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In re-released interview, Brad Keselowski recalls how Rick Hendrick left him heartbroken

Apr 19, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT


Even though much of NASCAR is on its annual Easter break, a re-released interview with 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski is definitely going to have tongues once again wagging over the next few days.

Since last season, when he failed to defend his 2012 title, Keselowski has become reflective in several interviews, talking about a variety of subjects including his upbringing, his early-career feud with Carl Edwards and other topics.

A segment of an episode of  the syndicated “In Depth With Graham Bensinger” from late 2012 that featured an interview with Keselowski shortly after he won the Cup crown was re-released three days ago as part of a new program including an interview with defending and six-time Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson.

Bensinger’s syndicated show can be seen on various TV outlets and web sites, including Yahoo Sports.

Keselowski – looking perhaps as somber as we’ve ever seen him, at times seemingly ready to break into tears – discusses how heartbroken, if not potentially betrayed he felt in 2009 when team owner Rick Hendrick picked Mark Martin to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet instead of giving Keselowski the opportunity, even though Bad Brad insists Hendrick had previously promised him that ride in 2010.

Keselowski also talks prominently about how Roger Penske approached him back in 2008, inquiring if the young talent would be interested in joining Team Penske.

“He called me and wanted to know what my situation was essentially,” Keselowski said. “I knew I wanted to do the Hendrick opportunity and go for that. But this is Roger Penske. How can I say no to at least a chance to meet him, so I met him. I sat in that office and he talked to me and I just wanted to hear him talk. I never met the guy, I just wanted to hear him talk. I didn’t know what he had to say.”

Keselowski appreciated Penske’s outreach, but elected to remain with JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, believing that he was the heir apparent for the Hendrick-owned No. 5 in 2010.

“I knew what (Penske) meant to the sport, I knew what he meant to Detroit (Keselowski is a native of suburban Detroit),” Keselowski said. “… At the end (of their conversation), he asked me a very simple question, ‘Are you interested?’ I told him I’m a loyal guy, I’ve already made another commitment, but I have a feeling I’ll be back.”

Keselowski’s loyalty to Hendrick didn’t exactly work out the way he thought it would, and as he predicted, Keselowski eventually took Penske up on his offer.

Keselowski recalls it all with crystal clarity as if it happened yesterday.

“As soon as Mark Martin won that race (Phoenix, spring 2009), I knew what that meant, I knew what when he won meant. As soon as he won that race, I knew I wasn’t going to get the ride at Hendrick Motorsports in 2010, the one essentially we’d talked about and I’d been promised. … As soon as (Martin) won Phoenix, he walked up to Mr. Hendrick and said he wanted to drive the car for the next year or two, which essentially there was no spot for me.”

When Bensinger asked Keselowski if he feels Hendrick betrayed him, Keselowski demurred somewhat.

“I never really thought of it as betrayal, I guess,” Keselowski said. “Maybe I did, I don’t know. It was more heartbroken, more chippy. Maybe that’s something that comes from a sense of betrayal, but that’s a strong word. I would say it definitely added fuel to the fire of who I am and my desire to be the best.”

Click on the link below. Some of Keselowski’s comments are definitely eye-opening.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

  1. extavernmouse - Apr 19, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    I’ve seen this interview before, maybe a year ago. This isn’t just released. If you haven’t seen it before, though, it’s really good.

  2. lofty35 - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    The title even says re-released…

    • extavernmouse - Apr 20, 2014 at 12:49 AM

      It’s been corrected since I left my comment.

  3. bear1138 - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    Easy to blame Hendrick now but in reality, you really can’t. Hendrick was loyal to a twenty-something veteran who is beloved in the sport and had a stellar 2009 season……Keselowski was still an unproven rookie at the time. Ya I think he won a Nationwide Championship by this time but it doesn’t gaurantee success at the Cup level.

    Unfortunately Martin struggled in 2010 and 2011 and it proved to be a bad decision in the long run but hindsight is 20/20. I love Mark Martin and can’t blame Hendrick for the decision at the time. Plus when you’re Rick Hendrick, you don’t really even need development drivers when you can just get a guy like Kasey Kahne to join your team.

  4. manik56 - Apr 20, 2014 at 1:01 AM

    Brad K would have done more for the 5 than Kahne or Martin ever have. The Kahne move has basically been a disaster. With Elliott coming through the ranks and Gordon, Johnson, and Earnhardt going nowhere, Kahne should be worried. Brad K and Kyle Busch have been Hendrick screw ups. Thankfully for him, Jimmie and Chad keep covering for them.

  5. ewjones - Apr 20, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    I have always wondered why they cannot drive around in circles without hitting one another, just bad drivers?

  6. indytate - Apr 20, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    Brad is definitely a very talented driver but in my opinion he’s also a major butthead.

  7. orrymain - Apr 20, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    I blame Mark Martin for taking the ride. He knew he would be knocking out someone, whoever it was. I liked Brad as a young racer and I believed he fit in perfectly with Hendrick. It’s not that I’m some big Brad fan as I’m really not, but I do appreciate his drive and passion for the sport. Mark kept tossing out that retirement card. I just hate wishy washy. I never liked his return and taking the ride from Brad, which is what I knew he’d done. That was obvious.

    As for Kyle, he shot his foot during that Hendrick thing. He messed up and paved the way for his own exodus. He may only now ‘get it’. He’s been a brash, arrogant kid, and he did not fit with the Hendrick banner as a result. I’ve never regretted that parting of the ways.

    As for Jimmy, can’t stand him. He’s a rotten team player and classless. He’s admitted that he doesn’t have the class of Jeff Gordon. JJ is too fueled by other things. Personally, though I admit it’s a fault in me, I can’t wait for his crown to tarnish. Can’t stand the man and his need to be at the center.

    Back to Brad, he’s proven to be an excellent racer and I still think Hendrick made a mistake in letting him go. I like hearing about that loyalty Brad showed. I hope that today he doesn’t hold a grudge. Who knows – he might end up in the Hendrick stable one of these days anyway.

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