Auto Racing: Keselowski captures Sprint Cup championship

2012-11-19T00:00:00Z Auto Racing: Keselowski captures Sprint Cup championshipThe Associated Press The Associated Press
November 19, 2012 12:00 am  • 

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!" 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," 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."

So, with the Penske organization behind him, he delivered a trophy that had eluded "The Captain" 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.

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.

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.

US Grand Prix

AUSTIN, Texas - Lewis Hamilton wanted to make Formula One's return to the U.S. something special, for him and for racing.

The Briton did just that Sunday, using a thrilling pass of Sebastian Vettel at the end of a long straightaway to take the lead, then holding off the German for the final 14 laps to win the U.S. Grand Prix, the first Formula One race on American soil since 2007.

Hamilton won that race five years ago and made the move of the day to capture his fourth victory of the 2012 season.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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