BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WOULD HAVE MORE OF AN ADVANTAGE IF THERE WERE MORE DODGE CARS ON THE TRACK? "No, not really. I think that it's an over-reported story to be honest. I think that the support that we get from Dodge is equivalent, if not better than what any other manufacturer gives. Sure there are less numbers which decrease your odds in saying, 'Dodge only won three races last year'. If you look at the dollar cost value of that, they've spent less and put in a good effort to still win races. I respect that. I think that they're doing the best job of all the manufacturers of leveraging where they are at in the sport and taking care of the amount of money that they spend. I'm proud of Dodge for that reason. I really like their cars. I really like where we're going with them. I got a sneak peek at the 2013 Cup car and thought that it was really awesome. Dodge is kind of steering the way on where the sport goes on projects like that. They showed that already with the (NASCAR Nationwide Series) Challenger. Dodge was a large part of the design process, through the Challenger of the new Nationwide car. I think that we would all agree, the car turned out better than the COT versions before. I think we're going to see another evolution of that led by Dodge for the 2013 (Cup) model. That's the story that should be reported about Dodge, not that there's only two teams."
IF YOU GET BOXED INTO A SITUATION WITH THREE OR FOUR LAPS TO GO AND HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PUSH KURT TO A WIN, IS THAT OK WITH YOU? "Yeah, it's OK. Some days you're in the driver seat, some days you're that pusher, that guy that's helping. It would be an honor if I could push a guy like Kurt to win the 500. I wouldn't be upset about it. That still doesn't mean that I don't want to win. If I have the opportunity to win, I'm going to take it."
KURT'S CARS WE'RE, FOR THE MOST PART, VERY COMPETITIVE. WHERE DID YOUR CARS STRUGGLE LAST YEAR? "There were just a lot of different things going on. A lot of differences in approach. A lot of differences in the way that the cars were put together. We've got to get that figured out. Basically, Kurt's team is a really good team that's well established and done a lot of good things. Obviously, he's a good driver and deserves some of the credit as well, whether that's from his feedback or just pure skill. I always try to keep that in mind. I thought that there were times where we were better than he was. When we were better than he was, he was a 30th-place car and we were a 20th-place car. When he was better than we were, he was a top-five car and we were a 20th-place car. The highs and lows were pretty drastic on both sides, his especially. You try and keep that in perspective and think about what we can do to be better. I think that Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) and his approach to making the cars better will pay off and, in the end, help Kurt as long as Paul can do so."
TALK ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE BUD SHOOTOUT ON SATURDAY? HOW MUCH DOES THAT HURT? "It's huge. To me, it's nothing short of a (expletive) disaster to not be in the race. The way that practice is set up, nobody is going to practice all week. They're going to practice the single car runs. They're going to practice for the Shootout. They're going to do a couple of short runs, but there will be very little practice all the way up to the Twins, especially after the Twins. I was very disappointed not being in it. There's nothing that I can do."
WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT THE CRITERIA FOR THE SHOOTOUT SHOULD BE? "There's just so many ways that you can pull on that. I've kind of given up giving any thought on that. It really doesn't matter."
IT JUST SEEMS LIKE IT'S NOT SPECIAL TO BE IN THE SHOOTOUT ANYMORE? "Whether you agree or disagree with a person like me being in a race, I think that we can all agree there are better ways for coming up with the field."
DO YOU HAVE YOUR DRAFTING PARTNER PICKED OUT ALREADY? "You really can't. You work well with who you find. You find a guy in the race that you have that right run, I'm gonna hit him, push him and he's my guy. If you're not moving together, write that down. I'm not working with that guy. You try to put that together. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I can't answer why that is. There are just certain cars that go and ones that don't. You just kind of pick through them all and find the one that work. You wish they had a sign on the roof that says, 'This car's good, this one's not' but they don't."
DOES THAT CHANGE DURING A RACE? "I don't see how cars get better. They get worse."
DO YOU AGREE WITH NASCAR'S DECISION NOT ALLOWING DRIVER'S TO RUN FOR MORE THAN ONE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I think that it's the right decision for the sport. At some point, we all have a role in looking out for the sport. At what level is debatable. That was the right role for the sport, in particular the series, to do what it needs. It needs more young drivers. Quite honestly, it's to my benefit. The way that I'm going to get better in this sport is for other young driver to come up and for me to be more of a senior person who has the experience. You can look at it positively, or negatively. In the long term, I think it's good."
HAVE YOU NOTICES A CORRELATION BETWEEN THE NOSES ON THE NATIONWIDE CAR AND CUP CAR? "It's hard until we get to all the tracks and get going. The biggest things that you notice so far are that it doesn't have the splitter braces. After two years, the Cup car gets to remove its braces (laughs). That's good. Looking at it, it just means that the cars are a little bit more durable which is good. Guys just won't lose their splitter and be done for a day which means you can run a little rougher and rub fenders and not worry about the thing breaking off. I think that kept a lot of drivers from being as aggressive as they want to be. Everybody seems to be about aggressive racing. It was interesting toward the end of the year, although the media couldn't see it, the sport changed a lot over the last 10 races, at least the cars did and the way that they performed. We saw a lot of side-by-side racing and a lot of it had to do with the nose and what people were doing with it. It's almost a shame from that standpoint that we changed nose pieces because it took away some of the things that we were doing to it to make the racing more competitive and have more action. We'll see if that comes back or not."
WHAT CHANGES WOULD YOU MAKE TO THE CAR PRIOR TO 2012? "I think that the biggest thing is that we need to make the cars run better, I mean run side-by-side and do all those great things. We need to reduce the effect of the splitter because it puts all the downforce so low and creates a lot of sensitivity to the car. When the car bottoms out, let's say you drive in a corner underneath somebody, you have to drive it in just that little bit deeper to clear a guy and drag the splitter and about wreck both of you. It's annoying as hell and keeps you from being as brave as you'd like to be to make a pass, make a maneuver on someone. Now there's a high possibility that you'd knock both of you out. You want to pass everyone every chance that you can. There is some risk-reward for trying and not wrecking yourself in the process."
WHERE'S THE BALANCE BETWEEN HOW THE CAR DRIVES AND DRIVER PERFORMACNE? "It should be about both. Right now, it's like a car that's damn-well impossible to drive which means you have to be perfect -- which is good in some sense -- at the end of the day. The only selling point at making a car to where it has to be perfect to where you have to be perfect -- the selling point is for that -- is that the best driver will make a difference. It's still not that way. There are still enough differences in the car where the best teams are still faster like they were with the old car. Now, it's just impossible to run side-by-side. We haven't hit that balance like I think we could. We're working on it. I think that the sport is working on it. There is a balance there. You don't want the cars to drive easy. I don't think anybody is asking for that. You should be able to get under a guy and put a little bit of extra "oomph" in it and make a move and not wreck you and him."
-source: dodge motorsports