Loudon II: Pole winner interview

BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 12 AAA Dodge Charger) Pole Winner "That run was pretty awesome. We've worked all year, this whole team, but haven't gotten the results until today. This is certainly one of the sparks that we need to get this team...

BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 12 AAA Dodge Charger) Pole Winner

"That run was pretty awesome. We've worked all year, this whole team, but haven't gotten the results until today. This is certainly one of the sparks that we need to get this team energized and run up front. We just need that spark; hopefully, this is that spark. We've had a really good race car in qualifying trim since practice started today. We weren't very happy with it in race trim, but it was really good in qualifying trim. We felt we had a shot at the pole. I feel really good about that lap, it should at least be in the top three. I'm really happy for everyone on this 12 team. We're really proud for the effort by our AAA Dodge Charger team. We were fast in qualifying trim today. I know it was down to hitting the perfect lap, hit the marks right and put it up there. It was a good lap.

"There are just a lot of things going on this year. From changing sponsors and teams and cars to next year having Miller Lite on board; even this weekend having AAA on board, everything is going crazy, up and down. This is just a great spark for our team for what has been a tumultuous period. I'm really happy for my team. I'm proud for them than any stat that I may get out of it -- track record or first pole. They've really dug hard for me all year through adversity; it's great to see them smile. It's great to see the look on their face. It feels really good."

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS POLE THAT MAKES YOU FEEL "LEGITIMATE"?

"Hell, we don't have a top 10! We have work to do. It's been a great year on the Nationwide side, leading the points. It's been really frustrating this year (in Sprint Cup). I don't feel bad about sharing that. You shouldn't be happy being 26th in points and not having a top 10 when you're with an elite team like Penske. This is a breath of fresh air that legitimizes our team as being able to get up front; being able to have a sponsored ride with Miller Lite next year. There are not a lot of teams out there that can say that. From that standpoint, it really legitimizes us and the ability to run up front when things get right. We're all committed to that. I sit down and talk to Roger Penske probably once or twice a week, talking about how we're going to make things better. This is a really good piece for doing that."

DID THE SUN COMING OUT HAVE ANY EFFECT ON YOUR QUALIFYING LAP?

"It's really hard to tell. The sun was going in and out at the end quite a bit. It's back cloudy now. The lapped time fluctuation was really hard to predict. If the cars that ran after me would have had faster first laps, I would have said that it was a factor, but they didn't have faster first laps because that heat in the track should have heated their tires up faster first and slower second. But we didn't see that. Just from that I would think that it wasn't that big of a deal."

HOW HAVE YOU STAYED POSITIVE THROUGH ALL OF THIS?

"That's been a luxury, having a guy like Roger and his staff to tell you we're going to keep working on it and keep digging. To have the Nationwide program be successful and be surrounding by great people on and around the race track, that keep you going.

"It makes you feel good about yourself. I feel good about that. I feel really good about the people I'm surrounded with. We're all in this together. It's been tough. You still try to keep a focus on it and remember how lucky you are to do this. There are only 43 drivers any given weekend and I'm one of them. I'm one of those guys and even through the rough weeks, you sit down and think about that and think about how fortunate you are when there's thousands of short-tracks racers across the country that have talent and aren't here and are jealous. I was one of those guys. I was one of those guys who didn't have a ride and wanted to be here. So now that I'm here, there's a level of pride of just being here even when things are rough that helps carry you through that period."

DOES HAVING THE MILLER LITE SPONSORSHIP NEXT YEAR HEIGHTEN THAT EXPECTATION?

"Absolutely. You should have high expectations when you're with a well-funded ride. The 12 car is a well-funded ride as it is right now. You should have high expectations no matter what. Driving for Miller, there's a brand to live up to. There's a brand of excellence and performance that's been established well before I was even born. I want to continue that. I want to put this car in victory lane. It's won races every year that I can remember. Kurt's carried on that tradition, making the Chase and winning races. There's definitely a torch to carry on there and I look forward in having the opportunity to do it."

WHAT WERE SOME OF THE "VALLEYS" OF THE SEASON THUS FAR? "I guess to have the good you have to have the bad. It's not that I want to focus on the bad, but the two Michigan weekends were really painful. To not run well at home on the Cup side, that's rough. After the first one I went home and talked to my whole team and told them and apologized that I was a jerk that whole weekend. I was just upset that we ran as bad as we did. Those were definitely the low points for me. In the summer race, winning the Nationwide race (at Michigan) kind of helped out. Those were probably the low points for me. Obviously, there were the Daytona races -- those were races that I felt we were one of the cars to beat and got wrecked out. Those were a struggle, but you could understand and accept them, just not being fast. Pulling in after practice and seeing your name on the wrong side of the sheet is every driver's worst nightmare, at least mine. To have peaks and valleys -- it makes me appreciate it more to have those valleys. In a way, I'm very thankful to be with a car owner who is patient and understands where we are at with the program and has been with me and as supportive as he has. It's the valleys together that make you stronger as a team and together as a relationship. They make you appreciate the good moments. I appreciate today's success more than I appreciated any success that I've had on the Cup side. Whether that's running in the top 10 or even winning Talladega, because I've been through some lows this year. In a way, you appreciate it more."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT PLAYING THE SPOILER ROLE IN THE CHASE? "I would love to be the spoiler of the Chase. I would live for that moment, to be able to capitalize on it; the increased attention to the sport with this being the Chase. To be that guy that can run up front and be there; I'm not going to sit here and say that I will be. We have a lot of work to do. This is a great start. Qualifying never means anything unless you're on the pole and we are. It feels good."

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON?

"I'm not the type of person that puts numbers on things like, 'We have to average a 6.3 finish.' I just want to run up front and be competitive. I want to be one of those guys that you look at and say that he's a threat to win today. That's all I want."

WILL IT DISAPPOINT YOU IF YOU DON'T BACK UP THE POLE ON SUNDAY?

"It would disappoint me if we had a great year and we didn't back up this moment. Absolutely, but you have to keep things in perspective and worry about the things that you can control and try not to get frustrated about things that are outside your control. I will be disappointed on Sunday if we're just not fast. Other than that, it's just part of racing. I just want to be fast."

WHERE DO YOU AND YOUR CAR FALL INTO HELPING KURT WITH SETUPS?

"Every once in a while, we'll revert back to what they had if we're a ways off. There haven't been very many weekends where it's been the opposite and they've been able to do that with us. That's a little bit of a cool deal to be able to do that for qualifying, but in race trim they're a little bit faster. They have a little bit different car spec than we have; the 2 car does, so I'm not sure how much of would even matter."

HAVE YOU SAT DOWN AND FIGURED OUR WHERE YOU GUYS ARE LOSING SPEED FROM QUALFIYING? It's different every weekend. Qualifying has been our strong suit this season, specifically on the short-tracks. Richmond we just got beat by the Gibbs cars that were just faster through the center of the corner. We fought that and the Gibbs cars have a really good short-track package. I think that's the weakest part that I see. It's different at every track. I feel good about the power that our cars have. I feel pretty good about the effort that's put into them, we're just a little bit off and inconsistent. It's so fine. That's that thing about this car, when you're off it's just one fine screw and when you find it three weeks later you say, 'Oh, if we would have turned this screw three weeks ago....that's what's so hard about this level and makes it about a people sport and so perfect - finding those things and anticipating them."

JAY GUY (Crew Chief, No. 12 AAA Dodge Charger)

"We've been working really hard on our short-track program at Penske Racing. We learned something from our teammates that went out before us in qualifying and make some slight changes. It's good to get up front, put this Penske Dodge up front. A lot of hard work goes into this, so it's really good for the guys, all the people back at the shop and the folks at AAA and Dodge. We hope Mr. (Roger) Penske is watching over in Japan right now, he's getting ready for the IndyCar race."

-source: dodge motorsports

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Roger Penske
Teams Team Penske