Keselowski in favor of Penske's switch to Ford in 2013

NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski said on Friday he is "encouraged" with Penske Racing's decision to switch from Dodge to Ford for the 2013 Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series seasons.

Penske made a surprising announcement on Thursday that it will end its relationship with Dodge at the conclusion of the 2012 campaign. The racing organization's NASCAR teams have been aligned with the automobile manufacturer since 2003. Penske raced with Ford from 1976-77 and again from 1994-2002.

Right now, NASCAR is preparing for the debut of the new Sprint Cup cars next year. Ford unveiled its 2013 Ford Fusion model in late January, becoming the first manufacturer to showcase its new car. Test sessions for the car are planned throughout the season.

Keselowski, who's behind the wheel of the No. 2 Dodge in Sprint Cup and the No. 22 Dodge in Nationwide, thinks Penske made the right decision to switch manufacturers and looks forward to driving a Ford next year.

"When Ford made the announcement on their '13 car a month and a half ago, I think that's obviously at least a month and a half or two months ahead of every other manufacturer, and I think that shows the spirit that they have for this sport and the commitment that they have for NASCAR," Keselowski said during a news conference held on Friday at Phoenix International Raceway, the site of this weekend's Sprint Cup Series race.

"I want to be aligned with someone that wants to be the first one out the gate and shows me that they want it that bad. I thought that was a key moment for me in drinking the Kool-Aid, sort of speak, of why that's going to be the right way for our company to go."

Penske and Robby Gordon Motorsports are the only Sprint Cup teams currently using Dodge.

From the start of the '03 season to now, Penske has notched 48 wins with Dodge in NASCAR competition -- 26 in Sprint Cup and 22 in Nationwide.

"The timing of this announcement with Ford is obviously very important due to the implementation of the new 2013 NASCAR Ford Fusion, which we will compete with next year at Daytona," team owner Roger Penske said during a conference call on Thursday. "With only a year to go, we needed to plan for the future and make important commitments to our sponsors, drivers, crews and employees."

Keselowski also noted that he has not worried about this being a lame duck season with Dodge.

"I don't have any concerns about it, to be honest," he said, "I think there's a lot of reasons, and it's hard to answer that question without getting into some of the proprietary things that it takes to get support from a manufacturer. For the things that I do see, I'm not worried or concerned about it."

Keselowski had a very strong second full-season in Sprint Cup last year, with his three victories during the 26-race regular season earning him a wild card position in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. He finished the season fifth in points.

Earlier this week, Keselowski drastically increased his popularity on Twitter when he posted commentary and photos of a fiery crash that took place in the late going of last Monday night's rain-delayed Daytona 500. Juan Pablo Montoya lost control of his car and slammed into the back of a track-drying vehicle that was located in turn three during a caution period. NASCAR halted the race for more than two hours due to extensive track cleanup efforts.

Keselowski continuously sent updates on Twitter during the red-flag period, prompting a huge increase of followers on his site.

"I'm glad that people liked it and enjoyed it," he said. "As of [Thursday] night, I gained 160,000 followers. That's crazy and that's great."

NASCAR issued a statement regarding Keselowski's tweets the day after the Daytona 500, saying it would not penalize the driver since he did not violate any current rules pertaining to the use of social media during races.