Brad Keselowski will officially be crowned the 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion during the awards show tonight in Las Vegas.
His journey to collecting his trophy and the big check that accompanies it took much longer the just the 2012 season.
It took much longer than the three-plus fulltime seasons in which Keselowski has competed in the Cup series.
His journey began with a wrench in his hand rather than a steering wheel.
Here are 10 pivotal moments that have shaped his journey to the top.
10. Turning the wheel instead of the wrench – Having mostly worked for his family’s race team, K Automotive, Keselowski begins his driving career in 1998 competing in the Senior Honda 120 Quarter Midget division.
9. April 17, 2004 Truck race at Martinsville – Keselowski makes his first career NASCAR start, qualifying 26th and finishing 33rd in the No. 29 Ford owned by his father, Bob.
8. July 14, 2007 debut with JR Motorsports – Brad Keselowski had made the most in sub-par equipment and that drew the attention of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was looking for a new driver for his Nationwide Series team. Keselowski replaced Shane Huffman.
7. June 7, 2008 first NASCAR victory – In his first full season with JR Motorsports, Keselowski finds Victory Lane for the first time in Nashville. The win is the second-ever for JRM.
6. Nov. 2, 2008 first Cup start – At Texas, Keselowski made his Cup debut, driving the No. 25 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. He started 37th and finished 19th. Weeks later, he finished 23rd in his second start in Homestead, Fla.
5. April 25, 2009 first Cup win – Driving a partial Cup schedule for owner James Finch, Keselowski wins his first race in in his fifth series start, at Talladega (Ala,) Superspeedway.
4. Sept. 1, 2009 – With no Cup ride available at Hendrick, Keselowski signs with Penske Racing to run fulltime Cup and Nationwide schedules beginning in 2010 for owner Roger Penske.
3. Nov. 6, 2010 – Keselowski finishes third at Texas and clinches the 2010 Nationwide Series championship with two races left. It’s the first NASCAR title for Keselowski and for Penske.
2. Sept. 16, 2012 win at Chicagoland – Beginning his second Chase, Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe earn an impressive win in the Chase opener on a 1.5-mile track. The victory is key to a title run as five of the 10 Chase races are run on similar tracks.
1. Nov. 18, 2012 Keselowski claims title at Homestead – Keselowski’s only other competition for the championship, Jimmie Johnson, has an uncharacteristically bad race — with a missing lugnut on a pit stop and mechanical problems that send him to the garage. Keselowski’s 15th-place finish is enough to earn his first Cup series championship and the first for Penske.