Brian Keselowski was looking for a break, but he didn't get one in Vegas

Updated: February 26, 2008

Warren Wimmer/Icon SMI

Brian Keselowski saw plenty of sparks after hitting the Turn 2 wall at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He Ain't Heavy ...

While younger brother Brad Keselowski was nearly stealing the show at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Brian Keselowski was contemplating what went wrong.

In his second race of the season with Jay Robinson Racing, the 26-year-old was hoping to rebound from the blown engine that ended his season debut at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., after just 98 laps. Instead, a wreck after contact with Patrick Carpentier 31 laps into the race at Vegas left him feeling as badly as many a gambler feels when leaving Las Vegas.

"I was just trying to mind my own business a little bit. I got to racing with [Eric McClure] and [Carpentier] kind of snuck in there and turned down on us and clipped us getting into the corner," Brian Keselowski said. "I'm sure he's in there and get digging and go 'cause we're going to get lapped pretty quick if you don't get going here.

"But he turned down on me a little bit too quick and I was still underneath of him when he did that. I didn't even really get a chance to see him, and all of a sudden he just turned down and it sent me for a ride going in. When you get hit in the right front going into a corner it's not very fun. It sent me for a ride and there was nothing I could do. I just held on the brakes and hoped for the best and that was about it."

A year ago, it was Brad Keselowski looking for a break. He started the year with Keith Coleman Racing, an underfunded team that eventually closed during the season. A chance to drive for the suspended Ted Musgrave in the Craftsman Truck Series proved to be the break Brad Keselowski needed as it led to a ride with JR Motorsports.

Brian would love to follow the same path. While he's equally comfortable working on the cars, his passion is driving them. His father, Bob, a former ARCA champion and a longtime owner in the truck series before leaving the ownership ranks, is his crew chief, and they hope to make their mark.

Races like Vegas, though, are a hard hit for a small team to absorb.

"That [was] kind of really our only car that we wanted to run for a little while here on the speedways," Brian Keselowski said. "I've got another car for Atlanta that we're planning on [running] anyway, but this was going to be my backup for there. That hurts. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is."

In just four starts last year in the Nationwide Series, Keselowski finished 10th in a crash-filled race at Memphis and 11th in the finale at Homestead. The goal now is to find enough sponsorship to step up the program while competing for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors.

As yet, no rookie has signed up to run the entire schedule this year, though Keselowski plans to run at least 31 races, with the road-course races not yet a certainty. Dario Franchitti, Bryan Clauson and Cale Gale are the other rookies to have scored points through three races. Franchitti and Clauson drive for Chip Ganassi Racing and Gale drives for Kevin Harvick Inc., so those three have bigger teams behind them.

Keselowski, though, knows winning the award would be a big step for his career.

"Everybody can put that on their résumé, and that'd be huge for me. I haven't had a lot of chances to race full time before so this is actually going to be my first full year in about five years of racing full time," he said. "It's tremendous just getting to be at the racetrack every week and getting to do stuff."

Making just four starts last year gave the Keselowskis plenty of time to get geared up for those races with their own equipment. This year they're working with Robinson's equipment, but trying to run 31 events is a tall order.

"We need a little more time right now to get everything organized and put everything where we need it," Brian said. "Working with me and my dad, it's not any different than it would be when I was at home doing my own thing. But now I've got some other people that we're working with and we need to get everything organized and put in the right place, and I think we'll be all right."

In addition to his father, Brian knows he can turn to his brother for advice. And Brad did try to lend a hand at Las Vegas during practice after his JR Motorsports team was done for the day.

"He's been at more of these places than I have. He's actually younger than me but he's been to these places three, four times at least and got to test and [in Vegas] and I didn't get a chance to do that," Brian said. "The first time I ever seen the track was [Friday] morning and that was it. He's learned a lot being here before, and I can kind of lean on him a little bit to kind of know what I'm doing."

Mark Ashenfelter is an associate editor at ESPN. He can be reached at



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