Friday, April 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

NASCAR’s Keselowski not feeling pressure heading to Phoenix

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Brad Keselowski recognizes how fortunate he is to be racing at NASCAR’s top level, and uses the kind of joke a guy would tell his buddy over a beer as a metaphor for the situation he finds himself in.

In Keselowski’s version of the joke, an unemployed man prays every night to win the lottery as a means to end his struggles. As times goes on with no response, he angrily demands an answer only for God to tell him “Try buying a ticket!”

“I’m a lottery winner, this I know,” explains Keselowski, “but I’ve bought a ton of tickets.”

And that’s how Keselowski has kept his cool so far in this heavyweight title fight with five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.

The 28-year-old has yet to flinch in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, which is down to the final two races and realistically only two drivers. Keselowski opened the Chase with a win at Chicago, surrendered it to Johnson the next week at New Hampshire, grabbed it back the next week at Dover and held it three more weeks through Kansas.

Then Johnson snatched it back with a win at Martinsville to take a two-point lead in the standings, and widened the margin to seven points with a second consecutive victory last weekend at Texas. But Keselowski went down swinging — he was the leader on three restarts in the final 19 laps, only coming up short on the hold-your-breath, door-banging final dash to the finish with Johnson.

But Keselowski’s back is against the wall now headed into Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, where Johnson is a four-time winner and has a 5.3 average finish.

Johnson won the Chase race at Phoenix in his 2007 championship season to shake Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon loose in the title race. Johnson won there again in 2008 and 2009 to turn the season finales into mere formalities, and he finished third in 2010 to climb off the ropes and rally the next week to stop Denny Hamlin from snapping his streak of five consecutive championships.

It’s not Keselowski’s best track, but he doesn’t have much history at Phoenix.

Keselowski is in just his third Sprint Cup season with Penske Racing, and Sunday will be his seventh career start at Phoenix. So, sure, his numbers aren’t pretty with only one career top-five finish — but it was this year, when he finished fifth.

And he’s adamant he’s not overthinking this, and he won’t fall victim to the nerves or stress or pressure that seemed to rattle Hamlin down the stretch in 2010 or Carl Edwards on the final weekend of last year’s battle with Tony Stewart.

Keselowski said this week he’s had enough highs and lows in life to be able to keep this ride in perspective, and racing for a championship can never compare to the pressure he felt watching his family shut down its decades-old race team two races into the 2006 season.

His family had backed him for the 2005 Truck Series season, but pulled the plug after two races in 2006.

“Being a part of my family’s business and watching it fail is as low as it gets,” he said. “Watching them have to sell all their assets and not even be able to get to the racetrack, that is as low as it gets right there. To think that I was a part of my family going bankrupt to try to pursue your own dream is a moment where you feel so selfish and incredibly low as a human being that you don’t even know how you’re ever going to recover from that.”

He benefited from a break here and there along the way, picking up four more Truck Series starts that season and seven Nationwide starts.

Keselowski got three Truck Series starts in 2007 — one of them came at the recommendation of veterans as a last-minute replacement for suspended Ted Musgrave — and was in a crummy Nationwide deal when Dale Earnhardt Jr. grabbed him from obscurity 20 races into the season for the JR Motorsports ride that finally put Keselowski on the path to where he is today.

He said he looks at Joey Logano, who was in the Cup Series at 18, and Ryan Blaney, the 18-year-old who in September became the youngest winner in Truck Series history, and wonders what he could have accomplished if he had received the same breaks they had at such an early age.

“I think about them and they’re almost as good as I am if not better right now,” Keselowski said. “I think, ‘I wish I had those opportunities when I was their age.’ And then I stop and go, ‘Hell no’ because all the failures that I had from age 16-to-24 shaped who I am and have prepared me for this moment right here.

“The good Lord willing that we get through Phoenix and we’re in position to win the championship, I am going to show up at that racetrack mentally prepared because I’ve been through moments that were far more stressful than that and far more challenging for me personally. It’s because of those moments that I’m prepared for these opportunities. There’s a bunch of them that they just add up to where they’re both funny and sad. They’re part of who I am and part of what has made me appreciate what I have.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

‘Same Time, Next Year’ opens in Benicia

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
‘We Got Next’ Comedy Tour stops at Dimitri’s

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Man to stand trial in rural Vacaville killing

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Puppies to take part in Vallejo dog show

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Afisivalu announces run for Fairfield council

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Tonnesen seeks Fairfield City Council seat

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Family matriarch celebrates 100th birthday

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Barbecue brings big crowd, progress to Parkway Gardens

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

Assist-A-Grad wraps up interviews

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Night closures possible at Merchant Street ramp

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

Napa County bridge to close for work

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Town hall on crime set in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Crash shuts I-80 offramp to Highway 12

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Suisun City police log: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for April 18, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Putin’s choice of words shed light on Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Who gained, and what, at Ukraine talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Ukrainian unity on display with peaceful rallies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions – for now

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Salmon released in California river restoration

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Jury convicts husband in Iraqi woman’s death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
1 dead, 1 injured in California boating accident

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

BART fined $210,000 for worker deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Military shell prompted evacuation of hundreds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California health care sign-ups exceed projections

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Dirty creek, old purse solve four-decade mystery

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Man said to be homesick for prison gets 3 1/2 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Chelsea Clinton expecting first child this fall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Holder: Hate crimes ‘an affront to who we are’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Peru volcano prompts evacuation of 4,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Nigeria: Fate of 115 abducted girls unknown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Samples collected from oil slick not from plane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

S. Sudan: 12 die after mob attacks UN base

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Confused, chaotic scene described on sinking ferry

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Opinion

Food brings back fond memories

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

 
Is Jeb Bush too old school for the new GOP?

By Doyle Mcmanus | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

Internationally out of touch

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Watch out for grandson scam

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 3 Comments

Why so much spent to find a plane?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Editorial Cartoons for April 18, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History for April 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My husband tells our sons that they don’t need to listen to me

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B13

 
Horoscopes for April 18, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B13

.

Entertainment

 
Week in preview April 18-24, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Review: ‘Heaven Is for Real’ heartfelt but dull

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Lost radio program featuring Hank Williams found

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
‘Real Housewives’ TV star faces battery charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Ill, hospitalized Miley Cyrus postpones more shows

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Dodgers get to Bumgarner early for win over Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Badminton update: Rodriguez, Armijo head toward post season

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B7 | Gallery

MEL boys roll to easy win over SCAC

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Short-handed SCAC girls ‘gut out’ all-star win over MEL

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Sharks beat Kings 6-3 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Dodgers’ Puig focuses on baseball despite issues

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Miguel Angel Jimenez set for Champions Tour debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Sponsorship woes put Swan Racing future in doubt

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Ex-quarterback McNabb spends day in Arizona jail

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Season wrapup: Sacramento Kings’ ‘new era’ off to slow start

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Clippers-Warriors series billed as must-see TV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Kuchar builds on Masters momentum, shares Heritage lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
War of words in Northwestern-athletes’ union fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Shumenov gets big chance in ring against ageless Hopkins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Montreal team sign Chad Johnson to 2-year contract

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Seattle 1B Choi banned 50 games for positive test

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Boston Marathon makes room for more runners

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Stanford takes lead at LPGA LOTTE tournament

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Vanden clinches at least share of SCAC boys tennis title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Toyota Camry gets a top-to-bottom makeover

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
Hot models at this year’s New York Auto Show

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Judge won’t order recalled GM cars to be parked

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Walmart jumps into the money transfer biz, loudly

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Obituaries

Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13