Keselowski thinks other drivers retaliate
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Brad Keselowski says his aggressive driving style has become an excuse for retaliation and there is a deeper reason why Carl Edwards intentionally wrecked him late in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 12 Penske Racing car said on Thursday the reason appears to go beyond contact made with Edwards early in the race or other exchanges they have had in the past year.
He said the two have not talked since the race and he is anxious to meet with Edwards next weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway to get to the bottom of his frustration with him.
"I don't think a guy that is simply mad at you for the contact we had earlier in the race at Atlanta would do what he did," Keselowski said. "There's probably more to the puzzle that I don't know. It's going to be interesting to see what he says.
"For a guy to risk the things as far as harming [somebody] or credibility to himself, or even his own place in the sport, I don't think that was necessary the decision based on trying to send a message," he said.
Edwards, 156 laps down after wrecking in the first incident, turned Keselowski with two laps remaining and Keselowski in sixth place. Keselowski's car then went airborne, flipped and landed on the hood.
Edwards, who was parked for the incident on Sunday and on Tuesday placed on probation for three races, was not available for comment. His only response has been on Facebook where he made it clear the wreck was intentional.
"That kind of defeats the rationale of trying to send a message across to a driver as being too aggressive," Keselowski said. "In my mind, that sends a message across that there is some kind of negative emotion or negative feelings that far outweigh that scenario."
Keselowsk said there have been only two instances in which he was too aggressive. One was during the Nationwide Series race at Memphis last season when he turned a couple drivers, including Edwards, going for the win. The other was in the Nationwide race at Phoenix in which he spun Denny Hamlin and earned a trip to the NASCAR hauler.
"That might not have been the right thing to do," he said. "I might have been a jerk."
Hamlin responded by taking Keselowski out the following week in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Keselowski accepted that and moved on.
He's not willing to accept that what happened with Edwards.
"My driving style is conveniently used for the media," Keselowski said. "When I really look deep into it and try to be introspective about it, I just don't see that as being the reason."
Keselowski said most of his criticism comes from holding his line.
"If you consider that to be aggressive I guess you have a different idea of aggression than I do," he said.
Keselowski still supports NASCAR's decision not to suspend Edwards even though he called for a suspension following the race. But he is concerned at how far drivers can go now to retaliate and plans to address that with the governing body at Bristol.
"I read Mike [Helton] tried to answer that by saying we'll know it when we see it," Keselowski said of NASCAR's president. "At the same time, it'd be nice to know what that is and what that meant."
Keselowski made it clear there are no plans to retaliate against Edwards.
"The thought in my mind is to do absolutely nothing at all," he said. "To be honest, that's probably the best revenge there is, to not let it get to me one bit, to not change. In a way, that's a sign to him and everyone that that's not going to work on me."
Many drivers publicly have said that Keselowski got what he deserved.
"If you ask a driver's opinion on other people they're going to give you an answer that is self-beneficial," Keselowski said.
Jeff Burton, one of the few drivers Keselowski listens to, told reporters Wednesday at Richard Childress Racing that Keselowski "has got to learn that he doesn't need to prove to the world that he's a tough guy."
"He's made the decision that he's not going to cut anybody any slack," Burton continued. "He's made the decision he's going to race aggressively all the time. Those are decisions and he's going to have to live with it."
Keselowski said Burton is "absolutely right."
"The thing is, the media doesn't cover when I give," he said. "They cover when I take. I wish I could sit down one day and just show somebody an in-car camera tape of how I drive a race. You will see I give just as much, maybe more, than any driver out there."
Keselowski said the hole Edwards went through when he nipped him early at Atlanta was because he backed off.
"The difference is what my interpretation of give is versus someone else's interpretation," Keselowski said. "What is not giving to me, and this might be where other drivers see it different from me, is being in your lane and allowing someone else to turn into you and push you off the racetrack and lift so not to.
"That's not giving in my mind. That's allowing yourself to be pushed around in the sport," he said.
Keselowski said having the off week to listen to what others are saying and reflect on what happened has been good, but again he doesn't plan to change how he drives.
"As you look at the sport right now, there are no new drivers coming in," he said. "Whatever I'm doing is working and has gotten me to where I'm at. I have survived this somewhat Holocaust of developmental drivers not getting opportunities because of that attitude, because of that aggressiveness."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.