Brad Keselowski reminds me of Eddie Haskell from the old "Leave It to Beaver" show. He even sort of looks like him, down to the toothy, mischievous grin.
He can be charming, like when Eddie said "That's a lovely dress you're wearing, Mrs. Cleaver." Then as soon as she was out of earshot, Eddie would call young Theodore a squirt, or fasten a chain to the rear axle of Lumpy Rutherford's car.
That's how Brad Keselowski is on the track. He's always fastening chains to other people's cars.
Away from it, he's charming and accessible, well-read and witty.
At 28, Brad Keselowski also is the new Sprint Cup Series champion. This means he got to kick off NASCAR Champions Week in Las Vegas at the Review-Journal on Tuesday afternoon, where he had lunch with a bunch of people he didn't know and immediately made them feel as if he did.
He played along and answered some silly questions.
So when I left the parking lot, I was surprised when my rear wheels didn't come flying off.
Question: Keselowski. Nice name. What is that, Irish?
Answer: (Laughing.) Japanese.
Q: You started your unforgettable after-the-championship ESPN interview by saying you had a buzz from slamming Miller Lite in Victory Lane. Do you have a buzz now? If not, how many buzzes do you think you'll have before the end of Champions Week?
A: No but that's a good question. I'm gonna follow Paul (Wolfe, his Penske Racing crew chief). Whatever Paul does, that's what I'm gonna do.
Q: As of 10:17 p.m. Monday, you had 391,840 followers on Twitter. (I became No. 391,840.) If you could have 391,840 of anything else - but not dollars or victories - what would it be?
A: I'm gonna take this somewhere else. Here's the thing about followers: Jesus had 12 followers; Hitler had millions. It's pretty simple. Don't get caught up in how many followers you have.
Q: You have quoted Winston Churchill, have said "The Great Gatsby" is the best book you've read, and on the day you won the championship, you referred to your car owner Roger Penske as "stoic." Of the 43 drivers on the starting grid, how many do you think could use "stoic" in a sentence?
A: How about two? (Me) and whoever else is reading this.
Q: A NASCAR legend named Tim Flock once drove with a monkey in the cockpit. What's your take on monkeys in the cockpit?
A: I've heard this story. Was it a live monkey? (RK: It was.) I'm gonna have to see pictures to confirm that. (RK: Do a Google search for "Jocko Flocko.") It was one of those spider monkeys? No way. (RK: Way.) What made the guy think: "I'm gonna race today; I'm going to put a monkey in the car"?
Q: I only ask the questions, you're supposed to answer them. So what's your take on monkeys in the cockpit?
A: There's already plenty of monkeys on the track.
Q: A lot of guys who win the Sprint Cup title celebrate by buying a Ferrari, or maybe a classic American muscle car, like a GTO. But what's this I hear about you wanting to buy a tank?
A: Yeah. That's accurate. I wanna drive it around until I get bored, or break it. Then I want to park it in my driveway. I just think it would be really cool to have a tank parked in my driveway with the (turret) pointed down the road when people who aren't supposed to be there pull up. I gotta pick me one out, something American - there's a place called "Tanks to Go." (RK: There's a place called "Tanks to Go"? Now I wanna see a picture.)
Q: Army vs. Navy. Yankees vs. Red Sox. Ali vs. Frazier. Michigan vs. Ohio State. Tiger vs. Phil. These are some of sports' most intense rivalries. Where would Keselowski vs. Edwards (Carl) fit among that group?
A: I thought you were going to say Johnson (Jimmie). Then I thought you were going to say Hamlin (Denny). How do you pick (just) one?
Q: I saw you do the Top 10 list on the Letterman show. I've always wondered what Dave says to his guest when he leans over and grabs them by the elbow before a commercial.
A: He just said "Hello." Very, very short. But he's a lot funnier in person than he is on TV.
Q: Last year when I asked on the red carpet why you didn't bring a date, you said "You don't bring sand to the beach." You bringin' sand this year?
A: (Much laughter.) No. Happily.
Q: You have a favorite stock car movie? If the Sprint Cup championship came down to a battle among Cole Trickle, Brewster Baker, Stroker Ace or Ricky Bobby, who would win?
A: That's easy. Cole Trickle. Tom Cruise is the best in everything. Best bartender, best racecar driver, best fighter pilot, best lawyer - what am I missing? Best high school football player, secret agent, and the best (sports) agent, Jerry Maguire.
Q: In the documentary about his life and death, when Ayrton Senna was asked about a favorite rival to race against, most people expected him to say Alain Prost, or one of the other Formula One champions. Instead he answered Terry Fullerton, a rival from when he raced go-karts. Is there a Terry Fullerton from your early days as a racer?
A: What I thought was really interesting was the girls I raced against at that age were really talented, years ahead of anyone else. I always wondered what would have happened if I got to race one of those girls (later in life), if they didn't have to fight through all those society issues.
Q: Last question. What's something you like to do in Las Vegas that might surprise people?
A: I went to one of Holly Madison's shows. There was some "sand" involved.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.