Keselowski Charlotte Thursday media visit

SRT Motorsports

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

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

YOU HAD PRETTY GOOD WEEK LAST WEEKEND, WINNING A SEGMENT IN THE ALL-STAR RACE AND FINISHED IN THE TOP THREE. “It’s great to be back. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that I was just sitting here. Hopefully we’ll be sitting here a few more times this weekend. We had two really good runs in the All-Star race and the Truck race, finishing second in both of ‘em. I’d like to get one spot more in both races this weekend with the Nationwide and the Cup car. I think we’ve got a pretty good shot at it. Hopefully we’re able to make some small improvements on the car during the week and if we did that, I think we could do it. Kind of a short week in between the two races but that’s okay. It’s always a pleasure to come here and have race weeks and see all the fans. Maybe the traffic isn’t so much fun but the rest of it is really cool, to see everybody so excited over these weeks. It’s been good. I’m looking forward to hopefully having another strong performance and giving my fans something to cheer about; spending some time on Friday on Speed Street and doing all that kind of stuff. Lot of good things going on, obviously the Hall of Fame yesterday. It was a big deal for the sport so that was really cool, too. It’s a big deal for Miller to have Rusty (Wallace) get in the Hall of Fame, so really happy for them. Just all-in-all a great week and ready to finish it off with, like I said, two more solid runs.”

COULD YOU RECAP WHAT YOU FELT AT MICHIGAN WITH THE REPAVE? WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE WHEN YOU GET TO POCONO WITH THE NEW ASPHALT? “Well, I don’t know really what really to anticipate for Pocono but I’m glad we have a test day there. That’s going to be big for getting everybody on the same playing field for those cars who tested and those that didn’t. I did have the opportunity to go to Michigan and that was a thrill ride. It’s certainly the fastest track on the circuit as it stands right now. I think that’s kind of cool and obviously it’s in my back yard, so that’s kind of some bragging right and I feel proud about that. That should be a great race. I don’t think anybody really knows what to expect and those are always the cool races to me, the races where everybody comes in with no experience and you just kind of go, kind of like Kentucky was. You just don’t really know what to expect. I like those and Michigan is definitely going to be a race where nobody knows what to expect. Hopefully we come prepared and can bring home a win.”

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE AT THE PENSKE RACING SHOP THIS TIME OF YEAR? DO YOU GET MUCH INTERACTION WITH ROGER PENSKE? “Well, I mean, the month of May is certainly a big month for Penske Racing. Obviously they’re having a lot of success over there at the Brickyard and that’s great to see and really important for Roger but we want to have a lot of success over here, too. It’s not an easy thing to do. I don’t know if anyone has ever pulled off the weekend sweep. I know (Jamie) McMurray was close one year but I think we’ve got a shot at it for sure. But you don’t take anything for granted. I know how much it would mean to Roger to be able to pull that off. I think it’s a great opportunity; that’s the key word that I want to use. I’m just happy that I have fast enough race cars to be a legitimate opportunity. You know, obviously, it takes a lot of time out of Roger’s schedule but he clears time on his schedule this month to make sure that he can be a part of it all. And it was great to see him fly out Saturday for the All-Star race after qualifying over there at the Brickyard. I think that just shows that he cares about both programs. He wants to win. It’s good. Like I said, I feel very lucky to have an owner that engaged.”

SINCE JIMMIE JOHNSON WON AT DARLINGTON AND THE ALL-STAR RACE, DO YOU THINK THAT TEAM HAS HIT HIGH GEAR? “Well, I think they never really lost the speed. They’ve had speed all year long; they just haven’t been able to close the deal at the end earlier in the season. Now I think they’re definitely closing the deal at the end. And that’s part of it, too, don’t get me wrong but you look at some of the NASCAR stats like speed by quarter and so forth and they’re right there, if not the best of anybody. And I think that shows they’ve had the main component and that’s always speed. They have it and so it’s just a matter of catching the right breaks, the yellows at the right times and so forth. You know, kind of executing at the end is the best way to put it. And they’re doing that right now with the fastest race cars so when they win with the car as fast they have, they’re going to win in dominating fashion like they did this past Saturday. It’s up to us to make sure that they don’t execute better than we do. Hopefully we can find, like I said, just a touch more speed where we can kind of knock them off that bubble. They’re still a really good team with great cars and when they win they’re going to win big.”

WAS IT SPECIAL FOR YOU TO SEE RUSTY WALLACE ELECTED TO THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME? DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL MEMORIES OF HIM DRIVING THE 2 CAR? “Special memories of Rusty for me, he had that one year, I can’t remember if it was ’93, ’94, something like that, where he just dominated. I can’t remember how many races he won but had to be somewhere around eight. I don’t have the full stats so don’t quote me on that but I remember that year and there was this video game that came out and I first started racing it. I’ll never forget, it was this NASCAR video game and he was always the guy to beat. I was probably about 10 years old so I remember that and how fast his car was (laughs), how good he was at Bristol and Martinsville and places like that. I remember that season for him more than anything else when I think back to Rusty and obviously the black and gold MGD car. So I think that’s really special for Miller and that’s where my memories are. It’s pretty cool to think of him being in the Hall of Fame and what that means for Miller. I’m excited for them. I know they’ve got some plans they’re working on to really take advantage of that with regards to Rusty being in the Hall of Fame and how to do something cool with the fans and him. I’m excited to see how that all plays out. I think it’s all great stuff. The Hall of Fame, I think, is doing exactly what it is supposed to do and that’s creating some excitement in the sport. It’s great to see.”

HOW MUCH OF A MENTAL TRANSITION IS IT TO GO FROM THE ALL-STAR RACE TO THE 600? “You know, I definitely think there is a transition there where you have to be a little more patient, so to speak. And I think it’s probably more of a transition for the crew chiefs than it is for the drivers because, at the end of the day, it’s still our job to drive the cars very, very hard and make ‘em go fast. I think it’s more of a transition for the crew chiefs to make sure that the cars have maybe a more appropriate balance of speed and reliability and speed being long versus a short run and reliability obviously being parts and components that doesn’t fail in such a long race. I think it’s probably more of a transition for them than it is for the driver. It certainly requires a different approach and I think that’s great. It showcases teams that are strong in multiple directions and I kind of think it’s pretty cool.”

IS DANICA PATRICK BECOMING THE FACE OF NASCAR? IS THAT OKAY WITH YOU GUYS? “Is Danica becoming the face of NASCAR? Well, that’s not for me to judge; that’s for you guys to judge and for the fans to judge. Certainly she brings some attention to the sport from a crossover standpoint of those that maybe would not have been engaged in it before and new interest is always good interest. And I can’t remember who it was that said it, I think it was Jeff Gordon maybe a year or two ago, it’s great that she’ll bring that new attention because I feel like if I win or he wins or whoever wins, that at the end of the day it’s the winner that gets the most of it. It’s just a matter of getting people to tune in to start with. So if she can get people to tune in to begin with, I think that’s definitely a win for the sport. But like I said, I’m not really a good judge on whether she’s the face or not. I don’t have enough time to look through those things to, I guess, get a grasp of it. I can certainly understand if I was a track or someone in the media that relied on ticket sales or page views or ratings or whatever that might be and she sold more of them or produced more of them or whatever that might be, then heck, I’d put her on whatever I could put her on (smiles). So I can understand that approach. I mean, I guess at the end of the day it’s for you guys to judge whether she’s the face of the sport, not me.”

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE FOR MR. PENSKE? WAS IT INTIMIDATING AT ALL WHEN YOU FIRST MET HIM AND CHATTED WITH HIM? “Well, yeah, the first time I met him it was definitely intimidating. Long story short, I’m from Michigan and Roger lives in Michigan and has all his offices up there, and without giving away the exact location of where his office is, I can say that it is purposely left unmarked and it’s literally a building that I drove by all my life growing up and did not know that’s where he was at.

“When he called me and gave me the address of where to meet him at and I put it in my phone and Google maps, I was like naw, I’ve got the wrong address. And I remember calling back up and I can’t remember if it was his secretary or someone and kind of double-checking and I was like no, that’s it. And so I drove in his building and you know I’ll never forget that. He had like this really cool underground parking, which would make sense that I didn’t know it was his building, and it was elevators and stuff that were kind of guarded. It was really cool, a unique experience. I would definitely say that the first time I met him I was more intimidated by the fact that the way his building was, how he does things and how beautiful it was, I think that kind of goes into his persona of who he is. What makes it so much fun to be a part of his teams is the commitment to excellence that he has. You know, more power to him. He knows how to make that stuff work. He knows how to make things nicer than what you ever thought they could be. I had the pleasure of taking a few groups on a tour of our shop this week and this past week. They all say the same thing when they go through the building – this is so Roger, because when you go through the building at Penske Racing, there’s no other shop that compares to it. I get messages from fans on Twitter that take the tours and that’s all Roger; that’s him walking through the shop. We joke all the time that if somebody leaves papers on their desk he’s walk through when he’s there and find the biggest cabinet you can find and dump ‘em all in there because that’s how he wants things (smile). He wants the desk to be clean at night, the floor to be clean and you know things of that nature. That’s just Roger and that’s part of what makes him so cool.”

YOU ROUTINELY HAVE DRIVEN NATIONWIDE AND CUP RACES IN THE SAME WEEKEND. WHAT IS DANICA PATRICK IN FOR THIS WEEKEND HERE AT CHARLOTTE RUNNING BOTH RACES? “I can only go from my own experience. I can say she’s in for losing a lot of weight this weekend (smiles). This is a tough one and I think it’s an equal challenge to last week, physically. Whatever last week was, just take those quotes and copy-paste ‘em ‘cause it’s the same thing. And by last week I mean Darlington ‘cause it’s very similar in nature. The racetrack itself is probably not quite as challenging as Darlington but the extra race length more than makes up for that. This is a tough race. It’s 600 miles. I know there’s been talk from people in the past that it needs to be shorter. I think why it’s such a great race is the fact that it’s so long it differentiates it from other races and adds another element to it that I don’t think we see anywhere else. I think that’s what she’s up for.”

BASED ON HOW YOU CELEBRATE YOUR WINS WITH THE AMERICAN FLAG, WHAT MIGHT A VICTORY ON MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND MEAN? “Well, obviously, I’ve got the American flag on both my cars, in Nationwide and the Cup car in a way. One is in a banner form and the other is a traditional flag form. I think that shows how important it is to our team and sponsors – Memorial Day weekend and the cause itself. I’ve got two great sponsors with Discount Tire and Miller Lite that really activate around that, which just adds another element to why it’s so important to be able to have a strong run and hopefully get a win this weekend. But to me, I guess, kind of reflecting on it deeper, I think that’s one of those things that you don’t really know what it means to you until it happens to you. I’m going to assume it would probably mean a little bit more, for sure, being Memorial Day weekend, and for Roger and kind of my passion for doing things with the military, but it would be nice to confirm that (smiles). It’s one of those things I almost don’t think about it. I’d rather just experience it.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Brad Keselowski
Teams Team Penske , CIP
Tags dodge, keselowski, penske, srt