NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - Brad Keselowski April 21, 2010 An Interview With: BRAD KESELOWSKI THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, welcome in advance of two races coming up this weekend at Talladega Super Speedway. Sunday we have the Sprint...
NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - Brad Keselowski
April 21, 2010
An Interview With:
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, welcome in advance of two races coming up this weekend at Talladega Super Speedway. Sunday we have the Sprint Cup Series event, the Aaron's 499, and prior to that on Saturday we have the Aaron's 312, part of the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule.
Our guest today, he'll be in both events this weekend. He's the defending champion of the Aaron's 499, Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 12 Dodge four Penske Racing. Also driving for Penske racing in the Nationwide Series, Brad is second in the current points.
Brad, an unbelievable, dramatic, to say the least victory at Talladega last year in the Aaron's 499, what's it like to come back as a defending champion in that event?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Thank you, Herb. Thanks everyone for being on. It just brings goosebumps to hear you say it. It's pretty cool to come back to the racetrack as a winner and to see your image and face on the tickets that they sell, and just all that goes with that. Just an awesome feeling and really excited about getting back to Talladega and hopefully following that up with another strong run.
We have been racing pretty well with the 12 team and we have gotten a lot of consistency lately where we are running in that 15th place range and finishing in there. Had a couple of weeks now in a row, I think four straight weeks in a row we have finished 16th through 12th.
So you know, those are solid runs. We want to get better and we want to be in contention for winning and for wins, but those are coming, and right now we are making those baby steps but we have come to Talladega feeling like we can win. So that's an awesome feeling, and makes it even more exciting to get going there on both the Cup and the Nationwide side.
On the Nationwide side, obviously it's been a lot of fun with that team, brand new team, leading the points last week and got bumped off the points lead there last week but still had a strong showing with another Top-5, and ran up front again.
So you know just really enjoying this time of year and everything that's going on both on and off the racetrack, and every weekend going to the racetrack is a real joy.
THE MODERATOR: I know you're up at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Goodyear Tire test, how is that going.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Great, thanks for going. The Goodyear Tire test is going on today, and also yesterday. We have made a lot of progress as a team, and feel like we are learning some valuable things. With this testing ban, it's really important to maximize any time you get on the racetrack and it makes it even harder on a guy like me who is essentially a rookie at over half the tracks.
So anything we can do to pick these tracks up and feel like we can come back here, you know, and not just be in contention but be able to run up front and go for a win, that's a big deal for us. So feel good about that and glad to be here.
Q: How do you think your life to be different if Carl had won that race last year? Do you think you would be at Penske right now?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: That's a great question, one that I'm not in a good place in time to answer. You know, a lot of great things have happened to me over the last 12 months, and, you know, coming back to Talladega is a great chance to reflect upon that. But to know where I'd be, geez, man, it's so hard. It's so hard to label that.
There's so many different options that were out there, and different paths that my life could have gone down. I don't even know. I don't even know where to answer that question. I'm just thankful for the opportunities I do have.
Q: Were you already in talks with the Sprint Cup teams about a ride for this year, or does that experience really accelerate things on that front?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I was not in talks with anyone but Rick at that time, but that certainly got me a lot of phone calls.
Q: Brad, can you talk about the plans to drive the blue deuce and some stories that perhaps we're still getting filled in on now as we cover this story?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, it's been an eventful week, for sure, with going back to Talladega, and like you said, signing up to drive the No. 2 Blue Deuce, wow. I mean, that car is an icon. It's a car that I grew up watching, even when it was black and gold with Rusty and everything that he did with it and winning races and won championships. That was just a cool car and it's a legendary car that sends shivers down your spine, again, even about the opportunity to drive it.
Just really humbled at that opportunity and glad to be wanted. I think that's a great feeling, and just ready to get out there and mix it up in a car that's not just a car; it's an icon.
Q: And what does being able to drive that icon mean for your future, solidifying your future and have you talked to Kurt about it?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, the key words are solidifying our future and giving some validity to our program. Obviously when you have rotating sponsors every week, there's some confusion that goes with that, not just with the fans but also with the team itself.
So to be able to look the guys in the eye this morning and tell them that's what we are going to do next year and see their faces and see how excited they were about it; to know that there's, like you said, a solid future ahead for not just me but for everyone on my team, that's so important, so very important. This is a people sport, and you know, when those people believe in you and believe in the company and the team that you drive for, it carries you a long ways.
Q: And did you talk to Kurt?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Kurt, I didn't talk to him face-to-face but I know that he was equally as excited for me as he was for his opportunity with Shell.
Again, I think he holds the same feeling that I do that it's an awesome feeling just to be wanted. He's got an opportunity to drive that new team or not necessarily a new team but different car number and different sponsor; for a sponsor that really came over here because of him.
So that's an awesome feeling for him and something I'm sure he's flattered by as well.
Q: Want to ask you about restrictor plate racing in Talladega. People talk about how you need friends at tracks like Talladega and Daytona, but really, when you get into this race, are friendships and rivalries kind of forgotten about and do you just go with the best guy you can go with at that time on the racetrack?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Absolutely. Well, at least it is for me. I can't speak for every other driver. But when they drop that green, you are just looking for a fast car that's going to take you to the front.
So whether that's your best friend or your worst enemy, they become your best friend if they are good and they become your worst enemy if they are bad. You have to make the moves that help you and help your team and put those personal relationships aside.
Q: Do you think you're a good plate driver yourself, and how long do you think it took you to get the experience to really be able to run up front with those guys?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, I think I have room to be better as a plate racer, but in general, I think I've done a decent job at it. I would have liked to have got a better finish out of Daytona, obviously not to have that tire go down real early in the race.
Talladega is a place that's clicked for me, specifically with the COT. I've had some good fortune. I've spade out of the big wrecks and as much as of that is luck as anything else. But also, you have to put yourself in the right position at the end of the race to make the right moves.
You know, there's a challenge to that that certainly requires some skill. The whole bump-drafting and push-drafting thing that we saw last year, that's not about chance. There's skill involved in it and there was a reason why I decided to work with Carl Edwards, because he was talented enough to do that.
So you know, there's still skill involved in Super Speedway racing and I've got room to be better but I felt pretty good about our shot and what I've done so far.
Q: I wanted to ask you about the Spring All-Star Race, having made I guess your first start in that event last year, why do you think that event is so important to drivers, and what makes it so special and so unique besides the obvious, you know, things with not having points and so forth?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, it's a fun race, because of all those things, and because it's fun, because it's specifically with champions and other winners, you know you're racing the best. There's a level of pride that comes with that, and makes it fun, and there's just more attention on you, because there's less cars.
And then obviously night racing and everything that goes with that, there's just so much pride that that race has. There's some purse things, too, naturally, but for some reason, that race is just always known for being one of the key, premiere races to watch and it becomes the same thing for us as drivers; it's one of the key, premiere races to win.
Q: Last year you obviously were not driving for Penske. What did you learn from your participation in the event that might be able to sort of help you this year, and being with Penske this year, how much more confidence does that give you going into the race?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I learned, obviously, the All-Star Race has a different strategy to it, and probably those things are the biggest things you learn just from experience. And then having the car like I know I'm going to have from Penske Racing this year gives you some confidence that you can go out there and run up front and contend for the win. All of those things feel really good.
Continued in part 2