Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Penske Racing announced Monday that Nationwide Series regular Brad Keselowski will drive the No. 12 Dodge for the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races of the 2009 season. Keselowski will replace David Stremme in the ride starting this weekend at Texas, Nov. 15 at Phoenix and Nov. 22 at Homestead.
Penske announced in September that Keselowski would drive the No. 12 Cup entry full-time next year and field the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge in the Nationwide Series in 2010.
Taking over the Cup ride now gives Keselowski and the team a head start for next season.
"Penske Racing wants to give Brad an opportunity to work with the team and get to know the race car as we prepare for the 2010 season," said Roger Penske. "These three races will provide a good base for both Brad and the team as we head into next year.”
In 12 Cup Series starts, Keselowski has four top 10s, including his April win at Talladega in his fifth series start. With these stats, it’s surprising Penske didn’t make the driver switch earlier. I would think that commitments for Keselowski to drive the No. 09 Miccosukee Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing in September’s Richmond race and Sunday’s race at Talladega, and the No. 25 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in the October races at Kansas and Charlotte prevented an earlier start.
Keselowski drives the No. 88 Chevrolet in the Nationwide Series for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports. He sits third in points, with four wins and 20 top 5 finishes.
A JR Motorsports representative confirmed Keselowski will finish out the Nationwide Series season in the No. 88.
Recently, Keselowski has come under fire for aggressive driving in the Cup and Nationwide series. The 25-year-old finished eighth in Sunday's Amp Energy 500 at Talladega after getting into the back bumper of future Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch on a green-white-checker finish, triggering a 13-car wreck that ended up turning Mark Martin upside down.
In the Nationwide Series, Keselowski spun Carl Edwards at the Oct. 24 race at Memphis Motorsports Park on the way to his fourth win of the 2009 season. Edwards was able to recover and finish sixth. Keselowski was also involved in an incident with future Penske teammate Justin Allgaier earlier in the race.
Perhaps the incident garnering the most attention was the skirmish between Keselowski and Denny Hamlin a month earlier at the Nationwide race at Dover. Late in the race, Keselowski spun Hamlin into the wall, ending Hamlin’s day. Keselowski, who finished third, had been trying to pass Hamlin on the inside. At the end of the race, Hamlin found Keselowski on pit road and shoved him. Keselowski’s public relations representative shoved Hamlin back. Crews for both drivers got involved before Tony Eury Jr., standing in as Keselowski’s crew chief, broke up the scuffle.
“I was underneath him,” Keselowski said after the race. “Earlier in the day when he got under me in the same scenario I gave him room. I paid him a favor and I expected the same favor to be returned. He didn’t. I held my ground.”
Hamlin suggested Keselowski needed to rein in his aggressive tendencies if he wanted to succeed in the sport.
“He obviously needs some sort of guidance on what he needs to do to make it. He’s got a ton of talent - I am not going to take that away from him - he’s a good driver. If he can harness it, he’ll win a lot more races.”
What do you think? Is Keselowski too aggressive? What do you expect to see from the young driver in the next three Cup races/2010 season? Please feel free to comment.
Photo courtesy of penskeracing.com via Autostock