|08/29/19||DIBENNEDETTO NASCAR'S ROCKY BALBOA|
|06/26/19||FROM JOURNEYMAN DRIVER TO HALL OF FAMER|
|06/18/19||WINNERS NOT ADDING UP|
|05/25/19||THE 600 IS STILL A CROWN JEWEL|
|05/15/19||NEXT TWO WEEKS COULD BE TOO GOOD|
|04/10/19||WALTRIP A TWO-WAY HALL OF FAMER|
PLAYER HURT HAS ALWAYS BEEN PART OF NASCAR GAME
Back in the day when cowboys roamed the range, if they got cut they would just "slap iron", taking a nearly red-hot piece of steel to burn or cauterize the wound closed. Yes sir, those boys knew how to play hurt.
So do NASCAR drivers.
The latest example was rather pedestrian by Brad Keselowski's standards. He won the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, suffering from a stomach virus that nearly had him down and out Saturday. "I lost five and a half, six pounds in less than 10 hours, and I was going the wrong way quick," Keselowski confided.
Doctors in the infield care center gave the Michigan driver IV's to get him headed slowly back in the right direction, but he was nowhere near 100% Sunday when he fired up the engine in his Autotrader Ford. So, it was fitting Keselowski wound up climbing out of his car in victory lane when most everyone else wouldn't have even climbed out of bed.
"Well, whenever you have a fast car it's funny how those things kind of disappear," said Keselowski.
This apparently was a piece of cake compared to 2011, when he captured the checkered flag at Pocono after fracturing his ankle in a practice crash a few days before. It looked like a softball was under his skin and he had to wear a bigger shoe on his left foot. "You know, I feel like you get a little bit of adrenaline in you and you can get over that stuff pretty quickly, and it might not be the most fun I've ever had as a race car driver, but once you get to Victory Lane, you're not going to remember the pain."
That seems to be what's kept NASCAR drivers coming back for more since the sport began.
The "King" Richard Petty once drove with a broken neck. That's right, a broken neck. "You did it because that was your job," Petty said to the Sporting News back in 2011. "Everybody's done it. It's the competitive spirit. Football players are the same way. Something is hurt on every one of them at some time during a game. But they put it out of their mind; tape it up and go on down the road."
That's exactly what Ricky Rudd had to do when his body was beaten black and blue by a crash in "The Clash" at Daytona back in 1984. He lost control coming out of turn 4 and, at over 180 mph, his car leaped into the air like a fish trying to spit out a hook, barrel rolling again and again…and again. A week later, when it was time for the Daytona 500, Rudd's face was so swollen they had to tape his eyes open. He finished seventh in that race and seven days later, with his face taped again, won at Richmond.
The late Dale Earnhardt once drove with a broken sternum, Darrell Waltrip with a broken leg. Davey Allison, who was just inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, took the green flag one time with plates and screws holding his busted arm together and when he broke his left hand, glued Velcro on to his cast and the steering wheel so he could grip it. How about Sterling Marlin checking out of a hospital, running a race, and then checking himself back in as soon as it was over.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
These days, NASCAR wouldn't allow a seriously injured driver to race and that's a good thing. Still, whatever missing chromosome is in their DNA, drivers will always be the worst patients. Yet, they're still the best in using pain as fuel to overcome adversity.
"There's always somebody fighting through something," Keselowski explained last Sunday. "We've seen drivers with torn ACLs and broken fingers and wrists and things like that. No, I don't think you're ever going to see guys taping their eyeballs open again, although I do think that was pretty cool. But there certainly is always going to be a part of this where you're going to have to play when you're not 100 percent."
That my friends is the absolute, gospel truth.