Keselowski and other Dodge drivers thoughts on Bristol qualifying

SRT Motosports press release

A.J. Allmendinger, Penske Racing Dodge
A.J. Allmendinger, Penske Racing Dodge

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T) Qualified 5th “We’ve got a great Miller Lite Dodge in race trim and we did last fall, obviously. We had a really fast lap. We made some great changes between practice and qualifying and got a great car in race trim. I think this is going to be a really competitive starting spot for our team.”

COMMENT ON THE CHANGE IN SCORING LOOPS ON PIT ROAD FOR THIS RACE. “Racing is always about finding the rules and making the most out of ‘em. It always has been that way. And I think the best racers in any sport, best competitors, take advantage of the rules and whatever openings there are. The question is when is it fair to close an opening? That’s a very subjective question. You ask a lot of people and get a lot of different answers but this one, you look at the safety of pit road, and it should be held in the highest regard and certainly going as fast as I was down pit road, while legal, was not the safest scenario. I can certainly respect the decision to add more timing lines from that perspective.”

WERE YOU GOING ABOUT 50 MILES PER HOUR? “I would guess a lot faster than that. I don’t have any data to back this up besides my ass, but I would say over 70.”

SOME DRIVERS SAY THIS NEW RULE MAKES THINGS MORE FAIR. “Racing has never been fair. Basically, what that means is that you’ve asked a group of people who don’t run well here and they’ve said ‘Well, it gives me a better shot.’ That what that means to me. Racing has never been fair. If we wanted it to be fair, we’d all run IROC cars so that fair stuff doesn’t go very far with me. It’s not very fair that that group over there has about $30 million worth of sponsorship, but you don’t hear me bitching about it. It will even the advantages and disadvantages of pit road out for sure. More importantly, and what shouldn’t get lost in it is, it makes it safer for crew members.”

CAN WE AT LEAST CALL IT THE KESELOWSKI RULE? “The sincerest form of flattery in this sport is having a rule created for you. It’s like having a tax loophole and getting away with it.”

HAVE YOU LOOKED WHERE THE LOOPS ARE OUT THERE ON PIT ROAD? “No, but I’ve got a pretty good idea where they’re at.”

A.J. Allmendinger (No. 22 Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) Qualified 2nd YOU MISSED THE POLE BY ONE-ONE THOUSTANDTH OF A SECOND. “We’ve had such a tough start to the season. Everybody has been working so hard, the whole Penske organization and Dodge. You know, we’ve had some fast race cars. We just haven’t been able to complete ‘em, just stuff that’s been out of our own control. Fuel pump issues last week they’ve (team) worked hard to fix. We came here and Todd Gordon (Crew Chief) gave me a good race car. Man, so close. I would have loved to have got the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge up front on the pole, but overall it was such a good day. I’m trying to relax a little bit. I’m not doing very well at it. We’ve got a good group of guys here and we’ll gel together. Hopefully this is the beginning.”

COMMENT ON YOUR LAP. “Just a little free. It turned so good. The Shell/Pennzoil Dodge has been really fast. Todd Gordon and everybody on this race team has done a good job to come here to a place that I’m not really fantastic at and make me feel really comfortable. Obviously, I’d love to have the pole and barely missed it. We’ve had such a tough start to the season. We’ve had fast race cars. We’ve just had stuff that’s been out of our own control, some of the stuff that we need to control that we need to fix. Cars are fast and hopefully these three weeks are out of the way and we can start at a place I’m not very good at and maybe go win this thing.”

IN THE NEXT THREE WEEKS YOU HAVE BRISTOL, FONTANA AND MARTINSVILLE. WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF THAT STRETCH? “There’s nothing that’s overly hard about it. It’s the way NASCAR is and what makes the Sprint Cup Series so much fun, the diversity in racetracks that we have to go run. Fontana has been a place that has confused me a little bit over the last couple of years, but the same can be said about Bristol and said about other places. I’m with a brand new race team and everything is new. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully, we can have a good run and kind of get back in the flow. The points are so close still. We’re 31st now and you put three or four good runs together, you can be back in this thing.”

ARE YOU HAPPY WHERE THE ENGINE PROGRAM IS RIGHT NOW? “Actually, it was really good last week at Vegas. We had really, really good horsepower. The motor was running really strong. At Fontana, it’s about horsepower. It’s about getting the car off the corner and you’ve got to get some good handling. I feel good about everything. We’ve just got to gel together. Obviously, I’d love to have it immediately when we started at Daytona, but it takes time. We’ll get there.

“The Shell/Pennzoil Dodge is really good. It’s such a tough start to the year and I feel like we’ve had fast race cars. Everybody in the Penske organization has been doing a great job, just need some luck on our side. We’ve had three races that have been out of our control for the most part. Last week, stuff we had to fix internally that they’ve done a good job, too. Ultimately, this has never been a great racetrack of mine. Todd Gordon and everybody give me such a good race car since we unloaded and it’s been such a smooth day. Hopefully, that’s stuff that we can build on. I’d love for it to have gelled at Daytona and everything is perfect and we go out and win, but that’s what makes the Sprint Cup series so hard. That’s not going to happen. Hopefully, this is a good start, have a good 500 laps and get some flow back into this season.”

A LOT OF CARS WERE SIDEWAYS DURING QUALIFYING. WHAT ABOUT YOU AND YOUR DODGE CHARGER? “The car was just a bit free. It’s been free all day, but I think Cole Trickle said loose is fast, right? The car has been turning really good, which I think during the race is what you’re really going to need once this place rubbers up. We’ll keep working on the rear tomorrow. You always want the car perfect, so we can keep working on it. One-thousandth of a second; I’m probably not going to sleep. I’m happy about the day, but probably not going to sleep over that. But overall, from what we’ve had over the last three weeks, we’re building and we’re getting better together and that’s all that matters.”


“It’s been a good day overall. This have never really been a place I was good at, so ultimately to come here, Todd Gordon and everybody at the Penske Organization gave me a great setup from the start. We tested this week and learned some things and came here and was able to put ‘em on the racecar. Really, just had a solid day overall from race trim to qualifying. We’ve had a tough start to the season. Definitely not the way we imagined it when we signed this, but you know it’s still early on and Todd Gordon and I are gelling. It’s been a lot of bad luck on our side. Hopefully, this is just a good day to kick us off and really kind of start a stretch of the season where we can kind of get in a rhythm, get in a flow and get some momentum built up.”

WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE TO YOUR SLOW START? HOW DIRE IS THE SITUATION NOT JUST FOR YOU BUT ALSO FOR BRAD? “Yeah, I mean I think it’s a little bit of everything. It takes time to gel, but a lot of it’s been bad luck. You know, Daytona, when we got in that wreck on pit road there when Ryan (Newman) lost the tire, I got into the back of him and broke a radiator. You know, I think Phoenix was something that’s more myself and Todd gelling. We had a decent car, we weren’t great in practice, but we kept making it better throughout practice. Going in the race and the first run, we were good. Todd just over-adjusted for what he thought I was saying and that’s just communication that we’ve got to build up. And last week, kind of self-induced by all of us. I made a mistake on pit road by over-shooting our pit box when we were running fifth in the race. After that, the car was still fast and we started having fuel pump problems about halfway through the race. Ultimately, from there on, we were kind of in trouble. A lot of it has been bad luck and gelling together. Obviously these race cars are fast and what’s good about this race team is with Shell/Pennzoil and with all the sponsors and Mr. Penske himself, everybody is patient. They’re not jumping off the end of the ship and saying that if we don’t win this week we’re in trouble. It takes time and we’ve shown speed. That’s the stuff that we’ve got to build on. Maybe it’s just say like today where it’s not a big deal, but go qualify on the front row, have a solid day. Hopefully we have a solid day tomorrow, and run 500 laps that are strong. It takes one race to build momentum. Hopefully, that’s what we can do.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE SOLVED THE FUEL PICK-UP PROBLEMS? “I hope so. That’s another great thing about this race team. They jumped right into it. As soon as we got back on Monday morning, they were working hard on it. I felt like they have figured out the problem. They went to Nashville over two days with Parker Kligerman and ran miles after miles making sure that we didn’t have any problems with it and brought that here to Bristol. I guess we’ll find out after Sunday if it’s completely solved, but I confidence that it is. They ran at Nashville without any problems, run a lot of tests on it, felt like they had a good idea of what it was. It’s what’s good about this team. They work hard to fix the problems.”

HAS THERE BEEN A TRACK WHERE YOU FEEL LIKE THE PENSKE RACING DODGES FIT YOUR DRIVING STYLE? “It’s funny, we went to Phoenix and obviously, I’ve always been pretty good at Phoenix, we struggled a little bit. With the way that schedule was setup with two practices on Friday and qualifying and not having anything on Saturday, I felt like that really hurt us to where it was like after you calm down and kind of figure out the whole weekend, you realize stuff that you wish you could go back right then and redo. We went to Vegas, which was a track that I’d never been that good at, and we were really fast. Even here, I feel like the cars have speed and that’s never been a problem. Brad, last week before the fuel pump problem, was in position to have a chance to win and we were up there early and just needed track position to be up front. I feel like the cars are fast. On our end, the 22 side of it, it’s just about gelling together. You know for Todd, some of these track are the first time he’s seen ‘em and definitely the first time he’s seen ‘em in a Cup car. Myself, I’m just trying to work together with Todd. But what’s fun about it is that we get along really well. We can talk after the race and figure out the problems, talk during the week. And I feel like every track we go to, we’re going to have fast race cars. It’s just a matter of getting some luck and fixing some small problems.”

WITH SO FEW POLE WINNERS WINNING RACES HERE LATELY, IS THERE A BENEFIT TO BEING SECOND AND NOT IN THE SPOTLIGHT? “No, I always want to win the pole (smiles). I guess the benefit is that I get this press conference over earlier. That’s the only benefit (laughter). It’s tough to win these races and track position is so key, anything can happen. Early yellow where some guys pit and everybody else stays out, it just mixes up the track position and that’s what makes it tough. Any place we go, if you can start up front it at least starts the day off easier. Whether it finishes it off easier, that’s something to be said, but it makes the day a lot easier to start off with and usually shows that you have a fast race car. I’m happy with the day. Obviously, I’d be a lot happier if it was two thousandths quicker. Ultimately, I’ll take it. We’ll have clean air when we start. Not to say that (Greg) Biffle still won’t lead the first lap, so we’ll see.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers A.J. Allmendinger , Eric Gilbert , Brad Keselowski , Parker Kligerman
Teams Team Penske
Tags allmendinger, dodge, keselowski, penske