Brad Keselowski pulled off a stunning move on the final lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Talladega, pulling away from Kyle Busch and claiming the victory for Penske Racing.
In restrictor plate races, most fans agree the driver running second actually has a better chance of winning than the first-place driver when it comes to the final lap. The way cars draft in NASCAR allows the second-place driver a slight speed advantage once they make their move, and it's usually enough to give the second-place driver the win.
That was what Busch was thinking as he helped Keselowski to the front, pushing the driver past Matt Kenseth on Lap 193 of 194. Busch was in position to then slip past Keselowski, but the Penske racer was ready for him.
"I had this whole plan if I ever got in that situation where I was leading," Keselowski told NASCAR Wire Service. "I thought about it and thought about it - dreamed about what to do - and sure enough, going into [Turn] 3, it was just me and Busch. And I knew the move I wanted to pull. I went into Turn 3 high and pulled down off of Kyle and broke the tandem up. That allowed me to drive untouched to the checkered flag. It wasn't easy to convince myself to do that, but it was the right move. I'm glad it worked."
Keselowski's little maneuver gave his team the victory, Penske's first ever at the famous Talladega track. The win marked Keselowski's second this season and puts the driver in excellent position to challenge for the Sprint Cup.
Despite being involved in NASCAR since 1972 and winning championships in a number of other motorsports series, Roger Penske's team has never won the NASCAR Sprint Cup. In fact, the team only won its first NASCAR title in 2010 when Keselowski triumphed in the Nationwide Series.
The journey has been a long one for team Penske, but things may have actually turned around last year, thanks to a different Busch brother. When Kurt Busch was a member of the team, microphones caught an on-air meltdown the driver had over the team radio. The hot-headed driver criticized team management, his crew, and his teammate (Keselowski) during the rant.
While Busch later moved on to his brother Kyle's Nationwide team, Penske management took the criticism to heart - as did Keselowski. The NASCAR driver responded by winning three races in 2011 and qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Now, just a few months into the season, he appears destined for playoff racing again.
Keselowski is motivated to earn a championship for his team, telling USA Today that he wants to be the person who gets Roger Penske's name into the NASCAR history books.
"I want to be that first guy. I feel like [Penske's] dedicated to making that happen," Keselowski told the news source. "I look as some of the other elite car owners in the sport, and I don't want this to be offensive, but to win another Cup championship for Hendrick or Richard Childress is not the same as winning the first for Roger Penske. That's a whole different accomplishment. I think he's certainly paid his dues in this sport, has that reputation as a titan for a reason, and that is that he can get it done. I want to be the guy that proves it in the record books."
While Keselowski has a good shot of getting into the Chase for the Sprint Cup at the end of the year due to his two wins, he's currently 12th in the overall standings - meaning the other NASCAR drivers aren't likely to give up the title without a fight.