Emotions flow as Keselowski takes title - NASCAR Notes by Lugnut - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

NASCAR NOTES: Emotions flow as Keselowski takes title

© Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images © Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"

Emotions are a big part of any championship game but last Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 in Homestead had more than its fair share.

As Jeff Gordon crossed the finish line for his first victory at the 1.5 mile oval, the excitement of the win was accompanied by relief as he held off rival Clint Bowyer in the closing laps. Only a week away from their bitter confrontation, Gordon was concerned of retaliation if Bowyer could catch him.

"There was one restart where I had Joey, Aric, and Clint right there surrounding me," said the race winner on his concerns about racing those that still have issues with him. "You know, that thing is going to work itself out some way through racing."

Gordon offered an olive branch of peace to his fellow drivers and hoped that they will accept his apology.

"I felt terrible about how I went about it [the accident] and still regret the way I went about it but you know what? I can't take it back," said Gordon. "What we can do is look forward and race guys hard and clean."

Bowyer was not ready to forgive and was really hoping to catch Gordon in those closing laps.

"I just really wanted to catch the 24," commented Bowyer on his later race charge. "That was the only thing that went through my mind at the end."

As Gordon and Bowyer coped with their thoughts, Brad Keselowski became the 2012 Cup Series Champion in only his third full year on the senior circuit.

"I just feel so fortunate to be where I'm at right now in life and with racing," said Keselowski on his landmark win. "To have guys like this around me because you're a product of who you surround yourself by, and I'm surrounded by the best."

Keselowski already had one NASCAR championship to his credit on the Nationwide Series but team owner Roger Penske has spent a couple of decades searching for that coveted title.

"I feel amazing that I've been able to achieve this in racing," commented Penske on his first NASCAR title. "I've lauded the people that have been on that stage for so many years and to be able to join this elite group and say that I'm a champion in NASCAR means a lot."

With 15 Indy 500 wins in his resume, it was that elusive NASCAR championship that kept Penske up at night. However, that emotion is now behind him.

"We won the Indy 500, 15 times and we're a big deal," said the man known as "The Captain" of his accomplishments as a team owner. "But I'll tell you one thing. Until you get here and you compete at the top and win it, you really know what's happened, and I think I just woke up here tonight, and it's a big thrill."

There were other emotions throughout the garage area as drivers were moving to new teams for next season and manufacturers were leaving the sport for a short time. I can't possibly tell all their stories but it was an emotional way to close the 2012 season.

Keselowski will truly make a great ambassador for NASCAR as Champion but I imagine it will be a long time before you that smile will come off of Roger Penske's face.

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