Brad Keselowski is many things, but one thing he can never be called is vanilla. The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, famous for his somewhat inebriated interview on nationwide TV when he won his title in 2012, left Kentucky Speedway in stitches, both literally and figuratively, Saturday night.
Keselowski was the class of the field for the Quaker State 400, leading 199 of the 267 laps in route to his second win of the season, the first coming at Las Vegas in March.
“What a really fast car,” Keselowski said. It just kind of came together for us, really across the weekend from qualifying to race practice and then in the race. “
The only issue he faced during the race came late in the going when an ill-timed pit stop put him in sixth on the final restart on lap 219.
“It looked like they were gonna come unraveled at the end there with that yellow right in the middle of the pit sequence, which was really scary,” he said. “That’s part of the deal and it came down to me starting sixth there with 51 or 52 to go.”
Keselowski would not be denied however and over the course of the closing laps he worked his way forward passing Kyle Busch for the lead with 19 laps to go.
“I knew it was gonna be a dogfight to get back to Kyle and race him,” Keselowski said. “But we got there with a really fast car and got a perfect run on him with traffic and the next thing I knew we were there.”
The drama for Keselowski didn’t end when the checkered flag fell. In victory lane, Keselowski cut his hand, as it turned out, rather badly.
“We were playing around with some champagne bottles and as I told my good friend, ‘We should have stuck with beer,’” Keselowski said. “We were having too much fun with champagne and one of the bottles broke and I cut my hand open. “
The winning driver was forced to leave victory lane for a quick trip to the infield care center. His wound was closed with four stitches, bandaged, and after a uniform change, Keselowski returned with a smile on his face. Later, Keselowski was able to joke about what was more treacherous the bumpy surface of Kentucky Speedway or victory lane.
“The frontstretch bumps are a concussion and victory lane is bleeding of the hand,” he said. “I guess I don’t have enough to lose upstairs to worry about the first one, so the champagne. I should have stuck with beer. (laughter)”
In 2011, Keselowski suffered another injury, breaking his ankle during a test session. The prolific social media user Tweeted pictures of his injured ankle. Pictures of Saturday night’s injury didn’t happen however.
“I didn’t have my phone on me,” Keselowski said. “I’m trying to be less dependent on my phone. I didn’t have my phone on me, so, sorry.”
He added that when he first cut his hand he didn’t think too much about it.
“I did the typical guy thing, ‘It’s not that bad, it’s not that bad,’ and I shook it a couple of times and there was blood flying everywhere and I thought, ‘It’s pretty bad.’,” he said laughing. And then I started walking through my mind, ‘Is this for real?’ There really wasn’t much more intelligent thought than that.”
With his second win of the season, and after missing out on the opportunity to defend his title after missing the Chase last season, Keselowski is almost assured a spot in this year’s Chase.
“Last year was a very humbling year for us, so I think I probably appreciate it even more,” he said. “Appreciate the opportunity to have races like this and opportunities to run for a championship.”
Finally, Keselowski said that Saturday night’s injury shouldn’t be a problem in the weeks ahead.
“Last time I had stitches it was seven days or so,” he said. “And we’re going to Daytona, which is probably the easiest track you could ask for. I didn’t break any bones or any of that stuff. I just put a big gash, so I don’t think it will be an issue.”