Let me first say that I am not a race car driver. I don't know how it feels to go 200mph and I certainly don't know how it feels racing 42 other people on a half mile track.
I have been a Brad Keselowski fan for a long time. And no, a long time is not 3 years. I have been a fan for over 9 years. I remember sitting in my bedroom watching the truck race at Daytona on a Friday night. Needing to cheer for a favourite driver, a young aggressive racer driving the #29 caught my eye. Even with sub-truck equipment, this driver was able to work through traffic and hold his own. Then on the final lap a huge wreck occurred and couldn't help but notice the #29 sailing through the infield like a moonshiner trying to get away from the cops. Somehow he was able to drive it through the grass, avoid the 20 truck pileup and finish with a Top-10. Call me damn impressed.
I kept tabs on him while he battled with terrible equipment in the Nationwide series. But even with 30th place finishes piling up I kept watching. Every lap, looking at the timing, getting excited when he would make a pass. Then, it happened.
Couple weeks prior to his breakthrough performance at Memphis, I remember Dale Jr. talking about his team and how he was struggling to stay afloat. Needing a driver, it crossed my mind that if Brad could somehow pull deep inside and have his best race ever he might have a chance. Well, he did. Qualified on pole and led the race all the way till the end before getting dumped. It was heartbreaking but nonetheless very exciting. Brad arrived. That week, that was all I could think of. You need to remember I was about 16 at the time. Racing was my hobby. I spent that whole week trying to come up with the perfect e-mail I could send to Dale Jr. Yes, I know they wouldn't read it and my opinion would mean jackshit but I wrote one saying that I think Brad would be the perfect fit. It was a pretty detailed e-mail. You never know right???
Well, 8 hours after I sent the e-mail, Brad got signed and was heading to Chicago to race in the best equipment of his life. I suddenly had a new favourite driver. It was go time. The rest was history they say.
Brad has always been a hard nosed racer. His family lived and breathed racing. This is what God made him to do. He has always raced on the edge, ready and willing to fight with anybody on the racetrack. 'You are as good as your record says it is' I remember Brad saying. And he walked the talked for every damn race he partook in. Rivalries with Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, and Kyle Busch before even making it to the Sprint Cup Series. My favourite Brad quote was directed to Denny Hamlin after a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway 'I have 300 miles to prove myself, not 500'. So why has Brad suddenly in the last two years tightened up. Why has a punk little kid who prided himself on the racetrack suddenly softened up and become this cookie cutter factory cutout? I don't have the answer, but Brad needs to find out why if he wants to be the racecar driver he envisioned himself he would be.
Today at Martinsville was an abomination. Some people criticize him for saying the things he did, but I don't. I criticize that he didn't nearly say and actually do enough.
Prior to the pit road mishap today, you need to think back to the dismal year Brad had last year. At Kentucky, he was turned into oncoming traffic where he was clobbered. This sent Brad on a downward spiral which resulted in him missing the chase. Who caused this accident? Of course, Kurt Busch.
So fast forward to today, with Brad sitting in the garage sulking, while Kurt Busch is still running on the track. Brad makes the conscious and right decision to get out on the racetrack to prove a point. He will not be bullied. So he goes out there, with no front end on the car to...Watch Kurt Busch win the race while you finish 31 laps down???? Really? All you did was bump into him and put a donut on his car? There is no doubt in my mind that Kurt Busch would've been in the wall, climbing into the ambulance if this was the Brad Keselowski of old. The one that would take you out with no hesitation. The one that would block high and low to retain his position. The one that flipped a guy into the fence to win a race. You know? That guy.
I've been sitting here, thinking of a couple of scenarios that I could relate this to. Think back to when you are kid, think of the one person that bullied you. The one who would try to make your day miserable because they enjoyed it. You are enjoying your recess until once again, he picks a fight with you. He steals your lunch and goes away. You have two options now:
A) You be a bigger man, and walk away and let it go.
B) You confront him and you say or do something.
Brad did neither of these two options. He came out, tried to prove a point (I think?) and failed miserably. He now looks like a total idiot and Kurt is in victory lane. This is a fail of monumental proportions.
So at this point, it is Brad's move. I've supported him through thick and thin. I spent a lot of money that I didn't have, to go watch him win the title in Miami. That year people said he couldn't do it, and not only did he do it. He beat the best racecar driver in our generation straight up.
Brad is floundering, his stock is dropping and he is soon to be the laughing stock of the garage. So I leave you with this. 'Will the real Brad Keselowski, Please stand the hell up!?'
I know I might take some criticism for my spin on this but I think everyone can agree Brad has not been acting or racing the same way he was years ago.
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