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


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

Formula E: Team Aguri confirms da Costa for second season

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Antonio Felix da Costa has been confirmed for a second season with Team Aguri for the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship, which begins later this month in Beijing.

He won once this past year at Buenos Aires and finished eighth in the points despite missing both the season opener and season finale due to clashes with his DTM schedule.

Said the 24-year-old Portuguese driver, “I am really happy to continue with Team Aguri and Formula E for season two. This championship is earning its respect in the world of motorsport and I am honoured to be involved. Regarding the season, I am really looking forward to getting started.”

Team Aguri team principal Mark Preston added, “It is a great pleasure to have Antonio continuing with the team for season two of Formula E. Antonio brought us our maiden win in Buenos Aires and helped to develop the team from scratch, he will continue to build on that success for season two and beyond.”

The team that bares the name of ex-Formula 1 driver and team owner Aguri Suzuki has not yet confirmed its second driver, which is the last outstanding seat to be filled on the Formula E grid.

Amlin, which had partnered with Aguri last year, is now present with the Andretti Formula E team and its drivers, Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro.

Hulkenberg leads shorter than normal FP1 in Russia

Nico Hulkenberg
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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg posted a 1:44.355 lap of the of the Sochi Autodrom to lead a fairly abnormal, and shorter than usual, first free practice for the Russian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg posted the time to conclude the usual 90-minute session, to pip Nico Rosberg at 1:44.407 on his final lap. The usual 90-minute session was shortened due to a track delay for cleanup of diesel fuel on course.

Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five.

While the clock started on time for the full 90-minute session, track activity was halted for the opening 30 minutes to clean up diesel spillage on the track at Turn 8.

It left teams and drivers with just a 60-minute first free practice to tackle the Sochi Autodrom, but did not push the session later or affect the timetable for the rest of the day. However, with a damp if not entirely wet track, it made things difficult in FP1.

The delay also meant that teams weren’t able to use an extra set of Pirellis handed out at the start of FP1. Supersofts can be used for the first time in FP2.

During the delay, it did offer a chance for sarcasm, and Manor seized the opportunity following a comment from McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso noting that even with Mercedes engines next year, Manor wouldn’t move ahead of them.

NBC’s Will Buxton explained the track surface dilemma drivers would face in this session.

With just under one hour to go in the session, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the first to head out on course, leading several others. Ericsson made the first laps of the weekend at the track where he made his final start for Caterham a year ago.

Both Williams drivers went on course on Pirelli’s wet weather tires for their installation laps. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg tried the intermediates, and Alonso was first on course in slicks.

No official times were registered until there were less than 40 minutes remaining in the session, with Alonso registering a 2:00.736 time, while putting down a bevy of sparks. He quickly lowered the mark to 1:56.327, and 1:53.854 after that. Ericsson was next in at a 1:58.926, although dropped into the 1:54 range not long after.

Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button clocked in at 1:50.920 with just under 20 minutes remaining and for the first time this year, we could say we had a McLaren Honda 1-2 on track, albeit under abnormal circumstances.

The trsck got busy in the final 15 minutes, with Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen posting a 1:50.870 to lead before Alonso clocked in a 1:49.240.

A 1:47.959 from Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, then a 1:45.987 from Hulkenberg followed in the final 10 minutes as times firmly began to drop. Vettel got down to a 1:45.491 shortly thereafter, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton came up two tenths shy of the mark at a 1:45.691.

Ericsson reported a power cut near the end of the session down at Sauber but otherwise there were no issues through the field, other than a handful of spins, including one from Hamilton on his final flier at the second-to-last corner.

FP2 begins from 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.