NASCAR & Auto Racing

Motorsports Insider: Keselowski trying to win the hard way

The talk throughout NASCAR remains the postrace brawl between Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon and their teams Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR handed down punishments Tuesday and they were directed at crew members, not drivers.

That’s the way it should be with only two races to go to the championship. The “Final Four” for the Chase for the Sprint Cup will be set Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.

Chase driver Denny Hamlin spoke on the matter, too, even though he stayed out of the fracas Sunday. He simply had the honor of being the guest on this week’s conference call with reporters.

Hamlin said the right things mostly, of course, but had an interesting perspective on Keselowski, the 2012 series champ. Hamlin didn’t hold back on the guy who holds the dubious distinction of being the most disliked driver by competitors and fans alike.

“The times that I’ve had tussles with Brad, he’s just like, ‘Oh, well, that’s how a race is, just deal with it,’” Hamlin said. “As drivers, you’re just looking for someone to say, ‘I’m sorry. I ruined your day. I screwed up. I apologize.’

“If Brad would have talked to Jeff and said, ‘Man, I was going for a hole. It was my only chance, you know, I’m really sorry it cut your tire.’ It goes totally different. Instead, it was, ‘Oh, well, sorry, bud. You left a hole.’

“If he did it to me, I would have had the same reaction as Jeff. No question.”

Therein lies the problem for Keselowski. He drives like a wild man on the track and has no remorse off it. On top of that, he’s not the most intimidating guy and simply doesn’t command the same type of respect as some of the drivers he said have “inspired” him, such as Dale Earnhardt.

So it’s hard to see fellow drivers letting Keselowski win this year’s championship. Somebody, it seems, will simply take him out of the running for it.

As Hamlin said, “It’s tough to win a championship if nobody likes you. That is going to be a very, very tough task. You always have to watch your mirror. And that’s a tough way to race. It really is a tough way to race.”

It’s the way Keselowski, apparently, is willing to try. Good luck with that, Brad.

Fans certainly have no complaints and enjoy the drama created by it.

Chase suggestion

There’s no argument the new Chase format has produced the “Game 7 moments” NASCAR hoped it would. But that doesn’t mean it can’t use a little retooling.

The suggestion here would be to switch the tracks within each round on a yearly basis. For instance, Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix are the three tracks designated to the Eliminator Round.

Texas was the middle track this year, so why not put it as the first track in the Eliminator Round next year? Or the last?

That would give fans in each region a chance to witness the Chase a little differently every year. As drivers will tell you, there’s a lot that changes — not only between rounds but races.

TMS happenings

Former NFL and TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson is partnering with the Texas chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities to put on a 5K run.

The inaugural L.T.’s Game-Changing Run is scheduled for the night of Dec. 12, and will include a holiday-themed 5K run followed by a postrace holiday movie being shown on the video board.

The entry fee for the race is $25 and includes admission for the movie. Fans interested in seeing only the movie can bring a carload for $25.

And this Saturday, TMS is hosting another charity event called “Caring for Kierstin’s Legacy.”

Longtime Discount Tire employee Todd Eaddy lost his daughter Kierstin earlier this summer in a karting accident at TMS.

The event begins at 4:30 p.m. and includes a car show, rides around the track in the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang and two movies, Despicable Me 2 and Edge of Tomorrow, being played on the video board beginning at 7 p.m.

The cost to ride three laps on the track is $30, the cost for a carload to the movies is $20, or attendees can purchase both for $40 with proceeds benefiting the Kierstin Eaddy Memorial Fund.

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