Dodge drivers discuss Phoenix race

SRT Motorsports - Dodge press release

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T) Finished 5th

Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Dodge
Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Dodge

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A FUEL PICKUP PROBLEM AT THE END OF THE RACE? “Yeah, we definitely had something going on there. Thankfully our Dodge Charger hung in there and that’s great; I’m proud of that. I’m proud of the effort today. I don’t think we had an extremely fast car, but we really worked well together as a team. I’m proud of everyone on the Miller Lite Dodge for doing that. We took probably a 15th-place car and ran fifth with it with great teamwork. It’s a great way to start our season.”

WERE YOU WORRIED THAT YOU WERE RUNNING OUT OF FUEL? “I thought for sure we were running out. We’ll just have to go back and figure out what’s going on.”

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE RACE: “A bit of an up-and-down day that ended in an up motion. I got to racing really well there at the end. On the last restart, I just about busted my butt going into (Turn) 3; that was pretty hairy, but were digging trying to win the race. It just wasn’t meant to be. I thought that we had a great day to bring the Miller Lite Dodge home fifth and that’s something to be proud of. Obviously, we wanted four spots more. A great effort by this team and great pit strategy really helped us today. A little bit more speed and I think that we can bring home a win.”

DID YOU HAVE ANY FUEL MILEAGE ISSUES? “I had some, but somehow made it to the end of the race. I’m not really sure what was going on there.”

YOU WENT FROM A 28TH STARTING POSITION TO FINISH IN THE TOP FIVE. “Yeah, it was a long day, but you know, the Miller Lite Dodge team worked hard today and we had awesome pit stops, awesome pit strategy to help us get up towards the front. It was a dogfight just to hold on and that was kind of the story of our day. I fought really hard on that last restart. I knew I had the lead going into three and she just didn’t stick. That just shows the effort that we’re all putting into it, whether it’s me behind the wheel or the whole team building these cars and going over the wall. If we keep putting that effort in, we’ll find ourselves in victory lane. We’re still proud of our fifth-place finish here today. It’s definitely my best here at Phoenix.”

COMMENT ON THE CLOSE RACING WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON DURING THE LAST RUN OF THE RACE. “Yeah, I mean we’re just all fighting hard. The last run of the race, every position counts. You’re not going to get another shot at it. I was in a dogfight and I fought hard. I wish I could have held him off, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

HOW CLOSE WAS EVERYONE ON FUEL TODAY TRYING TO STRETCH IT? “I think everyone was close. I’m not sure how close. We’ll figure out that later. It’s too early for me to know that stuff. Our Dodges get great fuel mileage and we’re proud of that.”

TONY STEWART SHUT OFF HIS ENGINE TRYING TO SAVE FUEL AND HAD A HARD TIME STARTING IT BACK UP. DO YOU GUYS HAVE A PLAN IN PLACE IF THAT HAPPENS TO YOU? “Yeah, don’t shut it off (laughs). This stuff is really hard to use and I think we’re all still learning.”

DO YOU THINK THAT MORE AND MORE GUYS WILL USE THE APRON OFF OF TURN 2? “Well it didn’t work very well for me. It seems to be more of a Nationwide car deal.”

HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO BOUNCE BACK WITH A TOP FIVE AFTER A TOUGH NIGHT AT DAYTONA? “It’s really, really important. You know, really, I would tell you and a lot of the people in the garage would tell you that the season for us really starts here at Phoenix. This is more of our type of track where we can control our own destiny. We were able to do that here today with good pit work and good teamwork.”

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO AT THE FIRST MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACK AT LAS VEGAS NEXT WEEK? “Well, Vegas hasn’t been very good to me, but before today neither had Phoenix. We’ll just take it one race at a time and hopefully, we can have a strong run like we did here today. There’s not really one thing I’m looking forward to. Maybe the casino (laughs).”

A.J. Allmendinger (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) Finished 18th

‘Honestly, it was a bit of a frustrating weekend especially on the heels of Daytona. I've always run well here, so I came in with my goal being a top-5 or top-10 at least. We just couldn't get the car dialed in from the start. Todd and our team sat down Friday evening and really worked on it. I felt we made some good gains for qualifying and heading into the race with the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge. But the way the schedule is this weekend without a practice after qualifying, those changes are still a bit of a gamble. We just didn’t seem to be able to get the car into the track. It just kept getting tighter and tighter. It was a handful, but we were holding on. Then the 27 got into me and I bounced between him and the wall. That popped the rear deck lid. Man, the whole 22 Penske crew worked their butts off to repair the car and keep us in the race. After that, we actually were running the fastest laps with the Dodge Charger, but we just couldn’t gain any track position. So really, we spent the last runs trying to dig in and get what we could. I’m glad Brad was able to bring home a solid finish for Penske Racing. Like Todd said, this was our first real race together and there's still some learning of each other we have to do. So we'll take that on to Vegas and keep moving forward.

Paul Wolfe (Crew Chief, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T)

HOW CLOSE WERE YOU ON GAS AT THE END OF THE RACE? “We were fine. I don’t know, just something with the gauge when it gets to a certain level. He saw it fluctuate and move, so I think it just kind of freaked him out. Really wasn’t any concern. The only way we would have run out is if there was an issue of not picking it up. We had plenty of fuel going off of our mileage today. We thought we were as good as anybody. Everybody did well from a fuel-mileage standpoint. I appreciate all the guys at the engine shop. It was just a matter of seeing what happened. It was a tough battle all day. Brad did a good job and we put ourselves in position to win the race at the end. That’s all we can ask for. He was going for it and kind of slipped up and lost five or six spots there, but he was trying and that’s what we like about him. Everybody will continue to work hard and we’ll go on to Vegas.”

YOU GUYS HAD GREAT PIT STOPS TODAY. “I knew it was going to be a strategy race today. The way this tire is and track position, it’s a tough race to call, but we knew that was what it was going to take. We work really hard and try to make the right calls and today seemed to go our way.”

Todd Gordon (Crew Chief, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) “You’ve got to take what you’ve got and keep digging with it. It’s a communication thing, just learning what A.J.’s talking about when he’s talking about tight or loose and the amount that it is. That’s probably the biggest challenge we’ve got right now, quantifying what his statements are. We were a little tight to start with and had a lot of rear grip. We just over-adjusted on it and got him a little loose and kind of paid the penalty there with damage to the rear. I thought the guys did a good job getting it fixed and getting us back where we could race. We were a couple of tenths off the leaders once we got it fixed. We survived and turned a bad day into a mediocre day. That’s what you’ve got to do. You got to accumulate all the points you can. It’s about survival. Obviously, not what we were looking for coming into here, but I think we’ve learned more about our communication and where we’re at. I’ve learned more about how I need to react to A.J. comments. It’s part of the learning curve of a new driver and new crew chief to a new team.”

Travis Geisler (Competition Director, Penske Racing)

COMMENT ON BRAD BOUNCING BACK TODAY WITH A TOP FIVE FINISH. “Certainly it gives everybody that confidence that hey, what this team had at the end of last year is still there. Nothing has gone away. My hat’s off to our engine department. Those guys have worked so hard. It’s really a testament when you can come out with a relatively small engine company compared to a lot of the other ones out there, compared to a resource standpoint. We’re just supplying our teams. We don’t have a bunch of engines in the field, but what we do have is really good. It’s really dependable. I got pretty nervous watching some of the other engine failures today. There are just so many little things that can go wrong with this and for our whole company to come out and now have two races where we haven’t had any mechanical issues. That says a lot for everybody in the engineering group, assembly, everybody that tried to think through all the possible problems. It’s a big boost for all of us to get through these races. That’s the kind of day that we need for the 2 to have and 22 to have week in and week out.”

TONY STEWART WAS CUTTING HIS ENGINE OFF TO SAVE FUEL AND IT DIDN’T RESTART. IS THAT A RISK WITH THE EFI SYSTEM? “It shouldn’t be. There was something that went wrong there. The only thing that I can imagine possibly, with the way that the heat and everything else had built up, affected something. It sounded like maybe a small relay circuit breaker, it sounded like maybe that’s what popped on the car. We’ve tried to beat up all the ins and outs of the system as best we can in off-season testing. We had some of the weirdest test plans I’ve ever seen. Try to recreate what a spin out would do, when it stalls after that what happened, all these different scenarios that you’re trying to recreate. Obviously everybody feels like they had it covered and something went wrong on that. We’ll all do our best to try and learn from it and figure out what we can do better. Certainly a strange situation, but it’s one that takes a little bit of diagnosis. It’s not one you just figure out right after the race.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags allmendinger, dodge, keselowski

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