch’s untoward tendencies. He’s not a bad boy. But he’s not necessarily the boy-next-door either. He races with respect, but he doesn’t give way simply because a veteran driver is battling him for the spot. And even if he’s competing against his Nationwide team owner Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Keselowski is clearly in it to win it. Few young drivers would have had the guts to hold on for that Talladega victory, come hell or high water.

On the flip side, Keselowski also knows how to handle an on-camera interview with poise and a bit of smooth. His are not one-word answers and grunts of assent; nor are they the inarticulate ramblings of a newbie who’s just “happy to be here.”

Here’s what Keselowski had to say after his smashing Talladega victory: “If I wouldn’t have pushed Carl up to the front, I would have finished 30th…I wasn’t going to take the bullet. I’m not in a situation in my career where I can afford to take bullet. I had nothing to lose.”

All this combined with his out-and-out talent could turn Keselowski into the next sponsor’s dream and newest fan favorite. And Rick Hendrick would be a dummy if he let Brad get away.After all, Keselowski is officially an all-star.

Floridian Michelle Dawn works a corporate job by day and blogs about NASCAR by night at She’s an avid reader of classic literature, a lover of country music and a hater of sushi. Her dream job would be to cover NASCAR full time.

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