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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