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.

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”