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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Top Fuel driver Austin Prock earns 2019 NHRA top rookie honors

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Having just completed a promising first year in NHRA Top Fuel competition, Austin Prock is on the road to even greater drag racing success in his career.

That’s why it’s not surprising that Prock was named the winner of the 2019 Auto Club Road to the Future Award during Monday night’s annual NHRA Awards dinner at the Ray Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.

The Road to the Future Award is NHRA’s version of Rookie of the Year, and Prock was among the brightest young stars on the circuit this past season, including winning his first national event at the Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in suburban Seattle, the 16th race on the 24-race schedule.

What made that first win all the more sweeter is it came at the same event that his boss, legendary 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, captured his milestone 150th career win.

One month ago, Prock set a personal best run of 3.688 seconds at 334.40 mph over veteran driver Doug Kalitta in the first round of eliminations at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals three weeks ago in Ennis, Texas (suburban Dallas).

“I am proud of the season this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team put together,” Prock said in a media release. “My guys worked their asses off all season long to give me the opportunity to win the Auto Club Road the Future Award. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I would have never been here without John Force and Robert Hight (president of John Force Racing). They gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and I owe the world to them. I hope I made them proud.”

Prock became only the 10th rookie in the history of the NHRA pro ranks to both win a race in their first season and also go on to win the Road to the Future award. He also was the 13th rookie in the sport’s history to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs.

Prock becomes the sixth John Force Racing driver to earn the Road to the Future Award, joining Tony Pedregon (1996), Hight (2005), Ashley Force-Hood (2007), Mike Neff (2008), Courtney Force (2012) and Brittany Force (2013).

Austin Prock is the son of veteran crew chief Jimmy Prock, who tuned Hight to his third career NHRA Funny Car championship this past Sunday.

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