DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Impending fatherhood hasn’t made a major impact yet on Brad Keselowski’s life, but it has resulted in a wave of unexpected interactions with his NASCAR peers.
The Team Penske driver said last year he’d rather win races than make friends, but the pregnancy of his girlfriend, Paige, brought a raft of warm wishes for the iconoclast whose rebellious style sometimes alienates other stars.
“The overall response has been very, very positive,” Keselowski said Thursday during Daytona 500 Media Day at Daytona International Speedway. “I got messages from people I never thought I’d get messages from, guys like Jamie McMurray and that. That meant something to me.”
The camaraderie is natural given the ongoing baby boom in NASCAR’s premier series. In the past eight years, 15 Sprint Cup drivers have become first-time fathers (with more than two dozen new arrivals in the driver motor home lot during that span). Keselowski and Kyle Busch are scheduled to become the newest in mid-May. Paige White (who is expecting a girl) and Samantha Busch (a boy) both are due during All-Star Race weekend.
While Keselowski, who turned 31 Thursday, is enthused about becoming a dad, he also isn’t ready “to talk about it being a life-changing experience until it happens.
“I don’t feel like it’s changed that much with me to date,” the 2012 Sprint Cup champion said. “I’m excited and prepared for it. I feel really good about it. I expect it to be life-changing once the baby is born.”
The youngest of five children has been an uncle for much of his life, so he has “a pretty good grasp for how it works” but acknowledges that rearing a child will bring new challenges.
“It’s definitely cutting into my video game time,” he said with a laugh. “We’re working on that night-time schedule. I can stay up all night, so I got this. I always run better at night races.”
But aside from some lifestyle changes (“I’ve noticed there are a lot of Barbie vans in that motorhome lot. I’m sure I’ll have a Barbie van, too.”), Keselowski isn’t anticipating parenthood will impact his results.
“Is it going to make me pull a different move on the racetrack? Probably not,” he said. “Is it going to affect my patience and outlook on topics off the track? Certainly. That’s reasonable to assume.
“I haven’t put that much thought into this topic outside of just looking out for the baby’s well-being and for Paige, whom I love, to take care of her. I never thought about any of the social ramifications outside of that.”