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Associated Press

NASCAR people's champ

So now comes Brad Keselowski, a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion for both 2012, and I don't know, 1962, maybe.

On the one hand, he's a child of the new millennium, considering his first act after clinching the Cup was to tweet "We did it!" from inside his race car in Victory Lane.

On the other, he's a blue-collar son of Michigan who grew up working-class and whose dad, Bob, scuffled around on the ARCA circuit for years. And he won the Cup driving for a team that, while royalty elsewhere, is the most severe of underdogs on the NASCAR circuit.

Roger Penske may have won a gazillion Indy 500s and season championships in the open-wheel ranks, but he'd never won a title in his 40 off-and-on years in NASCAR. And this one you couldn't see coming, considering Keselowski was driving the only Dodge in the chase and was going up essentially on his own against five-time champ Jimmie Johnson and the Hendricks juggernaut.

So, of course, Keselowski pulled it off, but only after once again battling the odds. He ran his gas tank dry and went a lap down while Johnson was leading Sunday, and it looked bleak for awhile. But this time it was Hendricks' boys who made the big mistake, sending JJ out minus a lug nut, which forced a drive-through penalty and dropped Johnson right back with Keselowski.

Then Johnson lost a rear-end gear with 40 laps to run, and it was over.

The underdog was champ. Penske was finally a champ. And a Dodge had won the title for the first time since 1975, when Richard Petty driving one.

Good stuff.

Ben Smith's blog.

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