Brad Keselowski turns to sister for support in NASCAR's crunch time

Jonathan Daniel - Getty Images for NASCAR

Brad Keselowski has been NASCAR's best driver since the start of July, and he credits a woman for part of the reason: His sister, Dawn Nicholas.

Nicholas moved down to Charlotte to live with her younger brother and help handle his business matters – much like Kelley Earnhardt Miller does for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Keselowski said Tuesday afternoon.

"Dale Jr. was kind of a role model for me in that sense, with how he has Kelley and the things she does for him – and keeps him straight in some ways," Keselowski said. "Sometimes, you're just looking for somebody that's got your back. I do have other people who have got my back, but it's different when it's family."

Since around the time Nicholas moved to North Carolina, Keselowski has recorded top-10 finishes in 12 of the last 13 races. After three Chase races, the Penske Racing driver is leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.

"Maybe she's my good luck charm," he said.

Nicholas ran a foreclosure agency business just north of Detroit, and Keselowski said she was "ready to get out of that business." He essentially told her to ditch her job and come help him out, and she agreed.

"I think that (foreclosure agency) was kind of a demoralizing place to make a living," Keselowski said. "I think she was happy to do something fun like racing."

In the case of the Earnhardts, Kelley is a co-owner of JR Motorsports and runs the day-to-day operations of the team. She also manages Earnhardt Jr.'s career in terms of contracts and financial dealings.

Nicholas is helping Keselowski with his Checkered Flag Foundation in addition to business matters and providing moral support during the latter part of the season, he said.

Keselowski called his sister "my mental coach."

Though there's an age difference of about 10 years between Keselowski and his sister, the two aren't above sibling arguments – much like the ones he's had with his brother, Brian, over the years.

"But it's different, because she's a girl," Keselowski said. "So we don't hit each other."

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