Keselowski Motivated for 2014

Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski likes the direction his team is headed even after missing the Chase last year. (Photo: Getty Images)

The expectation is that Brad Keselowski is frothing to start the season, that failing to make the Chase last year fuels him, that his desire will overcome any obstacles, that. ... Just stop right there.

Yes, Keselowski doesn’t want to repeat last season’s disappointments, but to think it will push him even more this season is not realistic, he suggests. He’s already focused. His motivation, one could say, is fear. Fear of running out of chances.

“As a racecar driver, you only get so many years,’’ Keselowski said. “The pressure that I put on myself is knowing a career might last five years, 10 years, 15, 20, 30 if you’re lucky. Every year’s is another tick off that clock. We have the resources and the team to get it done. I want to make sure I get it done and don’t lose a year.’’

He turns 30 next week, two days before climbing into his car at Daytona International Speedway to begin his fifth full Sprint Cup season.

Keseslowski understands that lost opportunities cannot be regained. Mechanical issues, an inconsistent pit crew and Keselowski’s mistakes contributed to a season that saw him become only the second reigning champion in the Chase era to miss the Chase.

“I made a couple of mistakes just trying too hard, trying to overcome different things,’’ Keselowski said.

He notes moves he attempted at restrictor-plate tracks that cost him several spots. It compounded a season that saw his team struggle with overheating and fuel-pickup problems early. Add to that the two penalties that cost him enough points to miss the Chase. Ford’s new nose should alleviate the overheating issues. The fuel pickup problems were fixed and changes are being made to the pit crew.

“What we need to do is execute,’’ said car owner Roger Penske, who signed Keselowski and sponsor Miller Lite through 2017 last fall. “We can talk about all the other excuses we have. Right now it’s all about execution. We’ve got good drivers, we’ve got sponsors, and I think we’ve got some great team members.’’

Keselowski has a strong teammate in Joey Logano. Keselowski pushed for the team to sign Logano before the 2013 season. Logano responded by finishing eight in the points - best among Ford’s drivers. More is expected and that could help Keselowski.

“He’s done a great job with that program,’’ Keselowski said of Logano. “He’s taken it to new levels to get back on part to where it was when Kurt (Busch) was in the car. It’s important for both of us that our respective teammate runs well. I think you need that depth in a team.’’

That help could prove valuable after a series of changes NASCAR made in the offseason not only to the Chase format and qualifying but to cars. Keselowski said the new rules - including no ride height requirement - “makes the car drive drastically different. It’s definitely a radical departure from what we’ve had to drive. The cars continuously get easier to drive by themselves and harder to drive in traffic.’’

While that could challenge Keselowski, he’s not overwhelmed by what the new rules will do to the cars. Too many other good things are going on around him.    

“I feel like our team finished 2013 in the exact same spot in 2011 and set ourselves up for 2012,’’ Keselowski said, noting his 2012 title season. “That gives me a lot of confidence.’’

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