HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Brad Keselowski, loud, a little buzzed and soaked in beer, bounded through the door with an oversized bottle of champagne in one hand and his cellphone in the other. He plopped down next to Roger Penske, a pillar of the American auto industry, and triumphantly slapped him on the back.
“We did it boss,” Keselowski hailed.
“Did you bring your tweeter?” the 75-year-old Penske replied.
NASCAR’s oddest couple captured its biggest prize Sunday night, when Keselowski brought Penske his first Sprint Cup championship 40 years after the owner’s first stock car race. He beat five-time champion Jimmie Johnson of mighty Hendrick Motorsports while delivering the crown that fills a glaring hole on Penske’s otherwise sterling racing resume.
Penske is considered the gold standard of open-wheel racing — he has 15 Indianapolis 500 wins — and his empire makes him one of the most successful businessmen in America. But until Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, his NASCAR program was never more than average.
“Personally, I feel amazing that I’ve been able to achieve this in racing,” Penske said. “I think it took guts for me to stay in the sport. We could have thought, ‘Well, we won the Indy 500 15 times and we’re a big deal.’ But I’ll tell you one thing … I think I just woke up here tonight, and it’s a big thrill.”
As always, Penske credited his entire organization.
But the program really turned behind Keselowski, you know, the kid who tweeted from inside his car during the season-opening Daytona 500 earlier this year. So it was fitting that his first act as champion was sending a tweet, of course, from inside his car. “We did it,” he posted with a picture.