LONG POND, Pa._ Odds are you didn’t have Brad Keselowski as your pick to win Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.
On Wednesday of last week, the Penske Racing driver was badly injured in a testing wreck at Road Atlanta and was forced to race with an avulsion fracture to his ankle and a severely bruised body.
Refusing to get out of the car, Keselowski not only completed all 500 miles on Sunday, he celebrated in Victory Lane at the end of the day.
“Everything kind of came together here, and we were able to overcome adversity, and I think when we look back at this years from now I think that’s what I’ll think about, overcoming adversity,” Keselowski said.
“And I say this to Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) and everyone on my team, that nobody gives us anything,” he said. “And they sure as hell didn’t give us anything this weekend. This was an earn‑it weekend. And I’ve always wanted to win a Cup race and earn it, not fuel mileage, not Talladega, a real win. And today feels like that.”
While everyone else was banking on rain, the Penske Racing teammates of Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski put all their money on tires and the race resuming. Hitting pit road with the radar looking bleak, the teammates took four tires and fuel and sat 25th and 26th when the race was red flagged.
With Joey Logano and the No. 20 crew doing their rain dances, it was for naught as the clouds gave way to sun and the track drying efforts paid off. After a 1 hour and 40 minute red flag, the field headed back to the race track and eventually back to pit road for service – except for Busch and Keselowski.
As the race went back to green flag action, Keselowski was able to capitalize on the strategy call and use the track position to his advantage. When the final caution of the day brought a restart with 16 laps to go, Keselowski had his chance at the lead.
Restarting to the outside of Kyle Busch, Keselowski was able to get the advantage going into Turn 1 thanks to a bold move by Jimmie Johnson to the inside of Busch. Once ahead, the injured driver did all he could to put distance between he and Busch.
Taking the checkered flag, Keselowski beat the odd, shunned the significant injury and moved into the number one Chase wild card spot all at the same time.
“I think winning two races is probably really good for our Chase hopes, gives us pretty high odds if we were playing poker, but nothing is 100 percent until it’s 100 percent,” he said. “So lots of races left. Keep plugging away. Maybe if we keep running like this, maybe we can get a third win and we’ll be damn near immune, unless we fall out of the top 20.”
While his winning run on Sunday was impressive to say the least, the 27-year-old driver was confidence that he could get the job done despite the injury to his feet.
“I came here to win,” he said with a serious look in his eyes. “When you let the pain get into your head that far that you don’t believe you can win anymore, you’ll never win. And I woke up this morning feeling like we could win the race.”
Even as he was stuck in a hospital bed, posting pictures of his injuries on Twitter, Keselowski remained confident that not only would he race this weekend, he would contend for the win. Although Wolfe interrupted, saying, “He’s lying.”
“There was a moment where I said, ‘All right what doctor am I going to have to bribe.’ Never a moment of doubt,” he said. “For the record, I didn’t, because I know you’ll try to write that story. I didn’t have my wallet.”
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