At first, the outrage surrounding Brad Keselowski seemed to be about his driving.
Jeff Gordon initially objected to the move Keselowski made on a late restart in the Nov. 2 race at Texas Motor Speedway. Kevin Harvickpushed Keselowski into a brawl because he wanted the Team Penske driver to be accountable for his actions.
But later, Gordon, Harvick and other veteran drivers said their primary beef was not with the way Keselowski raced – they indicated they might have made the same move – but with the way he conducted himself after the incidents.
After all, showing some contrition or apologizing for ruining someone’s day – even in the name of hard racing – would go a long way, the drivers said.
So why doesn’t Keselowski just show some remorse when his aggressive style impacts others? Wouldn’t that avoid a lot of the trouble he gets himself into?
Because he simply doesn’t feel bad when going hard to try and win, Keselowski said Thursday in Las Vegas.
“I try to make it a point whenever I make an aggressive move or one is made upon me, that person has an opportunity to come away clean,” he said. “If that person either does not take it or does not succeed at it, then I don’t feel any fault or blame and don’t see any need to apologize.”
Keselowski said those who view racing objectively would see the incidents where other drivers have expressed anger are ones where “they’ve made mistakes and have been unwilling to recognize them.”
“And I do not feel the need to apologize for someone else’s mistake,” he said. “I guess maybe they want me to apologize for putting them in a scenario where they made a mistake, but they had an opportunity to not make it, and they did. I feel no sympathy for someone who makes their own mistake, other than I don’t wish it upon them.”
Keselowski said he got the idea for his much-scrutinized Texas move from two drivers: Kasey Kahne, who made a similar move to win at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and Paul Menard, who used the move on Keselowski the restart prior to the Gordon incident.
When Menard attempted it, Keselowski said he recognized what was happening and gave him room so there wouldn’t be contact. When Keselowski tried to split the gap between Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, Gordon tried to close the door and the cars made contact.
“The opportunity was there for the other individuals to get out of it scot-free and they didn’t capitalize on it,” Keselowski said. “I hated it ruined their day, but I don’t feel bad or feel the need to apologize for laying it all out there and trying to win a race.”
If the situation had been reversed, Keselowski insisted he would have been able to recognize his own role in the contact. He pointed to the Menard move as an example.
“I wouldn’t have been mad at Paul (had the two made contact),” Keselowski said. “Certainly I didn’t want him to make the move, but that’s his job.
“A baby seal doesn’t want to get eaten by a whale, but a whale’s got to eat, you know? And then when he (gets eaten), should he be mad at the whale, or should he be mad he wasn’t the fastest swimmer?”