Daytona 500: Keselowski - Media Day visit

BRAD KESELOWSKI: TALK ABOUT YOUR ATTIDUDE TOWARDS RACING? "My attitude towards racing is to do what it takes to win. I'd prefer to win honorably. I can't always say that I've done that (smiles). Hopefully we can put together strong enough cars...

BRAD KESELOWSKI:

TALK ABOUT YOUR ATTIDUDE TOWARDS RACING? "My attitude towards racing is to do what it takes to win. I'd prefer to win honorably. I can't always say that I've done that (smiles). Hopefully we can put together strong enough cars this year to where we can win without drama. A goal of mine is to win a race and look back and nobody say, 'He screwed me over to do it.' That's the way race car drivers are...we never get beat fairly, just ask us. That's part of the sport. The approach is to go out there and win and do the best that we can every week. We'll see where that takes us."

DO YOU WORRY THAT SOME OF THE INCIDENTS THAT YOU'VE BEEN IN HARM YOUR CREDIBILITY A LITTLE WITH OTHER DRIVERS? DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO GO OUT AND EARN SOME RESPECT? "Respect is this two-faced part of the sport. In my mind, it's so hard to come into this sport and run well when you're worried about making everyone else happy. I just don't see how you can do that because in competitive sports, anytime your competitors are happy with you is when they're beating you. That's when they're going to be happy. Someone said the other day, 'that so and so is a no-good driver, he shouldn't even be in here.' And I said, 'God bless you because I know I'm going to beat him.' He's got my respect. That's why a lot of the established drivers don't like young drivers coming into the sport because there is an upset to that balance. Before, that ride wasn't' a ride that they had to worry about and now it is. Realistically, it's that they don't want to race that guy."

WHAT ABOUT THE DRIVERS THAT SAY YOU DON'T GIVE AND TAKE ENOUGH ON THE RACE TRACK? "I feel like, that objectively, if you step back and watch my in-car camera tapes and stuff, I feel like I give when it's the right time to give and I take when it's the right time to take. For the most part I always do that. There have been a few races during the season where I step back and say, 'Whoa, I did a terrible job of not giving right there.' There have been a few (races) where I've given too much. But at the end of the day, when I look my team in the eyes, I want to be able to look at them and say that I took more than I gave. I want to be able to look at them and for them to know that when I got out of that race car, I left nothing on the table. I never gave up a spot that I shouldn't have. I want to feel proud of what I've done. Sometimes, what it takes to feel proud about yourself, to take pride with your team, is not the same of what it takes to make your competitors happy. The fun that I get out of racing is from my own team. It's not from looking my competitors in the eye and knowing that they're happy. It's getting out of the car and being happy with myself and my team being happy with me. That's the fun of racing to me. If you have to make a few competitors mad along the way, that's just part of it."

DOESN'T THAT MAKE YOUR LIFE MORE DIFFICULT? "Certainly. If you make anybody angry, whether that's your teammate, the media or other drivers, it's going to make your life more difficult, but it's a delicate line that you have to balance and as far as I'm concerned. I favor my team over everyone else."

NASCAR HAS SAID THAT THEY'RE GOING TO ALLOW THE DRIVERS TO BUMP AND BANG; DOES THAT SEEM TO SUIT YOUR STYLE BETTER? "Yes and no because I actually did those things already last year (laughs). I'm not sure how much that I can change. I'm already right there for the most part. It will be interesting to see how other drivers in the sport change. When I met with NASCAR in Phoenix last year, they pretty much told me that's the way the sport was pretty much going to go and they were going to be OK with it. So I didn't see it as much of a surprise. I'm more interested in seeing the actions of other drivers versus myself."

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACCPMPLISH MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE? "I just want to be a threat to win week in and week out. That's where we want to get to. We've got the ability to do that in the Nationwide car with Paul Wolfe and that whole team just starting up. I'm really proud of that team. On the Cup side, we know that we have a lot of work to do to get there. We're committed to get there. The (Penske Racing) hiring of Jay Guy and Steve Addington is a sign of that commitment."

HAVE YOU CLEARED EVERYTHING UP WITH DENNY HAMLIN? "I don't know. I feel good about it. On my end, it's clear. You have to ask him on his end. I'm cool."

DID YOU HAVE A FACE TO FACE WITH HIM AT ANY POINT DURING THE OFF SEASON? "I saw him a couple of times face to face. We didn't talk life or anything like that."

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE 12 TEAM THIS YEAR? "To show improvement, that's important. To show progress throughout the year, that's kind of our buzz word. We're looking at a brand new pairing of Jay Guy (crew chief) and me. We expect big things out of each other, but realistically, when you look at the elite driver-crew chief combos, they've taken three or four years to really establish themselves. Whether that's Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus, they're on year eight and it took them four years to get to a championship level. We know it's going to take time and hopefully we can do it faster than that, but we'll have to work through the speed bumps along the way."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO GET A CUP WIN AT MICHIGAN? "It would be huge. I get goose bumps just thinking about it. I'm excited about going back home and being able to run there twice this year. I was only able to run there once in the Cup car last year. It's an awesome opportunity to prove yourself to you hometown fans."

IS IT EASY TO GET THE COBWEBS OUT BEFORE DAYTONA? "I think the key is to never let them grow out. Whether that's trying to stay active or to test as much as possible within the (NASCAR) rules, the important thing is to never let them grow out."

DEPENDING ON WHO YOU TALK TO, YOU'RE EITHER GREAT FOR NASCAR OR A MENACE. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE CAUGHT IN THAT DISCUSSION? "I think it depends on which side of the fence that you're on. If you're established in the sport right now and you have a good ride and a good team, you don't want to see a guy like myself come in. I don't do you any good. If you have something to gain out of it, if you're a sponsor or NASCAR themselves or the fans that enjoy the show, they seem to accept it and appreciate it. I think the negative feedback that I've gotten has been either from the established guard or the fan base of the established guard. The general fan base that appreciates the sport, that cares about the sport or has something to benefit, has been very respective."

ARE YOU OK WITH THE BUZZ THAT SURROUNDS YOU? "I don't know if I necessarily feel the responsibility to do that no more than any other driver. We all have a responsibility to create that buzz. I seem to have more of it than some other drivers. I don't have more of it than Dale Jr. (Earnhardt) or Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon or any of those guys, but I have more of that responsibility and buzz than most drivers coming into their first full Cup season. Is there responsibility? Yes. As a driver, we all have a responsibility to the sport to create that buzz, whether that's just for our own sake or our sponsors or the sports itself. It is dependent on what you think. Every driver should feel like they have that responsibility.

They shouldn't feel like they need to carry the full weight of the sport, but some responsibility to carry your sport."

KYLE BUSCH CAME INTO THE CUP SERIES WITH KIND OF THE SAME APPROACH THAT YOU HAVE AND STIRRED THINGS UP A BIT AND THE FANS TURNED ON HIM. NOW HE'S CONSIDERED THE SPORTS BIGGEST VILLAIN. DO YOU WORRY ABOUT GETTING THE SAME REACTION? "Certainly. I really don't want to be the villain. I haven't set out to walk out the door and get booed, that's not something that I would take any pride in. On the same token, I don't think that you can spend your life looking over your shoulder and making every fan happy with what you do because you're not. I think a lot of the problems with the sport that I see are based on the fact that whether it's been NASCAR or the drivers or whomever, they try so hard to make everyone happy and to be everything to everyone that they're nothing to anyone. That's the best way that I can summarize it. You're not going to make everyone happy. You're not going to live up to every fans expectation of what a great race is going to be or what a driver personality should be like. I think that's important to remember."

WHERE'S THAT BALANCE FOR YOU? "I met with two or three sponsors over the off season and the message was, "Don't change a thing."

HOW DO YOU THINK THIS BUZZ STARTED ABOUT YOU? IS IT YOUR TALENT? IS IT YOUR PERSONALITY? "To pick one thing....I think it's important to speak your mind. If I was speaking my mind and running 31st every week, it really wouldn't matter. I seem to win (races) with a lot of drama. I think that has gotten me the microphone. The fact that I use the microphone and say what I think certainly helps."

YOU SEEM TO HAVE A LITTLE EDGE TO YOU GAME? "The sport's going through a transition. The mere fact that NASCAR has made some of the changes they've made over the year is an acceptance of that. As to whether I'll be one of the key players in that remains to be seen. I'd like to do everything I can to be that guy. Time will tell."

HOW BIG WAS IT TO WIN AT TALLAGEGA? "There was some credibility gained from that from my end. That was big for my career and, hopefully, I can do that again. Hopefully, without the drama. It was a big moment for my career and getting some acceptance from the fans, media and so forth."

HOW DO YOU INTERPRET NASCAR 'BUMPING AND BANGING' RULES? "It's up for interpretation, that's for sure. I really haven't spent that much time trying to understand what they mean by it because the only real relevant part of it for me is how the other drivers react to it. I don't plan on doing anything differently myself and the only way to see how the other drivers react is to wait and see."

IS IT GOING TO BE HARD FOR NASCAR TO DRAW THE LINE ON WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN'T DO? "I think it was harder before to draw the line. Before it was, 'no bumping here, and maybe here, but we're not sure.' That's hard to enforce. That's a pretty subjective rule. Now it will be easier on them. Certainly, if we're seeing drivers go out and wreck each other intentionally, then they'll get a little tougher. I don't foresee that happening."

DO YOU FORESEE THAT THE ATMOSPHERE WILL BE SET IN THE FIRST 50 LAPS OF THE DAYTONA 500? "Probably the first 400 laps at Bristol. That will be the true test."

YOU AND DENNY ARE TWO HARD CHARGERS. YOU SHOULD HAVE A LOT IN COMMON. BE FRIENDS. "We have a lot in common. I was just thinking about that the other day. There is some kind of dark, mystical force that keeps drawing us together. I ran into him on New Years. I probably ran into him three or four times during the off season. Randomly, we would back into each other and then I came into the motor home lot last night and his bus was parked right next to mine. There's some dark force that is attracting us together on and off the race track. I think we're fairly similar. Maybe that's why we have had our troubles with each other. We seem to be around each other a lot."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU'VE COME FROM FIVE YEARS AGO TO TODAY? "I see like three lives ago. That was three Brad Keselowski's ago. I'm constantly changing. Hopefully, some of it for the better. The groups of people that I've been around just continue to change. So much of me has changed. That's just part of life. I look back at that and I know that the work ethic that I have and the passion that I have for the sport was established in that time. Those were important years to me."

-source: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Paul Wolfe , Brad Keselowski , Chad Knaus
Teams Team Penske