MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski is skeptical about concussion testing in NASCAR.“Doctors don’t understand our sport. They never have, and they never will,” he said Friday, asked why race drivers might be reluctant to undergo a concussion test. “Doctors aren’t risk-takers. We are. That’s what makes our sport what it is, and when you get doctors involved, you water down our sport.”NASCAR announced this week that it plans to take a “baseline” test of the drivers next year at the start of the season so it can compare it to the results from a driver who has had an accident, using it to judge the impact or chance of a concussion.Keselowski said he’s in a wait-and-see mode.“I don’t want to call it a negative, but at this point, I haven’t seen where that’s going to be a positive for this sport,” he said. “We’re going to learn together, I guess.”Dale Earnhardt Jr., who missed two races last year because of a concussion, said he supports the baseline test and NASCAR’s efforts to understand concussions.Keselowski said he has “100 questions” about the process.“If you have a test and you come back later and you score 5 percent worse, is that OK?” he said. “Is it 10? Is it 11? Is it 1? There’s a tolerance to everything we do in this world. There’s not a part on our race car that isn’t built to a tolerance. … What’s good? What’s bad? What’s the number? That’s really what’s relevant to the conversation. “But if there isn’t a number that’s good or bad with this style of testing, then it’s a waste of time. It’s just another subjective field for doctors that don’t understand our sport.”Hamlin surgeryDenny Hamlin, who won the pole Friday for Sunday’s race, said he has not decided whether to have surgery to help heal the fracture in his back that he suffered in a crash at California early in the season. He missed four races because of the injury, ruining his chances to make the Chase.“I still haven’t met with doctors to figure out the best option,” Hamlin said. “I have been feeling so much better this last month or so, that I’d like to steer away from surgery if possible. Obviously, I don’t want to just cover up the pain with the treatments that I’ve been doing. That just numbs you a little bit. We still have an issue there that we have to address in the next month or so.”Hamlin is entered in both the Truck and Cup races this weekend.Sadler goalElliott Sadler said it is “definitely a special opportunity for me” in driving the final four races for Brian Vickers in Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota and that he is trying to win.“To sit here and tell you that I just want to go be competitive and not do much is a lie,” he said. “I want to come out here and try to qualify good each week and run good each week and put ourselves in position to be there at the end of the race.… My expectations — I don’t know what you guys think is realistic or not — we’re here to win a race.”Sadler said it helped him to test at Texas this week because he hadn’t been in a Cup car in a while. His last Sprint Cup race was at Kansas in April, when he was 40th. Before that, he ran 27th at the Daytona 500 in 2012. His last full-time season in Sprint Cup was 2011, when he finished 32nd in points.Johnson grindJimmie Johnson said he has gotten into endurance training in the past few years and that it helps his mindset when he’s racing.“In the moment, suffering on the bike or swimming or running or whatever it is, it’s similar to driving the race car late in the race or an ill-handling race car, where it’s not fun but you have to figure out how to get to the end as fast as you can,” he said. “That mindset has been fun to kind of live during the weekdays, and not only on the weekends.”Briefly• Denny Hamlin’s pole run set a qualifying record. His 99.595 mph broke the record of 98.4 set by Jimmie Johnson last year. Johnson also topped the previous record in earning the second spot on the front row. Eighteen drivers broke Johnson’s track qualifying record. • The Army National Guard has extended its sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr. through the 2014 season with Hendrick Motorsports. The Guard will be the primary sponsor of the No. 88 Chevrolet for 20 Sprint Cup races, including the Daytona 500.• Danica Patrick will start in a backup car after a crash in practice on Friday. She was 12th in the spring race after starting from the back.• NASCAR announced the return of Loudon, N.H., and St. Louis to the truck series schedule in 2014.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez