There have been many headlines on stories of late asking whether former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has been "muzzled" by the sport, or in some fashion not as outspoken as he has been in the past.
I asked Keselowski during Thursday's Daytona 500 Media Day if he felt that assessment were true and if it were, what would be the reason. Here is his response, along with some follow-up questions:
“I don’t have a muzzle on my face right now, but maybe I should have. I’m in an increasingly difficult position as a champion of this sport to try to convey the very strong situation and the health of this sport, which, although it could always be better is not terrible. And also my own personal agenda to be a champion that moves this sport forward. I think the most significant way I can answer that question is I think quite a few back channels have opened up within NASCAR over the last six to eight months that have given me the ability to not have to go to the media to get something done," Keselowski said. "That fits my personal and professional agenda, and out of respect for that I think it maybe creates a situation where what might look like a muzzle to you or to the outside is perhaps more a moment of opportunity I just don’t want to piss away.”
Do you feel that's the benefit of becoming a champion? "Either that or just being so damn annoying that people start listening to you – one of the two.”
Do you feel by being outspoken may have opened some doors, but were there misktakes?
"Are there things I could do better? Absolutely, but the mistakes is what builds your character and helps you become the person that you are and that you can learn from, so they’re only a mistake if you don’t grow and learn from them."
Why do you feel these back channels have opened up? "I don’t know why channels are the way they are. That’s probably a better question for someone else, but I do feel like this sport has grown a lot over the last year in the sense of new people, new hires, and a new level of transparency that will serve it for years to come. It’s not really fair for me to answer why it has been the way it has, but from my perspective it certainly has gotten better.”