|Keselowski knows time running out to make Chase|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 20 July 2011 08:11|
By DAN GELSTON
AP Sports Writer
LOUDON, N.H. (AP) - Brad Keselowski has provided fans about every way to contact him except his cell number.
Want an autograph? He'll stand and sign.
Have a question? Click in the box at his sponsor's ``Ask Brad'' website and fill in the space with whatever is on your mind. Be quick, or else a videotaped message from Keselowski pops up, needling the slow typers.
Demand a more instant response? Try him - where else, these days? - on his Twitter account (at) Keselowski.
Favorite songs, favorite races, or just the hot topics of the day are all open for debate among Keselowski and his nearly 28,000 followers. His popularity on the social media site prompted Sports Illustrated to recently name him to ``The Twitter 100.'' SI said Keselowski was, ``Perhaps the most active Sprint Cup driver on Twitter. Regularly converses with fans and has even engaged in debates with media.''
He's attracted a growing fan base, the sponsorship of Miller Lite, and the attention of the sport as one of the most talented young drivers around. He finished 25th in his first full season in Sprint Cup last year and won the Nationwide Series championship as proof he can develop into a driver who could contend down the road for a title in NASCAR's top series.
It just won't be this year.
Time is running short for Keselowski to even make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field. Stuck in 23rd place, he won't clinch one of the guaranteed 10 spots in the field. The last two slots are reserved for drivers 11 to 20 with the most victories. That's where Keselowski sees his sliver of hope.
Only David Ragan, in 13th place with one victory, meets those criteria. Keselowski won at Kansas Speedway last month, giving him a big edge if he can crack the top 20. He's 25 points behind veteran Mark Martin for 20th.
Keselowksi has only two top-fives and four top-10 finishes this year, blaming a ``lack of execution combined with poor speed.''
Before last Sunday's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Keselowski gave his Penske Racing team ``a little bit over 50 percent'' shot at making the Chase field.
``Ready to go racing here in new Hampshire. Think we can run well, i'd say we are top-5 car on short run and top-15 on long run. (hash)Letsdothis,'' he posted shortly before the race.
He blew a right tire and finished 35th, crippling his chance at moving up the standings.
Like so many NASCAR drivers who have embraced Twitter, Keselowski refused to wait until the next race weekend to address his failure.
``2 team is back to work today. Not gonna let a blown tire hold us back! On a positive note, think we figured out what was wrong with our car,'' he posted Monday.
Keselowski said he became a frequent Twitter user because he doesn't like the way the media cover his sport.
``Twitter is a way for me to set the record straight on anything I feel like setting straight,'' he said.
He defended five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson when NFL player Golden Tate criticized the Hendrick Motorsports' driver's inclusion on the ESPY male athlete of the year awards list. Tate hit Twitter to claim drivers aren't athletes.
Keselowski, who played football, wrestled and ran track growing up, stuck up for the drivers-as-athletes side.
``What separates racing from those sports is that being a physical freak of nature is not an advantage,'' Keselowski said.
He's gotten personal on Twitter, revealing things like his favorite three-man band as Rush.
But mostly, he's a country music fan. He hummed a few bars to an Elton John song outside his hauler, having some fun after cutting a promo for an upcoming race at Michigan (''Time for my serious face,'' he said, smiling.)
His two favorite songs: ``Fancy,'' by Reba McEntire and ``Lonesome, On'ry and Mean,'' by Waylon Jennings.
``Been driving these highways/Been doing things my way,'' part of the lyrics to Jennings' song, can serve as the calling card for most everyone in the garage. It's easy for the 27-year-old who scrapped his way to stardom to relate.
Keselowski wished more critics of the sport could understand the reasons why he loves it so much.
``What makes racing so special, is that there's something to enjoy about it from all angles, when it's at its best,'' he said. ``Look at the drivers. They have interesting personalities. But that's like one boy band. That's not going to attract everybody. You've got to have cool cars, you've got to have fast speeds, you've got to have great side-by-side racing. It takes the whole picture to put it together. And great story lines come from it.''
He wants to write his own great story - fantastic finishes, and a win or two, or the final seven races before the Chase cutoff - to make these final two months a comeback to remember.
``Making the Chase is goal No. 1,'' he said. ``From there, we'll see where it takes us.''
Follow Dan Gelston on Twitter at www.twitter.com/APgelston