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Brad Keselowski is hot, with that Talladega win. So what's the future got to offer?


A Talladega victory, in dramatic fashion, yes. But what next? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   Brad Keselowski has had the week of his life, since beating Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman at Talladega, in a high-drama finish.
   And now he'd like to milk that breakthrough win into a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup contract.
   Keselowski is giving first option to Rick Hendrick, who provided the equipment for his first tour win.
   But just what Hendrick might be able to put together isn't clear. First, there's sponsorship. Second, Hendrick already has four teams, the NASCAR limit. Third, Earnhardt himself doesn't appear in any shape to be able to turn his Nationwide operation into a Cup program.
   Still, Keselowski – now that he's the hot new thing in this sport – wants to strike while the iron is hot.
   He's running a limited Cup schedule of seven or eight races this season, a very fluid schedule – he won't be running in Saturday night's Richmond 400, because that deal was sidelined just two weeks ago.
    Now Keselowski not wants a more solid Cup schedule this year but "I'd like to be in Cup full-time next year."
    So Keselowski has been talking – maybe even negotiating – this week with Hendrick.
    However at 25 Keselowski might be getting more attention from rival team owners now too. He said he had an opportunity to run Cup this year for Roger Penske, for example. And there might be more in the wings.
   Keselowski, an Earnhardt 'discovery' running full-time for Earnhardt on the Nationwide tour, has been running Hendrick equipment on the Cup side, working through part-time car owner James Finch.
    "I sat out this year because I didn't think that the timing was right and I didn't think I was ready for a full Cup schedule," Keselowski said.
   "And I wanted to do this right. I wanted to come into it as someone who could run competitively…and I even shocked myself on how competitive I could run.
    "The other ways of doing it (Cup) last year was not the situation, so I didn't take them. So now I'm looking at it.
     "A year ago I had the opportunity with Roger Penske to do that deal, and I turned it down because I felt like on any given weekend, I was anywhere from a 15th to 30th place Cup driver.
   "But I feel I made progression toward the end of last year, and toward the start of this year, to where maybe I'm a 10th to 20th place Cup driver.
   "I know to make that next step I need to run full-time. I need to have a full-time ride at the Cup level to be a guy who can run for the Chase or take wins.
    "So it's a matter of making that line up.
     "We still have a few months to work some other things out. I'm working with Rick Hendrick and owe it to him to see what they can work out.
    "The key part about this whole situation of where I'm at, with contracts and next year, is that you stick with what got you to where you're at.
    "Having competitive cars, and having support from Hendrick Motorsports, and being able to look at their data and talk to their drivers is what got me into victory lane on Sunday.
    "It's hard to run from that, you know.
    "But at the same time, at this point and at this time, there isn't a clear opportunity there.
     "So we'll have to see how that plays out."

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