Brad Keselowski enthused about joining NASCAR’s baby boom


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.”

Alex Bowman confident as he returns to racing from back injury


CONCORD, N.C. — Alex Bowman watched the rain-filled skies over Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday with more than a touch of disappointment.

As weather threatened to cancel Saturday night’s scheduled NASCAR Cup Series practice at the speedway, Bowman saw his chances to testing his car — and his body — dissolving in the raindrops. NASCAR ultimately cancelled practice and qualifying because of rain.

MORE: Wet weather cancels Charlotte Cup practice, qualifying

Bowman suffered a fractured vertebra in a sprint car accident last month and has missed three Cup races while he recovers. Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, the season’s longest race, is scheduled to mark his return to the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet.

“It would have been really nice to kickstart that with practice today,” Bowman said. “I haven’t raced or competitively driven a race car in a month. I’m trying to understand where my rusty areas are going to be and where I’m still good.”

Bowman ran 200 laps in a test season at North Wilkesboro Speedway this week, but, of course, that doesn’t compare with the faster speeds and tougher G-forces he’ll experience over 400 laps Sunday at CMS.

Bowman admitted that he is still experiencing pain from the back injury — his car flipped several times — and that he expects some pain during the race. But he said he is confident he’ll be OK and that the longer race distance won’t be an issue.

“I broke my back a month ago, and there’s definitely things that come along with that for a long time,” he said. “I have some discomfort here and there and there are things I do that don’t feel good. That’s just part of it. It’s stuff I’ll have to deal with. But, for the most part, I’m back to normal.

“I’m easing back into being in the gym. I’m trying to be smart with things. If I twist the wrong way, sometimes it hurts. In the race car at the end of a six-hour race, I’m probably not going to be the best.”

The sprint car crash interrupted what had been a fine seasonal start for Bowman. Although winless, he had three top fives and six top 10s in the first 10 races.

“I’m excited to be back,” Bowman said. “Hopefully, we can pick up where we left off and be strong right out of the gate.”

He said he hopes to return to short-track racing but not in the near future.

“Someday I want to get back in a sprint car or midget,” he said. “I felt like we were just getting rolling in a sprint car. That night we were pretty fast. Definitely a bummer there. That’s something I really want to conquer and be competitive at in the World of Outlaws or High Limits races. Somebody I’ll get back to that. It’s probably smart if I give my day job a little alone time for a bit.”




Charlotte NASCAR Cup Series starting lineup: Rain cancels qualifying


CONCORD, N.C. — William Byron and Kevin Harvick will start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the front row after wet weather cancelled Saturday night qualifying.

Rain pelted the CMS area much of the day Saturday, and NASCAR announced at 3:45 p.m. that Cup practice and qualifying, scheduled for Saturday night, had been cancelled.

MORE: Alex Bowman confident as he returns to cockpit

The starting field was set by the NASCAR rulebook.

Following Byron and Harvick in the starting top 10 will be Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The elimination of the practice session was particularly problematic for Alex Bowman, scheduled to return to racing Sunday after missing three weeks with a back injury, and Jimmie Johnson, who will be starting only his third race this year. Johnson will start 37th — last in the field.

Charlotte Cup starting lineup

Wet weather cancels Charlotte Cup Series practice, qualifying


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR Cup Series drivers will start the longest race of the season with no practice or qualifying.

Wet weather and predictions of more to come led NASCAR to cancel Saturday night’s Cup Series practice and qualifying in mid-afternoon. The field for Sunday’s 600-mile race was set by the NASCAR rulebook, placing William Byron and Kevin Harvick on the front row for the  scheduled 6 p.m. start.

MORE: Charlotte Cup starting lineup

MORE: Alex Bowman confident as he returns to cockpit

Weather also could be an issue Sunday as more rain is predicted for the speedway area.

Drivers were scheduled to practice at 7 p.m. Saturday. That session was to be followed by qualifying at 7:45 p.m. The cancellations were announced at 3:45 p.m.

The time-trial cancellation marked the first time in 64 years that qualifying has been canceled for the 600.

Charlotte Xfinity race postponed to Monday by weather


CONCORD, N.C. — Persistent rain forced the postponement of Saturday’s scheduled 300-mile NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway to Monday.

The race is scheduled to start at noon ET. It will be televised by FS1 and broadcast by the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Driver introductions and other pre-race activities were held at the track Saturday, but rain that had dampened the track in the morning hours returned. After several attempts at drying the track, the race was postponed after heavier rain returned in mid-afternoon.

Justin Allgaier will start the race from the pole position.