Despite feud, Keselowski projects a presidential image for NASCAR

04/17/2013 7:35 PM

04/18/2013 12:04 AM

Brad Keselowski is mad at NASCAR right now, which, if you know Brad Keselowski, could make you say, “Oh, boy.”

He’s been known to speak his mind.

Did so two years ago about the new fuel injection.

Did so last year after he was fined for tweeting from his car.

Did so at Daytona this year, when he criticized a couple of NASCAR head honchos in a USA Today article.

And did so after Saturday night’s race at TMS, after parts from his car were confiscated, saying NASCAR has something against his No. 2 team. (Whether it does or not, NASCAR penalized Keselowski 25 points Wednesday after finding that the team used illegal parts).

So you can imagine NASCAR holding its breath knowing that Keselowski was scheduled to make a White House appearance with President Barack Obama on Tuesday to recognize Keselowski’s championship last year.

What would he say?

As it turned out, exactly the right thing.

Keselowski, talking to reporters after the pictures and smiles in a somewhat subdued presentation in the Rose Garden, pointed out what he liked about the president’s message on the day after the bombings at the Boston Marathon — about the solidarity sports can create — and added his own interpretation.

“When you look at a sporting event, you see a nation as one,” he said. “I think that kind of ties in, especially after a tragedy, how people come together. And it makes us all realize how common our interests really are, when at times it seems they’re not.”

Keselowski and Obama struck the right note on a day they expected to be much different. Surely, some prepared jokes and kidding had to be tossed aside the previous day.

But by not postponing or canceling the event, the White House showed respect to NASCAR and racing fans. And both men managed to credit the world of sports for what it can do in serious times.

Keselowski, for all of his outspokenness, is a thoughtful young driver. The importance of his words, and of going ahead and staging his moment in Washington were not lost on him.

“I think it’s the right thing to do, not because it was me, obviously, being honored, but because of what it means to our country to continue to move on, despite those acts, and showcase that they won’t rattle us,” he said.

Keselowski did NASCAR just fine.

Ratings low

The NRA 500 televised by Fox on Saturday night posted a 3.5 overnight, the TMS event’s worst rating since it became a night race and the worst rating of the year for NASCAR.

It reversed a trend for Sprint Cup, becoming the first race this year not to meet or beat its number from last year.

But it also continued a trend for the April night race. The 3.5 was down from last year’s 3.6 and from the previous year’s 3.7.

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