Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2013, 8:41 pm
Keselowski called to meeting with NASCAR leaders
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Brad Keselowski has been vocal about his desire to use his position as NASCAR champion to be an industry leader.
Sometimes that outspokenness gets him in trouble.
Keselowski confirmed on Saturday he met with NASCAR chairman Brian France and International Speedway Corp. CEO Lesa France Kennedy, but revealed few details about what actually was discussed with either executive.
"We are all engaged in the same thing, and we are all embracing making the sport better. We just have to discuss how we share that passion sometimes," he told The Associated Press following the final practice for the Daytona 500.
Keselowski was summoned on Friday to meet with the France's, the grandchildren of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., on the same day USA Today ran a lengthy profile piece on Keselowski in which the driver specifically mentioned both in wide-ranging comments about the direction of the sport.
"There are a lot of people that share the same passion for the sport, and I am confirmed of that by some people's reactions to some of the things I said," Keselowski said of the meeting. "I think that's a good thing. It's just a matter of embracing that passion and making a better sport out of it."
Keselowski has not been shy about voicing his opinion throughout his career, and vowed in his champions' speech last November to be an industry leader and help NASCAR grow.
NASCAR Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes said Keselowski was not in trouble, and the point of the separate 30-minute meetings with France and France Kennedy was to establish a dialogue with the reigning champion. Jewkes also said the meeting was not a direct result of the USA Today article.
"Brad has wanted more dialogue with senior executives, and Brian has wanted more dialogue as well. Yesterday provided a great opportunity for more dialogue," Jewkes said. "At the top of the list, Brian wants him and all drivers to be candid. That has not changed one ounce."
By meeting with top executives, Jewkes said Keselowski can be properly informed on the topics he chooses to delve into when taking a stand on the issues facing NASCAR.
Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon said he believes that's the position NASCAR needs to take with Keselowski.
I can see that coming from them ... wanting him to have all the details. He was pretty descriptive with a lot of it," Gordon said, adding he has no issue with Keselowski using his champion's pulpit. "I applaud a guy who's passionate about the sport and wants to give his opinion.
"I think it's not out of the ordinary for a new champion to feel confident to be able to express an opinion on things. Brad cares a lot about the sport. He's not trying to do anything that would hurt the sport. When you're that open, it doesn't surprise me that NASCAR is wanting to talk about it. I don't think it necessarily means they're saying don't do that."
Keselowski told the AP he won't change based on his meetings with France and France Kennedy, but indicated he may be more careful going forward.
"If there's one thing to come from this experience is that there are different ways to approach things," he said. "There is no right, wrong or indifferent. But there are easier and harder ways to do it. I have a bad habit of picking the harder way."