O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge - Practice

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.

Bottas confident after strong qualifying in Sochi

SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 10:  Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Williams drives during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Valtteri Bottas is confident of scoring a good result in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix after qualifying third at the Sochi Autodrom on Saturday.

Bottas finished as the ‘best of the rest’ in Q3 behind the leading Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, beating the Ferrari drivers to secure P3 for the start of tomorrow’s race.

After a difficult run of form, Bottas believes that he can capitalize on this good qualifying result and make the most of the Williams car’s suitability to the track in Sochi.

“It was a strong job by the team today,” Bottas said. “We managed to set-up the car well and maximize our performance.

“I felt very good in the car all day and managed to get in a rhythm quickly and put in consistent lap times despite the limited number of laps we had completed in practice.

“Tomorrow is where it really matters but I have put myself in a very good position to capitalize.”

Bottas’ teammate, Felipe Massa, was less impressive in qualifying as a mistake and traffic caused him to drop out in Q2, finishing P15.

“I made a mistake at turn eight in my first timed lap in Q2, and then in my final two attempts I came up against a lot of traffic which lost me a lot of time,” Massa explained.

“On my final run my tires were gone at the rear and that was the end of my chances. It’s a shame and I’m very disappointed, but I have a quick car around here so we need to have a good strategy and use our pace to move up into the points tomorrow.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.

GP2: Rossi victorious again in shortened Sochi opener

2015 GP2 Series Round 9. Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. 
Saturday 10 October 2015. 
Alexander Rossi (USA, Racing Engineering) celebrates his win on the podium.
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service. 
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Alexander Rossi claimed his third win in as many GP2 Series rounds in Saturday’s feature race at the Sochi Autodrom.

Since winning the last feature race at Monza in Italy, Rossi has made his Formula 1 debut with Manor and also raced for the team at the iconic Suzuka Circuit in Japan.

As part of his deal with Manor, Rossi has returned to GP2 for this weekend’s round in Russia as he bids to finish as runner-up to impending series champion Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vandoorne was expected to be crowned champion on Saturday, but Rossi managed to delay the Belgian’s celebrations by storming to victory as darkness forced officials to shorten the race.

Carnage on the first lap saw four drivers retire from the race, with damage caused to the barrier at turn 3 by Jordan King resulted in a 30 minute red flag delay.

Once the race restarted, a shortened distance of 15 laps was confirmed, but full points were still to be awarded.

Pole-sitter Alex Lynn managed to pull clear through the first stint, and after falling behind Rossi in the first round of pit stops, the DAMS driver regained the advantage soon after.

However, when Lynn crashed out, Rossi was able to pull clear of the chasing Pierre Gasly and Vandoorne just behind to record his third win in as many race weekends by three seconds.

Rossi will start tomorrow’s sprint race from eighth place on the grid which is reversed, handing pole to Frenchman Arthur Pic who finished P8 on Saturday.

You will be able to read all about Alexander’s success in his exclusive NBC Sports blog on Wednesday. To read his pre-Sochi thoughts, click here.