Jimmie Johnson: Brad Keselowski’s indifference about his actions ‘pisses people off’

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If there was ever a perfect theme song for NASCAR star Brad Keselowski, it would be The Coasters’ hit from the late 1950s, “Charlie Brown,” with the infamous lyrical refrain, “Why’s everybody always picking on me?”

(If you’re too young to know who The Coasters are, the video for their biggest hit is below.)

Six-time defending Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson can kind of understand that when it comes to Keselowski.

During Friday’s weekly press availability at Phoenix International Raceway, Johnson was asked why it seems everybody is so mad at Keselowski.

“It seems to have gone on for quite some time,” Johnson said. “You go back to I think it was Carl (Edwards) and Brad (Keselowski) had their dust up a while ago (actually several dust ups dating back to 2010).”

Currently ranked seventh of the eight remaining drivers in the Chase, Keselowski is 17 points behind series leader and Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano.

Heading into Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Keselowski may be an island unto himself when it comes to his hopes of advancing to the final round of four at Homestead next week.

Short of winning Sunday’s race to get an automatic berth into the final round of four drivers vying for the championship in the winner-take-all season finale, Keselowski could find himself with zero friends (other than Logano) at PIR to help him in his quest to advance, Johnson said.

And, according to Johnson, it would be all of Keselowski’s doing.

“This has been building,” Johnson said. “I can promise you it is not jealousy. I know that has been thrown out there.

“I think it is more about the stuff that happens on the track and off. A style, an attitude, a variety of things like that which all play into it. Truthfully, it pisses people off more than others.

“Like (paraphrasing Keselowski’s actions), ‘I don’t really care about what happens outside of the car and what people say.’ Some people really get affected by that and really get wound up about it and caught up in it.”

Johnson tries not to get caught up with the emotion of things, particularly with all the negativity that has swirled around Keselowski from recent run-ins with Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and others.

“I don’t care, I’ve got other stuff to worry about,” Johnson said. “I don’t care about that. It’s going to affect some drivers more than others.

“It’s been building in that front. When you look at Matt Kenseth being as upset as he was (three weeks ago after a run-in with Keselowski in Charlotte), that is pretty rare. Jeff (Gordon), I want to say that it’s pretty rare, but I think we are at like the third or fourth time he has let his aggression come up and he has gone after somebody.

“I think it’s pretty new to having an assist with (Kevin) Harvick kind of pushing (Keselowski) over into Gordon. That is a first. I don’t have a clear vision as to what it is, but it is evident that it has been building and it’s kind of at a high.”

Will Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates – Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne – do everything they can to get Gordon into the final round, and potentially keep Keselowski out?

In other words, will one of the other HMS drivers take one for the team?

And when asked if Gordon’s post-race reaction at Texas was justified, Johnson did a quick about-face.

“Okay back to the point,” Johnson said with a laugh. “You are going to have to ask him that. I don’t know.”

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Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.