Though NASCAR black-flagged Hamlin for a one-lap penalty, Hamlin quipped, It was well worth it. I thought when I went down pit road I had won the race. Ive never seen so many crews applaud and give thumbs up.
Keselowski admitted in a telephone interview nine days ago, There are some things I probably could have done a little bit better [during his Cup baptism]. But I feel good about how things have gone.
Of the attack mode exhibited from the outset of his Cup career which produced a spectacular 2009 victory at Talladega, Ala., in his fifth start Keselowski said simply, Youve got to fight for your spot in this sport Theres always someone who wants to challenge you and push you to the next level.
That mind-set grew from a lifetime exposed to the sport. Hes a third-generation driver. Bob Keselowski, his father, won 24 races and a championship in the Midwest-based ARCA stock car series. His uncle, Ron, raced in NASCARs top series in the early 1970s with a career-best six top-10 finishes in 1971.
But some who initially perceived Keselowski as a mouthy upstart with a chip on his shoulder some would say a two-by-four have been forced to re-evaluate. Keselowski is no less forceful on the track. But he has become more prudent.
Wolfe extols Keselowskis emerging leadership skills. When Brads around, he said, he finds a way to be able to motivate everyone around him.
In addition, Wolfe allows Keselowski more input in race-strategy decisions than most crew chiefs. Thats a matter of trust and the fact Keselowski studies the sport and is attuned to what the car needs and the situation demands, Wolfe said.
Keselowski last week equated the role the driver should fulfill with that of an NFL quarterback. Its not enough to be an elite athlete, he said. You have to be a great decision-maker and a great leader, and thats why you see certain guys in football who are successful and more who are not.
Dale Jarrett, the 1999 Cup champion who has watched Keselowskis development from the ESPN television booth, spoke glowingly not only of what he is achieving but also whats in the future.
This is a young man who has a tremendous amount of talent and is going to be heard from for a long time, Jarrett said. Hes a breath of fresh air.