Keselowski Not Sure NASCAR Is Using Its Head
By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
MARTINSVILLE, Va. – NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski says he’s trying to keep an open mind about the sanctioning body’s requirement for 2014 that drivers in its three national touring series undergo pre-season neurocognitive baseline testing.
“I don’t want to call it a negative, but at this point I haven’t seen where that’s gonna be a positive for this sport,” Keselowski said Friday after qualifying 11th for this weekend’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 Powered by Kroger at Martinsville Speedway. “We’re gonna learn together, I guess.”
NASCAR announced the new requirement for its national series drivers on Thursday, saying it was part of its comprehensive concussion prevention and management program. The baseline testing will be performed through the use of an ImPACT [Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing] test, which is a widely-used neurocognitive assessment tool. It is one factor out of many that doctors use to diagnose and treat concussions. It evaluates an athlete’s verbal and visual memory, processing speed and reaction time.
Keselowski said he’d never had a baseline test. Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon said he had received the test, he agreed with the new rule and felt good about the direction NASCAR was headed.
Keselowski, however, maintained that “doctors don’t understand our sport.”
“Doctors aren’t risk takers. We are,” Keselowski continued. “That’s what makes our sport what it is and when you get doctors involved you water down our sport. I’m trying to be open-minded to the possibility that they can help us, but past experience says no. I don’t like doctors in our sport. This is not the field for doctors. Let them play in their arena and I’ll play in mine.”
Denny Hamlin said Friday at Martinsville Speedway he still was undecided on whether to have back surgery during the off-season.
“I still haven’t met with the doctors to figure out the best option,” said Hamlin, who earned the pole for Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500. “I have been feeling so much better this last month or so that I’d like to steer away from surgery if possible. Obviously, I don’t want to just cover up the pain with the treatments that I’ve been doing. That just numbs you a little bit. We still have an issue there that we have to address in the next month or so.”
Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his lower back when he crashed in the season’s fifth race at California while battling with Joey Logano on the race’s final lap. He was out for about a month, returning at Talladega Superspeedway. However, Hamlin, who has two bulging discs, noted it’s been tough for him to regain the feel of his race car.
“We rely so much on the feel that comes from our bottom,” Hamlin explained. “Basically, that’s how we find the edge in these cars and trucks in knowing where that edge is and, obviously, when you have back pains and other injuries, it takes away from your feel. It numbs things when you have to do treatments that really just take pain away; it’s also taking away from the feel that you have in your car. That’s been a challenge and, obviously, we hope that next year won’t be that way. We’re just fighting through it.”
NASCAR met with several competitors earlier this week about possible rule changes for 2014 and Denny Hamlin said he believed the sanctioning body would go forward with the no ride height rule. It was one of several items NASCAR tested with selected teams on Oct. 15 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I drove the car at Charlotte and I thought that, that was a very positive change,” Hamlin commented. “They’re looking at some different aero packages whether it be a big spoiler or a small spoiler. We went through a lot of different packages. I don’t know that we really found something that was better than what we had, but they are at least trying to find something to make passing a little bit easier; trying to make it to where that third and fourth car in line doesn’t have such a huge aero disadvantage.”
Hamlin said he didn’t like the tapered spacer.
“In my opinion, the only way to create passing is to create off-throttle time,” Hamlin continued. “It’s all about whose got the guts to drive into the corner harder than the next guy. If we’re all running around wide open all of the time everyone is going to run pretty much the same speed. You’ve got to create time off the throttle and make us start using brakes again. No one hardly uses brakes anymore in our sport and that’s just another element of the driver difference that has been taken away these last few years.”
NASCAR has scheduled another test at Charlotte for Dec. 9.
Jimmie Johnson says every team member or driver he’s seen this week has asked the same question, “Why wasn’t everybody racing (on the final lap at Talladega)?” The five-time NASCAR champion said Friday at Martinsville Speedway he doesn’t know the answer.
“I think everybody, especially in the first five to 10 positions, they were waiting for their opportunity,” Johnson said. “Waiting for someone to pull out and in anticipation no one made a move. I can’t quite explain it. I’m a little puzzled by it as well. For my sake, I wish that we would have started racing earlier.”
Matt Kenseth says he’s proud of son Ross Kenseth’s Late Model performance, but notes it’s a different era when it comes to the way one now receives opportunities to advance one’s career.
“It used to be car owners would call you and be like, ‘Hey, do you want to drive my car?’” said Kenseth, who owns his son’s Late Model cars. “You might even get paid part of the purse or whatever and you get an opportunity to move up and do it. Now they call you and are like, ‘Hey man, you want to drive my truck? Give me $120,000 and you can drive it at Martinsville.’ It’s a lot different world than what it was. He’s been running good and I think if he can continue to run good and continue to work really hard at it, then he’ll get his opportunity down the road.”
Jeff Gordon’s Pepsi Max commercial where he dons a disguise to test drive a car with a car salesman has received 40 million hits on You Tube.
When it comes to social media Gordon believes every person should use “good common sense.”
“I think with social media we all recognize the fun it can be,” Gordon said. “We recognize the benefits it can have for marketing for our sponsors and so many other benefits. But also you have to be careful; you can’t just go on a wild spree. You can’t always just speak your mind because it’s there. I think we have all been there where we probably stepped over the line.”
Gordon said every time he composes a tweet he reads it two and three times before he sends it, asking himself if he really wants people to read it.
“Sometimes my emotions get the best of me and I push send and I probably shouldn’t have,” Gordon admitted, “but I do try to use the best common sense that I can in everything that I send out there before it goes. Plus, I’m a spell freak. I like to spell things right. It’s hard to do on Twitter.”One Comment