Category archive: Brad Keselowski

KeselowskiJared C. Tilton/Getty ImagesBrad Keselowski stretched his legs in the new Miller Lite Ford Fusion during Tuesday's NASCAR test.

CONCORD, N.C. -- You won't find the sterling silver Sprint Cup trophy made by Tiffany and Co. at the home of reigning champion Brad Keselowski.

"No, I don't keep trophies at my house,'' Keselowski said during Tuesday's test at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "I don't believe in building a shrine to myself. It's kind of weird."

This is why Keselowski will be a threat to repeat in 2013.

The Penske Racing driver doesn't want to be reminded about what he has accomplished. He wants to work on building toward the future, and this two-day test at CMS is the first step in doing that.

Keselowski spent about as much time focusing on how he and new teammate Joey Logano will work together as he did the new car and new manufacturer.

"I'm curious to see over time how we can work together and push each other to be the best we can be, so I've had a lot of fun with that so far,'' Keselowski said. "We've got a lot of work to do.

"We're only a half a day into two really important days, not only for Penske Racing but for the sport itself, and hopefully we can continue to show progress."

Matt Kenseth, who replaced Logano in the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing after spending his entire Cup career at Roush Fenway Racing, also was focused on getting to know new people at a time drivers typically are getting away from the sport.

That he chose to be here instead of spending quality time with his family is a reason he'll be a threat in 2013.

"I've got to be honest, it was probably the first time I've been nervous in a race car -- getting in there and going out for the first time -- in as long as I can remember,'' the 2003 Cup champion said. "It's always exciting and you're a little anxious when you go do something different. It's been fun so far."

OK, it wasn't all fun. Kenseth did create more work for his new crew than they probably expected when he over-revved the engine near the end of the first practice.

"So they're back there changing it,'' he said of the engine during lunch break. "So I think the guys are in love with me right now. Like, 'Where did we find this clown? Give us the other one back.' Other than that it's been good."

Bottom line for Keselowski and Kenseth: They still are hungry to prove themselves.

And that will make both contenders in 2013.

LAS VEGAS -- Brad Keselowski met Jim Hunter only two or three times. He didn't know much about the longtime NASCAR executive when he died of cancer in October 2010, leaving a void in the sport that still hasn't been filled.

So when Tony Stewart said during Friday night's Sprint Cup banquet that Hunter would be proud of Keselowski, that he would like his style, the 28-year-old from Michigan may not have known exactly what he meant.

Those of us who knew Hunter did.

It was perhaps the highest praise the three-time champion or anybody in the sport could have given NASCAR's newest champion.

Here's what he meant:

"I don't think Brad's learned to be cautious yet,'' Stewart said backstage during the nationally televised event from the Las Vegas Wynn. "Hopefully, that won't bite him like it has a lot of drivers in the past.

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John Gurzinski/Getty ImagesTony Stewart on 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski, above: "It's nice to see somebody who speaks form the heart and isn't guarded when he speaks. That's the way all of us should be."

"It's refreshing. It's nice to see somebody who speaks form the heart and isn't guarded when he speaks. That's the way all of us should be.''

That's the way Hunter wanted drivers in the sport to be. He worked behind the scenes in ways many never will know to make sure the competitors didn't lose sight of who they were amid the politics of rules and sponsors that often tainted their views.

That made them change.

He didn't always succeed, but he fought relentlessly for the personalities who made the sport what it is today.

"Jim was always so good at putting into perspective and taking back to NASCAR and explaining to them that you really weren't a complete jackass,'' Kevin Harvick said. "He was 'always be yourself, express yourself.' ''

Stewart and Harvick knew Hunter about as well as any driver. They admittedly wouldn't be in the sport if it weren't for his guidance and support at times when they appeared on the path of self-destruction.

So when Stewart brought up his name in the midst of the mandatory thanks to sponsors and congratulations to the new champion, it struck a chord.

Hunter understood better than most that what took NASCAR to the national level wasn't necessarily the competition on the track. He understood it was the personalities of the drivers.

He also understood corporate America and intense attention from the media sometimes makes the competitors guarded, afraid to be themselves for fear of offending a sponsor paying millions to put them on the track.

Keselowski personifies what Hunter wanted. His 12-minute, unscripted speech captured everything many of us have been telling you about him for several years.

It was honest.

It was humble.

It was spoken in a way that made everyone in the room of about 1,500 industry people realize everyone is responsible for the future of the sport.

And it came at the ideal time with the sport at a turning point with the introduction of the new car that has raised expectations for the future.

"As we look into '13, I hope as a sport we can continue to find common ground to unify," Keselowski said as though he were speaking to a room full of Republicans and Democrats in Congress. "We have some of the smartest people that can solve any problem. As a champion, I want to be your leader, and I want to help you make it happen."

It was a serious moment, but not an unexpected moment for one who has entertained us all year through Twitter and other social media outlets. Amid the pranks of drivers running up a huge tab on his hotel suite, of filling him up with shots of liquor while they unknowingly to him drank soft drinks, this week has been about unification and representation for Keselowski.

Although his voice was almost gone from all the parties and late nights, that he wants what's best for the sport could be heard loud and clear.

"I know he's enjoying the heck out of himself, and I'm proud of him for how he's handled himself,'' four-time champion Jeff Gordon said. "We've thrown everything at him, let me tell you. And some have thrown more than that at him, and he's stepped up like a pro.

"He's going to make a great champion. It's great to see a young guy like him enjoying the moment the way he is. He's got a great appreciation for the sport to be able to respect where he is as well."

Stewart's message said it all:

Don't change.

Stewart has scars from feeling he was burned by things he's done and said over the years. They are scars Hunter helped heal before he passed. They are scars he hopes Keselowski doesn't have to deal with, because he understands -- as he believes Hunter would -- that this new champion is good for the sport.

"To be perfectly honest, I hope you guys continue to treat him the way you are now,'' Stewart told reporters in an almost sermon-like tone. "That gives him that opportunity to be that way.

"I'm so scared that at some point somebody is going to turn on him and it goes downhill from there. But I'm proud to see you guys give him the chance to be open like he is.''

As funny as banquet host Howie Mandel was with cracks about Gordon taking him out in the hotel's massive corridors, as much as we all agreed with Clint Bowyer that our job is done for this season and "my a-- is clocking out,'' that is what we should take away from the banquet.

That is what we should take from the season that appropriately began with its champion-to-be tweeting from the track during a red-flag situation.

Yes, Hunter would love Keselowski's style.

LAS VEGAS -- By now you probably know that Brad Keselowski wants a tank, that he'd like to date Jennifer Love Hewitt and that there's a new market for giant Pilsner beer glasses like the one he drank from live on ESPN's "SportsCenter" after winning his first Sprint Cup title.

But what you probably don't know is none of this would have been feasible were it not for Discount Tire.

Stick with me.

You won't see the name of Keselowski's Nationwide Series sponsor splattered all over Las Vegas, where NASCAR is celebrating its newest champion this week. In the world of sponsors, this is Miller Lite's week to get the spotlight with the driver of the No. 2 blue deuce.

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Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesBrad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe will take center stage at the Wynn Las Vegas during Friday's Sprint Cup banquet.

But were it not for Discount Tire, the 28-year-old from Michigan never would have gone to Penske Racing and delivered Roger Penske his first Cup title.

"Without that phone call from them, it doesn't happen," Keselowski said Tuesday.

This is how it all came down, a story that some of those closest to Keselowski weren't aware of until he talked about it first during the NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum at the Aria Convention Center and later with me at the Wynn Las Vegas sportsbook.

Keselowski, then driving the Nationwide Series car for JR Motorsports, had spent the summer of 2009 working with Rick Hendrick to stay in the Hendrick Motorsports family.

They looked at placing him in a Cup car at Red Bull Racing, but that deal fell apart. They looked at placing him at Stewart-Haas Racing, but the organization wasn't ready to go to three cars. Dale Earnhardt Jr. even looked at adding a Cup team at JRM, but that didn't happen.

Keselowski already had talked to Penske, telling "The Captain" he'd sign on only if given a full-time Nationwide ride, too. Penske said thanks but no thanks, maybe the last time he flat-out denied the driver something he wanted.

"So we walked apart, we broke up discussions," Keselowski said.

Late in August, when Keselowski's dream of landing a full-time Cup ride for 2010 seemed bleak, Discount Tire went to Penske with the offer to leave Roush Fenway Racing for his team if and only if Keselowski was the driver.

The rest is history.

Keselowski gave Penske his first Nationwide title in 2010 and first Cup title two weeks ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the site of one of the craziest celebrations you'll ever see.

"Without [Discount Tire] doing that, I don't go to Penske Racing," Keselowski said.

So why was a Nationwide ride so important to Keselowski? Simple. He figured to struggle during his first full year in Cup -- which he did, finishing 25th in points -- and that the Nationwide experience would benefit his growth as a driver.

"Absolutely," Keselowski said. "There was no doubt in my mind that going into Cup the first year was going to be very difficult. Sometimes you don't want to believe that, but obviously that was the case."

Now Keselowski has the money -- his share of more than $5 million that goes to the champion -- to buy the tank he always wanted and the celebrity star power that may at least help him get a foot in the door with Hewitt.

For the record, she hasn't called, as far as he knows.

"There's been so much going on; maybe they tried to get a hold of me and I missed it," Keselowski said with a laugh.

But Keselowski has had a few of what he'd call cool moments since winning the title. He got a Twitter mention from Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III -- "We did it!!! (@keselowski voice) ha ha But seriously, loved coming back to Texas and getting the W on Thanksgiving. Big for our season" -- after a Thanksgiving Day win over Dallas.

He got to meet soccer star Alex Morgan, which he didn't realize at the time was a "pretty big deal," at the Thanksgiving Day parade in Detroit.

And he got to see his name up in lights at the Wynn Las Vegas, where on Friday night he'll be honored as the champion.

"It's everything I thought it would be," Keselowski said. "Everybody treats you like a champion. It's quite remarkable."

And it all happened because of a Nationwide Series sponsor that may barely get mentioned this week.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Brad Keselowski doesn't want a fancy new car, a million-dollar home or a big yacht for nearby Lake Norman as a reward for winning his first Sprint Cup championship.

He wants a tank.

You heard me right.

We knew Keselowski would be a different kind of champion when he announced he had a buzz during Sunday night's postrace "SportsCenter" interview, but this cements it.

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Sherman Tank
Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesThis World War II era M4A3 Sherman tank may fit the bill nicely for Brad Keselowski.

The Penske Racing driver wants a tank from either World War II or the Korean War era to drive around his property that is adjacent to that of Dale Earnhardt Jr. near Mooresville, N.C.

He also wants Earnhardt to get one so they can "chase each other around in the woods with them."

Yes, this is getting more strange all the time.

The thought of owning a tank first entered Keselowski's mind over the summer when he heard a story about Wally Dallenbach owning one. So he promised himself if he won the Cup title, "I would buy one whether Dale does or not."

"It was kind of a little bit of motivation, I should say," Keselowski said on Tuesday during a national conference call. "I'm not one to really buy trophies for myself, but I think a tank would be pretty cool.

"I want to put one together and have some fun with it. When I'm done playing with it, I'll just park it in the driveway and scare off people who aren't supposed to be around. I don't know. It will be fun either way."

Keselowski, by the way, has no regrets about his "SportsCenter" interview, during which he admittedly was intoxicated after quickly consuming beer and champagne during the postrace celebration.

"It looked like a guy that was having fun, which is what I was having," he said after seeing clips of the live broadcast. "I'm proud of that moment. I'm proud to be a Sprint Cup champion."

And maybe soon he'll be the proud owner of a tank.

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- There were a few must-share moments from Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s behind-the-hauler media availability Friday at Phoenix International Raceway.

First, to those who still question Earnhardt's drive and desire to be a champion, I offer this:

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesDale Earnhardt Jr. on the fast-approaching offseason: "I'm ready to go testing. I'm not ready to sit down."

"I wish we could race on into February and start back over, if it was up to me," said Earnhardt, who is 12th in points after missing two races with a concussion. "It's been a good year, but this should be like par for the course. It's been a good year, but we want to do better than this.

"I'm not ready to stop trying to be better."

Earnhardt hasn't always wanted the season to continue. There have been years when, with two races remaining, he couldn't wait for the offseason. There have been times when he dreaded even testing during the offseason.

He admitted that maybe only 30 percent of the time since 2000, when he began driving in the Sprint Cup Series full time, has he wanted the season to keep going this late.

"I'm excited about next year, excited about the opportunities with a new car, working on the new car," Earnhardt said. "I'm ready to go testing. I'm not ready to sit down."

That was enlightening.

Listening to Earnhardt respond to what Brad Keselowski said Tuesday about having to sign a clause in his previous contract at JR Motorsports never to write a book about the experiences he had with NASCAR's most popular driver was downright funny.

"I don't have anything that I would rather him not write about," Earnhardt said with a laugh. "I think he was telling a lie, to be honest with you. We've had some fun times together, and he grew up a whole lot when he was around us."

Such as?

"He hadn't been exposed to a whole lot when we got ahold of him," Earnhardt said. "All he had ever done was race cars. We took him to town and got him some clothes and dressed him up and showed him what was going on.

"It wasn't too crazy."

Now who's lying?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR fans are on their way to becoming the most daring -- at least the most imaginative -- in all of sports.

Last month at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a fan sneaked into Victory Lane with Clint Bowyer's car. He posed for pictures during the hat dance and actually spoke with the Michael Waltrip Racing driver and his owner.

Last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, a fan stole Brad Keselowski's Miller Lite hat from the top of his pit box during practice, tweeted to Keselowski she stole it and then asked Keselowski to autograph it on pit road before the race.

What's next? A fan hijacks a race car and wins the race?

Sorry. I shouldn't put such ideas into people's heads. But you have to admit the above stories are unique.

Keselowski, trailing five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson by seven points in the Chase with two races remaining, shared his fan story during Tuesday's appearance at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The Penske Racing driver described in great detail how he placed the hat on top of his toolbox as he always does, how it takes three minutes and 40 seconds for him to put on his helmet and get buckled into the car (he's actually timed that), how when he got out of the car the hat was missing, and how he discovered what happened on Twitter.

Oh, and how his team didn't believe it was stolen initially.

"I lose things a lot," said Keselowski, showing none of the typical Chase pressures. "I lose my car keys, I lose my wallet. So people that lose things a lot always say the same thing: 'Somebody stole my blah, blah.'

"But this time somebody really did steal it."

Keselowski had the HOF crowd in stitches describing how the fan, a young woman, approached him with the hat before the race.

"This literally is right before the race starts, fans standing around the car," he said. "So I go to grab my helmet ... do all the same things again, and this girl comes up and says, 'Brad, I'm the girl that stole your hat the other day. Can you sign it?'

"I just thought it was pretty incredible that someone would: one, steal your hat; two, go on Twitter and tell you they stole your hat; and three, walk up to you and say, 'Hey, before you get in the car and race for the championship, can you sign this hat I just stole from you and told you about yesterday?'"

In case you're wondering, Keselowski didn't give the girl his autograph.

"It felt wrong," he said with a laugh.

Speaking of wrong, Keselowski apparently gets mistaken for soon-to-be teammate Joey Logano even though they look nothing alike. When a fan recently screamed, "Joey, Joey, you've got to sign this for me," Keselowski did.

"I signed it 'Joey Logano'," Keselowski said. "I didn't want to let the guy down."

NASCAR fans apparently aren't the only ones with a crazy imagination.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- We've been getting subtle hints throughout the past year-and-a-half of how influential Brad Keselowski has become in the decision-making at Penske Racing.

We got hit between the eyes with it on Wednesday.

"Brad Keselowski played a really big role in getting me in here and getting a meeting with Roger [Penske]," Joey Logano said while being introduced via conference call as the driver of Penske Racing's No. 22 next season.

Interpretation: When Keselowski speaks, his team owner listens.

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Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images/NASCARJoey Logano, right, on future teammate Brad Keselowski: "Hopefully, we can learn from each other and make each other better race car drivers and make our team the best we can."

Keselowski actually convinced Penske to give Logano a look during the offseason when Kurt Busch was released after his meltdown in the season finale. But because Logano had a year left on his contract at Joe Gibbs Racing and JGR had no idea Matt Kenseth was going to be available to drive the No. 20 in 2013, the talks didn't go anywhere.

So when AJ Allmendinger was suspended and ultimately released last month from the 22 for failing a drug test, and with Logano in limbo at JGR with Kenseth signed to replace him, Keselowski went back to Penske.

"Brad had come to us last year and mentioned Joey's name," Penske racing president Tim Cindric said. "He felt he was somebody he could work with. That chemistry is so important."

Keselowski calls Logano a "good guy with a ton of talent." It's quite possible he sees some of himself in the 22-year-old driver.

Both have been highly successful in the Nationwide Series. Both won a race early in their careers, then struggled in ensuing seasons. Keselowski was 25th in points during his first season at Penske Racing after winning at Talladega the year before. Logano won a fuel-mileage race at New Hampshire in his first Cup season at JGR, then fell to 24th last season.

But as we saw with Keselowski, when put in the right situation, he flourished. He has won six races the past two seasons, finishing fifth in points a year ago and ranking sixth 25 races into this season.

Expectations are that Logano's career can take off in the same way.

"Joey seems from the outside at that point in his career where we feel we can openly provide him an environment where he can be successful," Cindric said.

There's no question Logano will be a bigger asset than Allmendinger. Logano's current and soon-to-be former teammates, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, can't say enough good things about Logano's contributions -- particularly this season.

"Joey has phenomenal feedback and notes," Busch said on Tuesday when Kenseth was introduced as Logano's 2013 replacement. "He's a great note-taker and does a lot of stuff that Denny and I don't do.

"I love Joey to death. He's one of the hardest-working drivers out there."

Yet more similarities with Keselowski. Few work harder or are more involved with their team than the 28-year-old from Michigan.

"Hopefully, we can learn from each other and make each other better race car drivers and make our team the best we can," Logano said.

The downside of this is Sam Hornish Jr. He has poured his heart and soul into becoming a candidate to drive the No. 22 next year, but ultimately Keselowski and Penske saw more potential in Logano.

Unless sponsorship for a full Cup ride steps forward, which is unlikely at this point, Hornish will be relegated to another full-time Nationwide Series ride with a few Cup races next season.

But as JGR officials believed they couldn't pass up the opportunity to sign Kenseth, Keselowski believed Penske couldn't pass up the opportunity to sign Logano.

And as we are seeing more and more every day, when Keselowski speaks, people listen.

"He's the one that called me and said, 'Hey, this is a great opportunity for you,'" Logano said. "He was pretty involved in getting me here, for sure, as he is in most of the decisions that happen here at Penske."

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Brad Keselowski jokingly was told he would hear from NASCAR when he took a negative shot at the governing body's planned move to fuel injection following a recent question and answer fan session at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in North Carolina.

At worst, it was suggested that the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge would be a random selection for further inspection the rest of the season the way Jimmie Johnson's car has been since his crew chief was caught suggesting that the five-time champion intentionally damage the back of the car if it won at Talladega.

Unfortunately, Keselowski did get a call.

And a $25,000 fine.

Make that a "secret" fine.

So NASCAR wants drivers to be more personable and speak their minds, but only as long as it's not something that chairman Brian France says denigrates the sport. It's happened four times that we know of over the past year, including a $50,000 slap on the wrist last year to Denny Hamlin when he referred to a phantom debris caution on Twitter.

I understand NASCAR has to have some control over what's said. Other sports fine athletes when they are critical about officiating because it is a slap at the integrity of the sport.

What Keselowski said did no harm to the sport. It simply was a matter of opinion on fuel injection, that it won't make a significant improvement on fuel mileage, that it will cost owners more money at a time when owners are scraping for every penny.

He added that cars on the street are "injected with real electronics, not a throttle body [like in NASCAR]."

"So we've managed to go from 50-year-old technology to 35-year-old technology," Keselowski said. "I don't see what the big deal is."

What Hamlin said was like a shot at officiating. What Keselowski said was like a shot at the Car of Tomorrow, which at least half the garage has done. Sure, he might have said it less harshly and deserved a "wish you hadn't said that" speech, but a fine was unnecessary.

That it was secret -- word of the fine leaked out on social media -- only created the impression that NASCAR officials have other secrets they're not telling, which France insisted isn't true.

"Look, don't panic over this," France said. "We'll look at it in the offseason, if we need to change it, we'll change it. Not a big deal."

It is a big deal because it confuses all the more what drivers can and can't say.

"Hell, I don't know," Keselowski said when asked if he understood the limits. "I ain't got all the answers. You tell me."

To Keselowski's credit, he accepted NASCAR's fine without complaint. He actually said he deserved it, not so much for what he said but because he's gotten away with worse without a fine.

What's clear to Keselowski and all of us is NASCAR is a dictatorship, which it has to be in order to be successful. Keselowski actually likes France's comparison of the sport to a restaurant -- that if the food isn't good, nobody is going to eat it.

But even in this dictatorship, there should be more room to express opinion without paying a price.

Keselowski explained this by using his own restaurant analogy, saying that he always asks the waitress what she wouldn't recommend to see if he can trust what she recommends.

"You only trust the person if they can admit they have one item on the menu that is not quite so good," Keselowski said.


Let's hope Keselowski continues to stand up to the governing body -- that this incident doesn't force him to retreat from social media the way Hamlin admits he did after his fine.

CONCORD, N.C. -- The Legends Million had just ended Saturday night, with Daniel Hemric making a clean pass for the win in the closing laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Track President Marcus Smith was feeling good about the event as he discussed it on a radio show.

Then Smith saw on a computer monitor how the Nationwide Series race at Gateway International Raceway ended.

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Brad Keselowski wrecks
Dilip Vishwanat/NASCAR/Getty ImagesBrad Keselowski's No. 22 car is spun sideways by Carl Edwards, left, on the final lap at Gateway International Raceway.

His mood got even better.

"Alllllll riiiiiiiight!" Smith said. "That's the way racing ought to be."

My jaw nearly hit the floor. I asked if he saw the same finish I did. I asked if Carl Edwards wrecking Brad Keselowski on the straightaway to take the lead as he approached the checkered flag was the way racing ought to be.

Smith said it should be anything goes if it's the last lap and you're going for the checkered. He said more races should end like that, even though it ruined a lot of good equipment and good finishes for other drivers who were innocent bystanders.

He said if this incident incited payback, well, that's a good thing, too.

Cha-ching! Cha-ching!

It may be good if you're a race promoter trying to sell tickets.

But there has to be a limit. Wrecking somebody intentionally, even for a win, can't be what NASCAR meant by "have at it, boys."

Apparently many of you agree. My e-mail and Twitter accounts have been working overtime with fans outraged by the way Edwards got the victory. Some of you have called for having the win taken away. Some of you have suggested Edwards should be suspended for the rest of the Nationwide season before he, as Keselowski's father said, kills somebody.

Likely nothing will happen. NASCAR has backed itself into a corner by letting much worse go unpunished. If it didn't penalize Edwards for sending Keselowski into an airborne flip in the Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this season, it's not going to do so now.

But eventually NASCAR must step in. If not, there will be chaos and somebody is going to get hurt.

We're pretty close to it now.

Bumping in the corners as Keselowski and Edwards did in Turn 1 when Keselowski put himself in position to win is one thing. Turning somebody at high speed on the straightaway is another.

I'm not sure even the late Dale Earnhardt would approve.

But I am sure this is going to get worse before it gets better. I don't think Martin Truex Jr. has forgotten that he promised to get Jeff Gordon back for an incident at Sonoma. He's probably just waiting for the most opportune time, like maybe in the Chase when he could cost the four-time champion a shot at the title.

It wouldn't surprise me if Keselowski did something to prevent Edwards, 10th in the Cup standings, from making the Chase over the next two months. At 26th in points, Keselowski has nothing to lose.

Juan Pablo Montoya probably has a few targets in mind once the Chase begins as well.

They can think like this because NASCAR allows them to. No, because NASCAR encourages them to.

Is that the way racing was meant to be?

"Wrecking down the straightaway is never cool, whether he's at 200 mph or 120," Keselowski said.

Edwards argued differently. He said it was his job to win the race no matter how. He insisted he was justified because of the way Keselowski bumped him earlier.

"That's my job, to win the race, and to make sure I don't get walked on or get something taken away from me that's mine," Edwards said. "I'm sure tempers are up right now, but hopefully after looking at it, we can each step in the other's shoes and see it from the other perspective."

Doubtful. Keselowski has been in enough incidents with Edwards over the past two years -- including several of his own doing -- to know what it's like to walk in his shoes.

"I'm sure he'll say how sorry he is or how cool he thinks he is or how great of a guy he is in his own mind," Keselowski told reporters after having his points lead trimmed to 168 over Edwards. "But that's not reality."

Neither is the argument that this is how racing ought to be.

CONCORD, N.C. -- Darrell Waltrip, as usually the case, was on a roll Monday at the unveiling of his No. 11 Mountain Dew Buick that will be on display when the NASCAR Hall of Fame opens on May 11.

Here are some of the highlights:

• The driver with three Sprint Cup championships and 84 career wins obviously thinks he should be in the Hall's second class. Until he realized founding fathers Bill France and Bill France Jr. were eligible, you can read between the lines and figure he thought he should be in the first class.

"If someone said, 'How would you do that?' I'd have made the Frances the founding fathers of the Hall,'' Waltrip said. "The father and son that started the sport. They would have been the big plaques and statues out front of the place. That would have opened up room for a couple more drivers.

"My first impression was the place was just going to be drivers. If they took five drivers, I'm on the edge. Me, Bobby [Allison], Cale [Yarborough]. We have similar records. Wins, championships, performancewise, we all are about the same.''

Waltrip had no problem with Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and driver/owner Junior Johnson being the first three drivers. He admitted David Pearson being left out threw a wrench in things, but Waltrip said he still thinks he deserves a shot at the 2011 class.

"I heard Richard say they need to honor the old guys,'' said Waltrip, referring to those that began the sport but had lesser records than more recent stars. "Well, that's easy to say whenever you're already in.''

By the way, Waltrip believes his broadcasting career should count in his overall body of work.

Here are some more of his thoughts:

• On why points leader Kevin Harvick got into the Brad Keselowski-Carl Edwards feud by calling Edwards a fake in a radio interview: "This is just my observation. He's leading the points, none of you all were noticing. He's running really well. You all were noticing that a little bit. But he hasn't been the center of attention and Carl and Brad were, and he thought he ought to get his dog in that fight.

"That's where those comments came from. There are people in this sport who are antagonists, and he likes to be one of those. He stirs the pot.''

For the record, Harvick disagreed, saying, "No. You guys want it so you can give your opinion, then you want to bury us after we give it to you to make somebody look as bad as possible. It is one of those things. You say something, it goes as far as everybody wants to take it. But I have an opinion on a lot of things.''

• On what Steve Addington, the crew chief for Kurt Busch, has brought to Penske Racing: "I don't know what he's brought over there, but you look at Sam Hornish and Keselowski. Last year, Keselowski ran a few races in the 12 car and you didn't know he was in the race. Had a slow start this year, but Addington has helped the whole Penske program. He's a Penske prototype. That's where he helped the whole organization.''

• On Dale Earnhardt Jr.: "I told Rick [Hendrick] I'd run him in truck races. He needs to get somewhere he can win. I'd get him in a truck, not a Nationwide car, but a truck. They're fun to drive. You have a good time in the Truck Series. If I were Junior, I'd talk to Harvick and ask to drive the 2 truck.

"And I'd win a couple races. That's what he needs. Would really help his confidence, and his fans would enjoy seeing him do that. It'd be a win-win.''

Earnhardt's response: "Well, I mean, I don't have any interest in driving those trucks. I want to drive a truck race, I guess, before I retire just to see what they feel like. And Harvick said I could drive his truck anytime I wanted to. Hopefully, that offer will be around for quite a while, because I don't plan on doing it anytime soon. I have plenty of confidence in myself."