Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How I Think Brad Keselowski Won The 2012 NASCAR Cup Championship

And so it is written, Brad Keselowski has won the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.  But that news is pretty old.  Jimmie Johnson missed that ever elusive sixth title to add to his mantle and last year's contenders, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards were no where to be seen.

But some question just how Brad Keselowski actually came from the back of the "expectation pack" in his No. 2 Penske Dodge to take the title?  I have a working theory and it involves that broken ankle of his that I've been known to joke about over the last year or so.

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Back in August of 2011, Brad had an "unfortunate" moment and broke his ankle in a road course testing incident.  I remember it vividly and back then I was concerned how that might impact his performance.  HA!  He then went on the win the Pocono race right after, and oddly, started performing rather well the rest of the 2011 season.

My first thought was he's driving differently because of the joint injury and it may pass as soon as it gets better.  But this "driving better" fad did not pass and it got me to thinking.

Bear with me on this.

From my racing simulation days, I had learned an interesting lesson about being "fast," and that was you don't have to drive the fastest to end up being the fastest.  In one race, I had an altercation at Dover and my sheet metal was crumpled up a bit.  This extra aero-drag impacted by straight-away speeds as a car or two or three would pass me every time I turned my wheels straight coming out of four and two.

But this meant I was hitting turns one and three a bit slower than everyone else.  The effect this slower entry speed had was that I outlasted everyone with tires and as a fuel-run ran on, my tires were becoming the superior set of rubbers.  Fortunately, the race had mostly long fuel runs and I managed a win out of this experience in my online league.

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Back to the Real World

As a professional bowler, I had always noted that when I bowled injured, I always bowled better.  I quit trying to apply excess energy to my shots while things hurt.  So I had a few data points about lessons to be had from being hurt.

I think when Brad broke his ankle, it impacted him in such a way that he may have had to do something to modify his driving technique.  And whatever he had to do, taught him something of great value.  He not only took note, but probably started applying it from that day forth.  And hence, he not only started to shine at the end of that "ankle" season, but he also showed up in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season having retained that lesson.  And he applied it properly, let Jimmie Johnson out-drive himself, and was in the right place at the right time to take advantage of the situation.

And that's how I think Brad Keselowski brought it strong for the 2012 Championship season.  It's only a theory.  But what I do know is that ever since he did break his ankle, he's been a notch better than he's been before.  That, I do know.

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