If there is one thing we've learned about Brad Keselowski over the years, it's that the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford is never short on opinions or shy about expressing them.
So when he sat for his session with a roomful of media at the recently concluded NASCAR Media Tour presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway, he naturally had lots to say about a wide-ranging number of subjects -- from sharing his favorite Roger Penske story to bashing NASCAR's concussion protocol program to talking about how he's excited to have a new format that he thinks will bring back "the anger factor" to NASCAR.
Check out the highlights:
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The great debate
Keselowski said it was mostly about the playoffs when it came to collaboration between drivers, track operators, team personnel and other NASCAR types on the "competition enhancements" announced earlier this week. Many bonus points that were not previously carried over from the regular season or from round-to-round in the playoffs now will be.
"Probably the greatest debate was on the whole playoff points situation and what should carry over and how long it should carry over," Keselowski said. "I felt very strongly that we needed to have the ability to connect the regular season to the post season, so that you didn’t see teams win early in the season and kind of get into test mode."
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Keselowski loves his team owner, Roger Penske. He told his favorite story about how Penske was at first mystified at how to operate a new iPhone when he got it, but how Penske, who will turn 80 next month, mastered it within a few days. He said it is typical of how Penske runs his race organization and lives his life.
"He’s willing to pick up new technology, new things even as he’s in his seventies and beyond, and continue to expand and get better," Keselowski said. "Most people get 30, 40 years old and are like, ‘Alright, I’m just gonna cruise.’ Hell, he’s in his seventies and he’s still climbing and still learning and still growing and it’s just such a testament to him to who he is and what makes him successful that he’s always willing to grow, always willing to learn, always has an open eye and developing skill set."
Jared C. Tilton
Keselowski has been openly critical of NASCAR's concussion protocol and remains so. He still believes more needs to be done to protect drivers such as himself and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (right), who missed the second half of last season because of a concussion.
“I read this great article, I think it was Northwestern University that has made some huge studies and potential breakthroughs with respect to coming up with a definitive tool to diagnose and that piece, to me, is potentially the future of this sport and the path that we need to go down and explore – not just for our sport but for all sports," he said. "But as for where the (NASCAR) program stands right now, my opinion hasn’t changed and it’s one where I feel like the program is extremely deficient.”
Shortly after many race fans took to social media to question the wisdom of NASCAR's recent compeition enhancements, Keselowski responded in the same space, defending the modifications vigorously. He said Wednesday that he thinks even the most vocal critics eventually will come around.
"What stood out to me is when people don’t like something it’s like 100-percent negative feedback, but when the majority likes it, and the minority dislikes it, it’s about 50 percent, " Keselowski said. "So what stood out to me is the feedback has been about 50 percent, which tells me the majority likes it and is going to give it a shot. That’s extremely encouraging to me."
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Bringing back 'the anger factor'
If it was up to Keselowski, Carl Edwards (left) and his then-Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch (right) wouldn't have been so chummy after Edwards deliberately dumped Busch for a win at Richmond last spring. And Kez thinks the new format, where individual races are divided into three stages and points are going to matter more throughout the regular season because some will carry over to the playoffs, will change that.
"It's important on multiple levels," he said. "It’s important from the team side and the driver side because it keeps us honest, it keeps us pushing, it keeps us from taking races not necessarily off, but races that we would have looked at before and said, ‘Let’s save our best car. That race isn’t important.’ The propensity to do that is going to go down. As drivers, I think what you’re going to see is a desire and maybe more of an anger factor when things don’t go your way in the regular season that didn’t (previously) exist.
“I think back to an example being Kyle and Carl at Richmond with the bump-and-run, which is really one of the biggest moves in our sport. It’s really what NASCAR racing was built on and it really didn’t do anything. It didn’t make a big splash. It didn’t make a big headline because it had no connection to the end (game). It had no connection to the pathway with Homestead (for the championshp race), so what I see now is this connection being re-fostered from the regular season to the postseason.”