Actions Speak Louder Than Words For Keselowski

Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski says he ran hard against Jimmie Johnson in practice last year at Phoenix and that contributed to Johnson's team pushing its setup and blowing a right front tire. (Photo: Getty Images)

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PHOENIX, Ariz. - Brad Keselowski admits that Chad Knaus’ comment about Matt Kenseth being a “more formidable’’ title foe struck him.

“Maybe the emphasis should be put on respecting what Matt has done and not disrespecting where I’m at,’’ Keselowski said Thursday night at the Penske Racing Museum.

Knaus made his comment after Jimmie Johnson won last weekend’s race at Texas. Knaus said that Kenseth “is a little more controlled. He's a little more mature. He's been in the sport for a long time. I think he's just a little more even keel, so that makes him a little more challenging to get off kilter.’’

Maybe so, but Keselowski said he believes his ploy against Johnson contributed to that team’s problems at Phoenix International Raceway a year ago, allowing Keselowski to take the points lead on the way to his first Sprint Cup title. Keselowski entered that race seven points behind - the same margin Kenseth trails Johnson heading to Phoenix this weekend.

Keselowski took the points lead at Phoenix last year after Johnson blew a right front tire and hit the wall about 75 laps from the finish. Johnson placed 32nd, while Keselowski was sixth, giving him a 20-point lead going into the season finale.

Keselowski said a key was that he ran hard against Johnson even in practice during the Chase.

“I had a lot of fun with it,’’ Keselowski said of pressuring Johnson in practice at Phoenix last year. “In the race, he drove the car too hard until it blew out a tire. You could look at it and say that was a tire failure or whatever. Those in the garage, who know how the cars work, know it was reaching too hard and the failure that was caused from that. That’s that group’s weakness.’’

Keselowski’s point is that Johnson’s team has relied on superior speed to beat people not by running them hard.

“For them, I wouldn’t want to have to race somebody that is going to race me hard because that is not their wheelhouse and I think that was one of our strengths last  year,’’ Keselowski said. “If I was going to give Matt a piece of advice, I’d say use the (heck) out of him every time you can. Run (Johnson) hard because that’s his weakness.’’

Is Kenseth too nice to do that?

“I’ve seen Matt race pretty hard,’’ Keselowski said. “He seems to have a different relationship with Jimmie than some of the other guys I’ve seen him race hard with, so it’s not fair for me answer.’’ 

Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – will have live coverage of Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 from Phoenix International Raceway at 2 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.

 

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