Keselowski Doesn't Back Down From Remarks; Comfortable Being "The Bad Guy"
Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski said that he "wouldn't alter his outspoken style after meeting last week with NASCAR brass who were unhappy" with his recent comments regarding the state of the sport, according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. Keselowski: "I think that I will still have the same approach to doing everything I can to push the sport forward as I see fit. It's just a matter of balancing it with the interest of everything else." NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France and ISC Vice Chair & CEO Lesa France Kennedy on Friday "met with Keselowski separately" for at least 30 minutes each. In his first extensive remarks since the meeting, Keselowski said some of his original comments were "definitely on the edge." He added, "I'm not going to run from that. But I'm also not going to run away from some of the validity of some of the things I said either." Keselowski has "embraced the ambassadorial role of being a champion and has said he wants to help unify the sport's factions for the better good." He reiterated that yesterday, even if it "meant voicing opinions that might be unpopular." Keselowski: "If I have to be the bad guy in this garage or in this sport, so that the series and American motorsports can move forward, that doesn't bother me one bit. I would rather be maybe a less popular champion of a series that's very, very successful, than a popular champion of a series that's not" (USA TODAY, 2/27).
BRUTON'S BONUS: ESPN.com's David Newton noted SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith has "sweetened the pot" for winning the May 18 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race by offering an additional $1M "if a driver can win all five segments of the non-points event." The new incentive is called "Bruton's Big Bonus." The format for the race "includes five segments with the best average finish for the first four segments determining how the field comes down pit road for a mandatory four-time pit stop before the final segment." The order of the cars returning to the track will "determine the starting order for the final segment" in which the winner receives $1M. Keselowski yesterday at CMS unveiled a "special car built out of one million $1 bills" (ESPN.com, 2/26).