Keselowski not worried about criticism after Talladega crash


Brad Keselowski’s hard-charging ways haven’t always been the most popular, and that certainly wasn’t the case last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Keselowski was multiple laps down in the Aaron’s 499 but was still racing among the leaders in a bid to get those laps back. But with 50 laps to go, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion spun and triggered a 14-car pileup.

But the Team Penske driver said yesterday at Kansas Speedway that he wasn’t worried about the heat he’s taken from fellow drivers and fans on why he was racing so hard at the time.

“I got in a wreck at a plate track and I caused it – [it’s] like I am the first one to ever do that or something,” he said after qualifying third for tonight’s 5-Hour Energy 400.

“Wrecking is never fun but it happens and that is just part of racing. Anyone that doesn’t see it that way obviously has a set of biases that [ensures] they can’t make a rational judgment, so I don’t worry about their criticism.”

Defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said that he probably would’ve chosen to ride toward the back if he were multiple laps down like Keselowski was.

However, Keselowski himself disagreed with that sentiment.

“We all hold the steering wheel and there are 43 of us and we all hold it differently and make different decisions,” Keselowski said. “It would be quite lame to watch if we all did the same thing and had the same ideas and personas.

“I would say in most cases, I probably wouldn’t have done that. But in that case, I felt like it was the proper thing to do with having the potential to race the 1 car [Jamie McMurray] and get back in sequence.

“If we would have gotten back in sequence, we could have had a shot at winning the race with three or four yellows. I wasn’t ready to give up. I don’t feel like my team gave up on me and it is my job to not give up on them.”

Keselowski will try to put the ‘Dega incident behind him tonight on the 1.5-mile oval at Kansas. Team Penske has split the season’s first two races on 1.5-milers, with Keselowski winning at Las Vegas and teammate Joey Logano winning at Texas.

Logano starts second this evening next to pole sitter Kevin Harvick.

F1 Preview: 2018 Australian Grand Prix

Photo: Getty Images
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Save for two occasions, in 2006, and 2010, the Australian Grand Prix has served as the season-opening event for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 1996, and this weekend’s event will be the 21st time that the city of Melbourne has kicked off the Formula 1 campaign.

The 2018 season is the fifth one of the current hybrid power unit era, the second season of the current aero regulations, and the second under Liberty Media’s guidance.

Last year saw titans Mercedes AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari duel for supremacy for most of the season before Mercedes distanced Ferrari late in the season to take the constructor’s title and the driver’s title, with Lewis Hamilton, who is now tied with Sebastian Vettel on four world championships apiece.

Four drivers on the grid have Formula 1 world championships to their name: Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also has a world championship to his name as a two-time titlist in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

So, what can viewers expect from the 2018 curtain-raiser in Australia? A handful of things to watch are below?

2018 Australian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Does Anyone Have Anything for Mercedes?

Only on one day during pre-season testing did a Mercedes driver lead the way – Lewis Hamilton was fastest on the final day of Week 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, all indications were that was by design, with the team focusing the majority of the second week, if not the entire second week, on long runs with their W09 EQ Power+ chassis.

Such a decision is an ominous one, in that it indicates the team is very comfortable with the amount of speed in the car and did not see a need, or desire, to show their hand during testing.

With that in mind, the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas may yet again have the best and fastest cars, and the team looks poised to potentially make it five constructor’s and driver’s championships in a row.

Ferrari and Red Bull Look to End Mercedes Reign

The biggest threats to Mercedes are undoubtedly Ferrari and Red Bull, the only other teams to win in 2017.

And both teams displayed a lot of pace during testing, particularly in the “one-lap speed” category. Ricciardo set a lap record around the Catalunya circuit during the second week, only for Vettel to supplant that mark later in the week. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen led the way during the final day of testing.

It is unknown how that pace will translate over the course of a race distance. Mercedes appeared to have an edge on both Ferrari and Red Bull over long runs and race simulations, but there is also a theory that neither Ferrari nor Red Bull had their true long-run form on display.

Still, if a team is going to knock off Mercedes, it will likely be either Ferrari or Red Bull.

McLaren on the Rebound?

Put simply, the previous three seasons for McLaren F1 Team were a bit of a disaster. Their partnership with Honda yielded point totals of 27 (2015), 76 (2016), and 30 (2017) in a three-year venture that was defined by poor reliability and underwhelming power.

The relationship hit a boiling point last year and both entities parted ways ahead of the 2018 season, with McLaren signing a new power unit deal with Renault.

Testing went better than in previous years, though the team continued to battle reliability problems. However, all issues appeared to be minor, needling issues rather than more significant, foundational problems, as the other Renault teams (Red Bull and Renault Sport F1 Team) had solid runs with few reliability issues.

The car does appear to have speed in it, so if the reliability problems are behind them, McLaren could be in for a rebound season.

Stuck in the Midfield Again

Formula 1’s battle amongst the midfield is set to be as fierce as ever as a host of a several teams have a chance at being “best of the rest.”

Sahara Force India has been the frontrunner from the the midfield teams each of the last two years, finishing fourth in the constructor’s title in both 2016 and 2017, though if the steady conflict between drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez continues through 2018, it could hamper their efforts significantly.

Renault Sport F1 Team and Haas F1 Team look to improve on their 2017 form, while Toro Rosso is in a new partnership with Honda power units…and has experienced a surprisingly smooth pre-season as Honda’s 2018 platform looks significantly better, with the team enjoying a solid run of testing with few, if any, reliability problems.

Williams Martini Racing and Alfa Romeo Sauber appear to be at the back of the pack entering the season, but both could battle for points finishes if those ahead of them falter.