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Keselowski Was Bloody Serious After Kentucky

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, July 2 2014

Brad Keselowski was talking championship, even after a broken champagne bottle cut into his hand and celebration after the race in Kentucky last weekend. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

Every day of the week, adrenal glands turn solidly grounded people into fools. They tend to over-rev ambition and loosen the tongue. Last Saturday night in Victory Lane at Kentucky Speedway, it appeared Brad Keselowski’s adrenal gland was setting him up for some major “I said what?” next-morning moments.

And an hour later, after plenty of time to soften the big talk, Keselowski was still surging forward with the kind of bravado that can make people like car owner Roger Penske wince.

But the thing is, this was Brad Keselowski. Outrageous statements are not just part of his schtick. They’ve got to be taken seriously and you can be sure that there are a fair number of people in the garages who are taking them seriously this week.

What Keselowski said in Victory Lane at Kentucky, was that he felt his team had moved into position to win a second Sprint Cup championship.

Then, in the media center, he said 2014 is starting to feel like 2012 – the year he stunned the garages and grandstands by winning his first Cup championship.

“This is certainly a good night,” he said after the race and after a broken champagne bottle in Victory Lanes sent him to the care center for stitches. “It harkens back some memories of 2012, which I’m very fond of. Last year was a very humbling year for us, so I think I probably appreciate it even more. I appreciate the opportunity to have races like this and opportunities to run for a championship.”

Keselowski was not simply shooting from the hip in semi-forecasting a Cup championship for himself and his Team Penske bunch. The stats show that the No. 2 Ford will have to be dealt with by other contenders.

While the full heat of the bright lights have been pointed at Hendrick Motorsports entries over the past couple months, Keselowski has been showing that his Fords are running considerably north of shabby.

The Kentucky win gave him his fourth podium in the last five starts and seven on the 2014 season.

The victory was his second of the year and his second on 1.5-mile tracks. Keselowski’s worst finish at a 1.5 this year is 15th – that coming at Texas, where despite the non-top-10 finish, he led 85 laps.

He also led 43 laps and 13 laps during 10th- and 13th-place finishes back-to-back at Charlotte and Kansas respectively in May.

As most know, doing well at 1.5s is essential to anybody with championship hopes in NASCAR. Keselowski sure knows.

“I think there are a lot of mile-and-a-halfs in the Chase, Chicago, Texas, Kansas, and then obviously the final race in Homestead,” Keselowski said. “I’m missing Charlotte — what else am I missing? Charlotte, I’m sure there’s somewhere else. But a lot of mile-and-a-half tracks, and this (Kentucky) is kind of…fits all between them. It doesn’t have the banking of Charlotte, but it’s a little bit rough and Charlotte is a little bit rough. It doesn’t have the smooth surface of Kansas, but it has a very similar layout.

“The things it takes to go fast here aren’t too far off from those other tracks, and I think when you hit this mark in the season, some cars might show a little bit more development but not a lot. I think you pretty much get to where everyone has almost what they’re going to have to finish off the year around this time. And when you can run well at this point in time in the year, it bodes well for the final half of the season.”

Then there is another thing that bodes well for the second half of the season and the quest for a second championship – want-to.

Keselowski has a garage full of that.

“I turned 30 and I’m going through a bit of a midlife crisis,” he said. “I want to win another championship. I don’t want to just win one. I think I have the team to do it, with Paul (Wolfe, this crew chief) and the guys. I have the owner to do it with Roger Penske, and the urgency is now.

“I don’t want to win one championship and that be it for my career. I’m not going to be happy with that. And I want to win another championship, but I don’t want it to be five or ten years from now. I don’t want to be a guy that contends for a championship every three or four years, I want to do it each and every year, and I know that opportunity is here, and it’s present, and I want to make the most of it.”

And of announcing his feelings and goal to the world, he said, “I’m not afraid to communicate that. I think when it comes to goals, when it comes to dreams and visions, you have to share them if you want them to become a reality. I think my team has that same goal and that same vision.”

Yes, the adrenaline – and blood – were flowing after the Kentucky race. But you better believe that Keselowski was not the only one taking his championship talk seriously.

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

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, July 2 2014
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