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Keselowski matures on track to get into title race

Associated Press Modified: November 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm •  Published: November 10, 2012
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So much so that Johnson never worried Keselowski would race him dirty on the final two restarts at Texas. The two drivers were lined up side-by-side twice with the win up for grabs, and Johnson knew Keselowski would give him his best shot.

But he didn't think Keselowski would intentionally wreck him.

"I really feel like he was extremely aggressive and had that mindset of going for broke," Johnson said. "But we all evolve as drivers and I think he was more in control of his vehicle Sunday night than he was when he was new to the sport. I've always raced him with a clear mind and not worry. It never crossed my mind that he would make an intentional move to dump me. There are only a few people out there wired like that.

"People race really, really hard and I think Brad did, but to just go in the corner and dump someone, man that is tough to do. Then you play into the karma thing and then there is always next week. I just don't think there are many guys out there that would haul off into the turn and just dump their competition for the championship."

Kyle Busch, who finished third behind Johnson and Keselowski at Texas, had a prime seat for the battle and didn't think Keselowski was a choir boy in the closing laps and could have trouble with other drivers over the next two weeks.

"It seemed like Brad ran Jimmie up the track a little bit and if you're Jimmie Johnson, obviously you feel like you have one over the guy," Busch said. "Jimmie is smarter than that and better than that, where you don't expect that from him. You see, even if you're myself or Tony (Stewart) or somebody else just running around for race wins, guys that are eliminated from the championship, you almost kind of side with a guy who is cleaner (Johnson) than another guy and you'll do anything you can to make that other guy's day hell."

But Roger Penske, Keselowski's team owner, believes his driver has made great strides the last three years and has changed some minds in the industry.

"One of the great things that has happened is Brad has gained the respect of the garage area from the standpoint of the drivers and the teams and obviously the officials," Penske said. "I think that he sees people like Jimmie and Jeff (Gordon), people who are real stars here, and I think he's trying to emulate that on the race track and show how good he is."