Brad Keselowski is the future of NASCAR, but that future might be one with no friends if he keeps going the path he’s on.
On Saturday during the Nationwide Series event in Fontana, CA, Keselowski in his No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge for Roger Penske, which he’ll be running full time, once again made contact and spun out a Joe Gibbs Racing driver.
It was the last lap of the Stater Bros. 300 and Kyle Busch was side-by-side with Greg Biffle for the win, behind them were Joey Logano and Keselowski. Coming to the checkered flag Busch edged Biffle for the win as Keselowski either turned or jerked right and spun Logano.
Keselowski finished third while Logano, who had led 130 of 152 laps, crossed the line sideways in the fifth position. Afterward Logano was more upset with the bump he received in turn one from Biffle a lap earlier, that knocked him from the lead, instead of what had happened between he and Keselowski.
But for many others, it wasn’t lost on them that the 26-year-old Keselowski had again not only shown his aggressive side, but did so to a JGR car.
The long dirty history is well documented. Go back to Charlotte in May of 2008, the first time that the two made contact under caution when Hamlin felt Keselowski raced him too hard. Their crews fought on pit road after the race, suspensions were handed out and they moved on.
Well, sort of.
Throughout the 2009 season the storyline in the Nationwide Series besides Kyle Busch setting records and winning his first championship, was how many times Hamlin and Keselowski tangled.
After their Charlotte and Watkins Glen 2008 incidents (even Kevin Harvick was upset with him in that race), 2009 saw tangles at Dover, California, and Phoenix to name a few. As well as many words exchanged, Keselowski said Hamlin has issues and he tried to push him around, Hamlin said Keselowski was an idiot and had no idea how to drive.
But no matter how many times the two found each other on the racetrack and traded paint and words, it always ended with Keselowski saying everything was cool, that things were fine and he was ready to move on. Hamlin wasn’t and during the season ending race at Homestead-Miami he repaid Keselowski for those incidents, even though it meant he had to serve a rough driving penalty.
Hamlin later said it was well worth it because many other crews applauding him for doing what they wanted to.
When the 2010 season started there were many fans, and maybe even some media members, who were hoping the two would pick up right where they left off in 2009. You know, just to keep things interesting, can’t go wrong with a good rivalry.
During the Sprint Cup Series media tour Keselowski told everyone that he wasn’t apologizing for his driving style, that he was going to stand up for himself, and not back down.
“For lack of a better word, you just take no shit,” Keselowski said. “Once I get in the car, I get a little mean sometimes. The competitiveness brings out that edginess and that drive.”
While there is nothing wrong with having that side to him, many drivers do, Keselowski just seems to get in his share of too many on track accidents, most of them that could be avoided.
However, it doesn’t seem to bother him.
“I enjoy the fun of pulling up behind someone and that guy going, ‘Oh no, not him.’ That part is fun. I don’t necessarily enjoy the media part of the controversy.”
Looking though all the 'controversy' that he's been involved in over the past year, there are many drivers that may not have enjoyed it.
There was Carl Edwards, who even though Keselowski was in the right when he spun him, sending him flipping in the Spring Sprint Cup Talladega race, also sent him spinning at Memphis later in the year during a Nationwide Series race.
Keselowski went on to win both those races.
Another driver was Scott Lagasse Jr., whom was sent into the turn one wall at O’Reilly Raceway Park. Mike Bliss was also collected in that incident.
And don’t leave out his own Cup teammate, Kurt Busch, whom he spun on the last lap of the fall Talladega race. Busch later joked that during a plane ride later that week he told Keselowski he needed to jump out of the plane without a parachute.
Busch did however compliment Keselowski in the same breath and said that his attitude and talent is welcome in the Penske family.
Now you can add Logano to the hit list, as well as add another tally to the Brad Keselowski vs. Joey Gibbs Racing saga. He’s now had a problem with all three JGR drivers, Kyle Busch expressed his displeasure after the 2009 Phoenix race as well as after this seasons Daytona series opener.
NASCAR needs aggressive drivers, they need drivers that aren’t afraid to show their personality and mix it up on the track. But what they don’t need is the same driver upsetting every other competitor he comes in contact with, especially when the contact was unnecessary.
Sometimes you just need to know when to settle in and take what you can get.
Brad Keselowski isn’t that driver.
And unfortunately for those that want NASCAR to step in and calm the young Michigan native, with their new “boys have at it” policy, that may not happen anytime soon.