The Frontstretch: Keselowski Cleans Up, No Crisis Here... Which Means No One Should Freak Out by Summer Bedgood -- Monday October 14, 2013

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Finally, finally, finally. Last year’s Sprint Cup Series champion finally made it to Victory Lane, and it only took 31 races this season to do so. Man, that’s some earth-shattering stuff you’ve got there, Brad. What are you going to do next?

The battle between Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski, late in Charlotte’s 500-miler was the most exciting action of the night.

In all seriousness, it’s always fun to watch someone come out of a rut that they’ve been stuck in for a while and that’s exactly how last Saturday night played out. Though Keselowski and the team started out strong at the beginning of the year, staying in the top 5 in points for the first eight races of the season, the year began to fall apart once the team hit the Spring race in Richmond. A spiral down the standings would eventually wind up with the No. 2 team falling out of the top 10 in points and, eventually, missing the cutoff point in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Even the craziness of the Fall Richmond race, along with the points swapping that ensued afterwards couldn’t get Keselowski a chance to defend his title.

So a victory, Saturday night was sorely needed for both confidence and momentum when it comes to the reigning champ. But redemption didn’t come without a fight. After putting himself in position, recovering from a faulty jack and poor track position Kasey Kahne was the barrier between Keselowski and Victory Lane. Though Kahne hasn’t won a race in a while, either he still had two victories to Keselowski’s goose egg. Was it too much to ask that the driver finally have his moment?

Someone didn’t tell Kahne that. A hard-fought battle between the two in the remaining laps of the race saw the lead change hands several times. Keselowski would pass Kahne, then Kahne would slingshot back around him, only for Keselowski to get a run on the backstretch and get back around.

Though eventually, Keselowski would clear the No. 5 car, pull away and cruise to victory, the challenge to do so was part of what led to the excitement. There was no spinning out, no hurt feelings, no tempers. Just some good, hard racing. It was fun to watch and something that race fans drink up.

Keselowski himself agreed.

“I love hard racing and there are a handful of guys you can’t race hard with in this deal because they freak out, but Kasey is not one of them,” he said in Victory Lane. “He’s an excellent driver and he ran me hard, but he ran me clean and that’s great racing. I’m proud to race with him. He did a helluva job and deserves a lot of credit for it, but, at the end of the day, the Miller Lite Ford Fusion was just fast and we persevered.”

While it probably doesn’t take too much imagination to see who he was referring to (hint: His name rhymes with Schmyle Schmusch), I think Keselowski brings up a good point.

If you’re like me, you enjoyed the competition that went down on Saturday night and the battle between Kahne and Keselowski. You liked that they were able to race hard without any cautions, bump and runs, or people calling each other names to the camera afterwards. Racing doesn’t have to have drama for it to be good, and we saw evidence of that on Saturday night. Why can’t these battles be like that all the time?

Of course, on the flip side, Keselowski also has a point that some drivers just can’t seem to take hard racing. They label it as “over-aggressive”, “no respect”, and “he ran me out of racing room”. I may not be a driver, but I can watch a battle between two cars and tell when it has crossed the line. Oftentimes, some of these elite athletes completely overreact to how they are being raced. I bet you I could fill an entire column with times both Kyle Busch and Keselowski have done just that.

With that being said, I wish that every weekend could be just like Charlotte. No drama. No anger. Just great, hard racing that is just about the competition.

Is that really too much to ask?

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
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10/14/2013 07:50 PM

Godd to see the wind taken out of the HMS sails, at least this race. Loved Brad’s comment about racing someone and not having them freak out. That comment was a direct shot to Kyle Busch, love it.

10/14/2013 08:04 PM

There’s more than one driver who freaks out when they’re raced.