Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T) Finished 2nd
COMMENT ON THE FINAL RESTART WITH YOU AND GREG BIFFLE. He just did a great job. He had a fast car and passed me legit and I couldn’t keep up with him. Between the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) the 16 (Greg Biffle) and the 55 (Mark Martin) those three cars were just I think the class of the field today. My team just did an awesome job just executing on pit road and strategy and everything it takes to make it happen to get us up to the front. We just needed that little bit more speed to be able to get with him. I tell you what, it felt good to be racing up here at my home track. There’s nothing I want more than to win here at Michigan and you can feel a little bit of foreshadowing going on with the Chase coming on and those cars running right by each other. It’s an honor to get to race with guys like Jimmie and Greg and be door-to-door. If my team can continue to execute like they did today I think we’ve got a real good shot at this championship so I’m very, very proud.”
YOU MUST BE PRETTY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE WEEKS TO COME. I feel like the best is yet to come. It’s been good as of late so hopefully it’ll be great.”
YOU SAID THAT JIMMIE JOHNSON WAS STUPID FAST BUT THEN HIS ENGINE EXPIRED. The 48 had a dominant car. He and the 16 and the 55 had just a lot of speed. We just didn’t have enough to run with ‘em. My guys on pit road and everybody on the team did an excellent job and got us out toward the front. I’m very proud of them for that but we just needed that little bit more speed to hold them off and we didn’t have that here today with the Miller Lite Dodge. But just super-proud of our effort and got a lot to be proud of. I think he was a good one to two-tenths faster than we were and that’s pretty significant in Cup these days. His team has done a great job finding speed and my team is doing a great job executing.”
THIS RACE HAD A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING. I mean, crazy day. That’s the thing about racing: when you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. Who would have thought we’d have seen a car spin down and hit the inside wall in that kind of fashion. Unbelievable and I hope everybody was okay but just another crazy day here in Michigan.”
WHAT IS GOING ON IN YOUR MIND WHEN YOU’RE BATTLING JIMMIE JOHNSON AND GREG BIFFLE? What’s going through my mind is how far this team has come and how close we were to getting one of the biggest victories of my career to win here at Michigan. We were close. We just came up a bit short and just needed a little bit more speed to run with them. My team is doing a phenomenal job executing with different strategies and keeping the car in one piece. If we can keep that up in the Chase we’re going to be tough to beat.”
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THAT 48 THAT YOU ARE NOTICING ON THE TRACK? Well it handles well down the straightaway and the corners so he’s got both those going for him. When you got that, if you can run a mistake free race you’ve got the ability to dominate. They’ve got that going on and we’ve just got to force them into mistakes.”
COULD YOU HAVE DONE ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY ON THAT LAST RESTART? No, not really. Greg (Biffle) did a great job and he had position.”
THIS IS YOUR SEVENTH CONSECUTIVE TOP 10 FINISH. YOU HAVE A LOT OF MOMENTUM ON YOUR SIDE. Absolutely. Our team is just executing something phenomenal and that’s so important in this sport. We needed to have a little bit more speed. We have top five, top 10 speed with I feel like the best execution in the garage. If you add a little bit of speed to that we would be tough to beat in the Chase. I’m proud of where we’re at. I want that one step more so I can get Roger Penske’s first championship and we’re not far away.”
Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) Finished 12th Not a bad day. I felt like it was a pretty good from the point that we started in the back and worked our way up and by the midpoint of the race we were running in the top five. I ran there for quite a bit. We just got off on our strategy and that kept us from getting the finish that we wanted. There were too many yellows at the end because we had a good long run car. Man, it was like whatever you seem to have you don’t get enough of but too many restarts there and just couldn’t move forward. You get by one guy then all of a sudden three guys behind you have a run on you.”
IT SEEMED LIKE THE RESTARTS TODAY WERE CRAZY. They were plenty crazy and once everybody knew about like what happened being on the bottom they all tried to shove the guys on the outside up into the gray. Everybody is playing defense and it made it quite interesting and then somebody tries to move the guy up on the outside and somebody else has the bright idea that they are going to go underneath him. It was an exciting day. Obviously I wanted a top 10 at the beginning of the day. We didn’t get it but real proud of all the guys that work on this Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger. I was super-happy with the way the car was handling; best car I think I’ve ever driven here since the first time I came here in the Cup series. It’s a shame that we have to wait until next year to come back. Hopefully I get the opportunity to be here in the Cup series.”
KESELOWSKI MEDIA CENTER INTERVIEW
Keselowski: Just a great day. I don’t know what to say other than we were this close to getting what would have been one of the biggest wins of my career. That would have been really special but it wasn’t in the cards today. My team has done an excellent job over the last few weeks of hitting their marks, executing on all fronts, no mistakes and solid cars. I’m very proud of that. We’re in a great position as a team as the Chase is about to start to make some noise. I’m just feeling lucky to be there. But then of course we obviously want to win. I can taste the legitimacy of being a championship contender. With a little more speed, I think today we could have got us a win. I know in the Chase we can get a bunch of ‘em. Just proud of where we’re at and ready for the Chase to get going. A little bit more speed and man, I feel like we could have had it today, so it’s hard not to think about that. But a great effort by my guys to get us where we were and I’m very, very proud of that.”
COMMENT ON THE DIFFERENT WEATHER CONDITIONS TODAY VERSUS ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. I felt like the track was pretty consistent, actually. My car drove very similar.”
IS THIS A NEW ERA HERE AT MICHGAN? ALL KIND OF THINGS HAPPENED IN TODAY’S RACE. Well, I just think there’s big discrepancies in the cars right now. I think there are certain parts and pieces that are on the cars that are making them quite a bit different to where we’re seeing different paces throughout the field. I think there’s probably a half-dozen to a dozen cars that are drastically faster than the rest of the field and that’s disruptive the parity and created a lot of side-by-side action that, you know, is maybe good, maybe bad; depends on who you are. But I think right now in the sport the cars are perhaps the most separated than what we’ve ever seen. I think if you look at qualifying, the difference between the pole and 20th was over a second. We haven’t seen that in over 10 years in this sport. I think there’s a major pace discrepancy now. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing but that’s just an observation to note and that creates more side-by-side racing which opens up the possibilities and potential for issues like you described.”
THE LAST TWO WEEKS YOU’VE BEEN A GRACIOUS RUNNER-UP. ONCE THE CHASE STARTS, ARE SECOND-PLACE FINISHES GOING TO CUT IT FOR YOU? If anything, you should be more upset now about not winning because than in the Chase because you know those bonus points mean a lot for the Chase where consistent, solid, second-place finishes without risking a bad day are extremely important. You'll probably be happier with second in the Chase than you would be here today. That's kind of my opinion on that.
This is my home track. I want to win here just as bad as I want to win a race in the Chase probably more. So there was a stretch where I felt like we were going to win it. I had some goose bumps going on. But it wasn't meant to be and I'm still very proud of the effort.”
YOU WERE LEADING WITH NINE LAPS TO GO. YOU KNEW HOLDING OFF (JIMMIE) JOHNSON WAS GOING TO BE A REALLY TOUGH PATH. DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A SHOT TO WIN OR WERE YOU A SITTING DUCK? I didn't know how much Jimmie had been holding back. When he pushed the trigger, when he passed me, it was clear he had been holding back a lot. It's hard to know those things. You never know how hard a driver is pushing. Obviously, he wasn't going a hundred percent. When he did, he was clearly the class of the field. That was quite a sight to see.”
DID YOU SNOOKER THE 48 TEAM A LITTLE BIT TODAY WITH PIT STRATEGY? The 48 has the most speed and the best history as far as the Chase is concerned. It’s my job to not roll over and give it to them. We're doing everything we can do and we nailed it on that last green flag sequence. I'm proud as hell of my guys for doing that. Although they might have the most speed, we're not giving up. We're going to keep 'em honest through this Chase. That's our goal. I think it's good to know that, that they're frustrated, 'cause they should be. We nailed it.
“Hopefully, while you know, they keep working on the other things, we'll find that little bit of speed to go with the execution we have and be in even better condition to close the deal out.
“We just got to keep pushing in that sense. We caught a lucky break that was unfortunate for Jimmie with him not getting those bonus points for a win, but he definitely deserved to win the race. Just didn't play out that way. The 48 might be the favorite for the championship, but we're not going to roll over and just let them have it.”
COMMENT ON WATCHING THE MARK MARTIN CRASH ON TELEVISION. Yeah, could have been a lot worse than it was. Over the course of time, we always get complacent and think that we've hit all the buttons on the safety side. Then you see something like that. It shows you why you have to never quit working at making these cars and tracks safer because that could have been a lot worse, whether it was for Mark or for the crew members or anybody. So it's just one of those moments where you realize you might think that you have safety covered in this sport, but you never do.”
WHEN YOU LEFT HENDRICK TO GO TO PENSKE RACING, A LOT OF PEOPLE ASKED HOW YOU ARE GOING TO DO OVER THERE? DOES IT GIVE YOU A SENSE OF SATISFICATION THAT YOU ARE NOW COMPETING WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AND JIMMIE JOHNSON EVERY WEEK? It's a terrible way to live your life where you live it looking back at missed opportunities. I'm trying to live it where I look forward at the great opportunity that I have now.
"I can't say I always do that. I mean, yeah, I'm going to say there's definitely moments where you ask yourself what might have been. But I take solace in the fact that I probably would have never had the opportunity to work with guys like Paul Wolfe and other guys that are on our team. If it had gone another way, I feel entirely thankful for those opportunities. I mean, those don't come but once in a lifetime. You know, I guess the thought enters your mind that it was never meant to be and this was what was meant to be.
That makes me feel very fortunate, there was some higher calling in a way. It's hard to always reflect on that, especially when you're struggling. But I'm not struggling now, so it's easy to say.”
WHAT WERE YOU SAYING ABOUT THE CARS HAVING AN ADVANTAGE? WHAT IS THE TRICK? There are parts and pieces on the car that are moving after inspection that make the car more competitive. Some guys have it, some don't. There's a question to the interpretation of the rule. Penske Racing errs on the safe side because we don't want to be the guys that get the big penalty.
Obviously, there's a question to the interpretation; that as of right now, it's legal. But I'm sure that Roger doesn't want to be the one caught red handed. As a group at Penske Racing, we have not felt comfortable enough to risk that name and reputation that Roger has over those parts and pieces. Others have, which is their prerogative. I'm not going to slam them for it.
“But it's living in a gray area. Roger doesn't do that. There's certainly some performance there that we've lost. I shouldn't say lost, but haven't gained, because we choose not to do that. That's something that we have to continue to evaluate every week that goes by, that those components are permitted to be run. We have to make a re-evaluation of that internally to decide if that's the right way to go.
“But as it stands now, certainly that's part of the speed discrepancy through the field. Some of the teams haven't figured out how to make it work, some of them just don't feel comfortable risking the piggybank on it. It's part of how this sport works behind closed doors. We're still working our way through it. I'm not saying I have all the answers to it, but it's certainly part of that discrepancy that we were speaking to earlier.
Source: SRT Motorsports