Brad Keselowski became the 29th different champion in NASCAR’s premier series, joining icons he worshipped as a child. Since my ability to see into the future extends only as far as the next letter I type, I cannot say if his efforts were “good for the sport” or any such nonsense.
Brad Keselowski became the 29th different champion in NASCAR’s premier series, joining icons he worshipped as a child. Since my ability to see into the future extends only as far as the next letter I type, I cannot say if his efforts were “good for the sport” or any such nonsense. If we are to truly judge Keselowski against all those who came before him, it has nothing to do with his Tweets, remarks or the size of his beer mug – I like to look at facts.
By examining the statistics, know that he is a worthy champ in 2012, having met all the criteria one is adjudicated by even during the playoff era.
Keselowski hit a good benchmark among NASCAR champs, winning five races this season, including two in the Chase for the Championship. Only 16 championship seasons in 64 years has the victor won fewer than five times – and 12 times that happened in the modern era. Richard Petty (1975) and Jeff Gordon (1998) had the most, each winning 13 times in their respective title runs, while Jimmie Johnson (2007) won 10 times for a Chase-era high. Of the one-time champs, the category of 13 which Keselowski currently falls into, nine have five or fewer race wins. This suggests that A) the one-time champs were quite fortuitous and B) Keselowski is positioned, at least statistically, for at least one more championship in his career. All-time, The King Richard Petty holds the record with a staggering 27 victories in 48 starts during the 1967 campaign.
In a statistical quirk, Terry Labonte had just four race wins combined in his two championship seasons. This serves no purpose other than I found it interesting.
The newest champ also hit the top-10 mark of 20 more with 23, which is significant because only two Winston/Nextel/Sprint Cup winners have had fewer than 20 – Tony Stewart last season and Alan Kulwicki in 1993. Dale Jarrett has the record with 29 in his 1999 title run, which had two fewer dates on the schedule than the current 36-race format. Keselowski’s 23 top-10 finishes is about average for a modern-day champ.
Keselowski is also the 18th different champ in the modern era, seventh since 1999 and the fourth in the last nine seasons. There’s two ways to look at this: Had Johnson and/or Tony Stewart faltered in their tight championship runs in 2010 and 2011, respectively, we’d have as many as six different champs in the Chase era, or, had Johnson caught a break in both 2004 and 2012, he would be NASCAR’s third seven-time champion (Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt), in addition to joining Formula One’s Michael Schumacher with that number. That last bit was just for funsies.
So in conclusion, whether he’s (read the next four words in as sarcastic voice imaginable) “good for the sport” or not, Keselowski ranks right up there with – and even above – many of NASCAR’s champions and, if you believe in the numbers, will deliver another one to Penske Racing in the near future.
What to make of the Jets: If the New York Jets fire head coach Rex Ryan after, or even before, the season ends, it should be based solely on his stubborn support of quarterback Mark Sanchez.
In 58 career games, Sanchez has a rating of 73.7, a 67-61 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 15 fumbles. For a QB in his fourth season, these numbers aren’t necessarily the worst of all time, but they are consistent from season to season. Yet, the Jets coaching staff not only backs Sanchez, but didn’t even seek out a real backup in the offseason.
They traded for Tim Tebow.
Ryan is a capable coach, most notably on defense, but he can’t hitch his wagon to a QB like Sanchez who was just so-so at USC. His offensive leader’s failings have not only prevented the team from success in the playoffs, but threaten the jobs of an entire staff from the general manager on down.
This isn’t the observation of a Jets fan, but just a casual observer of football. Why can’t Ryan and his people recognize this?
Just sayin’: More than a third of the NHL season, including the All-Star game, has been scrapped. Hope the owners and players think this is worth it when they return to empty rinks. ... Scoring 138 points in a regulation basketball game is difficult to do on a video game, can’t imagine what it was like to be there. ... My brother-in-law lent me his copy of Bill Vukovich’s biography. Can’t wait to tear into it.
Chris Gill, who covers auto racing for The Leader in Corning, N.Y., can be reached at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @TheLeaderGill.