NASCAR: Keselowski’s party will stay at full speed through Friday’s awards banquet
Brad Keselowski got the party started Nov. 18 minutes after he won the Sprint Cup Series championship at the Homestead-Miami Speedway and it’s become a bender that continues to gain speed.
Keselowski finally got to Las Vegas Tuesday ready to accept the bounty of outrunning and outlasting the challenges of 11 other drivers in the Chase for the Championship.
The 28-year-old driver from Rochester Hills, Mich., hasn’t slept much since he clinched the first championship for himself and legendary car owner Roger Penske. He’s been at full speed since he left South Florida, making appearances on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “Good Morning America.” He also returned home to be honored in the Thanksgiving Day parade in Detroit. Even his former middle school got into the act by changing their front billboard: “Congrats Brad Keselowski – Reuther Alumni – For Winning the NASCAR Championship Cup.”
“I’m certainly a little tired, but that just means we’ve been working hard,” Keselowski said. “We’re going to enjoy this vacation when it comes up.”
Keselowski officially will accept his rewards Friday night at Wynn Las Vegas (8 p.m., SPEED).
Until then, he will stay at full speed.
His celebratory stretch drive started Tuesday night with an hour-long interview and town hall meeting with fans on “NASCAR Live.” It kicks into high gear on Wednesday when all 12 playoff drivers meet with fans at famed Freemont Street. The drivers also will participate in a game show, hosted by comedian Carrot Top.
There will be a parade of the race cars from the Chase down Las Vegas Boulevard. Drivers traditionally show off by doing burnouts, momentarily fogging the boulevard’s famous neon lights with white smoke.
All 12 drivers then will participate in a question and answer session with fans at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.
The main event is Friday. “America’s Got Talent” judge Howie Mandel will be the host when NASCAR hands out its awards, including rookie of the year and most popular – most likely Stephen Leicht and Dale Earnhardt Jr., respectively.
Train, Lifehouse, Natasha Bedingfield and Phillip Phillips are scheduled to perform.
In addition to championship rings and the trophy, Keselowski will get a $5.7 million check from NASCAR and series sponsor Sprint. Added with other bonuses, he will finish with more than $12 million in earnings.
Keselowski’s live interview on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” after the Homestead race became one of the most-viral replays on the internet. He started that discussion by saying he was “a little buzzed” as he continually took huge gulps of beer during the interview.
Although most applauded his unbridled enthusiasm, some didn’t like him drinking on live television.
He didn’t apologize then – and he hasn’t backed off the way he chose to celebrate since.
“If you’re true to yourself in the long run, those things will work themselves out,” Keselowski said. “I had fun and I wanted to show that fun and enjoy it with others. I’m more thrilled that people enjoyed than I am disappointed to questioning my path because someone else didn’t like it.”
If his post-race celebration turned some heads, just wait. With Brad Keselowski, the party’s probably just getting started.