In re-released interview, Brad Keselowski recalls how Rick Hendrick left him heartbroken

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Even though much of NASCAR is on its annual Easter break, a re-released interview with 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski is definitely going to have tongues once again wagging over the next few days.

Since last season, when he failed to defend his 2012 title, Keselowski has become reflective in several interviews, talking about a variety of subjects including his upbringing, his early-career feud with Carl Edwards and other topics.

A segment of an episode of  the syndicated “In Depth With Graham Bensinger” from late 2012 that featured an interview with Keselowski shortly after he won the Cup crown was re-released three days ago as part of a new program including an interview with defending and six-time Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson.

Bensinger’s syndicated show can be seen on various TV outlets and web sites, including Yahoo Sports.

Keselowski – looking perhaps as somber as we’ve ever seen him, at times seemingly ready to break into tears – discusses how heartbroken, if not potentially betrayed he felt in 2009 when team owner Rick Hendrick picked Mark Martin to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet instead of giving Keselowski the opportunity, even though Bad Brad insists Hendrick had previously promised him that ride in 2010.

Keselowski also talks prominently about how Roger Penske approached him back in 2008, inquiring if the young talent would be interested in joining Team Penske.

“He called me and wanted to know what my situation was essentially,” Keselowski said. “I knew I wanted to do the Hendrick opportunity and go for that. But this is Roger Penske. How can I say no to at least a chance to meet him, so I met him. I sat in that office and he talked to me and I just wanted to hear him talk. I never met the guy, I just wanted to hear him talk. I didn’t know what he had to say.”

Keselowski appreciated Penske’s outreach, but elected to remain with JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, believing that he was the heir apparent for the Hendrick-owned No. 5 in 2010.

“I knew what (Penske) meant to the sport, I knew what he meant to Detroit (Keselowski is a native of suburban Detroit),” Keselowski said. “… At the end (of their conversation), he asked me a very simple question, ‘Are you interested?’ I told him I’m a loyal guy, I’ve already made another commitment, but I have a feeling I’ll be back.”

Keselowski’s loyalty to Hendrick didn’t exactly work out the way he thought it would, and as he predicted, Keselowski eventually took Penske up on his offer.

Keselowski recalls it all with crystal clarity as if it happened yesterday.

“As soon as Mark Martin won that race (Phoenix, spring 2009), I knew what that meant, I knew what when he won meant. As soon as he won that race, I knew I wasn’t going to get the ride at Hendrick Motorsports in 2010, the one essentially we’d talked about and I’d been promised. … As soon as (Martin) won Phoenix, he walked up to Mr. Hendrick and said he wanted to drive the car for the next year or two, which essentially there was no spot for me.”

When Bensinger asked Keselowski if he feels Hendrick betrayed him, Keselowski demurred somewhat.

“I never really thought of it as betrayal, I guess,” Keselowski said. “Maybe I did, I don’t know. It was more heartbroken, more chippy. Maybe that’s something that comes from a sense of betrayal, but that’s a strong word. I would say it definitely added fuel to the fire of who I am and my desire to be the best.”

Click on the link below. Some of Keselowski’s comments are definitely eye-opening.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

https://screen.yahoo.com/brad-keselowski-betrayed-rick-hendrick-110000397.html

MRTI: Juncos signs Carlos Cunha for Pro Mazda campaign

Photo: Juncos Racing
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Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.

Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.

“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”

Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”

Follow @KyleMLavigne