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Memo: Love Not On Drivers’ Itineraries At Bristol

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, March 19 2010

Brad Keselowski will be back at a race track today. It's doubtful that he will show up helmet hand. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images)

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Let’s see what’s in the Morning Memo today:

If there is anybody out there who thinks that Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski will be letting bygones be bygones this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, you need to adjust medication.

If you think air-clearing sessions with NASCAR officials, sponsors, team owners or clergyman is going to rewire either of these two race car drivers, forget it.

Their mutual dislike runs deep. This is not short track stuff of bump fenders at the track and then share beers in the parking lot.

These are two single-minded competitors who are as good as they are because they are single minded and right now, those minds are not focusing on doing things to make the other guy like them.

A couple of weeks ago, I was a guest on a radio show – Michael Knight’s superb Wednesday night “Race Reporters” on Power Up – and Keselowski was the guest. He was quite willing to answer all questions we threw at him.

At that time, Keselowski’s feud of the week was with Denny Hamlin – he would not get back to Edwards for another week or so – but what he said gives you a pretty good look into Keselowski’s thought processes when it comes to racing.

I suggested to Keselowski that a whole lot of people have been describing his driving style for him in recent weeks, and I asked him if he would describe it himself.

He said, “I would say very aggressive but also very passionate. I have a lot of passion for what I do. I really enjoy it. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wake up and think how lucky I am to drive race cars for a living. Certainly not an average job, that’s for sure. I take it very seriously. It’s something I want to do for a long time.

“The passion and aggressive I have is from a desire to win and a desire to give back to those who have given to me.”

Keselowski was also asked if if there is somebody after whom he patterns his driving style. Nope. Not Earnhardt Sr., not Ernie Irvan.

He said, “I race the way I would want to be raced and I race the way I would want to watch. That’s what’s fun to me. Racing is still fun for me. To keep it fun I have to do things that entertain me and entertain the fans. To race hard and to push the competitors around me to race hard, that’s fun to me. I think the fans enjoy that.”

Keselowski’s answers were thoughtful, sincere and spring water clear – he’s in the driving business, not the forgiving business.

Memo to self: Sure would be fun to be in the motorhome parked between Edwards’ and Keselowski at Bristol.

RIP, Ayrton: Last weekend, the IndyCar Series opened its season with a race in Sao Paulo, Brazil. That’s the place where Ayrton Senna, perhaps the most revered driver in the history, was born.

Senna, viewed by many – including fellow drivers – as the best wheelman ever, died in a freakish crash while leading the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994.

At least one current driver took the opportunity of being in Sao Paulo to pay his respects to Senna. Japanese driver Hideki Mutoh of Newman/Haas/Lanigan visted Senna’s grave.

“Senna has always been my idol,” Mutoh said. “I watched him race when I was a little boy and I am still amazed at his ability to this day. Since I was in Brazil for the first time and so close to Morumbi I wanted to go there and pay my respects to him.

“I have been asked before, ‘If you could meet anyone and ask them a question, who would it be?’ My answer was Senna. He won three World Championships and was still racing. I would ask him what it was that motivated him.”

Memo to self: Plus one on all that.

Thanks, Danica: Danica Patrick did not win the ARCA race at Daytona Motor Speedway back in February. Or did she?

Bobby Gerhart, the guy who took the checkered flag at the end of the race said this week that he might not have been able get the victory had Patrick not been driving an ARCA car that weekend.

“I really need to thank Danica Patrick,” said Gerhart.

“All the eyeballs were looking somewhere else. I’m not saying they’re all on me anyway, but I usually get quite a bit at Daytona. I didn’t do one interview while I was there. No picture, nothing. It was the first time I went there and didn’t get derailed on my thought process. It worked out very well for me.”

Memo to self: Ask Mr. Hendrick if that was his plan as well.

Another migration?: Might NASCAR drivers begin emigrating to another form of racing the ala open wheelers to NASCAR in recent years?

Nah. But two NASCAR stars have shown recent interest in the NHRA this month.

Kurt Busch actually raced a Sportsman Dodge in last weekend’s NHRA Gatornationals. And Michael Waltrip paid a visit to the race to watch friend and NAPA stablemate Ron Capps drive his nitro Funny Car.

Both Busch and Watlrip came away smiling.

Said Waltrip of watching – and feeling – 8,000 horsepower cars, “It’s just amazing. I can’t imagine that, the way the sound hits you and bounces off of you…Standing there and feeling it, I can’t describe it. I’m just so thankful that I’m here.”

Waltrip’s visit came on his weekend off from NASCAR. It came as an unplanned side trip.

“Being here was funny because we woke up this morning in Daytona and had every intention of flying home with my buddies, back to North Carolina. Our luggage was on the plane and we were about to get on and I asked Brian, my friend, and I said ‘We’re pretty close to those drag races, we probably should go, don’t you think?’ So we grabbed our luggage off the plane and got a rental car and drove over.

“I’m certainly thankful I did because watching the NAPA car just then was one of the coolest things ever. I know y’all are used to it, but I’ve got a permanent grin on my face. Just trying to explain it to people. It’s incredible. I would like to know what it feels like to be Ron, to do it. But I don’t want to know bad enough to actually learn how to do it.”

Memo to self: Knowing Waltrip, the real reason for de-planing may have been the fee for extra baggage.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racingtoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, March 19 2010
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