Brad Keselowski enjoys spoils of his victory

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Brad Keselowski, center, holds up his trophy after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship following an auto race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in Homestead, Fla. Keselowski clinched the title after fellow contender Jimmie Johnson pulled out of the season finale because of a parts failure. Jeff Gordon won the race. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)  Wilfredo Lee
Wilfredo Lee
Brad Keselowski, center, holds up his trophy after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship following an auto race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in Homestead, Fla. Keselowski clinched the title after fellow contender Jimmie Johnson pulled out of the season finale because of a parts failure. Jeff Gordon won the race. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Brad Keselowski got the party started minutes after he won the Sprint Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway and it’s become a whirlwind that continues to gain speed.

Keselowski finally got to Las Vegas Tuesday ready to accept the bounty of outrunning and outlasting the challenges of 11 other drivers in the Chase for the Championship.

The 28-year-old driver, from Rochester Hills, Mich., hasn’t slept much since he won the first championship for himself and legendary car owner Roger Penske on Nov. 18.

He’s been at full speed since he left South Florida, making appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and Good Morning America. He also returned home to be honored in the Thanksgiving Day parade in Detroit. Even his former middle school got into the act by changing their front billboard: “Congrats Brad Keselowski – Reuther Alumni – For Winning the NASCAR Championship Cup.”

“I’m certainly a little tired, but that just means we’ve been working hard,” Keselowski said. “We’re going to enjoy this vacation when it comes up.”

Keselowski officially will accept his rewards Friday at Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas (8 p.m., SPEED).

Until then, he will stay at full speed.

His celebratory stretch drive started Tuesday night with an hour-long interview and town hall meeting with fans on NASCAR Live. It kicked into high gear on Wednesday when all 12 playoff drivers meet with fans at famed Freemont Street.

The main event is Friday when NASCAR hands out its awards, including rookie of the year and most popular – most likely Stephen Leicht and Dale Earnhardt Jr., respectively.

In addition to championship rings and the trophy, Keselowski will get a $5.7 million check from NASCAR and series sponsor Sprint.

Added with other bonuses, he will finish with more than $12 million in earnings.

Keselowski’s live interview on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” after the Homestead race became one of the most-viral replays on the internet. He started that discussion by saying he was “a little buzzed” as he continually took huge gulps of beer during the interview.

Although most applauded his unbridled enthusiasm, some didn’t like him drinking on live television.

He didn’t apologize then – and he hasn’t backed off the way he chose to celebrate since.

“If you’re true to yourself in the long run, those things will work themselves out,” Keselowski said. “I had fun and I wanted to show that fun and enjoy it with others. I’m more thrilled that people enjoyed than I am disappointed to questioning my path because someone else didn’t like it.”

If his post-race celebration turned some heads, just wait. With Brad Keselowski, the party’s probably just getting started.


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