Here to stay: Keselowski vows that he won’t be run out of the sport

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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.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.