Charlotte, N.C. • It’s apparently Beat Up Brad Keselowski Day, and he’s OK with it.
The 2012 NASCAR champion has pretty thick skin, so he can handle the barbs hurled his way since his poor showing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
His day took a turn for the worse awfully fast, just 13 laps into the race, when he charged to the front to take the lead from Danica Patrick. Only there wasn’t much real estate when he slid in front of Patrick. She tapped him, and he spun in front of the entire field.
Maybe it was her fault; maybe it was his. Fans are split. But Keselowski’s crew chief ruled it a risky move: "We weren’t clear enough to make that," Paul Wolfe said.
Keselowski’s car slid through the grass and shot back up onto the track. He was lucky there was no massive pileup. But there was enough damage to the No. 2 Ford, causing Keselowski to fall six laps off the pace while his car was repaired.
And that’s when Keselowski made a decision: He wasn’t going to ride around wasting his day just because he was in a hole. Instead, he decided to race hard with the leaders in an attempt to slowly get his laps back and maybe put himself back in position to win.
That didn’t sit well with his rivals, especially after he spun in the middle of the pack to trigger a 14-car accident that wrecked former champs Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson.
The jeers came fast and furious, particularly from Kenseth, who had tangled with Keselowski a week earlier at Richmond, where Keselowski stomped down pit road and shouted and pointed in Kenseth’s direction. Kenseth wondered Sunday if Keselowski wasn’t a bit of a hypocrite.
"If it was the other way around and it was anybody else except for him, we’d all be getting lectured," Kenseth said.
Keselowski is outspoken and has always lived by his own code. While other drivers attempt to race by an unwritten code or respect on-track etiquette, Keselowski does his own thing.
That’s why he was racing hard with the leaders while down six laps at Talladega. That’s why he forced himself in front of Patrick just 13 laps into the race.
Sure, he made everybody mad with some moves. But if it wins him races, Keselowski doesn’t care.
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