The 2012 NASCAR season has been filled with high intensity racing, heated tempers, emotional victories and yes, many left turns. But on Nov. 18 the season will come to an end and a champion will be crowned. Brad Keselowski leads Jimmie Johnson by 20 points going into the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homstead, Fla.
With a 20 point deficit facing Johnson, Keselowski can go into the final race knowing that all he has to do is have a non-eventful day, or keep Johnson in sight, and he will be on his way to his first Cup Series championship. But I will bet that he still will not sleep easy at night until the race is over, with all of the different scenarios that can happen during one race.
Going into the last race at Phoenix International Raceway, Johnson had a seven point lead over Keselowski and Clint Bowyer was still in the hunt, 36 points behind Johnson. All three drivers, however, have experienced how quickly luck can turn in one race. Keselowski had a slow pit stop at the beginning of the race that set him back a bit, but luckily for him that was the only major issue of the day. For the rest of the race, all three championship contenders were at the front of the field, with Johnson and Keselowski trading the points lead all race long. Things turned for the worse, though, when Johnson blew a tire late in the race, causing him to go to the garage for extensive repairs. From this point on Keselowski took a comfortable points lead over Johnson, and Bowyer was brought a little closer to the fight. Bowyer soon faced his own problems when Jeff Gordon purposely wrecked him with two laps remaining. This occurred when Bowyer and Gordon made slight contact a lap beforehand and not only took Bowyer out of the race and the championship, but led to a massive brawl between Gordon, his crew and Bowyer’s crew.
With all the excitement that the race at Phoenix brought, we can only expect more as Keseolwski and Johnson battle it out for the championship. Johnson has been in a battle for a championship just about his whole Cup Series career, winning five in a row from 2006 to 2010. He hit a speed bump last year, preventing the capture of his sixth in a row, but he is poised this year to continue his history-making career by winning his sixth championship. Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, having won seven, hold the record for most championships and Johnson has openly admitted that he would like to break that record by winning eight championships. There is no doubt that he has the capacity to do so, but Keselowski, who is in just his third full-time season, looks to have his own page in the record books.
Johnson and Keselowski drive for top-notch teams with owners who are highly respected within the world of racing. Johnson drives for Rick Hendrick who already has 10 championships as an owner and got his 200th career win this season, brought to him by Johnson. Keselowski, on the other hand, drives for Roger Penske, who has yet to win a Cup series championship. But Penske is one of the most world-renowned names in racing with hundreds of victories among multiple series, IndyCar championships and has had drivers who have won the Indy 500 multiple times as well.
Both drivers have a lot on the line with Johnson trying to make history and Keselowski trying to bring home a championship for a legend in racing. If the last race proved any insight into what the final race will be like, it is that it will be full of excitement, a great championship battle and maybe even more heated tempers. Both Johnson and Keselowski are the kind of drivers that will not back down from any fight and put on a great championship battle to the last lap. One thing that you can count on for sure is that if Keselowski wins the championship, there will be many tweets and many behind the scenes pictures—probably even some from behind the wheel.
Published in The Oswegonian