It’s easy to say Brad Keselowski’s three-year climb from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series afterthought to its champion was tough.

Keselowski doesn’t think so.

He said the seeds of his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team’s title run were planted a year ago, when Keselowski made his first Chase for the Sprint Cup and won three races.

He won five on his way to the 2012 Sprint Cup, adding 12 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes in his breakout season.

Keselowski, a 28-year-old Michigan native, is the first Mooresville resident to win the Sprint Cup since Kurt Busch won the first Chase in 2004.

Keselowski hopes things only get better in the future.

“Our car has a great legacy with everything it’s done, and it’s thrilling to me to be a part of a run for the Chase, let alone a championship,” he said.

Player profile

• 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion

• 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion

• Won his first Sprint Cup race, the 2009 Aaron’s 499, in his fifth career start

• 9 career Sprint Cup victories

• 20 career Nationwide victories

– Aaron Burns