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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AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”