DOVER, Del. (AP) – Brad Keselowski is sick of the way Kyle Busch’s churlish behavior is often linked as an excuse for his desire to win.
Keselowski criticized on Twitter this week those who applauded Busch’s curt six-word answer to a post-race question and mic drop and chalked up the response to Busch’s hate of losing .
“When people go out and write articles or the media comes out and says that’s a reflection of him having the most desire to win, it makes me want to throw up,” Keselowski said Saturday. “Not only is that a terrible message to send to anyone who’s aspiring to be a part of the sport, it’s a terrible message to send to anybody in general in this world, that it’s a reflection of your desire to win.”
Busch, crushed after a runner-up finish in the marquee Coca-Cola 600, conceded Friday that while everyone handles defeat in different ways, “mine has never been very gracious.” Keselowski wrote on Twitter, “I was taught to hate losing by working harder next time, not by being disrespectful to others.”
Keselowski, who has two wins headed into Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway, wants to send a positive message to his family and fans with gracious conduct in defeat.
“When I look at teams and people in this sport they all want to be associated with those who have the strongest hunger and desires and passions to be successful. That’s natural. That includes myself,” he said. “That message to convey, whether it’s through the media or through different mouthpieces is a terrible message that has serious effects, not only on our sport but on our society and I don’t think that’s acceptable. Your desire to win can be expressed in a lot of other ways that are productive.”
Keselowski got into a brief Twitter spat with a Toyota executive (Busch’s car manufacturer) over the incident that seemed to steal the spotlight in a sport in need of headlines.
Keselowski, the 2012 Cup champion, said Busch’s behavior can’t be excused away because his outbursts are almost as routine as his drives to the checkered flag.
“You want to show me desire and passion to win, it’s when nobody is watching,” Keselowski said. “That’s what desire and passion is to win.”
Keselowski would like to keep his desire to win with team owner Roger Penske going for a few more years. Keselowski’s contract is up this season and he said there’s “a lot of stuff getting worked on” toward an extension.
Keselowski also met with NASCAR officials over the circumstances of a loose tire in the Truck Series race that affected his driver. Brad Keselowski Racing crew chief, front tire changer and front tire carrier each face four-race suspensions after the left front tire rolled away.
Keselowski uses developmental pit crews in the feeder series, and said that will end if his team is slapped with serious penalties.
“If the penalty is very severe, very harsh, that’s the end of developmental pit crews for my team. We can’t take that. We can’t afford that and that will have serious ramifications for the series and the ability to develop people,” he said.
Here are some others things to know headed into Sunday’s race:
Jimmie Johnson has mastered the Monster Mile like no other driver. He holds the track record for wins with 10, had led 3,093 laps and his average finish is a stunning 9.5 in 30 career starts.
But the seven-time Cup champion wants one more piece of the NASCAR record book. Johnson would join Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip as the only drivers to win at the same track 11 times. Petty won at least 11 races at four tracks (including 15 times at Martinsville) and Waltrip won 11 races at Martinsville and 12 at Bristol. Johnson, who has two wins this season, would also tie Cale Yarborough for sixth in career victories with 83.
“(Dover) takes me back to my roots and really challenges the crews and the crew chiefs and engineers to make the car comfortable and secure,” Johnson said. “I just think that the challenges this track throws at a team just fits us really well.”
Chase Elliott wants to forget a miserable May.
Elliott won the pole at the Daytona 500, reeled off six top 10s in his first eight races and seemed poised in the No. 24 Chevrolet to break through for his first career Cup win.
So much for the hot start.
Elliott was failed to finish two of the last four races when he finished 24th (Richmond), 30th (Talladega), 29th (Kansas) and 38th (Charlotte).
“I don’t like using the term bad luck, but I guess some of it has been,” he said. “I don’t know that I have had an entire month be quite as rough as May has. Maybe at some point, I don’t really know, I definitely have had things like that happen over time, but I just don’t know that it’s all been back-to-back-to-back like it seems like it has been here lately.”
Joe Gibbs Racing is trying to end its high-profile losing streak. JGR hasn’t won a Cup race all season and Busch is on an 0 for 28 skid dating to last year’s Brickyard 400. Matt Kenseth won the Dover race last spring and the organization is coming off a stout performance last week in the Coca-Cola 600. That carried over to Dover, where Busch won the pole, Daniel Suarez starts third, Kenseth fourth and Denny Hamlin 10th.
The rest of JGR’s struggles:
– Kenseth, best 2017 finish, 3rd; last win, July 2016 at New Hampshire. Dover wins, 3.
– Hamlin, best 2017 finish, 3rd; last win, September 2016 at Richmond. Dover wins, 0.
– Suarez, best 2017 finish, seventh.
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