A long wait

2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, drives during the NASCAR Victory Lap on the Las Vegas Strip on November 29, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — It took Roger Penske 28 years to win the trophy he originally proposed to tire maker Goodyear.

One of the highlights of Champion’s Week is the presentation of a 1:12 scale gold car to the Sprint Cup champion. That’s a tradition Penske established long ago on the IndyCar side of Penske Racing and one he suggested to Goodyear for their Sprint Cup program back in 1984.

“I’d been with Goodyear as a tire distributor for many, many years, and Bob Murcer was the president, and he said, ‘All the drivers get up and say ‘I’d have finished better, but I blowed a tire,’ and I don’t know what to do,” Penske recalled after the Myers Brothers ceremony. “I had gotten a fellow outside of Toledo (Mike Dunlap) that had done these gold cars for us when we won Indy.

“I said, ‘Why don’t you have him build a gold car, and you give that to the drivers, and they’ll talk awful good about Goodyear in the future.’ He thought that was a good idea. We had one made for him, and ever since, it’s been the trophy given to the (champion) driver.”

This year, for the first time, it goes to a Penske driver — Brad Keselowski.

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