Penske gets his first NASCAR Sprint Cup title as team owner
Keselowski's finish also gets win for Dodge as it exits stock-car racing
Photo credit: Reuters
Brad Keselowski won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup title on Sunday -- along with Roger Penske's first cup title as a team owner -- with a 15th place finish in the final race of the year at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.
Penske, CEO of Penske Automotive Group and the most successful team owner in Indy-car racing history, has been trying to win a NASCAR championship as an owner since 1972.
Keselowski, 28, also provided the first series championship win since 1975 for Chrysler Group's Dodge brand, which was leaving stock-car racing after Sunday's race.
Penske Racing plans to switch to Ford next year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
Keselowski, a native of Rochester Hills, Mich., needed to secure a 15th-place or better finish in the race to wrap up the series title.
He entered the 2012 Cup Series finale at Homestead with a 20-point advantage over five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. Clint Bowyer finished second and Johnson third in the series championship.
Keselowski's finish capped a season that featured five wins, 13 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes.
It was also the 24th national championship for Penske Racing.
Johnson, who was searching for a sixth championship, paid the price for a pit road mistake and a part failure, completing just 224 of the 267 laps at the speedway.
Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon won the final race of the season with Bowyer second and Ryan Newman third.
Said Keselowski: "It feels really good. I can't believe how everything just came together over the last three years and you know what? I feel like the best is yet to come. I really do."
The driver, now a resident of North Carolina, paid tribute to his team at Penske for its work throughout the season.
"It's as sweet as life gets, to know that you have people around you that can make up for you when you make mistakes, because we all make mistakes, and I make a ton of them.
"But I know that when I make them, I've got people that got my back," he said.
Johnson was left frustrated after he felt he had a chance of gaining the advantage he needed over Keselowski in the standings.
"We were in position and putting the pressure on the 2 car [Keselowski] like we needed to. I said at the beginning of the week, 15th isn't a layup, and I certainly had him in position.
"He made it really interesting here at the end of this thing. If we could have not had the mistake on pit road and then the gear failure at the end ... ," he said.
Penske Automotive Group ranks No. 2 on the Automotive News list of the top 125 dealership groups in the United States with retail sales of 154,829 new vehicles in 2011.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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