Another runner-up at Watkins Glen for Keselowski

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With no wins so far this season, reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski could have gotten himself one if he had wrecked Kyle Busch in their last-lap battle today at Watkins Glen International.

But while wins are certainly the top priority for Keselowski – one of several trying to break into this year’s Chase – he wasn’t going to take Busch out.

“Even if you don’t end up in the Top 20 [in the championship], I’d rather be a wild card with four or five wins than be a guy in the Chase with zero wins,” he said after finishing second in the Cheez-It 355.

“I guess I don’t look at it that way, but I could have definitely dumped Kyle and won the race. That stuff goes back and forth. I’m sure someone in the tabloid side of the media will make a big deal about that, but it won’t be me because I know I did the right thing.”

Keselowski admitted that the temptation was there to take out Busch in the final corners, but “there’s a level of respect and a code of honor that you have to have as a man.”

He also referred to their last-lap incident last year at the Glen, when both drivers ran across some oil on the track and Keselowski wound up punting Busch to take the lead. Marcos Ambrose would then hunt down and pass Keselowski for the win in a dramatic finish.

“I felt like last year was a racing deal – [Busch] went off the track, I filled the hole and he came down,” explained Keselowski on Sunday. “If I would have wrecked him today, in my mind, it wouldn’t have been a racing deal. It would have been just wrecking and there’s a huge difference.

“When somebody blocks you, that’s different. When somebody runs off the track and pulls down in front of you, that’s a racing deal. Those are all just racing deals. When you just run in the back of someone and drive them head first into the wall, that’s BS racing and I just don’t like it.”

Keselowski was in position to race for the win despite an early spin while trying to battle with Jamie McMurray for a spot on the track. He gave credit to crew chief Paul Wolfe for the strategy that got him back up front.

“Paul just saved my butt after I tried to screw up the day,” he said. “We’ve had some races where strategy has bit us in the butt royally and today was one of those days where we caught a good break. That’s just being quite frank about it.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t capitalize on it, which is disappointing – capitalizing on it in the sense of a win – but this is the first race in a long time where I can say we caught a break.”

Fernando Alonso likes NASCAR country, but he’s not leaving F1 any time soon

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Jimmie Johnson strolled into the Charlotte Convention Center and did a double-take when he saw Fernando Alonso hanging out in a hallway.

“What’s he doing here?” NASCAR’s seven-time champion wondered.

Alonso made the trip to North Carolina to make an appearance at NASCAR’s annual preseason media tour. No, a ride in NASCAR is not imminent, but the two-time Formula One champion is about to embark on his first major sports car race .

Alonso will race this weekend in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona for United Autosports, the sports car team owned by his McLaren F1 boss, Zak Brown. It was Brown who paved the way for Alonso to compete in last year’s Indianapolis 500, and he is helping the Spaniard knock prestigious races off his wish list.

Alonso spent about 10 minutes chatting with Johnson, and the duo was eventually joined by sports car aces Scott Pruett and Joey Hand, who were brought to the NASCAR event by IMSA to help promote the Rolex, and then Cup champion Kevin Harvick.

The meet-and-greet with Alonso was a thrill for Johnson. Alonso was equally impressed.

“The first time I heard his name it was probably 2003 on the NASCAR video game,” Alonso said Tuesday. “I used to choose him, not knowing him, just because of the car. I remember playing with another friend of mine, he likes a chocolate company I will not name now, and he was choosing that car and I was choosing Jimmie’s car.

“But that was the first time I heard of him, and obviously the success that he has in the years in motor racing, he became a legend of our sport, and massive respect.”

Johnson said he’s always been a fan of Alonso’s and spent some time telling Alonso how well he ran in the Indianapolis 500 last May. Alonso led 27 laps and seemed to be in contention for the win until his engine expired 21 laps from the finish.

“He handled himself so well, really did a great job, and I think brought a lot to the table,” Johnson said. “He brought worldwide attention to motorsports and it was really good for us here stateside.”

While in NASCAR country, Alonso was asked about potentially trying a stock car someday. It’s not something that could happen soon, he said, but it is something he’d like to at least attempt.

“Right now, it looks quite far. The driving technique and the experience all those guys have, it’s difficult for me to achieve that level,” Alonso said. “I will never know until I try, so I would like one day to test a car and after that, driving the car, I will know how enjoyable it will be in racing.

“Outside (watching), the races are great because they are all in a group, it is not predictable at all and until the last lap, you don’t know what is going to happen. We love watching from the outside, but I don’t know from the inside.”

Alonso has so far only had three days of testing at Daytona in the sports car to adjust to a closed cockpit, as well as driving at night and in traffic. Trying different series has been a thrill for him, and he’s still eyeing a way to get Le Mans on his schedule.

“It’s one thing that I would like to do, I would like to compete in the best races in the world, and Le Mans and is one of the top races,” he said. “If that day will be this year or not is still to be discussed, but maybe yes.”

More AP Auto Racing: https://racing.ap.org/