DEARBORN (WWJ) – Now is your time to celebrate with NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski as he returns home to Michigan on Jan. 31.
Fans are invited to join Michigan International Speedway and Miss Sprint Cup Jaclyn Roney for a free Q&A with NASCAR’s champion at the Henry Ford Museum’s Anderson Theater.
Doors open at 1 p.m. and the event is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. Seating is limited, so fans are encouraged to get there early.
“We are excited to welcome Brad back to Michigan and offer a chance for our fans to interact with the NASCAR champion,” MIS President Roger Curtis said in a statement. “Brad is the state’s first Michigan-born driver to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship and we are thrilled to welcome him back home.”
Keselowski won NASCAR’s premier championship in 2012 in thrilling fashion. Driving for legendary team owner Roger Penske, he brought the Sprint Cup home to Michigan for the first time.
The Rochester Hills native won the title when fellow contender Jimmie Johnson pulled out of the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway because of a parts failure.
The championship was the first for longtime NASCAR owner Penske and the first time a Michigan-born driver won NASCAR’s top prize.
Keselowski was leading the points heading into the Sprint Cup finale. He only needed to finish 15th or better to clinch the championship. He finished the race 15th.
To be the best, Keselowski had to beat the best — Johnson. The pair traded the lead of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup five times, the last on Nov. 11 at Phoenix International Raceway where Keselowski finished sixth and Johnson, the victim of an accident, placed 32nd.
Keselowski’s 15th-place run in the season finale was all it took to apply the finishing touches to a stellar championship season. Keselowski’s championship came in his 125th start, the fewest since Jeff Gordon captured his first of four titles in 1995 in 93 starts.
At age 28, Keselowski became the eighth-youngest competitor to win a first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
Johnson, leading the race on strategy, pitted then suffered a pit road penalty, a result of a loose lugnut. But ultimately, issues with the rear-end gear and driveshaft ended Johnson’s bid for a sixth championship.
Thursday’s event will also serve as a kick off for Michigan International Speedway’s 2013 season.