Keselowski: We, as NASCAR, have a lot to prove going forward

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For 10 more races, Brad Keselowski still holds the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. And as an ambassador for the sport, Keselowski lived up to his champion title in describing how NASCAR will weather the storm of controversy that has emerged in the last week.

“It’s been a crazy week for our sport,” Keselowski said in a phone interview Saturday where we also discussed his likeness being used in Ubisoft’s new video game, “Watch Dogs,” which is set in Chicago.

“We have a lot to prove to our fans and really, to ourselves about who we are and what makes our sport tick. I think the sport is up to the challenge.”

Keselowski acknowledged the challenge that NASCAR faces in trying to restore some of its credibility.

“It’s somewhat offensive to all of us who have been involved with this sport for so long, that the credibility is being challenged. But it’s being challenged for good reason, though,” he admitted. “Things were done that shouldn’t have been done.”

Without going into specifics, Keselowski seemed pleased with the discussion from this morning’s closed-door meeting organized by NASCAR.

“We got together and the conversation was directed at a few more people other than us,” he explained. “We were just watching, and listening, and figuring out how it all works going forward. Obviously (NASCAR) are frustrated just like everyone; quite frankly they mean business.”

Having fielded his own entries in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series before, Keselowski also has the unique perspective of a team owner. But delegation to key people allows him to focus on his primary responsibility as a driver.

“I rely on people. Everyone looks at this sport as I’m the driver, and I get a lot of the glory. I get probably 99 percent of the credit and do maybe 1 percent of the work,” he said. “You have to have people manage the team, and then I can walk in and make sure they’re following the vision I have for it.”

He did poke fun at himself, as there have been a handful of times where he and NASCAR have butted heads over opinions for how to grow the sport.

“The easiest way to sum it up is I’m glad it’s not me that’s involved,” he said. “It’s some drama that’s not my fault!”

Keselowski finished second in Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race and starts second behind Joey Logano, his Penske Racing teammate, in Sunday’s Cup race.

Further posts on “Watch Dogs” and Keselowski’s take on Logano’s Chase chances will follow in the coming days.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.