Brad Keselowski isn’t going to apologize for his driving style or his brashness that rubs so many people in the sport the wrong way.
Frankly, he doesn’t seem to care.
Keselowski made that clear during a charity appearance on Monday night at Texas Motor Speedway, a day after he won at Talladega to secure one of eight spots left in the Chase for the upcoming “Eliminator Round.”
“I’m here to do one job — win races for my team,” Keselowski said before he went to play video games with fans in a fundraising event for the Texas chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.
“I’m not looking to make enemies, but certainly priority No. 1 is not making friends.”
So far, so good for Keselowski. He’s won more races than any Sprint Cup driver this season and made few, if any, friends in the process.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course, as TMS president Eddie Gossage said.
It’s always good for a sport to have a pseudo-villain and Keselowski fits that mold.
Nobody will soon forget Keselowski’s meltdown at Charlotte, the race that preceded Talladega.
His driving and actions caused enough frustration that Denny Hamlin had to be held back from fighting him, and Matt Kenseth went at him from behind.
Keselowski drew a $50,000 fine from NASCAR, but he is steadfast in not altering his approach. After all, he already has a championship to his name by driving that way and sees no reason to change.
Keselowski described his mentality by saying, “It’s going to be racing as hard as I can race with a passion for winning.
“It’s probably going to ruffle some feathers of people who have been in this sport longer than I have and kind of feel like this is their territory. But the alternative option of rolling over and playing dead just isn’t in my DNA. I don’t plan ever allowing it to be.”
There’s no reason he should.
Keselowski and his team proved that they can brush off any criticisms and handle the pressure of a must-win situation. Despite going into Talladega tied for the most wins on the season, Keselowski had to win in order to advance.
Anything short of winning would have ended his goals of a second title. Talk about rising up to the challenge.
“I don’t think anybody likes being under pressure, but I think some people respond to being under pressure,” Keselowski said. “And there is a difference. We were able to respond this week at Talladega. It’s not a guarantee that we’ll be able to do it again.”
Keselowski went on to say that he feels throughout his career he’s had races that have taught him how to handle those kinds of situations.
He vividly recalled a 2007 Nationwide Series race that featured several Cup drivers in Chicago. Keselowski went into the race simply hoping to finish in the top 20 and took great satisfaction with a 14th-place run.
That, Keselowski recalled, was a significant step in his career.
“Sometimes they’re winners and losers in every race far beyond the guy who finishes first or 43rd,” Keselowski said. “Those are the moments that I think prepare for moments like what we had Sunday.”