As you’d figure, Brad Keselowski unfazed about needing to win following Martinsville wreck


He’s done it once. But can he do it again?

Brad Keselowski’s drive for a second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship may depend on it after a mechanical failure in Sunday’s Eliminator Round opener at Martinsville Speedway forced him to swallow a 31st-place finish.

Once again in this Chase, Keselowski faces a must-win situation over the next two weeks at Texas and Phoenix.

We know what happened the last time he was in that spot, don’t we?

So, naturally, Keselowski is confident that he can make lightning strike twice.

“We were going to probably have ourselves a fifth- or sixth-place day [before the failure], which is certainly something we could be proud of and move forward with – but this kind of puts us in a position now where we need to win,” he said.

“This Chase lends itself to those moments and we’re a team that’s capable of them, so we’ll try to be as positive as we can and move forward with two more opportunities to do just that.”

Keselowski started toward the front of the field only to struggle with a poor handling car on the opening stint and tumble all the way down to 20th. He stayed mired in mid-pack and was penalized for speeding in the pits at Lap 162.

But as the race progressed past halfway, Keselowski and the No. 2 Team Penske crew appeared to have solved their problems as he worked his way into the Top 10.

He was running there when something broke on his car’s driveline with 65 laps to go. Now slowing on the track, Casey Mears then crashed into the back of him and multiple other drivers behind them were collected in the subsequent stack-up.

Once the red flag for the incident was lifted, Keselowski’s crew went to work and replaced his car’s rear differential. When he returned to the track, he’d fallen 28 laps off the pace.

With one opportunity gone, Keselowski now has to focus on Texas and Phoenix. Considering Penske’s stout pace on the big ovals, Fort Worth will be a big chance for him, and he’s also been solid at Phoenix too with three Top-5 and four Top-10 finishes in his last five starts there.

He acknowledges that his path to the Championship has gotten tougher. But as he himself proved, it can be walked – or driven, as it were.

“It’s not like we’re just gonna go and guarantee a win at Texas and Phoenix,” he said. “But it’s also not impossible and we’ve got the team, if there is one, to pull it off.”

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.