In my adolescence I once tried to argue a point with someone 30 years my senior.
I was quickly shot down.
“You’re trying to talk like a man, but you’re a boy,” was the line that shut me up.
I hope someone, someday, gives Brad Keselowski the same advice.
I like Keselowski. I really do.
I think he means well. He doesn’t want to be politically correct. He wants to say what’s on his mind, minus the constraints of those pesky public relations handlers. He wants to be old school, real.
There’s one problem. As much as you may appreciate this in a driver, there is simply nothing noble about anyone thumping his chest about a subject he expounds on in total ignorance.
And recently, Keselowski has done this twice.
Keselowski was a fun sound byte following AJ Allmendinger’s drug suspension by saying he didn’t feel Flintstones vitamins should be allowed. It was compelling television.
It was also mush.
There is a specific list of substances that are forbidden by NASCAR, based on a review of what either enhances performance and/or puts other drivers in danger. Keselowski added nothing noteworthy to this discussion, and put energy drink/energy shot/supplement sponsorship in peril in the middle of a tough market. It was self-serving machismo drivel, especially for someone who, as I’ve said in the past, drinks beer in Victory Lane at Nationwide races to appease his sponsor when he has Sprint Cup racing to do the next day.
Keselowski is simply not the person who needs to deliver this message. Keselowski needs to leave this kind of discussion up to a guy like Ryan Newman, a true teetotaler who has chased away alcohol sponsors.
I would have been willing to let one misplaced tirade go had he not done even worse at Michigan. Following a race in which he finished second he inferred that Hendrick Motorsports was cheating with its rear suspension.
Really? Well, I don’t want to hear that from Keselowski, especially when he’s the only one complaining and he’s lighting up the folks (Dale Earnhardt Jr., Rick Hendrick) that gave him his career.
It’s just not Keselowski’s time to take that role in the garage. Remember the 2007 Gatorade Duel at Daytona, when Jeff Gordon won one of the races, then was sent to the back of the Daytona 500 starting lineup due to a height violation in postrace inspection?
Initially, there was an uproar as to why no additional penalties were assessed. Then, Jeff Burton was granted a look by NASCAR at the violation.
Burton decreed the violation to be unintentional.
The garage agreed and went back to work.
Burton’s is called “The Mayor” because his experience and the way he conducts himself has earned him a certain level of respect in the garage. Keselowski seems to want to be Burton, but just doesn’t have the chops to serve in that kind of role yet.
Winning a Sprint Cup title won’t give Keselowki that designation. (Ask Kurt Busch.) It just takes time and experience. This is one of those experiences, as Keselowski was already trying to walk back his comments before NASCAR made it clear that the Hendrick cars were legal.
In 10 years, after another upstart infers that someone is cheating without getting all the facts, Keselowski will be able to put his arm around him and tell him about something really stupid he said back in 2012.
At least this negative has a chance to become a positive.
Follow Josh Stewart on Twitter @JoshNASCARWWE.