Brad Keselowski not backing down following second post-race fight in Chase

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Brad Keselowski’s aggressive late-race tactics helped trigger yet another post-race fight during this Chase for the Sprint Cup, this time with Jeff Gordon following today’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Immediately after his scuffle with Gordon, Keselowski said that he was going for the win and wasn’t trying to wreck Gordon. Later, during a post-race press conference, he again declared that he would not change his ways on the track.

“The sport, specifically the driving corps, is stuck in the year 1999, 2000,” he asserted. “With the testing bans, the COT cars, all these different things that have happened, the only way for a guy like me to break through is to drive the way I’ve drove over the last four or five years.

“I think last year, I got away from being as aggressive as I was in 2012 [when he won the Sprint Cup title] and this year. I didn’t make the Chase. Won one race. That’s not acceptable to me. I’m here to win races for Roger Penske and for my team.

“That means when there’s a gap, I have to take it. If it requires a tiny bit of rubbing, that’s okay. It’s not anything I don’t expect on the other side. Plenty of times where I got rubbed. It will go both ways. That’s okay by me.”

Keselowski continued by saying that he wasn’t “trying to dish out something that I couldn’t take myself” and acknowledged that some of his peers have a different way of racing, which he said was their right to have.

But he then said that he couldn’t back down and risk returning to where he was last year, when he failed to make the Chase after claiming the biggest prize in stock car racing.

“I’m not going to get in the spot where I was in 2013 where, you know, I tried to be exactly what they all wanted me to be, because what they want me to be is a loser, and I’m not here to lose, I’m here to win,” he said. “That means I’m going to have to drive my car, harder, stronger, faster than everybody out there. That’s what I feel like I did today.”

Keselowski certainly had to earn his third-place finish. For much of the race, he was stuck just outside the Top 10 until a caution came out for debris at Lap 252.

Having to roll the dice in order to get a result that would keep his championship hopes alive, Keselowski stayed out under that yellow and only dropped back to third place before another caution at Lap 285 for debris. That gave him the break he needed to secure fresh tires and to get in step with the leaders.

He was shuffled back to 13th when a group of seven drivers stayed out under a later yellow at Lap 296, but the continued rash of cautions gave him opportunities to peel off positions on late restarts.

He found himself in third place when the race was thrown into green-white-checkered because of a Clint Bowyer crash with four laps left. But on the first GWC attempt, Keselowski made contact with leader Jeff Gordon, causing Gordon to fall back and eventually spin out with a tire failure.

Keselowski was then out-dueled by Johnson on the second GWC attempt, and in the pits after the race, Gordon came over and shouted at Keselowski.

When Keselowski was pushed from behind by runner-up Kevin Harvick, Gordon then got a hand on Keselowski to set off bedlam as they, their crews, NASCAR officials, and other bystanders were sucked into the fight – a scene remarkably similar to Keselowski’s brouhaha with Matt Kenseth following the Chase race at Charlotte Motor Speedway four weekends ago.

That episode has earned Keselowski a good bit of scorn, and chances are, this latest episode will too.

But it would appear that while Keselowski isn’t necessarily happy about being dubbed as a bad guy, he’s made some sort of peace with it all.

“From my perspective, I think I’ve come to the reality that there’s a lot worse things in this world than me,” he said. “If I’m a villain, the people that think I’m a villain have a pretty good life and should be proud of that.

“All this stuff that’s going on in the world – if your villain is me racing 100%, you’ve got it pretty good and I don’t feel too bad for you.”

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.”