After winning today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen, Brad Keselowski talked about his affinity for the legendary New York road course and how visits there with his father led to an appreciation for the track’s “atmosphere and ambiance.”
But in an interesting tidbit, the reigning Sprint Cup champion also mentioned that he first learned to drive the Glen through video games – which he said “absolutely” translated to the real world.
Based on his past results at the Glen, we can probably take Keselowski at his word; on the Cup side, he’s garnered back-to-back runner-up finishes in the last two years, and on the Nationwide side, he’s never finished worse than ninth in five starts.
“I remember I spent a whole summer when I was kind of locked in my parent’s shop, because I was just young enough to where they wouldn’t let me touch anything and just old enough to where I wasn’t getting a babysitter,” he recalled. “And I remember spending a whole summer sitting on the computer in the office area running Watkins Glen as a video game.
“My Mom could tell you that story. I guess it was only a month or two that you have off, but Watkins Glen was always a track I ran. It was just a place I really liked and, I don’t know, it’s hard to explain, but it’s something about this track I have a real deep appreciation for.”
Rolling off from eighth tomorrow, Keselowski will look to finally break through for a Cup win at the Glen that would also boost his chances of getting into the Chase. He is currently 12th in the standings and only seven points out of the Top 10, which is where he’ll need to be if he can’t muster up a victory in the final stages of the regular season.
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.