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A second NASCAR championship would boost Brad Keselowski, and he knows just how high

Brendan Marks, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

Go back to nine years ago when Keselowski was just starting out in the Cup Series, still just a 25-year-old fresh face on the racing scene. In his fifth career start, and at the infamous Talladega Superspeedway to boot, Keselowski was trailing heading into the last lap. Then ... chaos. Leader Carl Edwards crashed out, opening a clear path to the front for Keselowski. He took it, earning the first of his 24 Cup series wins and becoming the first NASCAR driver ever to only lead the last lap of a race.

"I remember being confused, overwhelmed," Keselowski said, "and happy."

Or take his first Cup Series championship in 2012. Keselowski finished 15th in the season finale, but under the system in place then his points lead still gave him the championship trophy. Keselowski said on Thursday he still keeps it in a box, not on display over his fireplace or in his shop.

"I remember more about my first win than I do about my championship," Keselowski said. "Too many people pulling at you. Couldn't really enjoy it."

Now if Keselowski can win at Homestead, he'll have another chance to enjoy a championship. He'll have more friends, more family to celebrate with this time around, and since he's experienced the slide back down the metaphorical mountain, maybe he can fully appreciate the summit on his second go-around.

But for Keselowski, winning a championship isn't just about the trophy, clearly. It isn't about the excitement either, necessarily.

It's about the legacy that multiple-time champions breathe into reality. That second trophy might as well be a golden ticket into NASCAR's upper echelon, or even into more exclusive company than that.

"Multiple championship drivers are Hall of Famers, and that's a heck of a crowd to be associated with," Keselowski said. "Early in the sport I just wanted to make a living, but now that I have the chance, I want to make the most of those opportunities.

 

"And I have that opportunity here."

Keselowski isn't the favorite on Sunday, but clearly that hasn't held him back so far. Staring him down is a chance to join the others who have won multiple championships among others, as one of the best to ever drive.

Now all he has to do is take it.

(c)2017 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

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