Brad Keselowski: Pain won't stop me
LONG POND, Pa. -- Brad Keselowski's broken left ankle ballooned to the size of a softball, and he needs a left shoe a size larger than his right one.
Stay home? No way.
Not only will Keselowski drive Sunday at Pocono Raceway, he says no amount of pain from his broken left ankle will force him out of the No. 2 Dodge.
"It's been easier at times," he said, sitting outside his transporter.
His week got worse during Friday's second practice session. He blew a tire, spun and had to slam the brakes, putting pressure on his injured ankle. The Dodge was towed to the garage, and Keselowski was left wondering what else could go wrong.
"It's just been one of those weeks, I guess," he said.
The good news for Keselowski was that he had brakes and got the car under control. He wasn't so lucky on Wednesday when he lost his brakes during a test session and crashed head-on into a wall at Road Atlanta.
He slammed a section of wall that did not have an energy-absorbing barrier and data showed he slowed from 155 mph to about 100 mph at time of impact.
Five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was at Road Atlanta and posted a picture on Twitter of the crumpled car.
"I could tell he was a bit dazed when he got out of the car," Johnson said. "I spoke to him the night after the wreck and he didn't remember me being down at the race car with him, so I think he definitely was dazed."
Keselowski later posted several updates on his Twitter page, including two photos that showed a swollen ankle and an abrasion on his foot.
"I was pretty sure after I hit the wall that I had broken everything that I could break," he said. "I was hurting pretty good. I feel pretty decent now. Walking isn't all that easy, but that's just the deal.
Keselowski won't run in Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide race in Iowa. Penske Racing said Sam Hornish Jr. will drive the No. 22 Dodge in Friday's practices, qualifying and the race.
But Keselowski was at Pocono Raceway, trying his best to block out the pain and compete as if it were a normal practice session. He needs his left foot for braking and shifting, and Pocono is a grueling 500-mile race on a 2½-mile track.
"I can't believe he is driving," driver Clint Bowyer said. "I'm not a doctor, but his ankle looked twice the size of the other one in the picture. I bet he is going to be pretty uncomfortable when he has to mash the brakes in turn one."
Keselowski has good reason for not wanting out. He's 21st in the standings and trying to earn one of the wild-card berths in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
The top two drivers with the most victories in 11th to 20th place earn a wild-card spot in the Chase for the championship. He has a win at Kansas, meaning one more victory would surely catapult him into the title hunt.
"This is about the worst time knowing we're coming up on the Chase, knowing we need another win to get in," Keselowski said. "There's no good time, but this is certainly the worst time."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press