Keselowski will visit White House, questions NRA newsworthiness

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski has a date with the White House. The event with President Barack Obama is scheduled for April 16.

Keselowski and his team will be heralded for their accomplishments and work in the community. He’ll also visit wounded troops.

The Michigander celebrated his first title guzzling a huge glass of beer at Homestead, Fla. on live TV, and has been heralded as a throwback type of driver compared to those considered more “corporate,” such as Jimmie Johnson.

Keselowski made headlines for other reasons Thursday, suggesting the fact this week’s race at Texas Motor Speedway is sponsored by the National Rifle Association isn’t really news.

A series of tweets exchanged between he and USA Today NASCAR reporter Nate Ryan included Keselowski saying, “I have the perspective of a driver, participant and fan of the sport, along with proprietor of rifles and a US citizenship. With those credentials, I still respectfully disagree with this being as serious of a story as its been made out.”

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “