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November 15, 2012

Milford grad gearing up for big race

Paul Wolfe didn’t take any shortcuts going from Milford to NASCAR, but he did take a few short tracks.

“It has been obviously a long road and a lot of hard work,” Wolfe, a 1995 graduate of Milford Central School, said of his journey from being a Wildcat to being the crew chief for Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team. “I just continued to put myself around good people. I am very lucky to work for a good company in Penske Racing and a great driver with Brad.”

With one race to go in the 2012 season, Keselowski leads Jimmie Johnson in the Chase for the Sprint Cup by 20 points. If Keselowski finishes in the top 15 of the final race, Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, then he will win his first Cup championship. He can also win if he finishes 16th and leads one lap, or if he finishes 17th and leads the most laps in the race, no matter where Johnson finishes. As long as Johnson doesn’t win, Keselowski can still be 17 positions behind Johnson and win the championship.

“It is possible we have done better than some people might expect,” Wolfe said of Keselowski. “I feel like we have done a great job. All the departments at Penske have really stepped up.”

Keselowski first approached Wolfe about being his crew chief in 2009, but was turned down. When he started with his team at Penske, and Wolfe’s name came up, Keselowski reportedly told his bosses, “good luck with that; he already said no.” 

However, by then, everything had changed for Wolfe, whose former team at CJM racing had lost funding.

“Originally, well, I consider myself a pretty loyal guy,” Wolfe said. “I was committed to my team at the time. At the end of that season, we lost our funding, so at that point, I looked at all my options. I had raced with Brad, and I saw what he was capable of doing. I thought he and I could work together and contend for the championship.”

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