HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Brad Keselowski, the kid who stole the show at the season-opening Daytona 500, beat five-time champion Jimmie Johnson on Sunday to deliver the first NASCAR Sprint Cup title to Penske Racing.
"Always, throughout my whole life I've been told I'm not big enough, not fast enough, not strong enough and I don't have what it takes," Keselowski said. "I've used that as a chip on my shoulder to carry me through my whole career. It took until this year for me to realize that that was right, man, they were right.
"I'm not big enough, fast enough, strong enough. No person is. Only a team can do that."
So, with the Penske organization behind him, he delivered a trophy that had eluded "The Captain" since his 1972 NASCAR debut. Although his motor sports organization is considered the gold standard of open-wheel racing -- 15 Indianapolis 500 wins -- Penske's NASCAR team has always been just average.
Then came Keselowski, the blue collar, Twitter-loving, Michigan native who visited Penske in 2008 convinced the NASCAR team could win, too.
Three years later, they hoisted the Sprint Cup trophy together at Homestead-Miami Speedway following Keselowski's 15th-place finish Sunday night.
"It's all about the people in our organization and obviously Brad coming on our board three years ago, and we set a plan and we stuck to it," Penske, 75, said. "To win this championship is amazing."
Keselowski needed 125 starts to win
Gordon, who was fined $100,000 by NASCAR for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer last week at Phoenix, won the race in a 20th anniversary celebration for sponsor Dupont and Hendrick Motorsports.
It was Gordon's first victory at Homestead, which leaves Kentucky as the only active NASCAR track where he has yet to win.
Whom did Gordon beat? Bowyer, of course.
And Bowyer's second-place finish moved him to a career-best second in the final standings. Third place went to Ryan Newman, who got his break in NASCAR with Penske and spent seven seasons driving for the owner.
"He deserves this probably as much as anybody else because of what he's done for motor racing in general, NASCAR, his dedication to all forms of race cars," Newman said.
Keselowski started the race up 20 points on Johnson, needing only to finish 15th or higher to wrap up his first title. But the Penske team took nothing for granted -- not after Will Power crashed in the IndyCar Series finale to blow a 17-point lead and lose the title.
And this one got tight, too, especially when Keselowski ran out of gas on pit road during green flag pit stops. It put him a lap down with Johnson leading, and Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe frantically tried to figure out how dire the situation had become.
Wolfe crunched the numbers, figuring the No. 2 Dodge would cycle out in the mid-20s, a lap down from the leaders.
"I know the scenario, and it's not good," Keselowski said.
But minutes later, Johnson went to pit road for his own stop and pulled away with a missing lug nut. NASCAR flagged the Hendrick team and Johnson was forced back to pit road for another stop.
It got worse for Johnson from there. He broke a rear end gear in his No. 48 Chevrolet and went to the garage with 40 laps to go, essentially clinching the title for Keselowski.
"It all unraveled pretty quick," Johnson conceded.
The win is the first for Dodge since Richard Petty's Cup title in 1975 and comes as the manufacturer is leaving NASCAR. Penske announced days after the Daytona 500 it will move to Ford next year, and it led to Dodge's decision to pull out of NASCAR.
"Not one failure all year long in that Dodge engine, so I want to thank Dodge for what they've done for us," Penske said after Keselowski secured the title.