Brad Keselowski turned around at one point during his victory celebration Saturday night at Richmond Raceway and had another reason to be excited.
“You are a man of your word!”
Keselowski’s declaration was aimed at the track’s communications director, Brent Gambill, who had just entered Victory Lane.
It wasn’t Gambill’s presence itself that elicited Keselowski’s enthusiasm.
Instead, it was the large gong that Gambill held in his hands.
The gong, which you may have seen on NBCSN’s post-race show or on Keselowski’s social media channels, is not a regular presence in Richmond’s Victory Lane.
It’s regular home is as a fixture in the Richmond Raceway media center. But it was in the track’s ticket office where Keselowski first laid eyes on it. There, the track’s staff would bang the instrument anytime they made a big sale, according to Gambill.
As a guest of Gambill’s, Keselowski visited the office last year on Sept. 11 to offer encouragement for the staff members.
“As we entered, a staff member named Rob Garella was about to clang the gong for a big sell,” Gambill recounted in an email to NBC Sports. “Brad asked if he could hit the gong as well. I later found out that Rob was a lifelong Keselowski fan.”
Garella and Keselowski took turns banging the gong.
As they left the office, Keselowski told Gambill and track president Dennis Bickmeier that if he won that weekend’s race he wanted to bang the gong in Victory Lane.
Later, when Keselowski arrived in the media center after winning the pole for the race, he asked about the gong. Gambill reminded him he had to win the race.
“You better be ready!” Keselowski declared.
The Team Penske driver would have to wait. Martin Truex Jr. claimed the win that weekend.
Keselowski’s wait ended Saturday night when he beat Truex to take his second career victory at the short track.
On Friday Gambill had received a text from Keselowski’s PR person asking if the gong would be ready should Keselowski win.
Before the race, Gambill responded: “We’ll be ready if Brad wins.”
Gambill was a man of his word.
“I would not be surprised to see a gong in victory lane at Richmond in the future,” said Gambill.
Funny story. Visited @richmondraceway last year for a media tour and they showed me the gong their sales team rings for big wins. Well I said I wanted that thing in victory lane for my next big win.
Sure enough… they made it happen 🤣 good time celebrating with the team! pic.twitter.com/y63Uioq6x3
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) September 16, 2020