Dodge drivers struggle in Martinsville qualifying

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Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) Qualified 27th “Just not the lap that we were looking for with our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge. We can’t get the car stopped into the corner or else it’s slow. We’ll start towards the back and see what we can do on Sunday.”

Brad Keselowsiki
Brad Keselowsiki

Photo by: Getty Images

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T) Qualified 32nd

TALK ABOUT YOUR MINDSET ENTERING THIS RACE AT MARTINSVILLE. “I’m glad to be here in Martinsville and feeling the season wind down and like the stretch that we’ve been on. Certainly would like to qualify better and that’s at the forefront of my mind but I’d much rather race towards the front rather than qualify towards the front if I had to pick between the two. I feel like we’ll be capable of pulling that off once the race gets started. Just ready to keep going, you know, feeling the season wind down and really feel good about our opportunities in front of us.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON WAS SAYING THAT THE PRESSURE AT THIS POINT OF THE SEASON IS ON THE LEADER AND HE SAID HE LIKED THAT, BASED ON HIS EXPERIENCE. BUT HE SAID HE BELIEVES THE PRESSURE IS CLEARLY ON YOU. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? HOW DO YOU HANDLE THAT? “I haven’t even thought it. I’d have to think about it before I agreed with it (smiles). I play this video game a lot called Madden Football and I’ve got this friend that I play it with; we talk all the time about it and you know every once in a while the quarterbacks will just throw something that’s on the other side of the field from where you want to hit it.

”There’s this friend of mine that has this joke that there’s two types of pressures: pressure applied and pressure felt. And there might be pressure applied but I don’t feel it, how about that.”

DOES THIS ALL SEEM TO HAVE HAPPENED REALLY QUICK FOR YOU? “I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about that. I mean, I’ve got a great team and I’m thankful for that part. You know, that’s something that’s really for me not to judge. It’s probably best off for you guys (media) to look at because I don’t think it’s fair for me to answer those questions.”

IS IT ALL INTIMIDATING IN ANY WAY? “Intimidating? Which part?”

DO YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO THINK THAT, WOW, IN A MONTH I COULD BE THE CHAMPION? “I mean, yeah, you can’t help but think about it but I’ve thought about it since I was a little kid. Certainly, we’re closer to realizing it but it’s not realized that’s for sure. There’s a lot of work to be done and it would be a disservice to the work that we’ve done to date to let that get in your head and think so much about it that you don’t focus on the work still to be done.”

BEING INVOVLED WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON WHO HAS WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP FIVE TIMES AND CHALLENGED MANY OTHER TIMES, DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE UNDERDOG HERE? “I feel like the people that have all the odds in their favor have earned it because they have been here and achieved success. Obviously we have not, so you know that justifies that in my mind. But you know, at some point the torch has to be passed. It’s just a question of when.”

THAT NATION GOT TO YOU WITH YOUR TWEETS IN FEBRUARY. WHAT WOULD YOU THINK ABOUT BEING IDENTIFIED AS THE NEW FACE OF NASCAR? “I haven’t put that much thought into that one either (smiles). But I enjoy the time I spend on social media and doing those things. I’m glad they get the recognition they do from the fans mostly, not necessarily the media. It was a great way to talk to ‘em and to share how you really feel about things. You know, it’s hard to get a feel for what interests our fans. You know, it’s a great way for me to decipher through some of that stuff and sometimes I do a good job of that and sometimes I don’t but either way, I have a lot of fun with it. You know, if that’s something that’s great for the sport then I’m glad I can be a part of it.”

DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT BE RECOGNIZED AS A NEW GENERATION OF DRIVER OF THE SPORT? “I don’t know about a new generation. I just think I have a different approach.”

REGARDING THE QUALIFYING SITUATION, THE WAY YOU HAVE PERFORMED THIS SEASON, DOES IT CONCERN YOU? AS SOON AS YOU MADE YOUR RUN SOME OF YOUR FANS ON TWITTER WERE LIKE “HE DOES THIS EVERY WEEK.” BUT AS A DRIVER, DO YOU IMMEDIATELY LOOK ON IT AS AN OBSTACLE OR AS THE NEXT CHALLENGE TO KIND OF JUST GET PAST? “Well I can tell you I don’t enjoy qualifying poorly. That’s not what I come to the racetrack to do but it’s been the course as of late. And you take solace in the fact that the part that matters, the actual racing, my team has done a great job preparing excellent cars and executing on all levels. You try to focus on what you have that’s going right and that’s what we have that’s going right.”

COULD YOU GIVE US YOUR IMPRESSIONS FROM THE 2013 CAR TEST EARLIER THIS WEEK AT PHOENIX? “I thought it was a great test. You know, I had heard rumors that things weren’t going so well with that car so it felt good to kind of just do it on my own and see what was really going on. I thought the test went really well. The cars seemed to have a lot of drivability and it’s easy to work backwards from there because certainly we have to balance that if we make the cars too easy to drive then that’s not going to be great but they also have to be drivable. And you’d rather start with drivable and work backwards than the alternative. I thought the car was pretty good and I had a great time with that test. It’s certainly something I’m very encouraged by for the future in the things that I saw.”

YOU’VE QUALIFIED NOT VERY WELL THE LAST TWO WEEKS AND BEEN ABLE TO USE STRATEGY TO GET YOUR TRACK POSITION BACK. EVERYBODY HAS BEEN TALKING ALL DAY ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT QUALIFYING IS HERE AND HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO PASS. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET YOURSELF OUT OF THIS ONE? “I thought last weekend was harder to pass than this weekend will be, to be honest. And that’s not to say it’s going to be easy here at Martinsville but there is quite a few more variables that I think work to your favor with strategies and so forth. I feel confident that it’ll work its way out here. Obviously it’s a very, very long race with 500 laps around here. There are a lot of tools in our tool chest to help us recover from that.”

WHO DO YOU THINK IS FEELING THE MOST PRESSURE THIS WEEKEND: THE 2 TEAM, THE 48 TEAM (JOHNSON) OR THE 11 TEAM (DENNY HAMLIN)? “I don’t know, I’m not in their shoes (smiles). I know in my shoes, I feel good about our situation. I love the way we performed over the last few weekends, really over the Chase. You want to win every race and obviously that hasn’t happened but that’s not realistic either. But we’ve been fortunate to win two races and be in contention for others. Even when we don’t win, we seem to be able to find a way to not have a disaster out of it. I’m proud of my team for that.”

Source: SRT Motorsport

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Qualifying report
Tags dodge, hornish, keselowski, martinsville, penske, srt

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