Brad Keselowski bleeds Michigan blue

August, 13, 2009
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A spectator wearing a bright yellow T-shirt yelled as sophomore wide receiver Martavious Odoms broke free over the middle, not far from the big "M" in the middle of the University of Michigan football practice field.

Junior quarterback Nick Sheridan saw the same thing and threw a perfect strike that Odoms snared and ran into the end zone.

The spectator, now hugging the sideline, raised both arms into the air.

"Touchdown!" he said.

Brad Keselowski may not know what Sprint Cup organization he's going to drive for next season, but he knows a lot about football. He spits out terms such as containment, pancake and cover-2 as fast as he turns laps in his Nationwide and Cup cars.

Keselowski in particular knows a lot about Michigan football. He grew up about 100 miles away in Rochester, Mich., cheering for the Wolverines, although he's yet to see a game in person.

"I'm a college football expert," said Keselowski, who gave up football in middle school to become a driver. "I'm really good."

A trip to the UM practice was a good break for the 25-year-old, about to embark on the biggest decision of his life. He apparently has more options for next season than the nine wins he predicts for the Wolverines, a prediction which makes him somewhat of a homer since seven is more realistic.

"I've gotten calls from teams I never thought would call, established teams that are looking for a change," said Keselowski, who will drive in the Cup and Nationwide races this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. "That kind of caught me off guard. I feel like I'm in good shape."

Keselowski said in May, shortly after taking the checkered flag at Talladega Superspeedway for his first Cup win, that he wanted to drive for Hendrick Motorsports or a team affiliated with HMS.

Those options have dwindled over the past few months. Hendrick has a full stable since announcing Mark Martin will drive the No. 5 in 2010. Dale Earnhardt Jr. says JR Motorsports, for which Keselowski drives in the Nationwide Series, likely would not move up to Cup.

And Tony Stewart says he doesn't anticipate adding a third team at Stewart-Haas Racing.

That seemingly leaves James Finch and HMS-supported Phoenix Racing, for which Keselowski drove at Talladega, as the lone option on that front.

Or does it?

"I wouldn't say there is only one option [to stay with Hendrick]," said Keselowski, who plans to host laid-off auto workers before Saturday's Nationwide race. "There are some things you guys don't know that I can't talk about."

He was not referring to the University of Michigan-sponsored car with a big "M" on the hood that he joked about earlier.

"It's a strange year for sure with the situation Kevin [Harvick] is going through," said Keselowski, referring to Harvick reportedly wanting out of his final year with Richard Childress Racing. "It's really hard to tell what rides are available and which aren't.

"There are a few positions that are going to switch that you aren't anticipating will switch. It's really interesting."

It's also something Keselowski doesn't care to share at the moment. He will say he hopes to stay in the No. 88 at JR Motorsports "for a long time," which seemingly would rule out going to Penske Racing. You can't drive a Chevrolet in the Nationwide Series and a Dodge in Cup.

But getting more out of Keselowski is tougher than getting a prediction for the college football season from Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, who by the way liked the nine-win prediction.

"It's a very complicated situation," Keselowski said. "I'd be lying if I told you I understood all the situations, because I don't. When I commit, left, right, middle or whatever, it will all happen at once."

Left? Middle? Right? Sounds more like football talk. Everybody knows drivers only know left -- except twice a year when they run road courses.

"I would like to think if I had some opportunities I could have done something at this level," Keselowsk said as he watched a spectacular sideline catch. "I would like to think I could play safety. I've got a little height on me. I'm not extremely fast, but I would be a hard hitter."

But he doesn't like it enough that he would trade the hits he takes now for gridiron glory.

"The thing about football, you take a hit every day," Keselowski said. "The stock cars hit you harder, but there is so much more in football. I'll take my one every month than five every day."

And he'll take a full-time Cup ride as soon as he decides which is best.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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