Michigan: Winning team interview

BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger) Race Winner This one was even harder. We lost our clutch and ruined the burnout. I couldn't get out of the pit stall (after losing the clutch) and kept losing spots after that. We just...

BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger) Race Winner

This one was even harder. We lost our clutch and ruined the burnout. I couldn't get out of the pit stall (after losing the clutch) and kept losing spots after that. We just fought back from adversity with an awesome Dodge Challenger. These new cars are sweet to drive and they're even better to drive when this Dodge Challenger is that fast. I'm proud of everyone on this Discount Tire team. I want to win races going for the championship. We just don't want to coast through it. We're pushing as hard as we can for all these people that are working their butts off at Penske Racing and for those fans that support us, especially here in Michigan; these are my guys. It's awesome to win in front of them."

YOU HAD THE CLUTCH PROBLEMS, BUT WERE ABLE TO REBOUND FROM THAT, TALK ABOUT HOW THAT IMPACTED THE DAY?

"The clutch problems just affected our pit stops and, at the end, affected my burnout. Sorry for the fans there, I was trying. I just didn't have a clutch. It's real hard to do it without a clutch. It was an awesome race car. When you have cars this good, life it a lot easier."

YOU WERE DOWN ABOUT FIVE SECONDS AFTER THE LAST GREEN FLAG PIT STOP. HOW IMPORTATNT WAS THAT CAUTION FLAG, OR DID YOU FEEL YOU HAD ENOUGH TO CHASE DOWN CARL EDWARDS? "I knew I could get to him. I didn't think I could pass him. The yellow certainly was helpful. We had a great car and this team really deserved to win the race."

WERE YOU SURPRISED YOU WERE ABLE TO PULL AWAY SO EASILY AT THE END?

"I really didn't think we would. I thought the 18 and 60 would get in a really good draft and run us down. It didn't work out that way. I'm thankful our car was that good."

YOU WON HERE LAST YEAR, IS IT SWEETER THAN LAST YEAR'S WIN?

"Overall, I think it's the same general feeling. You never know when you win if it's going to be your last win ever, so you try and treat them like that. This one is one that I'm certainly going to cherish especially driving for Roger Penske because he's just down the street here. Being able to win here, we had Ralph (Gilles, Dodge CEO and president) here and to get the first win with the Challenger here is special as well. Just a lot of things that will make it a special win. And fighting back from adversity, the clutch issue was something that I was worried about and didn't know if it was going to cost us the race. I was trying to stay cool about that, but it's easy to be upset. It was cool to fight back from those adversities. The win last year was special. We won the race without the fastest car and this year, we won with the fastest car. It's a little different feeling. This is a little bit more of a team victory in some ways and certainly one that I'm very proud of and would put parallel to winning here last year."

WITH THIS WIN, ARE YOU A LOT MORE COMFORTABLE WITH THE TWO REMAINING NNS NEW CAR RACES?

"Certainly more comfortable about the races coming up. Obviously, with the results of Daytona and the results of here today...Richmond is a much different track than Daytona and Michigan. A lot of different things are going to be required out of your race car just as in the old cars when we built different style cars to go there because of braking and all those things that it takes to keep your car running. For me, I was nervous for this car for a lot of reasons. I was nervous because quite honest, I haven't run that well on the Cup side and this chassis is based off the Cup car. I looked at it and thought geez, if I'm not running well in the Cup car, how am I going to do when we bring it to the Nationwide side. I think I was a little bit nervous from that standpoint and the reliability of anything that's new. To be able to go out and win in that car knowing that it's the same chassis as the Cup car...subtle differences...is a huge boost of momentum that I hope to carry over to tomorrow."

YOU AND THE 60 AND 98 RAN CLOSE TODAY, SOME REAL GOOD CLOSE RACING. WAS THE HARD RACING AGAINST THE 60 OVER-REPORTED IN THE FIRST PLACE?

"I think the biggest thing in the contacts that we've had in the past, whether it convenient to believe or not believe, is that it' has been accidental. It's easy to look at them and say, 'So and so roughed someone up.' When in the seat, we all know that we're just all sliding around and sometimes contact happens. I didn't drive my car any differently today than I did in those other races where there's been contact either by my fault of someone else. It's just sometimes cars slip and make contact. It's easy to report it in the media as intentional. It makes a better storyline. Sometimes, cars just run into each other. The recipe for the same cake (was present) today and it just didn't get baked."

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE RUNNING TIGHT WITH THE 60 NOW?

"I haven't quite honestly thought about it. I think that it's real easy for people to say, 'He's gonna get around the 60 and he's gonna get nervous or visa-versa and he's gonna go crazy'. I'm going to race him just a hard as I did before Atlanta and Gateway."

IS THERE A DIFFERENT DRIVING STYLE FOR THIS NEW CAR CHASSIS?

"There are different driving styles for the different chassis. The fall off are greater throughout a tire run because of the CG's (center of gravity) are higher. Moderating your tires and keeping them at 100 percent can be a little difficult and it takes a slightly different driving style. That was partially what I was nervous about."

WITH THIS ONLY BEING THE SECOND RACE FOR THIS NATIONWIDE NEW CAR, WAS THERE A GREATER CHANCE FOR CARS TO RUN INTO EACH OTHER?

"Anytime, there's change you're out of your comfort zone. If you're driving you car right, you should never be in your comfort zone to begin with. You're even more in it when you have a new car. Not exactly knowing how it's going to react to different pockets of air, that's part of the wild card factor. Yes, the potential is quite a bit higher.

"Our points lead number is nice. We feel pretty comfortable with the driver's championship. In our eyes, Paul and I have talked about it, Roger and I have talked about it, and we're trying to do all that we can to make a strong run for the owner's championship."

CARL CAME INTO VICTORY LANE. WHAT DID HE SAY? I think that he just said good job, there was a lot of commotion. My ears were still ringing."

RALPH GILLES (President & CEO, Dodge Brand)

"First, I'm really happy for Brad in his hometown (Rochester Hills), his fans are here. He got a lot of cheers today when he was introduced. For Dodge and the Challenger, it's fantastic. It's everything that the team has been working on to make happen, and it's finally happen. It eluded us the first race (Daytona), but not today. Front and center, Dodge Challenger. I'm really happy, couldn't be happier for the team or for Dodge."

MIKE NELSON (Vice President of Operations, Penske Racing)

"A great day for Penske Racing and a great day for Dodge too. We thought we had a chance to win that first race with the new car at Daytona, but getting a chance to win here at Michigan, hometown race for the manufacturer, is pretty awesome. We put a lot of work into this race, into the Challenger, and it paid off. Thanks to all the guys at Penske Racing that worked really hard to get a good car coming to the track, the guys here at the track that tuned it right, it's been awesome."

JUSTIN ALLGAIER (No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge Challenger) Finished 4th

"It was great day for the Verizon Dodge guys. This new Dodge Challenger was just awesome. I'm glad to be out there running it and glad for Brad to get Dodge to victory lane. I know that's something that they really wanted to do with this new car. They built a heck of a car with this Dodge Challenger. It was just a rough day for us. We got into the fence early in the race and had to come back from that all day. We had great pit stops and great call calls on the pit box. It was one of the most fun races that I've ever been. Our Dodge Challengers we're just awesome."

PAUL WOLFE (crew chief, No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger)

WHAT TYPE OF ADVICE DID YOU GIVE BRAD WHEN HE HAD THE CLUTCH PROBLEM?

"It was mainly an issue only on pit road. It didn't hurt the performance on the race track. It might have changed when we would have pit or not have pit. You always have to think what the worst case scenario is if we do come down pit road. We reminded him when he did come down pit road. He did the best job that he could. For not having a clutch, I didn't feel like it was a disaster. We lost some positions, but it could have been a lot worse. I think we did a great job controlling that problem."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOU GUYS OVERCAME CLUTCH PROBLEMS?

"It just shows that we're a championship caliber team. When we had trouble, we were still able to pull through. I'm proud of this entire Discount Tire Dodge Challenger team. To bring out this new Dodge Challenger and for it to be this strong is just an awesome day. I want to thank everyone at Penske for all their hard work."

HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO ADAPT TO THIS NEW CAR SO QUICKLY?

"It's just working hard. You have work hard and pay attention to the details. It's a different car that's asking for different things. We did our homework and figured it out."

-source: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Roger Penske
Teams Team Penske