Keselowski credits video games for Watkins Glen success

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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.

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force qualifies 15th with no motor explosion, says ‘I need to race smart’ Sunday

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There’s good news and bad news for John Force fans.

The good news is the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ did not suffer yet another motor explosion after enduring his third in three races during Friday’s qualifying session at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway.

In fact, Force intentionally feathered the gas pedal on his Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car to make sure it wasn’t again overtaxed, qualifying 15th with a run of 4.281 seconds at 222.88 mph.

Now for the bad news.

When Sunday’s final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. ET, Force will be matched against daughter and No. 2 qualifier, Courtney Force (3.914 seconds at 332.18 mph).

“It is a little bit of a bummer that I have to race him in the first round,” Courtney Force said of her father. “Tomorrow is a new day and we will have all our stuff ready and we will put on our game faces to go for that win.”

Courtney Force is seeking her second consecutive win, having also won two weeks ago at the second national event of the season in suburban Phoenix.

“I want to have a good side-by-side safe race tomorrow in round one,” Force said. “Our goal is to take my dad down and have a long day at the track winning rounds.

“We want to move the momentum over from Phoenix. I feel like my guys have a good handle on this Advance Auto Parts Camaro.”

But don’t count out dear old dad, an eight-time Funny Car winner at Gainesville.

“I am the kind of guy that, when it is qualifying day, I run it to the edge.,” John Force said. “I run it even if I know it will hurt itself.

“(With his three motor explosions this season) I am rethinking all that. What I am looking is the long haul. To go out here and say I have to win this race or I have to qualify low after as much stuff as we have put on the ground in Pomona and Phoenix and then to come here and do it again is bad. … We want to fix this problem and move on.

“Tomorrow I am going to have to play the odds game. I am going to run it to 700 or 800 feet and hope (Courtney) gets in trouble. I need to race smart.”

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