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Banged-up Brad Keselowski 'mans-up' and more, beating Kyle Busch to win the Pennsylvania 500...but what about JimmieJ and Kurt Busch!

   An Ironman performance by injured Brad Keselowski, beating Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson to win Sunday's Pennsylvania 500, and probably clinched a championship playoff spot with his second tour win of the season (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


   POCONO, Pa.
   Brad Keselowski?
   Yes, Brad Keselowski, banged up feet and all, pulled off his second Sprint Cup win of the season, in a yeoman's day at the wheel on a rain-marred and rain-delayed day in the Pocono Mountains.
   Just four days ago Keselowski crashed hard at 100 mph into a concrete wall at Road Atlanta, while testing for next week's stop at Watkins Glen.

And he was hospitalized for that, with badly banged up feet.
   So that Keselowski was even at the wheel here Sunday for the Pennsylvania 500 – which started just after 1 p.m. ET and didn't finished until after 6:30 p.m. – was something of a miracle. Sam Hornish Jr. was standing by if Keselowski needed relief, but Keselowski went the distance and in style.
   And to top it off, Keselowski  beat Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson down the stretch.
   "I sprained my ankle a few years ago….and I don't even know how Brad put weight on his foot today," Kyle Busch said. "My foot was only a tenth of what his was."
   "I really thought we were going to have to put Sam Hornish in the car," Kurt Busch said.


   The crucial restart late: Kyle Busch on the inside with the lead, but Jimmie Johnson, right behind, didn't help, and Brad Keselowski (2) won the sprint to the first turn. And he took the clean air right to the bank. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   A hero's day at the wheel? The performance almost certainly clinched a spot in the championship chase for Keselowski, whose teammate Kurt Busch finished a very dramatic third, in a door-banging battle with Johnson that could have repercussions.
   Keselowski's first win of the year came in June at Kansas City, a gas mileage win. And his very first tour win was in that infamous Talladega finish with Carl Edwards in 2009. But this win was straight up.
   "I'm no hero, the heroes are the guys who died in Afghanistan, and I want to spend time thinking about them," Keselowski said.
   "They were my inspiration for this weekend, and the things those guys do. 
    "I'm glad that we could win today, but those are the heroes.  I just drive race cars for a living."
    And Keselowski revealed a personal side to those deaths in Afghanistan:  "I have a cousin in the Navy Seals. One of the guys who died over there was someone he knew, was friends with. He told me a little bit about that this week...and it put things in perspective.
    "I might not be feeling great, but those are the guys that are really making sacrifices.  We're just driving race cars for a living.  We're not curing cancer or saving the world like those guys are.
    "It was inspirational for me. Whenever I got in the car and felt like 'This hurts, I don't want to do this, I want to get out,' that was good inspiration on what it means to 'man up' and make it happen...because it's really not that bad."

   The pain? "It doesn't feel good...but I'll be all right," Keselowski said.
   "When you let the pain get into your head that far that you don't believe you can win anymore, you'll never win.
   "I woke up this morning feeling we could win the race. 
   "And at the end of the halfway break (for rain), I had my doctor with me and took care of me a little bit. I told him 'All right, let's go win the race.'
    "If you don't feel that way, you're never going to win at anything you do."

   Kyle Busch appeared to have the best car much of the day. But after a 90-minute red flag for rain, Keselowski had hot iron too.
   And Keselowski got an edge, with the lead, on a late restart, when Kyle Busch appeared to make a rare restart mistake.
   "I just hated that last yellow," Busch said.
   "Jimmie bogged me down on that restart. But I don't know if I could have played it any differently; I felt the inside was my lane, I'd been running down there all day. Just got bogged down with Jimmie trying to pass me. If I could have gotten a push, I probably could have stayed along side  Brad and beat him.
   "But we're all racing.
   "We got three-wide on the restart, and somehow we made it through okay."

    Brad Keselowski at the finish line: 'overcoming adversity.' (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   But Busch couldn't get back to Keselowski's bumper the rest of the way, and Keselowski won by three lengths, with Busch sideways at the finish line.
   "Track position. If I had gotten out front, I think I could have pulled away," Kyle Busch said.
   Kurt Busch was also sideways at the finish – mentally perhaps, not on the track – in a dual with Johnson for third.
   And it was quite the show at the end, Johnson versus Kurt Busch. They banged together several times the last lap, while Johnson was trying to pass.
   Kurt Busch held the spot, but after the race Johnson went over to Busch's car and confronted him, and the two exchanged a lot of words.
   Busch said Johnson first swerved into him and he just swerved back. Johnson said it was the other way around.
   "That was good, hard racing – one guy juking on another guy, and that guy juking back," Kurt Busch said. "That's what these fans come to see.
   "We were just racing hard. There are a lot of times Kurt is on the short end of the stick in these things. I raced him hard and I don't regret any of it."
   When journalists continued asking questions of Kurt Busch about Johnson, he snapped back: "Just accept it – it was great racing."
   However, it wasn't the first or second or even third time that Kurt Busch and Johnson have had run-ins. And even Kurt Busch used the phrase 'feud with Jimmie Johnson' in describing their testy relationship.


Kyle Busch (M&M) couldn't quite catch Brad Keselowski down the stretch. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   On pit road, while Kurt Busch was still in his car, Johnson went over to talk to him through the window. Busch climbed out and explained his version of events to Johnson – that Johnson first swerved into him off the corner, so Busch retaliated by swerving back. (The two didn't stop on the track with just those two moves either.)
   While Kurt Busch appeared relatively cool about the faceoff on pit road, Johnson was clearly agitated, and his crew had to restrain him. It was a very uncharacteristic display of emotion by Johnson, whose racing cool is legendary.
   "I was racing Jimmie hard at the end – 'Hey, you want to race? Let's race,'" Kurt Busch said. "I didn't know we were supposed to pull over when it came down to five to go.
   "I raced him hard, I raced him smart, I raced him clean. And then he wants to come over here and bitch about it.
   "Hey, he came off the turn and did jab into me, and I did a jab back into him. That was just as clean as I've ever seen it.
   "Why can't we race like this and put on a show for the fans…and not have a problem with it?"
   Will this carry forward between these two? "It always does for the 48 (Johnson) and the 22 (Kurt Busch)," Busch replied.
   Johnson's take: "He claims I turned down into him coming off (turn) two…but I don't have a clue. He ran over me on the corner exit, and that's where it all started.
   "But we'll figure it out.
   "I'm not going to run people over to pass them; that's just not me. I worked on him for I don't know how many laps, to try to get by him clean, fair and square. And then when I got next to him we had that issue up off two.
   "We'll remember this stuff.
   "And there are a couple of other guys who have been pushing their luck too."



I wish more professional

I wish more professional athletes would come to realize what Brad already knows - the real heroes are our military personnel, police officers, firefighters and EMTs who go into life threatening situations every day in order to make our lives safer/better.


Hi Mike, I am very impressed

Hi Mike,

I am very impressed with your piece on the race this past Sunday in the Poconos. You are indeed one ''kick-ass auto racing journalist!!!'' At least if I miss the race one week, I will have the peace of mind that I can always get the goods on your site.

I love your writing style and definitely the way you make your point. Made excellent for reading. Keep on writing Mike, I will definitely be your loyal fan and reader. I am now looking forward to your piece on Watkins Glen. Thank you for making my reading enjoyable.

Your friend

Great drive by the 2 - well

Great drive by the 2 - well deserved win. Not taking sides on the 22/48 issue but the more the 22 talks, the more you get the idea he is trying to defend turning into the 48. It all started when the 48 ran over him on a road course a couple of championships ago, I've lost count. We'll see what happens on the next road course....

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