LONG POND, PA - AUGUST 07: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, rests his injured leg in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono Raceway on August 7, 2011 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR At Pocono Raceway: Brad Keselowski Wins Despite Badly Injured Ankle

Despite an injured ankle, Brad Keselowski took home a win at Pocono after a long rain delay.

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NASCAR: Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson Clash After Hard Racing At Pocono

Five-time defending NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson yelled at Kurt Busch on pit road following Sunday's NASCAR race at Pocono, expressing his displeasure over contact between the two drivers as they raced hard late in the 500-mile event.

Johnson and Busch pointed and gestured at one another while making their opinions known, but there was no physical contact between the two.

"I'm not going to run people over to pass them," Johnson said. "That's just not me. I worked on him for however many laps trying to get by him clean – fair and square – and then as I got up next to him, we had an issue off of (Turn 2). I'll just keep filing things away and remember this stuff."

Busch argued that Johnson took a "jab" at him first, and said he simply returned the favor.

"I was racing him, flat-out," Busch said. "You want to race? Let's race. I didn't know we were supposed to pull over when it came to five (laps) to go. I raced him hard, raced him smart, raced him clean and he wants to come over here and bitch about it."

Johnson said he had the opportunity to run Busch over or make contact with him for the 10 previous laps, and "never did it." He was upset Busch didn't treat him the same way.

Busch, obviously, disagreed.

"It's as clean as I've ever seen it," Busch said. "Why can't we race like this and put on a show for the fans and not have a problem with it? I don't know."

Busch took exception to reporters' questions about the incident after the race, calling one "People magazine" for asking about Johnson.

"We were racing hard," he said. "I think that's what we saw on TV and exactly that's what should be reported. There are a lot of times when the 22 is on the short end of the stick of the 48. And I raced him hard today. I'm glad I did. I have no regrets in it."

When another reporter asked Busch's brother, Kyle, about drivers showing less give-and-take on the track, Kurt interrupted angrily.

"You wonder why we don't (race hard) – because we have to come in here and answer...questions like this," he said. "Just accept it: It was great racing."


Dale Earnhardt Jr. Comfortable With Chase Outlook After Pocono Result

Coming off a string of six races with only one top-15 finish, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was able to smile once again following his ninth-place finish Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

Running in the top-10 for the majority of the afternoon, Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the overall speed of the car and the team's ability to rally back from some struggles on pit road. 

"There's so many guys on the team, it's rare when everyone is kind of clicking," he said. "We'll get it sorted out. We had good speed though, we had a good car all day long and real happy how that worked out."

By finishing ninth, and thanks to a late-race mistake by Denny Hamlin's pit crew, Earnhardt Jr. was able to put a bit more of a cushion on his points position, moving within one point of Tony Stewart in ninth and extending the gap to Hamlin to 23. 

After weeks of struggles, Earnhardt Jr. said he was "comfortable" with his spot in the standings, without even knowing how Sunday's results came into play. 

"I don't know where we're at (in points). I haven't seen it. I'm comfortable though, trust me," he said with a grin. "I'd rather be second or first or third, whatever, but I'm good with how things are working out."

What Earnhardt Jr. is happy about is the team's ability to get back on track after those six weeks of poor finishes. Following a string of three races with one top-five and three top-10s, Earnhardt Jr. slipped into his worst slump of the year.

Instead of hanging his head or panicking, Earnhardt Jr. remained focused and was able to get the team back on track. Although pleased with his performance, he continued to find room for improvement going forward, saying they need to get better at qualifying. 

"Our car had speed," he said. "I was like, ‘Heck yeah, man!' I drove up to fifth there one time and was racing around the top four, that's how we were running at the start of the year. I'm kind of happy about that. Hopefully we've got it figured out."

Heading to Watkins Glen next week, Earnhardt Jr. knows it could be "feast or famine" as they try to "steal a win" using pit strategy. 

"If we have a bad day (at Watkins Glen), I really won't be too concerned," he said. "As far as oval racing – what I love – I think we're getting better at it again."


NASCAR Pocono Results: Brad Keselowski Wins Despite Badly Injured Ankle

Ricky Rudd once taped his eyelids open so he could race. Denny Hamlin went to Victory Lane with a torn knee ligament. And on Sunday at Pocono Raceway, Brad Keselowski added his name to the list of NASCAR drivers who toughed out an injury for the benefit of their team.

Just five days after Keselowski was airlifted to a hospital following a crash in testing, the Penske Racing driver and his swollen ankle went to Victory Lane at Pocono with an inspiring drive.

Keselowski, who said he was motivated by the memory of American soldiers who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan earlier in the week, came out with the lead after a three-wide battle on a restart with 17 laps remaining.

The win gave Keselowski new life in the Chase wild card race – it was his second win of the season – and it came thanks in part to a rain delay of one hour and 40 minutes that changed the strategy.

While most of the frontrunners – including race leader Joey Logano – stayed out, Keselowski and teammate Kurt Busch pitted in case the race went back to green.

NASCAR officials dried the track and the tandem of Busch and Keselowski were able to gain track position. Keselowski's car was better in the end, and he held of a challenge from Kyle Busch at the finish.

Here are the results from Sunday's NASCAR race at Pocono:

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Kurt Busch
  4. Jimmie Johnson
  5. Ryan Newman
  6. Jeff Gordon
  7. Carl Edwards
  8. Greg Biffle
  9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  10. Paul Menard
  11. Tony Stewart
  12. Martin Truex Jr.
  13. Mark Martin
  14. Kevin Harvick
  15. Denny Hamlin
  16. Matt Kenseth
  17. Jeff Burton
  18. Clint Bowyer
  19. AJ Allmendinger
  20. Marcos Ambrose
  21. Regan Smith
  22. Jamie McMurray
  23. David Gilliland
  24. David Reutimann
  25. Bobby Labonte
  26. Joey Logano
  27. Landon Cassill
  28. Kasey Kahne
  29. Andy Lally
  30. Dave Blaney
  31. Travis Kvapil
  32. Juan Pablo Montoya
  33. Jason White
  34. David Ragan
  35. Robby Gordon
  36. Casey Mears
  37. Todd Bodine
  38. David Stremme
  39. Brian Vickers
  40. Scott Speed
  41. Joe Nemechek
  42. Erik Darnell
  43. JJ Yeley

NASCAR Update: Pocono Race Resumes After Rain Clears

The NASCAR Pocono race is back underway after a rain shower caused a 90-minute delay with 76 laps to go.

That's bad news for Joey Logano – who was winning when the rain came – but good news for Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski, who pitted just before the delay and now will have good track position.

More weather is in the area, but it's unclear whether it will miss the track or allow the race to run until its finish.


NASCAR Update: Joey Logano Leads As Pocono Race Delayed By Rain

A typical summer rain shower has delayed the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, and Joey Logano is hoping it doesn't let up.

Logano is leading on lap 124 (of 200 laps) and efforts are underway to dry the 2.5-mile triangular track. If the Joe Gibbs Racing driver holds on, he'll be in the No. 2 Wild Card spot for the Chase with only five races remaining until the cutoff.

The rain has stopped as of 4 p.m. Eastern, but another cell is on the way. If the race doesn't get restarted, here's how the Pocono Raceway results would look:

  1. Joey Logano
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  6. Jeff Gordon
  7. Clint Bowyer
  8. Carl Edwards
  9. Mark Martin
  10. Ryan Newman
  11. Paul Menard
  12. Kevin Harvick
  13. Martin Truex Jr.
  14. Greg Biffle
  15. Jeff Burton
  16. Matt Kenseth
  17. AJ Allmendinger
  18. Marcos Ambrose
  19. David Reutimann
  20. Regan Smith
  21. Juan Pablo Montoya
  22. Landon Cassill
  23. Bobby Labonte
  24. David Gilliland
  25. Brad Keselowski
  26. Kurt Busch
  27. Jamie McMurray
  28. Tony Stewart
  29. Kasey Kahne
  30. Andy Lally
  31. Dave Blaney
  32. Travis Kvapil
  33. Jason White
  34. Robby Gordon
  35. David Ragan
  36. Casey Mears
  37. Todd Bodine
  38. David Stremme
  39. Brian Vickers
  40. Scott Speed
  41. Joe Nemechek
  42. Erik Darnell
  43. JJ Yeley

NASCAR Image Of The Week: Should This Be Pocono Raceway's New Logo?

In light of the rain-delayed Camping World Truck Series and ARCA races at Pocono Raceway this weekend – and the threat of rain for today's Sprint Cup Series race – @nascarcasm has designed a new logo for the "Tricky Triangle."



Brad Keselowski After Testing Wreck: I Am Lucky To Be Here

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. 


Carl Edwards' Roush Fenway Racing Teammates Offer Tepid Response To Star Driver's Contract Extension

At times, it seems from the outside like Roush Fenway Racing is Carl Edwards' world and everyone else at Roush just lives in it.

It probably feels that way inside the organization sometimes, too. Edwards' three Roush Fenway teammates were all asked about the driver's contract extension on Friday, and offered varying degrees of what appeared to be lukewarm responses.

"I didn't know he had re-signed," Roush teammate Greg Biffle said sarcastically on Friday at Pocono Raceway. "He has? OK. This is the first I've heard of it."

Biffle admitted he was "a little skeptical" about Edwards' return because he figured "this is August already" and if Edwards was going to re-sign with the team – as Biffle did in the spring – it would have been done a long time ago.

But lo and behold, Edwards did come back. And that's not a bad thing for the overall health of the Roush organization – which is about as much as Biffle had to say about the extension.

"He does a good job getting his car set up and helps (with information)," Biffle said. "I think we all help each other."

David Ragan, another Roush driver, said "I'm just glad it's over" and was pleased that the whole situation "can be put to rest."

"I'm happy to see it. I'm glad it happened now," Ragan said. "I wish it would have happened six weeks ago, but that was certainly the top priority of Roush over the last six weeks, in my opinion, and maybe now they can move on."

Edwards' other Roush teammate, Matt Kenseth, said it was good for the team to retain a driver who has been "kind of the face for Roush Fenway the last few years, at least."

"He brings a lot of excitement and energy to the organization and, obviously, he runs really well and has a big fan and sponsor following," Kenseth said. "So I think it's good for the team."

The best part of the announcement, Biffle said, is that the biggest question about Roush Fenway's 2012 lineup has been answered.

"I'm relieved because people won't ask me about it anymore after today," he said.


Clint Bowyer Still 'Working On' Future As NASCAR Free Agent Class Is Trimmed

With Carl Edwards off the NASCAR free agent market following his decision to re-sign with Roush Fenway Racing, the highest-profile driver still available is Clint Bowyer.

Bowyer has yet to extend his contract with Richard Childress Racing – though publicly, he's said he wants to do so.

When will he make a decision?

"We're working on it," Bowyer said Friday at Pocono Raceway. "That's the biggest thing as far as contract stuff. I feel like we're getting close and we're working on it, and hopefully we'll have that done."

Because of the limited amount of opportunities at other teams, it's been speculated Bowyer will remain at Childress. There are no seats at Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing appears to be waiting for Danica Patrick's arrival to expand to three cars and Joe Gibbs Racing will likely remain at three teams now that Edwards stayed with Roush.

It seems unlikely that Roush would have a place for Bowyer now that Edwards has re-signed, and most of Bowyer's other opportunities would be a step down from his current ride.

That Edwards, Jeff Burton and Greg Biffle have all decided to remain with their current teams is indicative of an owner's market. Drivers simply don't have that many options due to the economic climate, so their best option is to stay put if they can.

Bowyer was rumored to have been flirting with Red Bull Racing before the team announced it would shut down if a new owner wasn't found, but that's obviously no longer an option.

Because the team might not exist, it's likely not an option for current Red Bull driver Brian Vickers, either. It's unclear where Vickers may end up, because there are so few good rides available.

Another free agent is Juan Pablo Montoya. The Colombian still hasn't re-signed with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, even though that seemed like a foregone conclusion months ago.

And then there's Mark Martin. The veteran has kept his future plans close to the vest, but has said repeatedly that he plans to drive again somewhere next season.

Of course, the picture could get much clearer after Bowyer makes his decision.


Dale Earnhardt Jr. At Pocono Raceway: No News On Danica Patrick Racing Full-Time For JR Motorsports

Following an Associated Press report earlier in the week that Danica Patrick was close to completing a deal to run the full Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports in 2012, team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained quiet on the rumors on Friday at Pocono Raceway.

Earnhardt Jr. said there was no news on the Danica front, adding he is not in the middle of negotiations but nothing has changed over the past week.

When asked if he would consider bringing Mark Martin on as a mentor for Patrick at JR Motorsports, Earnhardt Jr. said the money simply is not there.

"We can't consider adding to our program without money, and money is tight," he said. 

The story also indicated Patrick was working on a deal to run a handful of Sprint Cup Series races with Stewart-Haas Racing, something Earnhardt Jr. believes should be put off until she is ready.

"I think that anyone that comes into the sport – anyone – needs two or three years in the Trucks and Nationwide Series to step into the Cup Series comfortably," he said. "Two or three years in the Nationwide Series is a pretty decent amount (of time), and that would be rushing it in my mind."

Earnhardt Jr. said not only are the Sprint Cup cars a "big challenge" but the demands of the schedule, the travel and everything associated with the series is "a big pool to jump in right off the bat."

"It's just good for any driver, any young guy who comes into this sport to really take his time," he said. "I know once you get that opportunity in front of you, you're afraid it might be the only opportunity you have, but sometimes it's smarter to gain more experience at the Nationwide level because some guys come in a little early and they blow that opportunity and it turns out to be the only opportunity they ever get."


At Pocono, Paul Menard Recaps Week Of Brickyard 400 Celebration

Paul Menard woke up with a sore throat on the day of the Brickyard 400 and figured he might have the start of a cold. But if ever had any thoughts of fighting it off, that idea disappeared after a week of celebrations, travel and interviews.

So it was no wonder, then, that Menard showed up at Pocono Raceway on Friday still sounding a bit hoarse and under the weather after a whirlwind week.

But that's OK. He's a Brickyard 400 champion.

"On my cell phone, I have a picture of us in Victory Lane," he said. "It'll probably be there for the rest of my life."

Here's a quick recap of Menard's week:

Sunday: Menard wins the Brickyard 400, his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.

Monday: Menard hops a 5:30 a.m. flight to ESPN's studios in Bristol, Conn. He spends the day making various stops around ESPN and getting a tour of the campus, which he called "pretty cool, as a lifelong sports fan." After returning home on Monday night, he finally had some time to himself to relax with an adult beverage and "enjoy the moment."

Tuesday: Menard heads to a workout with his trainer, then has more interviews, including a couple Speed channel shows.

Wednesday: Menard visits Richard Childress Racing and takes his team out for a celebratory lunch, then stops by Kevin Harvick Inc. (where he runs Nationwide Series cars on occasion).

Thursday: Menard travels to Pocono.

Clearly, there wasn't much time for too much celebration before Pocono weekend arrived. But Menard said there are several memories he'll cherish.

Among them were the moment when his father, John, told him "I'm proud of you, son" and gave him a bear hug in Victory Lane.

Jeff Gordon's visit to the winner's circle was a highlight, too, and Menard said that of all the text messages he received from fellow drivers, the ones from former Indianapolis 500 winners Buddy Rice and Eddie Cheever meant the most.

Menard, of course, hopes for more celebrations soon. He said there's a good chance he'll have a strong day at Pocono – where teams set up their cars in a similar fashion to Indianapolis – and solidify his position as a Chase wild card contender.

Looking out from his perch on the media center stage, he told reporters, "We're going to try to be here every week."


Kevin Harvick: NASCAR Tracks Have A Responsibility To Fill The Seats

Earlier this week it was announced Nashville Superspeedway would no longer host NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races.

Some were left disappointed by the news. But not Kevin Harvick.

"The grandstands at Nashville have not been full since the first day we went there," Harvick said Friday at Pocono Raceway.

A two-time Nationwide Series winner at the speedway, Harvick said it was the track's responsibility to fill the grandstands and it had not lived up to its end of the bargain.

"The crowds have been terrible," he said. "It's just one of those deals where they couldn't make it work for whatever reason. We need to be in places that fill up the grandstands. There's a lot of race tracks on the circuit that have been able to fill the grandstands and (Nashville) couldn't, and it didn't work out for them."

Despite his comments, Harvick praised the track itself and its history, but said it was ultimately the number of people in the stands that truly mattered.

What track should replace Nashville Superspeedway on the Nationwide schedule? None, Harvick said.

"There's too many races for the Nationwide Series," he said, adding the Camping World Truck Series needs to include more short tracks and bull rings.

Looking at last weekend's attendance at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, some could argue that track could be in danger using Harvick's logic, but he disagreed.

"You're not talking about 10,000 people in the stands, you're still talking over 100,000 people in the grandstands at Indy," Harvick said, comparing those numbers to the NFL's Super Bowl attendance.

For Harvick, the attendance issues at Indianapolis do not stem from problems with the racing or the facility; rather they are still being effected by the 2008 tire debacle.

"The bottom line is we made a mistake in Indy and pissed all the race fans off," he said. "Everybody's done a great job trying to fix that situation going forward. Goodyear's done (better) with the tires. There was just a huge mistake made there several years ago. If you look at the grandstands, the way they've been since that particular day has been not as good as it was before that."

Harvick admitted they "still have a lot of work to do" at Indy, but the fact is Indianapolis is still putting 100,000 people in the stands for a Sprint Cup Series race, not 10,000 people for a Nationwide Series event.

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