Who Will Win the Sprint Cup? Keselowski? Johnson?


So this week myself and fellow staff writer Jordan Dodson are going to debate the simple question of who will win this year’s Sprint Cup Championship. So, Jordan says Brad Keselowski and I say Jimmie Johnson!

Brad Keselowski

Oct 20, 2012; Kansas City, KS, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski gets ready to get in his car before taking practice laps for the Hollywood Casino 400 at the Kansas Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

In only his third full Sprint Cup season and second Chase appearance, Brad Keselowski finds himself battling for his first championship with three races remaining. Brad Keselowski has proven that he is becoming an elite driver in the Sprint Cup series over this past year. He has collected five wins, including two in the Chase, 21 top tens, 12 top fives and has led over 600 laps this season. Those career best stats in 2012 have put Keselowski in position to win his first Sprint Cup championship as he battles Jimmie Johnson down to the wire.

Johnson has the experience of winning five championships. But what Keselowski has is motivation and  attitude. He has also used being in unknown territory to his advantage all year. Keselowski has had the attitude of all of nothing all season long and the team’s chemistry have put them in new situations. As they enter unfamiliar situations, the team never cracks under pressure and they make the most out of every opportunity.

A big stage where Keselowski proved that the team can handle anything was at the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Going into the first Chase tied for second in points, his highest rank ever going into the Chase, he capitalized by winning two of the first three Chase races. He out performed expectations just as he has done all year in 2012.

Going into Martinsville, one of Brad Keselowski’s weakest tracks and Jimmie Johnson’s best tracks, Keselowski came from 32nd to finish sixth. His team slowly and methodically worked their way to the front of the pack including laps lead near the end of the race. The team has proven over and over that they are not afraid of any challenge and have the tools to succeed anywhere.

Keselowski also proved his inexperience was not a factor as he led the points for the first time in his career, including through the first six races of the Chase in 2012. He now only sits two points behind Johnson with three races remaining in the season.

Keselowski doesn’t have the stats that Johnson has being that Keselowski is only at the beginning of his career. What he has proven in 2012 is that stats don’t matter. No one can count the two team out because they have out performed everyone’s expectations all season. The only expectation that Keselowski has to disprove now is that he can’t win a Sprint Cup title in only his third full season.

All that matters to Keselowski is his all or nothing attitude and the team’s chemistry to out perform what other’s think is unattainable just as they have done all year. They have put themselves in another situation to succeed and I don’t see the task of winning a championship any different.

Jimmie Johnson

October 28, 2012; Martinsville, VA USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson (48) talks with crew chief Chad Knaus before the Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE

Now, let’s begin with this. Keselowski has the talent to win a championship and he proved that in the Nationwide Series. However he is not a five time champion like Jimmie Johnson.

First, let’s look at the stats! We have three remaining races left on the schedule: Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Don’t forget heading into these final races, Johnson now has a two point lead over Keselowski in the points.

Texas (Since 2010): Texas Motor Speedway ranks 10th on Johnson’s list of best average finishes. He has a 7th overall finishing position and a 9.6 average starting position. While “Five Time” doesn’t have any wins since 2010, he does have two top-5’s and four top-10s. He also has a driver rating of 109.6. On the other hand, ranks 21st for Keselowski where he has an average finish of just 25th with an average start of 23.2. The highest he has ever finished at Texas is a career high of 14th place. Texas will definitely play into Johnson’s favor.

Phoenix (Since Fall 2011): Phoenix International Raceway played a huge wildcard in the Chase last year, but now teams have a notebook and know what to expect. In the first race of the new Phoenix, Johnson finished 14th a lap down. In the spring race this year, Johnson started and finished 4th. However, since 2010 (which includes the new surface), Johnson ranks #1 in driver rankings at Phoenix with an average finish of 5.6. As for Keselowski, he isn’t too far behind Johnson in the stats line for the new Phoenix surface. He finished 18th in November a year ago and finished just behind Johnson in 5th place in the spring. With close statistics, Phoenix again will play into Johnson’s favor, however just slightly.

Homestead-Miami (Since 2010): Miami isn’t too favorable for either driver. Johnson has an average finish of 17th despite his strong qualifying efforts at the track. Miami ranks 19ths on Johnson’s list of best average finishes. For Keselowski, his average finish is 16.5 at Homestead where the track ranks 15th on his list. Keselowski gets the very slight edge for Homestead and with the points race so close, it could play into his favor, however I think when all is said and done…love him or hate him…Jimmie Johnson will win his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship!