Defy The Odds: Brad Keselowski Breaks Ankle, Wins Pocono In The Same Week

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)

This week is the one-year anniversary of Brad Keselowski's win at Pocono, which came despite a broken ankle he sustained in a test just four days earlier.

Brad Keselowski is one of the best interviews in NASCAR. Ask him a question, and he'll often give a lengthy, insightful answer with passion, humor and a unique perspective.

But ask him about his own personal achievements – particularly those which require some reflection – and you just won't get much.

Take the one-year anniversary of his unbelievable Pocono win, for example. A year ago this week, Keselowski broke his ankle while testing at a road course just four days before the 500-mile Pocono marathon.

And not only did Keselowski start the Pocono race – which defied the odds just by itself – but he won. So you'd think with the anniversary of that remarkable accomplishment coming up this week, Keselowski would perhaps allow for some time to reflect.

But at least publicly, that's not happening. On Saturday, I asked him about his memories and reflections on the Pocono race one year later.

"I think we got a lot of momentum from that and we're still carrying it to this day and I'm not going to let it go," he said.

That seemed like all I was going to get out of him, so I followed up: Has he spent any time thinking about what happened last year as the date gets closer?

"I really haven't," he said. "I look back and I'm proud of the team effort we had on that weekend."

That's it. Nothing about himself, nothing about his achievement. So what gives?

Keselowski is a driver who believes in "manning up" and dealing with whatever comes his way – an approach which involves little fanfare. While he may call attention to himself through his outspoken comments on various issues, he's not the type of person to toot his own horn about on-track accomplishments.

In that case, others will have to do it for him. Looking back at last year's Pocono race, what Keselowski did will go down as one of the legendary NASCAR performances of all time.

People still talk about Ricky Rudd duct-taping his swollen eyes open in order to race the 1984 Daytona 500. What Keselowski did is just as tough – and that was just to get into the car and start the race.

To actually win it? It still seems hard to believe.

If you recall, Keselowski had left Indianapolis outside the top 20 in points and unsure if his fuel-mileage win at Kansas would be good enough to get him a wild card spot in the Chase. And though we think of Keselowski as a winning driver now, he only had two career victories at that point (Kansas and his Talladega win for Phoenix Racing).

Then came the broken ankle. Keselowski was testing a car at Road Atlanta when his brakes failed and he went head-on into a concrete barrier with no soft wall – at 155 mph. He was airlifted to a local hospital and released later that night, but it seemed questionable whether Keselowski would be able to even race at Pocono, let alone run competitively.

But despite the fractured ankle, an aching back and an open blister on his shifting hand, Keselowski beat Kyle Busch on the final restart with 15 laps to go and won the race.

"I came here to win," he said after the race. "When you let the pain get into your head that far that you don't believe you can win anymore, you'll never win."

Keselowski's run continued the next week with an improbable second-place run at Watkins Glen, a third at Michigan and another win in the Bristol night race – which basically secured his wild card spot (he eventually made the Chase). All of this took place with an ankle that was still injured – and Keselowski wasn't taking any pain medication to help it.

If all that doesn't count as "Defying the odds," what does?

"I think when we look back at this years from now, I think that's what I'll think about: Overcoming adversity," Keselowski said in the moments after his Pocono win last season.

As it turns out, though, Keselowski doesn't plan to look back much at all.

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