Brad Keselowski Charlotte 500 Thursday media visit

Dodge Motorsports press release

BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T)

IT SEEMS LIKE SOMETIMES WHEN PEOPLE BRING NEW CARS TO THE TRACK THEY HAVE A HARD TIME TUNING THEM. “Things like that happen. That’s okay. You’re not going to get better standing still.”

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

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

HOW MUCH WILL YOU THINK ABOUT THE CAR AFTER YOUR DEBRIEF? “I thought Jimmie (Johnson) did a really good job this weekend talking about how crazy this year has been. I don’t know whether it’s the tires or the cars or what it is in particular, but trying to have confidence in whether you’re a good car or not is just unbelievable difficult because small changes in the track or in the conditions or whether it weather or rubber on the track are just night and day on how the race car drives and whether you’re good or bad on any given day. You know for us it’s hard to say exactly where we’re going to be, it’s hard to have that confidence. As of late we’ve been doing a good job and that’s really all you have to go off of. You can’t even go off of your practice speeds. You almost go off of your results over the last few weeks and they’ve been very strong of our two teams.”

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR THINKING AFTER RUNNING THE NATIONWIDE RACE? “You know the same thing in the Nationwide car. You think you know what’s going on there and you come out and it’s different. It’s just very difficult. It can help you and get you in trouble at the same rate.”

DOES THIS CHASE FEEL LIKE THE NCAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT, SURVIVE AND ADVANCE? “The interesting thing about the Chase is that you’re not rewarded so much for good days as you are punished for bad days. It’s very strange like that. There’s no like playmaker moments like you see in college football, you know (where) a guys has an 80-yard break through the center of the line for a running touchdown. You don’t have that in our deal, so you find yourself the whole time ‘Don’t screw this up. I hope I have a fast car.’ That’s like the spirit of the Chase for us, so it’s very much a don’t screw up mentality throughout the garage for everybody, but especially the Chase drivers and then just have a fast car and do everything right.”

AFTER FINISHING THIRD LAST WEEK, YOU WERE THINKING MORE ABOUT DOVER. “Yeah because I know without Dover, quite honestly, we’d be the point’s leader right now. We were a fifth to 10th-place car at Dover. We’re 11 points behind and we finished 20th at Dover. It’s just simple math, you know. And I feel like this team deserves to be in the points lead right now. I think if you look at the last 10 races, and I know some of those races were before the Chase started, but we’ve scored way more points than anyone else. I feel like we’re there. We’re ready to be the point’s leader. There’s a long ways to go in the Chase, but I want to get there and I feel like we can.”

IT ALWAYS SEEMS LIKE WHEN PEOPLE IN OTHER SPORTS PUT PRESSURE ON THEMSELVES, THAT’S WHEN THEY DO SCREW UP. HOW DO YOU AVOID THAT? “It’s difficult because that’s where you add processes on the track or off the track to get rid of your weaknesses and sometimes that becomes your weakness you know. Really, the only thing you know how to do is make sure you have good speed in your car and when you have good speed in your car, you can make smarter and less risky decisions on the race track and on pit road.”

DOES EVERY WEEK THAT YOU REMAIN IN CONTENTION RAISE YOUR CONFIDENCE? “Absolutely! Yeah, absolutely. I mean the longer you’re in it and the more good weeks you’ve had like we’ve had, the better I feel about where we’re at and what we can accomplish.”

DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT FEELING ABOUT THAT COMPARED TO A KYLE BUSCH? “I mean yeah, you know if you’re more than 20 points out right now, you’re scared and you should be. Luckily we’re not in that position. There’s still a long ways to go. You can’t win it at this point, but you sure as hell lose it and anyone outside of 20 points should be worried.”

DO YOU FEEL MORE LIKE YOU CAN WIN IT NOW THAN YOU DID BEFORE THE CHASE STARTED? “I do, yes. I feel each and every week more and more like our odds and our opportunity to win it are increasing. You know, I think if you look at it, Dover was obviously a setback, but it wasn’t a setback based on performance or bad decisions. It was a setback based on a tire that threw rubber up and destroyed everything under the side of my car. And that can happen to anyone. I feel like the way we were running that weekend, we were doing the things we needed to do and those bad breaks, bad fortune, those are going to come and go. You hope that it works out equally. Sometimes it doesn’t, but a lot of times it does. If you can just get those solid runs, put yourself in contention to win races, you will be rewarded in this Chase.”

HOW DO YOU TEMPER YOURSELF AS YOU PERFORM AT THIS LEVEL? “I think everybody has different ways and different things that inspire them. My team itself is my inspiration. They work really hard and I’ve been around teams that haven’t worked really hard. I know everybody says their team works really hard, but I’ve been with teams that don’t work really hard. They do and I appreciate the equipment they’re giving me. I can tell by looking in their eyes, they can tell by looking in my eyes how good we feel about this and that’s where my inspiration comes from. It comes from them.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT CARL EDWARDS’ COMMENTS LAST WEEKEND? WAS HE TRYING TO PLAY MIND GAMES WITH YOU OR GET AN ADVANTAGE ON RESTARTS? “Well, it’s hard to get in someone else’s head and know exactly what they were thinking. Obviously, he was disappointed not to win in his home state, which I would be too. I don’t know, maybe that was his motivation. Maybe that’s a better question for him.”

WILL THAT CHANGE THE WAY YOU RESTART? “The only thing that changes the way you restart is when NASCAR comes over and gives you hell about it. Hell, they were giving me hell about it before the race ever started. It certainly wasn’t anything I was pleased about, no.”

DID YOU TALK TO ANYBODY FROM NASCAR TO GET ANY CLARIFICATION? “Basically, what they told me was to not do…you have to understand how difficult it is to be up there. I went up there and watched some races with NASCAR. I’ve done it on the spotter’s stand and they have this window for the restart zone depending on the pit road speed and size. And that window is small to the naked eye. You can’t if someone goes in it or not in it probably within 40 to 50 feet, you can’t tell. So that creates a whole technique and strategy to the restarts. And for every strategy there is as a leader, there’s a counter strategy that will beat it. You know a guy that goes early you can do this to, a guy who goes late you can do this to, a guy who brake-checks you can do this to. For every strategy there is, there is a counter. It’s a paper-rock-scissors. That’s what the restarts are like. If a guy pulls out paper, you’re like ‘I’ve got ya, scissors.’ So when NASCAR comes over the radio and takes one of those away from you, that just makes it easier for the other one. And I think in this particular instance that’s what they were trying to do. And there’s no way they could see or tell and enforce it, but it’s not worth the risk. What they had actually warned me against doing was exactly what Jimmie did on the last restart. So it makes it difficult and I think we all wish that there was a better understanding of it, but I think that we all sympathize for NASCAR and know that the box that they’re in to try to see those things is very, very small and very, very difficult It’s certainly not an easy call to make. It’s very much a ball-strike call.”

WERE YOU DOING WHAT THEY WERE WARNING YOU ABOUT? “I didn’t the day before, that’s the ironic part (laughs). The move that I pulled to beat Carl Saturday in Kansas, I didn’t pull the one that he accused me of. I don’t know, it’s kind of ironic, isn’t it?”

WILL YOU LOOK AT THE NATIONWIDE CHAMPION WITH THE NEW POINTS SYSTEM AS EQUAL TO WHAT YOU DID? “I think instantly when the points were changed, it created a different era in the Nationwide Series, for good or bad. There’s some that would say good, some that would say bad. It’s just a different era right now in the Nationwide Series than what it was eight months ago. It’s a completely different series. I think we’ll look back over time and probably perceive it much like Cup now where it’s like everything from ’72 on is the modern era and the old era and that’s where the Nationwide Series is right now.”

A WEEK BEFORE THE CHASE, WOULD YOU HAVE BELIEVED HOW ALL THIS WOULD HAVE PLAYED OUT WITH THE BROKEN ANKLE AND THE WINS? “It’s a hell of a story, isn’t it? You know, I feel really lucky to be where I’m at right now. I think a good goal at the start of the year would have been to have made the Chase and win a race and we’ve accomplished those goals. To be in contention down the stretch as the Chase comes to a conclusion, that’s something that I’m very proud of.”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE NIGHT RACING? DO YOU LIKE IT? “I’ve always been a big night racing fan, but I like to sleep in in the mornings so I’m sure that has something to do with it. This is one of my favorite night races. I’m sure it is to a lot of people, along with Bristol. It creates that atmosphere that’s just like no other. Having the spotlight on your car and on your teams and so forth, is very exciting and I really enjoy it for a lot of different reasons. I do kind of wish we had more of ‘em, yeah absolutely.”

WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING AT TALLADEGA WITH THE RULE CHANGES? “I don’t really see where the race is going to be any different with the rule changes, to be quite honest. I think you’re looking at the same race we had in the spring. Time will tell. I don’t think we’ll really know until they drop the green flag.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE LAST RACE OF THE YEAR BEING A RESTRICTOR PLATE RACE? “If it was, not a fan. I love Talladega. It’s a great race track. I got my first win there, but I think if you polled every driver in the garage over 95 percent of ‘em would tell you that they don’t think Talladega should be in the Chase. I think there’s a lot of people that feel that way because of how that race plays out. It certainly takes skill to win there and I don’t ever want to take away from anyone who’s won there, myself included (laughs). But that same skill that might get you a win the next day very easily gets you a 40th. There’s a skill set in between that’s going to make you finish fifth to 25th and those guys have that locked down. It can be very frustrating and a lot of people, a lot of drivers, don’t feel good about that style of racing determining a champion.”

DO YOU CONSIDER THAT REAL RACING? “I mean, hell, you’re in a car, you’re going fast, it’s real racing, absolutely. It’s just a matter of is it a real champion, that’s the question?”

YOU COULD SAY WHAT HAPPENS HERE SATURDAY NIGHT IF YOU CAME BACK AND RAN SUNDAY NIGHT IT WOULD BE DIFFERENT. “At least we’d get probably eight of the top 10 the same I’m going to guess unless it was a fuel mileage race. At least it’d be close. Obviously, you would not get eight out of the top 10 if you did Talladega twice. I think most people would agree with that.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags dodge, keselowski, penske