Brad Keselowski reaping the rewards of unrelenting effort

Brad Keselowski drives the #2 Miller Lite Dodge in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22, 2012 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)

LOUDON, N.H. — In his third full season of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing, and his second on the Cup side with crew chief Paul Wolfe, Brad Keselowski is the leader of the Chase standings after one event this year.

Keselowski, 28, a third-generation racer from Michigan, has been described as relentless in his pursuit of excellence. To be any less committed, Keselowski believes, wouldn’t be fair to his No. 2 Penske Racing team.

“Am I relentless?” Keselowski asked rhetorically during a question-and-answer session after Cup qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “When you want something, you go out there and get it, you get the job done. I’ve just always believed if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

“I’ve never been afraid to put the effort in, and I’ve had great teachers in my life to showcase what that effort means, whether it’s my dad or guys like Paul Wolfe or guys on the team. I know there’s a group of people around me right now at Penske Racing that work their butts off and make sacrifices to their own lives for me to be successful. It sure would be a shame to not give the same.”

Keselowski enters Sunday’s Sylvania 300, the second race in the Chase, with a three-point lead over second-place Jimmie Johnson and an eight-point advantage over third-place Tony Stewart, the defending series champion.

Though Keselowski has just six starts at New Hampshire — compared with 21 for Johnson and 27 Stewart — he feels his recent history at the track bodes well for Sunday.

“By today’s standards, you could say I have limited experience, because there’s really not that many young drivers or drivers that have less experience than me in the series,” Keselowski said. “But I feel that I have the appropriate amount of experience to be successful.Â

“I feel like we’ve showcased that over the last two weekends here where we finished fifth (in July) and second (in last year’s Chase race), and we won the Nationwide race the last time here. So I feel like we have a pretty good track record and as good a shot as anyone else.”

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