Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T) Finished 2nd HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE LAST DASH FOR THE BIG CASH? “It’s all about the restart. I was hoping we’d get a yellow and I’d get another shot at Jimmie (Johnson), but I think you saw all night the high line on the restart just wouldn’t go. I don’t know if I’d have been able to do anything, but I would have liked to have had another shot. I thought I could do something with him the first few laps. I thought we might have been just a touch faster, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I’m proud of our effort and I’m really proud of our team. I think we’re a really young team that’s growing and getting better every week, every day and every hour. This was a showing of that tonight in the All-Star race. We got beat by a five-time champ and a two-time All-Star winner. I think we’re doing pretty good, but I want that one more spot man. Just didn’t have enough to pull it off tonight, but we’ll come back next week for the 600 with another great Miller Lite Dodge.”
TALK ABOUT THAT LAST RUN WITH JOHNSON. “He was just fast. He had a fast car and he did a great job on the restart to do what he needed to do to get away. I tried to run him down and I thought I might have been just a touch faster than him those first two or three laps, but after that his car really took off. I just didn’t have anything for him. My guys put in a great effort and rallied from starting in the back somewhere and got up to second. I just wanted that one more spot with the Miller Lite Dodge, but it just wasn’t meant to be. We’ll take it and move on.”
HOW CLOSE WERE YOU TO WINNING THE RACE? “Close enough where we could taste it. We wanted it really bad and I think we’re doing a great job as a team putting in a way better effort every time we go to the racetrack. We continue to grow and I was proud of this one. We got beat by a five-time champ, so I guess there’s no shame in that, but we want to beat him so we’re going to keep working on it.”
HOW MUCH DID YOU LEARN FOR NEXT WEEK? “Always learning. I’m not going to tell you what, but certainly learned some things.”
COULD YOU HAVE DONE ANYTHING DIFFERENT ON THE FINAL RESTART? “Nope, I was pretty happy with everything I did; just wasn’t meant to be. He was just good; can’t take it away."
MEDIA CENTER INTERVIEW
Well, the new format was certainly something different, which I kind of liked and something just different. We were fortunate enough to win one of the segments in kind of a thrilling fashion with Kasey (Kahne), so that was a lot of fun. Then it’s all about making sure you’re as good as you can be for that section of the race. I feel like we were as good as we knew how to be. Jimmie was just a little bit better. He did a great job, so hat’s off to him. We had a respectable night for sure and you can’t really be angry with a second, but I certainly wanted to win. I wanted an extra spot, but we just didn’t have it. Proud of the progress from where we started. I think we started in the back, 18th or 19th. I can’t remember where and got a second-place out of that. That’s really good for the All-Star race and the way it plays out. Good racing all the way through the mid sections of the race and just wish I could have got to Jimmie and do something with him, but he was just lightening quick.”
AFTER YOU WON YOUR SEGMENT, YOU WENT TO THE BACK OF THE FIELD TO STAY OUT OF TROUBLE. WHAT GOES INTO THAT? AND DO YOU THINK 10 LAPS IS TOO SHORT ON THAT FINAL SEGMENT? “Ten laps, I don’t think it was going to make a difference if it was a hundred laps. At the end, Jimmie was just as fast so you can’t really steal any of his thunder on that. I was doing all I could to get by him. It wasn’t meant to be, but you know passing is going to be difficult everywhere you go especially when you have a really fast car. Other than that, obviously there was a debate over whether or not to run hard or to conserve your stuff. I hate conserving race cars; they’re meant to run hard. I just wanted to make sure that everybody on my team was on the same plan and they were, so I’ve got to do what they tell me.”
YOU MADE A COUPLE OF DIFFERENT STOPS IN THE THIRD SEGMENT. “We’re just trying to be better and trying to be as fast as we could. Working on it and just wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss anything, had no real penalty.”
YOU SAID THAT THE HIGH LINE ON THE RESTART JUST WOULDN’T GO. WERE YOU REFERRING TO THE FINAL RESTART OR WAS THAT SOMETHING YOU SAW ALL NIGHT LONG? “I don’t really have an answer for why it doesn’t work in a Cup car. It’s a little bit peculiar, but it is just the way it is. All you do is spin your tires up there and I don’t really know why, so if you could figure that out for me that’d be great (smiles).”
YOU AND ALLMENDINGER RAN WELL TONIGHT AND PASSED A LOT OF CARS. “We had two pretty fast race cars and whenever you have two pretty fast race cars, you’ve got to use them to your advantage and work the guys in front of you. You can only do that when your car is fast enough to catch ‘em and both of ours were that way. I think you saw that in A.J.’s in the Showdown and he had a great run there. I was really happy for him, to see him overcome some major adversity and make the show. When you’ve got fast race cars and you drive 'em hard, you can do things like that and certainly A.J. was able to do that and so was I. So that’s a good thing I believe.”
HOW FRUSTRATING WAS IT TO RIDE AROUND AT THE REAR OF THE FIELD? “I’ll race with whatever rules you have and race as hard as it takes to win. That was what it took to win. I can’t say I feel great about it, but I’m happy that we’re good enough to win one of the segments. Dale Jr. got to win a segment because of it, so that was great, right? We’re just trying to help out Dale so that was our contribution, right (laughs)? It’s just the way it is.”
IF THIS RACE HAD BEEN RUN 10 TIMES, HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU THINK JOHNSON WOULD HAVE WON IT? “He started sixth and drove to the lead in 20 laps. I think that’s probably a pretty good indicator of the strength of his car and I don’t believe he passed anyone that was not good; we’ll just leave it at that. He passed Kyle (Busch) and Denny (Hamlin), (Kevin) Harvick and maybe (Ryan) Newman. Those aren’t slouches that he passed them and he passed ‘em in 20 laps so I think that’s a pretty good indicator of his effort. Whether that’s car or driver, I’ll let you all figure that out. That’s a pretty good indicator that he was the guy to beat all night.”
COMMENT ON THE SIDE SKIRTS. DALE JR. SAID THAT THE NEW RULE MIGHT HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE SIDE-BY-SIDE FINISH TO THE SEGMENT THAT YOU WON. “I think it’s a penny in a situation where you’re looking for a dollar so, yeah, you like it, but more would be better.”
A.J. Allmendinger (No. 22 Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) Finished 11th “Winning those first three segments was everything because you could just ride around from there and focus on the final 10 laps. Our Pennzoil Dodge was fast. We tried to get the win in that fourth segment. We didn’t have a chance in the final segment against those teams with fresh tires. So, on the mandatory stop before the final 10 laps, we decided to take four tires and if something happened up front, it would give us a chance. It didn’t happen.
“Overall, the Pennzoil Dodge was fast all night. I can honestly say, by far, that’s the most fun I’ve ever had in a Cup car. It was fun. We showed that we were fast and have some good notes for next week.
“I’m proud of everybody and feel like I drove really well. The pit stops were awesome. Our team was really good tonight. Look on the stat sheet and it says 11th, but more importantly, we were fast and we showed we can come back next week and win this thing.”
Todd Gordon (Crew Chief, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) “We needed to win that fourth segment or finish second so we could be behind the four segment winners coming to pit road for the mandatory pit stop. We ended up third and would have rolled off fifth in the final segment, but everybody in front of us had fresher tires. This race is about winning. So, the opportunity to take four tires was the decision. If a caution had happened like it normally does in these All-Star races, we would have been in good positions because now we had better tires than the rest of the field. I thought it was an awesome job by A.J. and the entire Pennzoil Dodge pit crew. We showed up and didn’t think we were that good. Our guys worked on the car through practice and tonight, we ended up passing a lot of race cars. That flat tire in the Showdown, it speaks to where our luck has been this year. We just dug back. A.J. dug in and we came from the back to the front. I’m proud of everyone for what we accomplished tonight.”