Brad Keselowski has expressed reservations about the way NASCAR is marketing the next wave of stars and has an answer for those who say he’s just another jealous veteran.
“There’s no way of saying that without being just in some ways jealous,” Keselowski said on an episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast released Wednesday. “And you know what? We are.”
The Team Penske driver received some support from NASCAR after being an Xfinity (then Nationwide) Series contender from 2008-10. But Keselowski largely was an afterthought as a Cup rookie in 2010 (when he won the lower-division title).
“There was a small push behind me (after winning the championship),” he said. “I felt it. It felt good. It really did. I remember Nationwide did a commercial, and I was like, ‘Man, I’m on a commercial! This is so cool!’ And NASCAR and Nationwide did it together, it would air every once in a while. Then I got to Cup , and it was, ‘Boy, you ain’t done (expletive). Until you do (expletive), don’t talk to us. That’s what it was like.
“Speaking of commercials, I’ll never forget, the standard answer at that time was go win a championship and get back to us. When I did win a championship, it was like all right, we’ll do a commercial with your car in it. That’s what the commercial was. You can stand in front of the car and make a pose, but you’re not going to say anything.
“And now it’s you look out on the landscape and see drivers that have been doing this for years and don’t have any wins or have one win and have five commercials, and you’re like, son of a … “
Hence, the jealousy and backlash from some veterans about the marketing push toward the group of 20something drivers that includes Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace, Alex Bowman and William Byron.
“Whether it’s me, Kyle (Busch) or anybody, yeah, we’re jealous,” Keselowski said. “It’s OK to admit we’re jealous. It’s a natural human instinct. If the sport had done what it’s doing for these young drivers now when guys like Kyle and I were just coming in, the sport would be in a better place.
“And with respect to that, I don’t want to come off as not being supportive of NASCAR promoting those young drivers, because I do think it’s good. I agree with it. I completely understand the efforts. I just think they missed really big 10 years ago. In some respects, we’re probably paying for that now. It is what it is. Sitting here and complaining about it isn’t going to change it. You can’t go back in time. But I think it’s also not unhealthy to recognize it.”
During the podcast, which is the first half of two-part episode with Keselowski, the 2012 champion also discusses:
–His respect for Kyle Busch as a Camping World Series team owner;
–His thoughts on Formula E and how the next iteration of the NASCAR Cup engine could be positioned with hybrid qualities;
–Which young drivers have impressed him;
–The fragility of Cup cars and why NASCAR should eliminate the splitter;
–An amusing and memorable story of how he spun Tony Stewart as an unknown short-track racer in Michigan 15 years ago.