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Keselowski signs Cup/Nationwide deal with Penske

Brad Keselowski will drive full schedules for Penske Racing in the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series next season, the team has announced.

Fresh from a fifth-place finish in Sunday's NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Keselowski, 25, is third in the Nationwide standings as the driver of the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. He will drive Dodges for Penske Racing, replacing David Stremme in the No. 12 Cup car and competing as a teammate to Justin Allgaier in the Nationwide Series.

“I want to be the guy who comes to Penske Racing and gets them their first championship,” Keselowski said in a conference call with reporters.

Keselowski joins Kurt Busch, who won a Cup championship with owner Jack Roush in 2004, and Sam Hornish Jr. on Penske's Cup roster.

After collecting his first win in the Cup series at Talladega in April in a car owned by James Finch and supported by Hendrick Motorsports, Keselowski said he had extensive discussions with team owner Rick Hendrick (who also shares ownership in JR Motorsports with Dale Earnhardt Jr.) about possible scenarios for 2010.

“He (Hendrick) worked as hard as he could – he told me something I thought was pretty interesting, that he worked much harder on my deal than he ever had to work on Jimmie (Johnson) or Jeff (Gordon) or any of them – trying to find a way to keep me in the camp. It became obvious it was just not in the cards.

“There were so many things going against us with the (four) team limit and so forth. This opportunity was sitting there.”

Keselowski had negotiated with team owner Roger Penske a year earlier before opting to stay with JRM for another season. Interestingly, Earnhardt encouraged his protégé to take the Penske deal.

“This is the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life,” Keselowski said. “But I woke up this morning feeling 100 percent certain that I'd made the right one. I went through a lot of stages to make this decision and talked to a lot of different people, as far as teams, friends and family, and it was clear to me that this is the direction I want to head.

“I will say that one of the most important matters of the whole conversation to me – or of the discussions and negotiations—was to have the blessings of Dale and Kelley (Earnhardt, Dale Jr.'s sister) and Rick to come out and to do this. That meant a lot to me. I owe where I'm at today because of their support, and I truly respect everything they've done for me to get me here.

“I took this job, this offer, and it was after some of the words I got from Dale encouraging me to take it.”

Penske Racing president Tim Cindric declined to discuss the terms of the contract. He did say the current plan is to have Stremme, who is free to seek other opportunities, complete the season in the No. 12 Dodge. Penske plans to run Keselowski and Allgaier full time in the Nationwide Series next year.

by Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service



Related Pictures

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Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 88 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, celebrates after winning Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Carfax 250 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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