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Inspired by Afghanistan troops, Brad Keselowski wins Good Sam 500 Sprint Cup race at Pocono

Brad Keselowski, celebrating his Pocono victory, draws inspiration from troops in Afghanistan to “man up” and drive through pain.

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Brad Keselowski, celebrating his Pocono victory, draws inspiration from troops in Afghanistan to “man up” and drive through pain.

LONG POND, Pa. — Brad Keselowski was inspired Sunday by a relative in the Navy Seals, and that was all he needed to push through his painful ankle injury.

Keselowski's cousin lost a friend who was one of 30 American service members who died when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. The NASCAR driver took the sacrifice to heart and vowed he would not leave his car no matter how bad he hurt.

Competing with a brace on his broken left ankle, Keselowski raced all 500 miles of the Sprint Cup Good Sam 500 at Pocono Raceway, speeding off on the final restart late in the race to pick up his second victory of the season. He gingerly climbed out of his car to celebrate with his crew in Victory Lane.

“It doesn't feel good, but I'll be all right," he said, dedicating the win that put him into Chase for the Championship contention to the troops in Afghanistan.

"I might not be feeling great, but those are the guys that are really making sacrifices," Kese­lowski said. "Whenever I got in the car and felt like, 'Man, this really hurts,' it was good inspiration as to what it takes to man up and make it happen."

On Wednesday, Keselowski crashed head-on into a wall at 100 mph during a session at Road Atlanta. He said he wouldn't leave the No. 2 Dodge, no matter how much pain he was in. It helped to rest during a 1-hour, 40-minute rain delay.

"I was amazed he raced the full race," third-place finisher Kurt Busch said.

Keselowski is in prime position to claim one of two wild-card spots available for the Chase. The top two drivers with the most victories in 11th to 20th place earn a wild-card spot for the playoffs.

Keselowski, in 18th place, is the only one of the wild-card contenders with two victories. He had to wear a left shoe a size larger than his right one.

Kyle Busch was second, Jimmie Johnson fourth and Ryan Newman fifth.

Kurt Busch and Johnson had a heated exchange after the race because of some last-lap contact and were separated by their crews. They took turns bumping into each other on the final lap. Busch said it was simply hard racing and that Johnson overreacted.

"You want to race, let's race," Busch said. "I didn't know we were supposed to pull over when it came down to five (laps) to go. I raced him hard. I raced him smart. I raced him clean, and he wants to come over here and (complain). … Why can't we race each other like this and put on a show for the fans?"

Said Johnson: "I have no problem racing hard. I just don't understand why, when I finally get position on him, he's got to run all over the side of me down the straightaway. I just keep filing things away. I'll remember this stuff. There's a couple of other guys out there that have been pushing their luck, too.''

Rain hit Pocono hard the past two days and when the red flag came on Lap 125, Joey Logano had the lead. He took a break in the ESPN broadcast booth where he was asked if he wanted the rain to stop or keep coming.

"I think it's a dumb question," he said.

Logano faded hard and finished 26th. Points leader Carl Edwards was seventh.

Trucks: Kevin Harvick stretched his fuel over extra laps and an extra day, breaking free on the green-white checkered finish to win in Long Pond, Pa. Rain halted the event after 17 laps Saturday. Harvick started from the pole and stretched his fuel two extra laps, getting his first trucks victory of the season. Todd Bodine was spun with two laps left to bring out the final caution, which helped conserve what was in Harvick's tank,

Indycar: Pole-sitter Scott Dixon took control 24 laps from the finish to beat teammate Dario Franchitti in Lexington, Ohio. Dixon has won on the road track the past three odd-numbered years. "I prefer every year," he said. "We'll work on that from now on." Danica Patrick led briefly early but faded to 21st.

NHRA: Tim Wilkerson ended a yearlong winless drought with his third consecutive Northwest Nationals Funny Car title at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash. Wilkerson drove his Ford Mustang to a 4.146-second run at 300.53 mph to defeat Jack Beckman, who finished in 4.598 at 238.64. Del Worsham (Top Fuel) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) also won their divisions. Worsham earned his sixth victory of the season and 31st overall.

Inspired by Afghanistan troops, Brad Keselowski wins Good Sam 500 Sprint Cup race at Pocono 08/07/11 [Last modified: Sunday, August 7, 2011 11:39pm]

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