A testing wreck at Road Atlanta earlier this week left Brad Keselowski in the hospital and recovering from an avulsion fracture of his left ankle, multiple lacerations and a bruised body, but he remains committed to running the entire Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
Wearing a larger size shoe on one foot and grinding through the pain, Keselowski sucked it up and said Friday he is simply happy to be alright.
“I feel like I hit about as hard as I could in one of these cars, and I’m still here somehow,” he said.
The second-year Penske Racing driver said one of a racer's worst fears was doing exactly what he did: Going through a corner without a SAFER barrier and losing his brakes.
“I had two or three seconds of staring at a wall, knowing I was going to hit it about as hard as you possibly could," he said. "Probably less comforting than that was knowing it was a temporary wall and on the other side was trees.”
Keselowski said he believed he would end up in the trees after breaking through the wall, but was lucky to come to a rest. After a few days' rest and recovery, he still has bruises all over his body but was feeling OK aside from some pain while walking.
The impact compromised the driver compartment, something Keselowski pointed out we have yet to see on the so-called COT car.
“The left front tire ended up where the brake pedal was supposed to be,” Keselowski said. “The brake pedal and all the other pedals were moved…a good six to eight inches in the cockpit. That was kind of hell. All the leg braces and structures had broken out of the car, but the seat itself was intact and what I feel like got me hurt was that the feet area was compromised. Being a guy with long legs, (the wreck) just shoved my legs back into my torso, into my hip and it was very, very painful.”
This weekend at Pocono, Keselowski has no hesitations of climbing back in the car but said, “I have checked my brakes a couple extra times before each corner.”
While he admitted there was “no good time” to have this injury, the upcoming stretch seems especially ill-timed: Keselowski will have to endure heavy braking and shifting the next two weekends at Pocono and Watkins Glen, along with the short tracks of Bristol and Richmond.
Some drivers have commented on how tough Keselowski is for racing this weekend despite the injury, but he looks at it in a much different light.
“I consider myself a lucky guy to walk away and be here,” he said.