Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Keselowski Recovering from Off-Year 2012 Sprint Cup Winner Escapes Party-Boy Image

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Keselowski Recovering from Off-Year 2012 Sprint Cup Winner Escapes Party-Boy Image

Article excerpt

Well, hello there, Brad Keselowski. Where have you been?

Keselowski, who won the NASCAR Sprint Cup title in 2012, has been viewed by some as the frat boy who crashed the processional of valedictorians on NASCAR's grand stage. He was deemed raw and unfiltered and too honest for his own good, even by NASCAR standards.

The fact that he sampled the "product" from his sponsor, Miller Lite, in a live interview after he won the title in Homestead only exacerbated the party-boy image.

The hangover lasted a while. Keselowski failed to qualify for the Chase last season. He won only once race after winning five during his championship run. It was a humbling setback.

Fast-forward to 2014. Mr. Keselowski is out of the gate renewed and refreshed. He has three Top 5 finishes in the first three races, including a victory at Las Vegas this past weekend. Keselowski also won the Nationwide race on Saturday, making him the first Ford driver to win both series events on the same weekend since Carl Edwards did it at Phoenix in 2010.

What's up, Brad?

"It's not fun, that's for sure," Keselowski said, reflecting on missing the Chase in 2013. "For me, I wouldn't say I let the negative comments motivate me too much. I was motivated the whole time. I didn't really need any extra motivation. But I found, I guess, my happy place."

What was everybody's issue with Keselowski? He helped usher in a new era of social media by becoming the first NASCAR star to drive traffic via his Twitter feeds, which included live posts from the 2012 Daytona 500 when Juan Pablo Montoya ran into a jet dryer.

But it seemed that there was a touch too much giddiness in seeing Keselowski's season unravel in 2013. Here's some bad news for the haters: Keselowski is essentially locked into the Chase this season, along with Dale Earnhardt Jr. In the early stretch, at least, they are the two guys whom everyone else needs to catch.

"Much like what I did in 2012 didn't count for much in 2013, what you do in 2013 doesn't count for much for 2014," Keselowski said on NASCAR Media Day in Daytona Beach last month. "You have to reset. They do it for you with the points, so that's a good start and go at it hard, but I think it's another opportunity, another change. …

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