KESELOWSKI: WINNING RACES, WINNING FANS

He’d be a perfect candidate for What’s My Line? If you plunked Brad Keselowski down on a stool at your local sports bar among a group of guys, and you asked patrons to guess which one was a top 12 NASCAR driver, there’s a good chance he’d rarely be the first choice, or even the second. Upon revealing HE was the guy, the more common response might be “Who? Him?”

It’s “Average Joe Comes To NASCAR.” That’s the growing appeal of one Bradley Keselowski. If you think about it, it’s not hard to understand….

The Earnhardt Connection. On message boards and NASCAR chats, a significant number of Brad Keselowski fans are also Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans. Scoff at what you may think is misplaced devotion, but never question that Earnhardt fans are fiercely loyal. Remember, it was Bad Brad who came to prominence in the number 88 Nationwide Series ride for JR Motorsports. Junior fans still have a warm place in their heart for “Little E,” but it’s “BK” that’s getting them fired up.

Standing Up To The Villains. Given their loyalties, it’s no surprise many of these same fans harbor no love for Kyle Busch or Carl Edwards, both of whom have had incidents with Junior and Brad. It wouldn’t come as any surprise Keselowski gained a few new fans when, during driving introductions at Bristol in 2010, he called Busch the north end of of a southbound mule. This kind of unflinching nerve resonates well with the segment of NASCAR nation that cut their teeth on the Intimidator and D.W.

Brand Association. He drives the famed “Blue Deuce.” The fact that Keselowski drives a Dodge sponsored by Miller Lite has a certain “old school” ring to it.

The “Joe” Factor. Ask those same old school fans about the gripes with modern NASCAR, and you’ll get the Car of Today, the TV networks, and the Chase. On the very same list is the complaint that the drivers are too “perfect”: too much Madison Avenue, and not enough Main Street; too refined, and not enough relatable. There’s an unpolished charm about the Michigan native, like someone could have easily plucked out of the halls of your hometown high school in rural America. Put another way, Keselowski seems a little more like us, and less like NASCAR’s resident “pretty boys.”

Everyone Loves A Winner. Now an owner of three wins, and several impressive summer runs, Keselowski is only surpassed in the Sprint Cup by Kyle Busch.

That’s to say nothing of how Keselowski is winning this year. For the 27-year old in 2011,, there’s more racin’, and less rubbin’. He’s getting it done on short tracks, intermediates, and darn near pulled off a win on a road course. The threat of getting the chrome horn is there when it comes to Brad, but perhaps he understands its more effective if he leaves you wondering.  

Not everyone will get into Brad; it’s for those fans you have a Kyle Busch on one end of the spectrum, and guys like Trevor Bayne on the other. Variety is the slice of life. Among the Jimmie Johnsons, the Carl Edwards’, and the Kevin Harvicks, it’s good to have a Brad Keselowski.   

Other articles by Jim McCoy include:

Forget History, Kyle Busch Is In Championship Form
Bad Brad Fronts Cast Of Unusual Suspects
Forget History, Kyle Busch Is In Championship Form