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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NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.