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Ironman! Brad Keselowski stuns everyone with a solid victory...and then points to those Seals killed in Afghanistan as 'the real heroes' | NASCAR Racing Breaking News: Trackside Live, Every Week, Every Sprint Cup Race - MikeMulhern.net


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Ironman! Brad Keselowski stuns everyone with a solid victory...and then points to those Seals killed in Afghanistan as 'the real heroes'

    Winner Brad Keselowski (L) gets congratulations from teammate and third-place finisher Kurt Busch (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   POCONO, Pa.
   Brad Keselowski made quite a statement here Sunday….and it may take a while for it all to really sink in, considering how much adrenalin he was racing with.
   "It might take a couple of beers for this to sink in," Keselowski said with a laugh after his amazing victory in the Pennsylvania 500, on a long, long Sunday.
   What a day, what a day.

The nearly two hours of rain, and the threat of no more racing just after the halfway mark…a dominant performance by Joey Logano…and then an ironman job by badly injured Brad Keselowski….and ultimately a brilliant performance down the stretch by Keselowski – just his second full-time season on the tour – to  beat some of the biggest names in the sport, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards.
    And Sunday at Pocono Raceway was a long, long day too….with the morning doubleheader Truck race and ARCA race, a smashfest, both leftovers from Saturday's rain, even before the four-hour 500 itself, which stretched out over five hours with the rain delay.
     Consider that Wednesday Keselowski had slammed into a concrete wall at 100 mph while testing. His feet were battered and bruised, to where walking was almost impossible. 
    But then when you're just 27, sometimes you believe you're a superman.
   And Sunday Brad Keselowski certainly was.
   "I knew I was going to get in the car here…I was just worried about how I was going to persuade Roger," Keselowski said, referring to boss Roger Penske, who was at the Indy-car race in Ohio Sunday and missed all the drama here.
   Never a doubt?
   "There was a moment I was wondering what doctor I'd have to bribe….but there was no doubt I was going to drive here," Keselowski insisted.

David Ragan didn't have a good day (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

However the pain was clear in his face. And the weariness, the tiredness, that comes with such pain.
   Keselowski conceded the pain – and NASCAR rules bar him from taking any medication stronger than ibuprofen. And he conceded he was flat worn out.
   "I think probably the biggest thing for me was -- since I've been in a bed laying around for two or three days -- the energy that you lose from that," Keselowski said.  "Just a  complete zap of energy loss.
    "I just didn't have any energy in the car.
    "I'm wearing a foot brace, which was helpful.  But it still hurt to push the pedal.
   "Add into that, I cut my hand open shifting from a blister, because I didn't get it taped, because I forgot about that, worrying about my leg. 
   "But it's just the way it goes."



Jimmie Johnson in the rain. Rain nearly ended Sunday's Pocono race early...which would have given Joey Logano the win. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   As big as the Keselowski story was here Sunday, there was another one too – the latest round in the Kurt Busch versus Jimmie Johnson feud. And Busch himself used the word, though he chided journalists about overplaying the drama.
    Busch was holding third in the final miles, and Johnson wanted the spot. Johnson tried to make a pass, and it appeared he might have slipped sideway a bit into Busch. The track, under the late afternoon sun, was slick. Johnson dismissed his bump and insisted Busch started the affair. Busch saw it the other way….and Busch has come up short in several incidents with Johnson over the past year or so, a situation that Busch has mentioned more than once.
   Busch appeared to be trying to take the high road after the race when confronted by an angry Johnson, who rarely shows emotion, and almost never has shown this much anger.
   But Johnson said Busch wasn't the only driver who had perhaps gone over the line with him lately.
   Where that goes? Well, like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, this thing doesn't appear to be over.
   Johnson's take: "It was a good battle. I worked hard to get by him. And I got to the outside of him off (turn) two, and -- I don't know -- he ran over the side of me…which I didn't really understand, as I took a lot of patience and gave him a lot of courtesy throughout the course of the day running him down.
    "I could have run into him; I could have moved him a lot of different ways to get that position. But I didn't.
    "I went down there and passed him, and off two he ran me up into the wall…or tried to.
    "And I held my ground so I wouldn't get smashed in the fence.
     "I have no problem racing hard. And we raced really hard all day long.
     "I just don't understand why -- when I finally get position on him – he's got to run all over the side of me down the straightaway.
      "Here track position is everything…because you can't pass. It took me that entire fuel run to setup that pass on him. And I finally got it done…and then that problem happens. That's where my frustration comes in."
    Kurt Busch insisted it was all just hard racing: "This is a day that needs to be documented as Keselowski's win and not the feud between Busch and Jimmie…because what we do is just race hard on the track every week.  And that's the way I'd like it to be documented.
    "And if we watch the tape, we'll see that the 48 (Johnson) swerved into us first. And I know that before even watching the tape."

   Both Keselowski and Kurt Busch took big gambles just before the rain came, some 300 miles into the 500, by pitting for gas and tires when the rest of the field didn't. That put them both deep in the field, Keselowski 22nd and teammate Busch 25th. But the gamble paid off, when the rest had to pit after the race finally resumed, nearly two hours later.
   "There's always a risk in any call like that," Paul Wolfe, Keselowski's crew chief, conceded.  "But, as we've seen here of late, everybody's getting more aggressive on their calls and how we're playing the fuel strategy game.
    "But I had pretty good confidence --  My engineers seemed pretty confident we were going to go back green (after the rain).
   "I know it's going to take calls like that to get us in the chase.  And we've got cars fast enough now at this point in the season to race in the chase.
    "We've just had a rocky start to get here."
    To that, Keselowski himself just laughed:  "Just tell them, Paul, you're this brave. Just tell them.  Because if it wouldn't have worked out, man, it would have been rough."

   That wasn't the only key move of the day for Keselowski and Wolfe. That late restart side by side with Kyle Busch was crucial. Kyle Busch may be the best restart man in the sport, but this time he got beat at the green.
   Kyle Busch pointed to Johnson's move as key, and Keselowski agreed. 
   "You come to tracks like this, where there's really long straightaways, and your fate as the leader of the restart is determined by the success of the car directly behind you and what he chooses to do," Keselowski said.
   "Kyle's fate was sealed the second Jimmie made the move he did.  And there's no way for him to know that."


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