Thursday, February 14, 2013

Johnson Says Keselowski "Has Some Growing Up To Do"

"He needs to matire a little."
Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson said today that he did not approve of 2013 titlist Brad Keselowski's beer-fueled postrace celebration at Homestead Miami Speedway last November.

"Watching him on Sports Center following the race trying to drink a beer, I was not sure it was the best thing for our sport,” he said. “As mature as he wants to portray himself, Brad has some growing to do."

“Now he is in the spotlight as the champion. I think we all sit back and chuckle at some of the things he says and does. He is a great guy. He has the best of intentions for our sport; for his sponsor; for his team. He just needs to mature a little. I'm sure people can look back on my '06 year and have plenty of things to point fingers at."

Johnson predicted that the Penske Racing driver "will be more aware of his voice” in 2013. “Once you are the champion, your voice carries much further. The more success you have in the sport, that voice will carry further and further. I had experiences where I would casually mention something, and I didn't realize how far it went. Maybe I wasn't as accurate as I needed to be. I think he'll have a few moments like that which will rein him back in some, make him think about what he says and be more calculated.
Johnson had nothing but priase for Keselowski's ontrack efforts, however, saying, "he and Paul (Wolfe) did an amazing job. As competitors, they are awesome. They put up a heck of a fight.
He predicted that Keselowski will find there is a big difference between winning a championship and defending the title.

Keselowski celebrates at Homestead
“A lot of it depends on how the season starts,” he said. “If you take off where you left off (as the previous year’s champion), it’s pretty easy. You get accustomed to what being the champion is; the perks that come with it, the notoriety, then everything kind of blends in.
“But once you are a champion, when you don’t run like you should for any period of time, the questions will come. That is when any driver and team are tested. Brad (Keselowski) and Paul (Wolfe) are both very strong together. I don’t see it affecting them and preventing them from succeeding, but they will be reminded often that you have to go out there and earn each and every week. It’s not a layup.
“I have had years where we left the Chase successful, started the next season successful, then midway through the year it became really tough. Then the pressure sinks in and your mind starts playing some games on you. Those were moments we just had to learn from and work through. I would expect at some point in the year, they will go through that too.”
Johnson also warned that coming up short in two consecutive championship chases should not be viewed as a sign that his team has lost momentum.
“We haven’t thought of it as a loss of momentum,” he insisted. “It didn’t happen for a lot of reasons, When I look at 2011, I’m disappointed in the way we performed and the way we were involved in the Chase. We really weren’t, past the halfway point. But last year was quite different. I’m very proud of the effort we put in. I think last year showed how much of a team sport NASCAR racing really is. We seem to forget that at times, and (forget) how many variables play into winning the championship.
“We went to Phoenix and (had an) issue. We went to Homestead, a couple of issues. There is a lot more to it than just Chad and I, and what we do in the car. At the end of the day, I’m very proud of what we did last year.”
While fully focused on returning to championship form in 2013, Johnson said his first order of business will be to win a second Daytona 500.“There isn’t a single race larger than this one,” he said. “The Daytona 500 is in the same sentence as the other major auto racing events around the world. When you think of Monoco, Le Mans, Daytona, Indy, those are the staples. A championship does trump that, in my opinion. I was fortunate to win my Daytona 500 before my first championship (and) I was plenty happy. Winning the Daytona 500 was a huge accomplishment for myself.”
Johnson said the new, Gen-6 race car will be different to drive, and also present new challenges to the pit crews.
"Opportunities are still there..."
“I think crash damage is going to be something to learn from and understand how to repair the race car,” he predicted. “When those guys crashed on the backstretch during the (Daytona) test, stuff broke apart and disappeared. Before, with the sheet metal on the car, you were able to bend things and put them back in place. I understand that we didn’t have all the parts and pieces on the cars at that time either, but noses would smash in pretty easily. I think crash damage will be something that we all need to learn pretty quick.
"They took so many tools away from us that I don't know what we can really do,” he admitted. “We have far less tools today than we did at Homestead. They have changed the rules for the rear geometry. We still have opportunities to find things, but the reward is so small. You are finding a half of a tenth, at best and you have to stack up four or five things to create an advantage.
“The opportunities are still there,” said Johnson. “It is just more difficult to recognize them and put them in play. There are a lot of changes to the car, but at the end of the day, we have less tools to work with."
“Everybody is excited about the look of the car and the speed in the car,” he said. “It is a race right now for the first quarter. Whichever organization can find what the car likes first, is going to have a nice advantage. It won't last long, though.
“I really have to commend (Chad) for the way he carried himself and handled the ups and downs of last season, then through the off season, building with the team. There's been a lot of change when you look at the car and then some of our personnel change. Chad has been the best at leading that I have ever seen him since we've been together.
"Chad is doing what every crew chief is doing; trying to find areas to find speed in the car. We've learned things over the years (that put) speed in the cars. We all know that skew is important. So, within the rules, how can you get as much skew as possible in the car? We know what camber does. We'll have to see over the course of the year how much rear camber guys can run. We've seen a lot of excessive wear on the right rear tire with the high camber settings that they let us run. Long story short, Chad is doing what all the other guys are. But that box keeps getting smaller and smaller.”


  1. Stephen Conley3:52 PM

    I completely disagree, but then again. who am I? Brad Keselowski showed that you can be a champion and have fun doing it. I hope brad kicks it up a notch, Not backing down from confontation, saying exactly what his free mind has sitting on it and brining the fun out in this sport.

  2. Anonymous4:29 PM

    I dont recall brad getting drunk and falling from atop a golf cart. My how we forget.

  3. Brandon in TN4:37 PM

    Personality vs Mr. Vanilla. I'll take personality any day.

  4. Anonymous4:46 PM

    i hope he doesn't change one cause we sure dont need another johnson

    1. Geosez9:56 AM

      Actually, one of each is about right -- one Jimmie, one Brad, one Dale, one Tony, etc. That's what makes our sport fun!

  5. Anonymous5:42 PM

    Brad is bold, brash & exactly what we need. Most fans love his style, willingness to speak HIS opinion . Finally a driver with an opinion that isn't from the nascar preprinted politically correct book. Tony, Kevin had it once. Keep it up Brad. You made me a fan.! JJ is an great driver. BUT we want personality... As long as he can back it up. Set the deuce loose!

  6. Do ya think maybe, just maybe, JJ is already trying to work on Brad's head? Just a tad?

    That strategy didn't work all that well last season.

  7. Alan J.2:57 AM

    Sounds like someone is a tad annoyed at the love Brad K. is now getting.. and the love he somehow never gets... Remember Brad's Sponsor IS a Brewery.. and one of if not the longest running sponsor of a single team other than STP in recent NASCAR History.. and they DID make that beer mug specially for his championship.
    That's life.. When you are the champ.. enjoy it.. when you are not.. be graceful in defeat.

  8. Anonymous8:09 AM

    You know, I don't even like Brad K. but, I like him being himself. I think Jimmie needs to go back to Manhatten and stop trying to be a racer. We need more off the cuff people rather than boring say the proper thing like Jimmie. I am really losing interest in Nascar, and have been for years. I used to breath it. Now, I am lucky if I can even force myself to watch a race.....get rid of the Chase, and get rid of the boring....maybe Jimmie should go to F-1 as that is how they act.

    1. If you really want more outspoken, "off the cuff" drivers in NASCAR, shouldn't you be HAPPY that Jimmie expressed his opinion? The politically correct thing to do would have been to remain silent and avoid offending anyone.

  9. I love it when the sparks fly early. I'd still rather have BK's beer glass (?) than JJ's toolbox.

    Rick in Indiana

  10. I'm not a Dodge or Ford fan but have become a BK fan. Johnson is on 'my team' but I think he's too Uptown for NASCAR. (He and Gordon seem to be cut from the same cloth) BK is more old school and I think the sport needs to get back to more drivers cut from his cloth. NASCAR doesn't need head games, just drive the car balls out!