Brad Keselowski scored his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. Keselowski overcame adversity winning the 500 mile race while nursing a broken ankle.
Last Wednesday Keselowski suffered the injury while testing at Road Atlanta. His Dodge careened into a guardrail at over 100 miles per hour. Keselowski was airlifted to an area hospital where x-rays showed that his left ankle had an avulsion fracture. Whether he would race on Sunday was questionable for a time but the driver quickly dismissed the notion and vowed to compete.
Keselowski did opt out of the NASCAR Nationwide race in Iowa on Saturday. During practice on Saturday at Pocono Keselowski seemed to struggle, but continued to insist he would be fine for Sunday.
Sunday, Keselowski hovered around the top 10 and finally took the lead on lap 129, after a nearly two hour rain delay. From there he stayed inside the top five until taking the lead of the race with 15 laps to go and driving to victory.
After gingerly climbing from his car in victory lane, Keselowski said he wasn’t thinking about himself.
“I’m no hero.” He said. “The heroes are the guys that died in Afghanistan this weekend and I want to spend time thinking about them. They were my inspiration for this weekend and the things that those guys do. I’m glad that we could win today, but those are the heroes. I just drive race cars for a living.”
Saturday the world learned that 38 service members, including 30 Americans- most of them from SEAL Team 6, were killed when their Chinook helicopter was downed in the Wardak province in Afghanistan. It marked the largest single loss of Americans in the decade long war.
Sunday at a racetrack in Pennsylvania Keselowski, who took no pain killers the entire weekend, said the thought of those troops helped him drive through that pain.
“I might not be feeling great, but those are the guys that are really making sacrifices,” he said. “We’re just driving race cars for a living. We’re not curing cancer or saving the world like those guys are. So … it was inspirational for me. Whenever I got in the car and felt like, ‘This hurts, I don’t want to do this, I want to get out,’ that was good inspiration on what it means to man up and make it happen, because it’s really not that bad.”
He also added that his connection to those lives lost in Afghanistan was personal as well.
“I do have a cousin in the Navy Seals. One of the guys who died over there (in Saturday’s helicopter crash) was someone he knew, was friends with,” Keselowski said. “(He) told me a little bit about (it) this week, and it kind of put things in perspective.”