It’s very clear by now that Brad Keselowski is far from universally liked in the world of NASCAR.
But based off of his clutch victory on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, it’s also very clear that Keselowski can play the “me against the world” game to win.
In a sport that has arguably progressed into something much more “corporate” than what it once was, one would think that Keselowski’s outspokenness and refusal to do things any other way but his own would give him a bigger following.
Instead, among NASCAR Nation, he’s become the most polarizing driver in the sport that’s not named Kyle Busch.
Keselowski has an idea why that’s the case. During an appearance Monday night at Texas Motor Speedway, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion touched upon what he sees as the sizable power of a certain part of the current NASCAR driver corps.
“You look at the current crop of NASCAR drivers right now and most of them came from a time period of 1998 to 2006, roughly,” he began. “So they’ve kind of created this genre of drivers, so to speak, that dominates the sport. There are a few drivers that exist before that – Jeff Gordon comes to mind – that might be the only one. And then after there, there are a few drivers – Kyle Larson, myself and my teammate Joey Logano.
“But for the most part, the big block of successful drivers come from that era of our sport. They yield a lot of power, they control a lot of the fan base and the fan base controls a lot of what’s perceived as right and wrong.
“And for me, that’s just a challenge that I have to fight through knowing that’s what the perception is going to be and I’m going to fight through that by doing what I think is right at all times – for me.”
Obviously, that stance can lead to conflicts – like the one he was at the center of two weekends ago following the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
But while he’d rather not always play that aforementioned me-against-the-world game, he feels it’s even more important to keep up his so-called “passion for winning” no matter what his peers or anybody else thinks.
“It’s probably going to ruffle some feathers of people that have been in the sport longer than I have and kind of feel like this is their territory, but the alternative option of rolling over and playing dead just isn’t in my DNA and I don’t plan on ever allowing it to be,” he said.
“I think that’s probably the point I’m trying to get through. Maybe sometimes I articulate it better than other [times], but I feel like I’m here to do one job and that’s to win races for my team. I’m not looking to make enemies, but certainly, priority number one is not making friends.”
Take it or leave it, folks.