Thursday, July 22, 2010

Getting Bullied a Rite of Sprint Cup Passage

Brad Keselowski has his critics.

He doesn't take any guff.  He races to win, even if that means a Cup veteran ends up in the wall.  And he doesn't make apologies for his hard-driving style.  In short, he's not about to be bullied just because he's a Sprint Cup freshman.

And while there are thousands of fans who respect Keselowski's drive and competitive fire, there are others who say that if he'd just cut the old guard some slack, he'd make more friends in the garage and find his transition to Cup racing a little smoother. 

All he needs to do is play nice for a change.

Sounds fair enough, but playing nice sure hasn't made things easier for another new kid on the Cup scene.

As last year's rookie driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, Joey Logano entered the realm of the big boys with a level of humility and sometimes unease that should have appeased the very drivers who criticize Keselowski.

Logano rarely hit someone on purpose - and if he did send a car spinning, inexperience was usually to blame.  But Logano's under-the-radar tack didn't win him many friends in the garage either.  In fact, his demeanor early on may have encouraged a few fellow drivers to peg him as an easy mark.

Logano has been intentionally wrecked more than once by Greg Biffle and then there's the infamous incident with Kevin Harvick a few weeks ago (which led to Logano's heated post-race interview that helped Delana Harvick sell a few thousand T-shirts).

And although Logano has finally talked tough in front of the cameras, he has yet to seek revenge on the track. And he still gets bullied.

So it seems to me that whether you're Bad Brad or congenial Jo Lo the results are the same.  If you're new to the highest echelon of racing then you're going to have to prove your mettle.  You're going to have to make some enemies. And you'll likely take a few cheap hits.

So have at it boys - being nice just doesn't pay.

Photo info: Brad Keselowski's No. 22 hits the wall at Gateway International Speedway Saturday night.  Photo courtesy of NASCAR Media Group.

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