16 November 2012
Keselowski cites Senna as inspiration
Heading into the 2012 season finale that will decide whether he or Jimmie Johnson will claim the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, Brad Keselowski has been looking at F1 for inspiration.
Given that NASCAR racing seems very far removed from the world of F1 Grand Prix events, it was strange indeed to hear Brad Keselowski admit that one of his sporting heroes is the three-time FIA world champion Aryton Senna, and that he was looking at the iconic Brazilian for an example as how to approach this weekend's title-deciding season finale.
"One of my favourite movies in the whole wide world is this documentary on Ayrton Senna," said the 28-year-old from Michigan. "There's this really powerful scene in that movie that sticks with me when I think about this weekend. I think about this scene in the movie when they talked about him at Monaco, which was his — just his phenomenal track that he was so strong at.
"How he had this huge lead over his teammate at the time, obviously had an identical car, which showcased what kind of talent Ayrton had, and they were coming down to the closing laps of the race, and they told him to slow down, you have a huge lead, don't worry, just slow down, just — and he wrecked," he explained.
"And I think of that as I approach this weekend. I'm going to go out there and play my game, race my way. That's got us to this point, and if we do that, we'll be fine, and I think that's our approach."
Looking at Senna's example is one of the ways that Keselowski is handling the mind games being played by both sides in the final race showdown for the Sprint Cup title with five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Even though Keselowski goes into the decider on Sunday with a formidable 20pt lead over Johnson, both sides are all too aware that anything can still happen - and Johnson for one is not giving up.
"I do believe. I do believe we can win our sixth title," he said. "A lot can happen. So we just need to make sure we're buttoned up and do the best job we can and see where the chips fall."
Johnson is a fan of many different types of motorsport - not just F1 but also the IZOD IndyCar Series, which he pointed out had particular relevance this weekend as Keselowski drives for Penske Racing - the team that lost the IndyCar championship in a thrilling last-race upset in September
"The IndyCar championship is the best example of that this isn't over until the chequered flag falls," he added. "Another point of motivation and optimism: we look at the IndyCar championship and how it unfolded at Fontana. It seemed like it was a lay‑up race, and things can happen. This is racing."
Roger Penske's IndyCar team went into the final race of the season with their driver Will Power comfortably in the points lead, only for Ryan Hunter-Reay to come from behind and clinch the championship at the line. Johnson hopes that by planting a seed of doubt about history repeating itself for Penske Racing, he can throw Brad Keselowski off his game.
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