Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Is a NASCAR driver like an NFL QB?

   NASCAR drivers have been called many things but how about a comparison to the quarterback position on an NFL team?

    Certainly, a driver is the most visible part of a NASCAR team and has a defacto leadership role in that regard.

    Here's Brad Keselowski's take on the question:

   “Yeah, certainly. I've said before in one of our media sessions that of all the spots or roles in professional sports that a race car driver is most similar to, I would put it right there with an NFL quarterback. There's a certain level of phenomenal talent you must have to achieve to be able to throw a ball down the field, but a large part of it is decision making, and you find that the elite athletes aren't all it takes. Elite athletes that can run around and throw the best pass, it takes more than that.

    "You have to be a great decision maker and a great leader, and that's why you see certain guys in football that are successful, and I feel that same way now. So that shows the importance of a solid mental approach as a foundation for being a great race car driver.”

History tells us Brad Keselowski has a chance

   It certainly appears Jimmie Johnson is in strong position to win his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship with two races remaining.

   The five-time champion has a seven-point advantage over his nearest rival, Brad Keselowski, heading to a track this weekend – Phoenix International Raceway – where he has been very successful.

   Yet all may not be what it seems.

   Why? History tells us so.

   Backtrack to 1995. The late Dale Earnhardt was fresh off his NASCAR-record-tying seventh Cup championship and was in good shape to win an eighth.

   A young upstart driver who sometimes rubbed his competitors and fans the wrong way looked to change that. His name was Jeff Gordon.

   The previous season Gordon finished eighth in the series standings and had won his first two races of his career. The odds then appeared on Earnhardt’s side.

   Down the stretch Gordon outpaced the veteran Earnhardt, racking up seven wins that season to Earnhardt’s five and won his first series championship by 34 points – a very small margin under the points system then in place.

   It would be the beginning of an impressive career for Gordon, who has gone on to win four Cup titles and stands at 86 wins and counting. The 1995 title was also the first for team owner Rick Hendrick, who has become one of the most successful owners in the sport’s history.

   Keselowski, 28, is just in his third full season in the Cup series. He drives for an organization, Penske Racing, which has never won NASCAR’s biggest prize.

   He is brash, outspoken and a talented driver.

   Why does he have a chance?

   History tells us so.