By Matt Weaver — Brad @Keselowski has come under much scrutiny and criticism during his brief career, most of it resulting from his candid and outspoken demeanor but also for outbursts like last weekend at Charlotte or his destructive feud with Carl Edwards in 2009 and 2010.
Keselowski says that he and teammate @JoeyLogano came up during an era where it was notoriously difficult for younger drivers to break into the sport and that his controversial edge was born of having to fight and claw to maintain his place in the Sprint Cup Series.
“Besides my teammate Joey Logano — what other drivers came from that era and were successful,” Keselowski asked. “There isn’t one. There’s not one that came through those four or five years and that is for good reason. They’ve been ran out of the sport and I’m not going to let that happen.”
As a result, Keselowski believes that his stance is going to continue to produce uncomfortable moments like last week at Charlotte when he scuffled with Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin on and off the track following the conclusion of the Bank of America 500.
“Certainly there were some uncomfortable moments this week,” Keselowski said. “There’s been some uncomfortable moments in the past. I hope there’s not any more uncomfortable moments in the future, but there probably will be.”
Keselowski says that the controversy will likely continue until the old guard that was partially responsible for holding him back cycles out, leaving the new generation as the power-brokers in NASCAR. He says he has taken “solace” in that fact.
Team owner Roger Penske defended his 2012 champion, his personality and his struggle to earn respect, expressing that the garage is jealous of his recent success and that he didn’t blame Keselowski for his outburst at Charlotte a single bit.
“Number one, these guys are jealous of the job he’s done this year,” Penske said. “He’s won six races. He’s won poles and he’s been up front. Nobody likes to see a guy win like that. The fact that he has a little edge on him, he’s continually delivering, obviously I think that makes a difference.”
Penske, mild-mannered but fiercely competitive doesn’t want Keselowski to change.
“If everybody understood what happened on the racetrack last week, when you get your rear fender knocked off on a restart, you get your front fender knocked off on a pass-by, I want him to get mad. I don’t want him to take it.”
Keselowski is empowered by his support system, acknowledging that his team, Penske and crew chief Paul Wolfe has always been honest with him — be it positive or negative messages.
“I feel like I have a great group of people around me that are willing to tell me the inconvenient truth sometimes,” Keselowski said. “In this case the inconvenient truth would be if they felt I was wrong but the people around me weren’t saying that. That way, that feeling, those guys giving me the support that they did, helps me turn the page.”
And he turned the page into Victory Lane and the Eliminator Round.