NASCAR champ Keselowski opens season as spectator

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (AP) - NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski will be a spectator for the season-opening race.

Well, actually a commentator.

Despite winning his first Sprint Cup title in November, Keselowski was left out of the non-points race Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Instead, he’ll be in the FOX broadcast booth giving in-race analysis of The Sprint Unlimited, the new name for the exhibition race that used to be called the Budweiser Shootout.

“I think any driver that’s not in a race is disappointed to not be in it,” Keselowski said Thursday at Daytona 500 media day. “I think it limits some of your ability to win the 500, not all of it, but some of it. But at the end of the day, this is not tee ball. Not everybody plays. We didn’t earn our spot; we don’t play. Pretty simple.

“We spent our time and energy working on what we could to do to win a championship, not winning a pole. Quite frankly, if I had to choose between being in the Shootout or winning the championship, I would take the damn championship a hundred out of a hundred days.”

NASCAR tweaked the entry rules for the Unlimited, switching back to the original format that included pole winners from the previous season along with previous event winners who participated in at least one Sprint Cup race in 2012.

It includes drivers like Ken Schrader and Aric Almirola. It doesn’t include the beer-swigging, in-car tweeting Keselowski.

“I am looking forward to getting in the booth,” he said. “Maybe I’ll get to see a few things, hopefully open up some eyes on the broadcast side to make their stuff better or maybe they’ll show something to make me better. Who knows? It goes back to you put yourself in positions where you can learn things and who knows what comes from it.”

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