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Brad Keselowski doesn't get any respect.
According to fans, he is a "dirty driver," "lacks respect for his competitors," and "always has it coming for him." In essence, in situations involving him, he is always in the wrong.
But what precisely has Keselowski done to draw such ire from the fans?
Those same fans were mocked Friday night by Kyle Busch's victory "celebration." Busch mocked the fans who make it possible for him to do what he loves to do on a weekly basis.
If that is not one of the more classless acts I have seen by a professional athlete in some time, I'm not sure what is.
Keselowski, on the other hand, repeatedly takes the high road and does not resort to such endeavors. Remember, this is a guy who has been blatantly taken out three separate times this year, twice in spectacular fashion. In each instance, the other driver admitted to blatantly doing so.
And each time it was for something for which Keselowski was not at fault.
At Atlanta Motor Speedway, Carl Edwards drifted up into Keselowski, ending his day early. The result? Keselowski flying through the air at over 180 miles per hour.
At Gateway International Raceway, Edwards and Keselowski made contact battling for the victory in the closing laps. Much akin to the greatest finish in NASCAR history at Darlington Raceway in 2003, it was assumed this would be yet another epic finish. The result? Keselowski being turned in front of the entire field mere yards in front of the finish line.
At Bristol Motor Speedway, Keselowski was battling Busch for the win in the late stages of the race. With Keselowski right near the wall, Busch attempted a slide job and misjudged his clearance, sending himself into the wall. The result? Keselowski being spun on the very next turn and winding up in the wall.
In each of these incidents, not one person would blame Keselowski for being livid. Not one person would blame Keselowski for declaring payback . Not one person would blame Keselowski for spewing obscenity after obscenity when being interviewed.
Yet Keselowski has not done so. He conducts himself with grace when discussing the incidents. He does not resort to name-calling or threats, but he calmly describes his point and moves on. And when you consider all three of these events have occurred within the last six months, the fact that he has been able to control his emotions is even more impressive.
He is quickly developing into one of the most respectable guys on the NASCAR circuit. It could be argued that he has more class than the majority of drivers on the track each weekend.
So why is Busch allowed to mock paying fans and Edwards is allowed to seek revenge on all those who have wronged him in his eyes, and Keselowski receives little credit for being the bigger man?
Perhaps that's a product of our society today—the negative receives more attention than the positive. For Keselowski, he seemingly cannot win no matter what he does.
And that may be the saddest fact of it all.
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