When Miller Lite announced last April it was moving its NASCAR sponsorship from Kurt Busch to Brad Keselowski beginning in 2011, some garage insiders seemed surprised.
Keselowski didn't have a reputation as being much of a party guy – or even much of a drinker. So his alliance with Miller – a company whose presence in NASCAR exists in order to sell truckloads of beer – initially seemed like an odd fit.
Certainly, not all drivers during the Winston Cup era were regular smokers. So there's precedent for a driver not being a heavy user of the product he's pushing.
Still, given Keselowski's straight-laced reputation, I wondered how the driver viewed his new partnership with Miller.
Here's what he said:
I grew up racing all my life, with my mom and my dad and my family. And the code that you had for racing was that you worked hard, left everything on the table – and you never had any fun.
You never went to a party after you won a race; you went to Big Boy with your mom and dad and you got the 'Brawny Lad' (steak sandwich) and a shake and (celebrated like), 'Yeah, we won!' And that was post-race.
One of the things I appreciated the most about driving for Dale Jr. was the ability to, for the first time in my life, have fun racing. Really have fun – not just winning, because that's fun for everybody – but really having fun and enjoying your role.
So I look at Miller Lite as almost another graduation of that. I actually enjoy it. They're opening me up and allowing me to have more fun. I think it's a blessing. I really do.
If you follow Keselowski on Twitter, you know the sponsor/driver relationship has seemed natural so far. He casually works in Miller Lite references (like this one) and nursed a bottle of beer during Monday night's media interviews.
Perhaps as long as Keselowski seems sincere with his sponsor plugs, the fans won't mind that he's not likely to get wasted and drunk-dial Carl Edwards on an off-weekend.
Although they probably wouldn't mind if he did.