Friday, October 26, 2012

Guess who thinks Brad Keselowski will be hard to beat?

   While most of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s media availability on Friday at Martinsville Speedway was taken up by questions concerning his recent two-week absence from racing due to a pair of concussions, he did get a few non-medical questions.

   One was regarding Sprint Cup Series points leader Brad Keselowski, who kicked started his career running up front and winning races for JR Motorsports' Nationwide Series team. Earnhardt is co-owner of the team.

   Earnhardt was asked how he thought Keselowski would hold up in his current situation considering some people claim he might crack under the pressure.

   Here is Earnhardt's response: "I don’t think he’s going to crack. I think he’s going to be hard to beat. I think he will be a tough competitor all the way through. Brad has been waiting on this opportunity all his life so I don’t expect him to crack under the pressure. I think he will be tough.”

What do you do when the competition is good, too?

   Jimmie Johnson, with six career Sprint Cup wins at Martinsville Speedway, was certainly looking forward to this weekend's race to help in the hunt for his sixth series championship.
   But Denny Hamlin, who owns four wins of his own at the half-mile flat track, sees Sunday's race as a chance to pick up points as well.
   And Brad Keselowski, the series points leader, is no slouch at the track. He only has five career starts but has a solid record, including a ninth-place finish in the spring.
   So, what do you do when you're in the title hunt, you're headed to one of your best tracks but your closest competition is good there, too? According to Johnson, you battle for every single point.
   “I try to stay focused on my record and my team. But there is a part of my mind that thinks of strengths and weaknesses of the other drivers. In general, I feel like the way everybody is running, you might get a point or two; if you’re fortunate enough to win, you’ll get three (points) on a guy and that’s what we’ve seen," he said. "And that’s where my disappointment of last week (Kansas Speedway) comes into play because I feel like I could have gotten a good chunk on the No. 2 (Keselowski) and the No. 11 (Hamlin).
   "But coming here, the way we’re sitting in points, I would hope to get a handful of points on the No. 2 car. And at the same time, Denny, I got a few points on him last week so if I gave up a few it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. And I really think going down the stretch, it’s going to be a game of a few points at a time. That’s just the way my mindset is.
   "I’m focused on it this week a little bit and if I lose a little to the No. 11, it’s not what I want but I got a few last week; and if I’m able to get some on the No. 2, then we did what we should here.”