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Keselowski Wins And Charge Begins for 2013

Paul Wolfe and Brad Keselowski
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Throughout the storied history of the highest levels of NASCAR, more often than not, champions repeat.   Sixty-four championships have been contested and thirty-five times the driver that took the series title had won multiple titles.  Twenty-nine drivers have earned a title with fifteen of those with more than one to their name.

So what does that mean for a Brad Keselowski repeat as the Sprint Cup champion?  If you use the past as a guide, here’s the case against the Michigan Man.

Most multi-title winning drivers were part of powerhouse teams.  From the owner’s side, Lee and Richard Petty head the list from the pre-modern era of the sport.  Bud Moore and Holman-Moody are not far behind as top owners from the early days.   In the modern era, the top drivers drove for Junior Johnson, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and Joe Gibbs.

With Roger Penske finally entering the Champion’s Club, he does join an exclusive group.  However, it doesn’t mean that the title carousel will finally make multiple stops at Team Penske.  Rusty Wallace is a prime example from the past that serves as a reminder finishing first for the season is truly elusive.  Wallace won a lot of races for the Captain but only contended twice finishing second and a close third in the 1990’s.  David Pearson is another example of hard luck, winning a lot of races for the Wood Brothers, but the Silver Fox took his three titles before he started driving the #21.  Both of those guys had to unfortunately contend with guys like The King, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt.  Penske Racing as a team does not exactly equal powerhouse.

However the more salient point is the synergy between driver and crew chief.  Richard Petty and Dale Inman revolutionized the early days of NASCAR with those seven titles.  Dale Earnhardt and Kirk Shelmerdine won four titles together while Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham took three together.  If the Blue Deuce is to contend next year and beyond, look to the seats that hold the driver and boss on the pit box as the biggest harbingers for future success.

So in 2013, when you line up the top tandems here is where they stack:  1) Jimmie Johnson-Chad Knaus have earned it, five times actually.  2) Brad Keselowski-Paul Wolfe earned it, too.  3) Kasey Kahne-Kenny Francis are good together and could break through.  4) Clint Bowyer-Brian Pattie got some stuff done this year with a shot at it for next year.  5) Tony Stewart-Steve Addington had their moments, but still have more to prove.  6) Denny Hamlin-Darian Grubb are also worthy, but only because Grubb has been there.  So if anyone else wants to mount a charge, those are the first six to vanquish.  Daytona never seemed so close.

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