Friday, November 30, 2012

Keselowski's run highlights the year in racing

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website – via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at

Sacramento, California – Auto racing’s two-month dark period has begun, so it’s time to look back at the 2012 season predictions I made way back in February.

I had Carl Edwards winning the Sprint Cup Series title.  BIG swing and a miss there, which might also be said of Edwards’ 2012 campaign.  It had to be painful for Edwards, who came within one pass for position on the track of edging out series champ Tony Stewart in 2011.

I truly don’t know how Carl lost traction in such a big way.  But more significant is how 2012 Sprint Cup Series winner Brad Keselowski (pictured) stepped up to grab the glory.  Did he EVER blink down the stretch?  With two races to go, it seemed a near sure bet that five-time series crown winner Jimmie Johnson would lock in and take title No. 6.

Instead, Keselowski stared him down, and his crew performed at a lofty level to give team owner Roger Penske his first title in stock car racing’s top-most series.

Driver of the Year?  My vote, and congratulations, go to Keselowski.

In another glorious miss, I had Helio Castroneves winning his fourth Indianapolis 500 this year.  He was essentially a non-factor in the race as Dario Franchitti claimed his third 500 in May.  Let the hype begin: Helio and Dario each gunning to get Indy 500 victory No. 4 on May 26 next year.  Good story line there for 2013.

In February, I had Penske pilot Will Power finally claiming his first IndyCar Series championship.  Instead, for a third straight year, Power and his team stumbled at the finish line to lose what once seemed like a lock.  To his credit, veteran driver Ryan Hunter-Reay kept his foot on the gas until the last checkered flag fell.  Congrats to him for claiming that series championship.

I’m not sure what other misery can strike Power to keep his hands off the IndyCar Series trophy.  His run of bad luck has been epic.  Will 2013 actually be his lucky number?  We’ll see.

One last word: We may be seeing one of racing’s all-time greats in German driver Sebastian Vettel, who locked up his third consecutive Formula One world driving championship last weekend in Brazil.  The Red Bull team driver is only 25, and yes, before it’s over, he might own all of fellow German Michael Schumacher’s F1 records … records that once seemed light years distant.

Vettel came from way back to win it all this year, and his gutsy drive in Brazil amid a series of on-track setbacks was a study in patience and seemingly blind bravery.  The best ever?  If he’s around for another dozen or 15 years, the answer to that question is likely going to be an easy “yes.”

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