Keselowski: ‘I’m not (Dale Earnhardt Sr.) … I’m just trying to do things my own way’

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Brad Keselowski has been called a lot of things by fans and fellow drivers – many of which we can’t print for obvious reasons.

And while he refuses to be intimidated by fellow drivers on or off the race track, one thing Keselowski never wants to see or hear are comparisons between himself and the real Intimidator, the late NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt.

“There’s only one of those,” Keselowski said of Earnhardt, according to Bob Pockrass of SportingNews.com. “Racing in some ways is like music — you can be influenced as a band by another band. Certainly there is some influence there.

“But I’m not that band. It’s flattering with all the success that (Earnhardt) has had. But I’m not (that) band, I’m just trying to do things my own way, the best way I know how.”

Keselowski has gone from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in just over a week’s time. He was involved in several incidents at Charlotte two Saturdays ago, leading to being put in a headlock by fellow driver Matt Kenseth, and then NASCAR fined Keselowski $50,000 for his run-ins on the racetrack with Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart, who was also fined.

Then came Talladega this past Sunday. Mired in 10th place coming into the race, Keselowski was like several other drivers – including six-time and defending Cup champ Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. – who found themselves in must-win situations.

Keselowski wound up winning the race, advancing to the Eliminator Round, while Johnson, Earnhardt, Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne were all eliminated from further advancement in the Chase.

Surprisingly, even though he tangled with Keselowski a week earlier, Kenseth told Jenna Fryer of The Associated Press that he actually admires Keselowski, and is not jealous of him, as team owner Roger Penske said about Keselowski’s rivals after Sunday’s win.

“I don’t agree with things that he says or does at times, but I actually really admire Brad’s work ethic, how he got to where he was at,” Kenseth said. “He got here the old-fashioned way, working hard.

“He works harder than most people work at it and tries harder, and that’s a lot of the reason for his success. I’m certainly not jealous of that. I actually admire that part of him.”

Keselowski understands he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s also very natural in the way he deals with things and other drivers. He may step on toes, but he’s also had his own toes stepped on coming up through the ranks.

That was especially true early in his Sprint Cup career, tangling with the likes of Carl Edwards (several times), Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and others.

“Sometimes, with this current setting, you’re going to have to ruffle some feathers and not everybody’s going to like you,” Keselowski said. “I’m comfortable with that, or as comfortable with that as you can be.

“There’s no part of me that’s sitting here saying, ‘Man, I hope everybody hates me.'”

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.