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NASCAR Chase 2012: What Cup Win Will Mean for Brad Keselowski

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 17:  Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 17, 2012 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Ryan DavenportContributor INovember 18, 2012

Today, Brad Keselowski, in only his fifth year on the NASCAR circuit, has an opportunity to take home his first Sprint Cup at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

For Keselowski, the Cup victory would be an extremely unexpected one, as the 28-year-old trailed five-time champion Jimmie Johnson for much of the season, but got hot at the right time. 

Ultimately, last weekend's race in Phoenix may have been the turning point in the Sprint Cup Series, as Johnson finished 32nd, while Keselowski took home a sixth-place finish, putting himself in a very good position to win the Cup at the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday. 

That's because, entering Sunday's season finale in Homestead, Florida, Keselowski's 20-point lead over Johnson is more than enough of a cushion for the Penske Racing driver to feel confident about his chances. 

Unless Keselowski finishes outside the top 15, Johnson will be mathematically out of the running to unseat the leader, even if he takes the checkered flag on Sunday. 

That's why Keselowski is so loose heading into the Sprint Cup finale, as ESPN's David Newton pointed out.

In this smartphone-iPad generation that 28-year-old Keselowski embodies, perhaps pressure is relative. Perhaps it gives someone like Keselowski an outlet to relieve some of the stress drivers typically keep bottled inside.

When a fan wrote on Twitter earlier in the week that her "stomach is in knots hoping you'll win it all this weekend," Keselowski responded, "Beer helps."

At this point, it's Keselowski's title to lose, and assuming he wins, he'll become NASCAR's next national superstar, because if history has told us anything, it's that anyone who wins a Sprint Cup becomes one of the sport's most prominent names. 

From Tony Stewart, to Kurt Busch, to Johnson, legends are born through Sprint Cup titles, and unless Keselowski suddenly struggles on Sunday, he'll be the next in that long line of immortal drivers. 

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