This season just isn’t going the way reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski probably expected. He’s still winless after 17 races and sits 13th in the championship points standings heading into Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
In 2012, Keselowski finished out his championship season with five trips to victory lane. By this point a year ago, he had already claimed three of those five wins. So far this year? Nada.
Wins aren’t the only contrast between this year and last for the reigning champion. Nothing seems to be going right for Keselowski, so far, this year. In 17 races, he has six finishes outside the top-20, already, four of those outside the top-30, including a finish of 33rd last weekend at Kentucky Speedway.
On top of that, Keselowski’s was without his crew chief a couple of races not too long ago and penalties from NASCAR have cost him points two different times for a total loss of more than 30 points — more than half a race worth.
Keselowski’s doesn’t seem to be making many friends or gaining much respect in the garage, either, despite his championship trophy. Of course, this is racing, not a “lets be friends” social occasion, but don’t fellow-competitors at least usually respect the champion? Respect isn’t something that Keselowski seems to be getting a lot of as the Sprint Cup champion.
After his title run of last year, Keselowski mentioned that he wanted to be a leader. Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano may look to him as a leader, but it doesn’t seem like other drivers in the garage see Keselowski in the same light.
When asked recently if he viewed Keselowski as a leader, fellow-driver Ryan Newman stated, “He’s not my leader.”
Also, car owner Rick Hendrick, who seemed to be in Keselowski’s corner a few short years ago, lamented that he hoped someday Keselowski will represent the sport with “more class” that he is now. That statement came after Keselowski blasted Hendrick and Joe Gibbs for stealing personnel from the Penske camp.
Whether he deserves it or not, Keselowski is like Rodney Dangerfield, in a way. He just can’t “get no respect.” He can’t seem to get many good finishes nowadays, either.
Since the implementation of the Chase format, Tony Stewart has been the only driver to win a championship one year and then miss the Chase the next year, winning his second Cup in 2005 and then missing the Chase, then a 10-driver affair, in 2006. Will Keselowski become the second? Take our poll here
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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