Monday, November 5, 2012

Psych! Keselowski has Johnson’s Number

Jimmie Johnson may be seven points ahead with two races to go in the chase for the NASCAR championship, but Brad Keselowski is clearly in the head of the five-time champion.

When it comes to gamesmanship, Keselowski has held a lead over Johnson ever since Chicago, the first Chase race.  Along with crew chief Paul Wolfe, they have refused to be intimidated by No. 48 team – or anyone else for that matter.  

At Chicagoland, Keselowski drifted up the track while exiting the pits for the last time, startling Johnson, who had been leading the race, and forcing him to lift.  Johnson complained that Keselowski had come up the track too fast, but NASCAR didn’t see it that way and Keselowski went on to the win.

Sunday night in Texas, Johnson was whining again, claiming Keselowski had jumped a couple of late restarts.   On one, Keselowski slid up the track, banging against Johnson and holding on to the lead.  When the pair pulled side-by-side for the final restart, Johnson let Keselowski know what he thought of the move.  

"I pointed that I wanted him to use his head,” Johnson said. “It just doesn't need to come down to that. We walked right up to the line and went to the edge. It's the first time we raced each other to that level.”

Clearly, Keselowski had gotten in Johnson’s head.  

“I was a little shocked by the commitment into turn one,” Johnson said.  “I’ve joked before about driving in so far that I see Elvis.  We went past Elvis, and I didn’t know who was coming next.  I knew he was serious about the race.  That took it to a new level.”

For his part, Keselowski also complained about Johnson leading at the start/finish on the final restart, but held his tongue when he faced the press afterwards.  Obviously NASCAR isn’t about to get in the way of the best racing the series has seen this year.  

Keselowski refused to apologize for going hard at Johnson in the final laps. Even Keselowski’s appearance in Victory Circle afterward to congratulate Johnson startled the winner.  

"I raced hard," Keselowski said. "We both came back around, so there's something to be said for that. It was a good fight, just a dogfight. I fought as hard as I could.

"I came up a little bit short, but I thought I had it until that last restart. Those restarts are like rock-paper-scissors. You are going to lose eventually. I won two out of three."

Looking ahead, it would appear Johnson has the advantage at the next race, Phoenix.  He has four wins at the track and a fifth place average finish.  Keselowski’s average finish is 22nd. But most of those finishes were on the old Phoenix configuration.  In the spring race they finished fourth and fifth.

Keselowski couldn’t resist taking one last crack at throwing Johnson off.

“I feel like Phoenix is a whole different animal,” he said.  “They repaved last year, so it's not the same track. So I don't feel like a notebook there is that significant.  I felt like we may have been a little better in the fall than he was.”

Oh, by the way, the fall race is coming up.

1 comment:

  1. go get him,brad!you are so much a better driver, than jj, in bare-knuckle racing!he cannot race in a pack, an panics, when he, races, side by side!!you are a better driver, than kyle,carl, and denny,so you get the last laugh on the: so-called: great ones, who tried to run over you!revenge, is so sweet!oh,by the way, you are not my favorite driver, but a runner-up!