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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Keselowski’s aggressive ways won’t be forgotten by competitors

Before I even get going, I have to say congratulations to Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski, who took home his fourth Nationwide series victory of 2009 on Saturday at Memphis Motorsports park. He continues to impress and make waves as he gets ready to go Cup racing full-time in 2009 (and even gave a shout-out to Troy-based Delphi in Victory Lane).

But a new issue is arising around Keselowski that should make the future weeks interesting, and that is the reaction to his admittedly aggressive style of driving. To be fair, everyone was driving aggressively Saturday, as evidenced by the many huge wrecks during the Memphis race.

But Brad was among the most aggressive all race, making contact with several other drivers, including Mike Bliss and Carl Edwards, on his charge to the front. In the end, he almost got knocked out of the way by Kyle Busch, but managed to hang on for the win (and a $75,000 bonus check.)

Short tracks breed this type of action, as everyone is going to be all bunched up, and Keselowski took the right approach to win, including a thrilling pass on a late restart that gave him the lead for good. But he has to recognize one thing: The more he drives that way, the more likely others will treat him the same way.

Prior to this week, Keselowski had already bumped heads with Denny Hamlin, who clearly doesn’t respect the young driver’s style. Now he had gone head-to-head with Edwards, who wasn’t overtly angry after the race, but still said the usual warning of “If he wants to race that way, we’ll race that way.”

Keselowski will be in Cup next year, racing against Hamlin, Edwards and probably some other drivers he has tangled with this season. And as the saying goes, drivers have very good memories.

Kudos to Keselowski for daring to make the moves necessary to win on Saturday, and this style has led to success by many drivers in the past, most notably Dale Earnhardt Sr.

But once he gets to Cup, if he continues this style of racing and continues to get on drivers’ bad side, he should expect to receive a nudge or two in return.

I’m sure Brad recognizes this, as he is no dummy, and it will be fun to watch Keselowski race and see how the other drivers treat him and his aggressive style in the next couple years.

And if you see Keselowski getting an unfriendly nudge sometime soon, don’t be surprised.

I doubt he will be, either.

Stephen Wallace wrecked again
For the third straight week, the car of Stephen Wallace was wrecked late in the race. The kid can’t catch a break, and is clearly frustrated, as evidenced by the confrontation on pit road after the race.

The biggest issue I have with this latest incident is that a Cup driver, Matt Kenseth, hit a full-time Nationwide driver and ruined his day, also hurting him in the points.
Maybe if it was for the win, maybe I could excuse Kenseth having contact Wallace, but this was just a battle for position, with two laps to go. Why ruin the kid’s day?

Kenseth is racing for nothing significant in Nationwide, while Wallace was still alive in the battle for fifth place in the points. The way things have been going, with good cars constantly being wrecked, I understand why Wallace is frustrated.

Bonehead comment by Griese
I’ll make this one quick: Football commentator Bob Griese decided to make a lame, stereotype comment about Juan Pablo Montoya during a NASCAR plug on a football broadcast, saying Montoya was “out having a taco”.

I doubt it was malicious, and he quickly apologized, but these types of stupid comments only reinforce the ideas of the ignorant in America and beyond. Someone needs to let Griese know that comments like that are completely out of line.

And for the record, tacos are of Mexican origin, and Montoya is Colombian, so it wasn’t even an accurate stereotype.


Blogger Sally said...

I applaud Brad for not being afraid to be aggressive getting to the front. As long as he doesn't pull a Kyle Busch and cry when someone else uses the same tactic on him, go for it! Does anyone doubt that he's gotten into Denny Hamlin's head? With so many fans and media wanting more excitement in racing these days, don't condemn a kid who isn't afraid to bring it back!

October 25, 2009 at 7:28 AM 
Anonymous J.J. said...

How quickly (though Edwards didn't forget) drivers forget their own aggressive driving style once they make it into Cup.

Busch - pick one, they both pissed off people with their driving style.

Edwards - he ran into to so many people they should've nicknamed him "battering ram."

And Hamlin? His sense of entitlement is amazing. He seems to think that because he's a "Cup" driver that he's special and can't be raced hard. He's apparently forgotten his own record of running into race cars. And he still hasn't learned his lesson and runs into people when it suits him.

Every driver trying to make their mark drives aggressively, but c'mon another comparison to Earnhardt Sr?

Keselowski is just another young driver. He's fast, willing to tale a risk, and unapologetic for trying to win.

Sounds like every other young racer out there trying to mark their mark to me.

October 25, 2009 at 8:06 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Can't wait to see him in Cup with a team that doesn't have the "earnhardt cocoon" protecting him. Everyone should note the double standard in play here: Brad wrecking people as he charges to the front: GOOD! Kyle doing same: BAD! Getting put in the wall a few times should help the "faster than lighting" guy in the long haul.
As for the bump up between Kenseth and the "high on five hour energy" Wallace: You say that Matt was "not racing for anything significant". Matt is a racer. When he enters a race, it is not to put on a show or allow other drivers a chance to have a good day. If you disagree with NASCAR telling Brad not to race the Chase guys hard, how can you justify your comments about Kenseth?

October 25, 2009 at 9:36 AM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

Sally, I'm not condemning Keselowski, he's a great driver doing what he has to do to be successful, and the races are more exciting because of it.

All I'm saying is that he shouldn't be surprised if the competition is a little more likely to put him in the wall because of it. Even he would probably agree with that assessment.

October 25, 2009 at 9:36 AM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

To Anonymous,
I think the Kenseth-Wallace incident is different than the Brad vs. Chasers controversy, mainly because it involves a Cup driver, a former champion at that, who is moonlighting a dozen times a year in a series that features up-and-coming drivers. To go down to that series and drive that way against series regulars who compete there every week looks to me like bully-type behavior.

This is different than Keselowski's situation in Cup, as he's already proven he can race with the big boys and the rules shouldn't be any different for him up there regardless of who he's racing.

Regardless, I don't think NASCAR should step in in either situation. Kenseth didn't break any rules, I just thought it was an unnecessary move considering the circumstances.

October 25, 2009 at 9:44 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said "Brad wrecking people as he charges to the front: GOOD! Kyle doing same: BAD!"

Are you serious???? I have never seen a bigger "love fest" for one driver in my life. The writers cant write enough about how Kyle Busch drives hard and has passion, blah blah blah... Kyle gets a free pass on his aggressive driving style over and over and over and over..... He was called out one time, and that was when he wrecked Jr at Richmond. Other than that, everyone just lets it go, "because he is sooo talented"....

October 26, 2009 at 8:28 AM 

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