Keselowski about Talladega: Not a better place to be than in the points lead

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T)

TALK ABOUT COMING BACK TO TALLADEGA THIS WEEKEND? “I think that this has been a good track for me in the past. I’m glad to be back here and see what we can do this time around. Certainly there is no guarantee wherever you go, especially not here at Talladega. It’s hard to really say much other than go out on the race track and do it and see what happens.”

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

ARE YOU CONCERNED AT ALL ABOUT THE GUYS THAT ARE SITTING JUST OUTSIDE OF THE TOP THREE IN POINTS RIGHT NOW HERE AT TALLADEGA AND THAT THIS RACE COULD SCRAMBLE SOME THINGS AROUND A BIT? “I don’t know, concerned is a strong word. I’m open-minded that anything can happen here. For good or bad, we could very well leave here with a bigger points lead of leave here quite a few markers back, so I’m very open-minded on how that could go. I’m going to focus on what I can control, which isn’t a lot but I still have some control to try and be the guy that doesn’t put himself in a bad situation and looks back at it that way. A lot of things can change here. A lot of things can change every week but the difference is that here you have a little bit less control. You still have some control. I’m talking in circles in a way. That’s the truth of the matter, it’s a difficult situation. I’m not going to look at it negatively. I’m going to look at it positively and think that if I do everything right that there’s a chance that I could leave here and have a really big points lead.”

YOU COME TO TALLADEGA LOOKING LIKE YOU’RE HAVING A REALLY GOOD TIME. ARE YOU? “I don’t know a better place to be than in the points lead. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to be there. (It’s) a challenge and I like the challenge that Talladega is.”

IF RACING IS CONTROLLED CHAOS, WHAT IS RACING AT TALLADEGA? “Less-controlled chaos. I don’t know. It’s just to another level. I think that the key thing is that you may have less control of your destiny here, but you can still do something dumb and make it worse than it has to be. You don’t have to drive it into the wall and say that it’s luck. And I know that there is the temptation to use that excuse that it’s the end all be all of, ‘That’s Talladega and that’s just bad luck.’ A lot of times it’s not bad luck, it’s guys covering their ass with blaming Talladega too. It’s funny how that works sometimes.”

WHAT ARE YOU GUYS PLANNING ON DOING WITH THE PRACTICE SESSION TODAY? “ We’ll practice…I won’t say a lot…but a fair amount, especially in the first one and kind of evaluate from there and see if there is a reason to keep going. If there is, keep going, and if not, we’ll call it a day and start drinking some beer.”

WHAT MADE YOU THINK THAT THE MOVE YOU MADE HERE IN THE SPRING WOULD WORK? “What made me think that it would work? Common sense. How do you say it? Common sense is a set of prejudice acquired from birth. For me, looking backward at that move since it’s already happened, it’s obvious to say now that it worked. Trying to look at it from when I was in that position, I just had this intuition of how Kyle (Busch) would react, just from experience around him, and how the actual air would work just in theory. Obviously, the two came together and it happened. I don’t know. Maybe I could make that same move five times in a row and that’s the only time that it would work. It’s hard to say. I’d feel fortunate if I had the opportunity to make that move five times because there is no guarantee that it will work the next time.”

HOW MUCH WAS THAT PLANNED AND HOW MUCH OF THAT WAS REACTION? “You can’t plan being in the lead on the final lap. You can only hope that you get the opportunity and when you do you’re prepared for it.”

ARE THERE CERTAIN SITUATIONS WHERE IF “A” HAPPENS, THEN YOU DO “B” OR DO YOU JUST FEEL IT OUT? “I think there’s a difference between being prepared and having a plan. I’m not going to dive into that, that’s pretty self-explanatory. But you try to prepare for everything. In some ways at Talladega, you shoot from the hip from there.”

YOU’VE WON THIS RACE UNDER TWO DIFFERENT RULES PACKAGES. DO YOU FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE NOT BEING IN TANDEM DRAFTING HERE AT TALLADEGA? “I never raced in the era where it was just pure pack racing so I don’t know how I would have ran at that time. Not at Cup at least, I did a little bit in Nationwide. So I don’t know how I would or wouldn’t be successful. I feel like there was that era over the last two to three years that it was pure tandem racing. Right now, I feel like we’re a little bit of a hybrid between the two. And that seems to be where I’m the most successful. That doesn’t mean that others around me haven’t picked up on how to execute it to where they have a move to beat me. First thing first, you have to be in position to use those moves and that means that you’re not wrecked and you’re in the front pairing, groups, and those are just a matter of fortune. It’s hard to explain why I’m more successful with the hybrid style than the tandem style. I think some of it is just a little bit of fortune.”

WHEN YOU GO TO A TRACK THAT YOU HAVEN’T HAD THE BEST PERFORMANCE, DO YOU FEEL MORE UPBEAT BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SAMPLE TO SHOW (YOUR RESULTS)? “That’s exactly how I feel. I said some comments to the effect after Dover that if you’re trying to compare me against Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson, it’s not going to work because I haven’t been in the sport for 11 years, or at least not at the Cup level. So you’re pool of stats to work from…you can’t compare them. Certainly, I haven’t had the opportunities with the team in the past that I have now. Basically, you can take the stat book and tear it up as far as I’m concerned when taking a look at the 2 car and how we’re going to perform at the final events of the year.”

WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN ON SUNDAY AT TALLADEGA FOR YOU TO BE IN POSITION TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP AT HOMESTEAD? “It’s hard to answer. I think that we can go to any of the next seven races, including here at Talladega and win. Certainly there are variable that are there that could put us out of it. You can blow a tire, get caught up in a wreck, etc., etc. I don’t know. I can’t look that far into the future. I feel like we’ll be in really great shape if we retain the point lead leaving here at Talladega, that’s for sure. It will be a big moment for our team if we can do that. If we’re not, I would not be all that concerned.”

HOW DO YOU THINK THE POSITION OF THE START-FINSH LINE AT TALLADEGA IMPACTS AND PLAYS TO WHAT WE SEE ON THE RACE TRACK? “It’s definitely unique and I like it. I like how some tracks are different and have their own characteristics and flow to them. Talladega has always had that. As far as how the start-finish line affects the race being located where it’s at, I don’t really think it does because you just time your moves a little bit later. Instead of making your move off of (Turn) 4, you maybe wait until the short shoot in the tri-oval. But I like the ability that you have here at Talladega, for the fans to see the race come to conclusion so that more fans can see it. That’s great. I think that’s a great idea that maybe more tracks should think of.”

IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE ALLIES OUT THRE ON SUNDAY. YOU AND SAM ARE THE ONLY DODGE CARS OUT THERE. IS IT HARDER TO MAKE FRIENDS BECAUSE YOU ARE THE POINTS LEADER? “I don’t know, I haven’t thought about that. I’ll be glad to have Sam’s help, that’s for sure, and I know that he’s been a good teammate. I’m looking forward to working with him. I think we’ve worked pretty well together this year, whether it’s Nationwide or Cup. But as far as the other drivers, I go into the race not expecting to have any help from anyone and playing it from there.”

DOES IT MAKE YOU NERVOUS THAT SEVEN RACES FROM NOW THAT YOU’LL BE DRIVING FOR ANOTHER MANUFACTURER? “I wouldn’t say nervous. I look at the sport and it’s a constant evolution and even though that Dodge has done a great job this year, there’s no guarantee, even if they were involved next year, that there would be the best or the worst. You don’t know. I think that it’s the wrong way to look at it based off of past history. Chevrolet has run well for a number of years and there’s something to be said for that. To my gut, I look at things such as how committed the manufacture is to keeping up with that evolution? And that’s what I look to towards the future. I don’t look to the present to predict future performance. I like what I see out of Ford and how they plan on evolving for the foreseeable future. I’m confident that even if things don’t jump out of the gate in 2013 at the performance level that ended in 2012, that they can’t get there, if not better.”

DOES THAT FACT THAT YOU’RE MAKING A MOVE TO ANOTHER MANUFACTURER IN A YEAR THAT ALL THE TEAMS ARE SWITCHING TO NEW CARS BECOME AND EQUALIZER? “It’s a huge equalizer. You couldn’t pick a better time period to switch manufacturers. You’re looking at a complete overhaul of the bodies on the car, which is one of the biggest expenditures that we have. Obviously, the engine side is expenditure and that’s not going to be easy. I’m confident that will work its way out, Roger assures me of that and so does everyone at Penske Racing. From the standpoint of actual cars per se, without the engines, you’re looking at a whole field of scrapped race cars or at least cut up race cars to where any aero notes that you had in the past, which we have a lot of time in, are really not valuable anymore. They’re out of date and not useful. I think there has never been a better time to make that switch. Certainly there never really is a good time, but it doesn’t get any better than this time.”

Source: SRT Motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Brad Keselowski , Denny Hamlin
Teams Team Penske
Article type Interview
Tags dodge, keselowski, penske, talladega