Concussions concern Brad Keselowski but focus is on contract, titles


 

As Brad Keselowski prepares for a homecoming of sorts as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway this weekend, the Rochester Hills, Mich., native says he hopes to have a new contract in place soon.

But will it be with Team Penske, where he has driven full-time since 2010?

With two victories already under his belt this year and his spot in the 16-driver, 10-race playoff secured, Keselowski is focusing on a new deal. His current contract with Penske is up at the end of this season.

He said on a Tuesday conference call he hopes to have something in place ‘’very, very soon. … (team owner) Roger (Penske) has given me a lot and I have no reason to not want to stay with him.”

That would seem to rule out a switch to Hendrick Motorsports and the pending vacancy in the No. 88 Chevrolet once Dale Earnhardt Jr. steps away from full-time racing at the end of this season.

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But Keselowski admitted in thinking about his future — one he wants to share with wife Paige and daughter Scarlett — one key conversation already has taken place. And that’s the one surrounding concussions.

“Right now, you'd be almost foolish to be an athlete in sports who has a wife and kids and not have the concussion discussion as a family,” Keselowski said. “Because we're all seeing that quite frankly there are athletes out there that are either dying or suffering severe loss of quality of life in the latter years of either their career or so forth. …

“I've had that conversation with my wife and family, and I feel good about continuing to go on and do all those things in the latter years of my career.”

Keselowski, 33, wants to add to his 2012 championship and 23 career Cup wins. He believes he has about 10 years left in which he can perform at a high level.

And he has watched other drivers — four-time champion Jeff Gordon, three-time titlist Tony Stewart, and most recently, Earnhardt — step away from the cockpit sooner rather than later.

Earnhardt, like Keselowski, got married in the offseason and wants to start a family. He announced his retirement in April, two months after returning to the sport after missing half of last season with concussion symptoms. Doctors believe a hit he took at Michigan in the June 2016 race was the catalyst for issues that the 42-year-old dealt with for months afterward.

When Earnhardt announced his retirement, he said he was healthy and wanted to make the decision on his own terms instead of having it made for him.

“There's no right or wrong decision,” Keselowski said. “I'm driven to win multiple championships, and I have that opportunity. And it's more of a waste for me to not see that opportunity and make the most of it or at least take it than it would be to even have an injury in that time span.

“So I'm going to make the most of it and I'm looking forward to it.”

Follow Tucker on Twitter @HeatherR_Tucker

PHOTOS: BRAD KESELOWSKI THROUGH THE YEARS


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