Kligerman, Keselowski put Dodge in the field at Michigan

Parker Kligerman (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) Qualified 17th “I wanted to be in the top 10 at least. We ended practice eighth and you kind of just want to backup practice. We went faster than we did in practice only by about two-tenths but you know we were faster than our teammate with the same setup so that was good. But first time in a Cup car you kind of want to make a splash you know and we did that in practice, just didn’t quite do it there in qualifying but if that ends up top 12, that’s pretty good I feel like for the first effort here. Hopefully they have a good race here on Sunday and we’ll have some good practices tomorrow for the race and be all right.”

DID YOU HAVE ANY DIFFICULTY BOUNCING BACK AND FORTH TODAY BETWEEN THE TRUCK AND THE CAR? “I mean, your first time in a Cup car you’d like to kind of just focus on it and I was jumping back and forth and being so different about how you drive around here. The Truck you’re flat-out and then here with the Cup car you’re using brake and lifting and a lot more driving to it. I prefer this (Cup racing). It’s fun, I enjoy it and hopefully I get to do it again sometime.”

HOW WAS YOUR QUALIFYING LAP? “We had an eighth-place in practice and you always want to kind of back up your speed in practice. At the end of the day we want to get in that top 10 and kind of want to make a splash anytime you come to Cup and kind of did that in practice but didn’t quite get there. I got him an okay starting spot for Sunday and hopefully a good pit stall and hopefully we’ll be able to work on the race setup a little bit tomorrow and get this Shell/Pennzoil Dodge up to the front.”

DID YOU GET EVERYTHING OUT OF THE LAP? “Yeah, one and two for sure. On the entry to one and down in I’d just get so loose I had to hold it and hold it and the second lap it came through and I said ‘I can get more’ but there wasn’t more. Three and four I was pretty content with but one and two there was something out there if I could have manipulated the rear a little bit better.”

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO JUMP IN AND DO THIS BUT NOT GET TO RACE THE CAR? “I’ve had experience with it. It’s fun, it’s cool to work with the guys and get your feet a little bit wet on the Cup side. We did a couple times with Brad (Keselowski, in Nationwide) and went out and won so it’s tough to watch but you know you had a part to do with it and you know if you had the car that fast you’d probably get in the race and do it yourself.”

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T) Qualified 19th “I’m very curious to see how we perform this weekend. I felt like we were kind of up and down in the performance charts the last time we were here and the same thing with the test session that we had so curious to see what we can achieve when it counts here in race trim Michigan weekend. You know obviously this place is special to me and I’d like to be able to bring home my first Cup win this weekend or as soon as possible at my home track. I know we’re working towards that at Penske Racing and in general we always seem to be stronger in August than in June here. Hopefully that’ll be the case and we’ll be strong enough to get a victory.”

DO YOU HAVE TO GUARD AGAINST WANTING TO WIN TOO BADLY HERE? “Yeah, absolutely, you know, that’s the fun thing about this sport and I say this all the time it’s about balance because if you don’t want it enough you won’t be successful and if you want it too badly it seems like you force things and they don’t come naturally. And that’s hard to see sometimes. Sometimes you have to take a step back to know when you’re doing that, when you’re forcing something that’s you know just not ready to happen yet. You know for me that’s something that I try not to do but I would probably say that I’m guilty of it when I come here at least on the Cup side because when anything goes wrong I get madder than hell about it. You got to guard against it for sure. You know I’d rather be the guy that screwed up because I wanted it too badly than the guy that screwed up because he didn’t want it enough. I’m always going to go towards that side of pushing harder and harder maybe than what even I’m capable of. If you missed because of that I’m going to strike out swinging, I’m not going to strike out staring at the ball. That’s just my style.”

HAVE YOU TALKED TO KYLE BUSCH SINCE LAST SUNDAY AT WATKINS GLEN? “Well, I mean, I’d like to. You know I spoke with his crew chief Dave Rogers and tried to get a hold of him but every phone number that I had was bad or something, I don’t know. Like I said after the race it was unfortunate because dumping the leader on the last lap is not something that I want to be known for. It’s obviously something that happened and everybody has got a different perspective on whether it was right, wrong, or somewhere in between. I’m probably right in the middle on that, how I feel about it. You know I feel like we’re all going for the same spot. I obviously really pushed real hard and he wasn’t going to give it up. I’d like to talk to him first to truly understand his perspective. It certainly wasn’t something that I wanted to see happen. It wasn’t something that I intended for to happen but it obviously happened and I can’t make that go away and only hope that he understands as a racer that he is that things like that happen and it’s just sometimes part of the breaks.”

YOU’RE IN A SITUATION WHERE A WIN WOULD BREAK YOU AWAY FROM THE OTHER GUYS WITH THREE WINS AND GET YOU TO FIRST-PLACE WHEN THE CHASE STARTS. CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF MAKING A ZANEY MOVE TO GET A WIN IF YOU’RE CLOSE WHEN OTHERWISE YOU WOULD NOT DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT? “Oh believe me I’ve thought about it, yeah, absolutely, I’ve thought about it that whole last lap. I thought about it going off-course at the Glen and thought ‘Damn, I just threw away the points lead.’ Obviously ended up being somewhere else ‘cause I’m not looking at the points lead off the sheet that gets printed out. I’m looking at it off of wins and I think that’s the common sense way to look at it. It doesn’t matter when the Chase starts what points you had. I would say the guys that are you know really digging hard and thinking about the Chase are probably thinking the same thing or I would hope they are. Then as far as I’m concerned, by those calculations, we are the points-leader, maybe tied for it, but we are the points-leader in that sense and I think that’s great. I think that’s what this sport should be about. It should be about winning and there is certainly a balance there and I think this sport has found the best balance I’m aware of between consistency and wins in that fashion. It’s good and it makes me think really hard about winning. I think we’ve got a great shot at it.

“I’m not sure exactly where we’re at here at Michigan as far as how good of shot we’ve got at it. Obviously we’ve got Bristol coming up next week and my mouth is watering over that race.”

DO YOU THINK YOU CAN HOLD ON TO WHAT YOU’VE HAD THERE THE LAST YEAR WITH THE CHANGE IN THE TRACK OR DO YOU EXPECT IT TO BE TOTALLY DIFFERENT? WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE TO WIN THERE THE LAST COUPLE TIMES? “Well Bristol to me is a man’s racetrack and I respect that place so much and I think it takes a level of respect for it which from day one, the first day I was there and walked in there, I respected it but I also wanted to win there. I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could be the man to win at a man’s racetrack. So it’s always been a challenged to me and it’s one that for some reason has taken a piece of me somewhere deep inside and made it rise to the next level and I just love it for that reason. There are few things in life that can do that to anyone and Bristol is that place for me, whether that’s Nationwide, Truck or a Cup car or maybe it would be a demo derby, I don’t know. It feels good going there. I know there’s changes done to the track. I don’t see that changing the performance of our car. I’m more interested in the changes done to the tire compound than anything else. I think that’ll be the bigger key to the puzzle and we’ll just have to see how that unfolds. Obviously I’m going to run all three series Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and if there’s a difference in the track I should be the first to know.”

DID YOU PLAN TO DOING THE WEDNESDAY RACE BEFORE THEY HAD REDONE THE TRACK? “Yeah, I had, you know, it just goes back to how much I like Bristol. I wanted to do all three there before they thought about changing it.”

ARE YOU GUYS EARMARKING STUFF JUST FOR THESE FINAL 10 RACES? YOU STILL WANT TO WIN EVERY WEEK BUT DO YOU WANT TO SAVE SOME OF THAT GOOD STUFF TO PEAK AT THE END? “Sure, I mean, it’s something that I’ve thought about. You know the time I spent at Hendrick Motorsports I remember when you’ve walk through the 24/48 shop (Jeff Gordon/Jimmie Johnson) and there’d be the 48 car with a cover setting over ‘em ready for the Chase that didn’t get ran in this stretch of time and it’s something that I’ve thought about and I’m sure they’re doing the same thing right now. It’s part of the cat and mouse game that everybody plays within the series where you know you build some good faith whether that’s as a driver, like I said good guy points. You can build those good guy points as a driver and you can build it as a team. Maybe that’s a little bit more towards the NASCAR side in the technical procedures but you know Penske Racing doesn’t believe in that. That’s just not Roger’s code. He believes in bringing the same car to the racetrack every weekend and it being as legal as we know how. I think I’ve said before here in one of these media sessions that he has a saying that he doesn’t believe in robbing the bank and that’s something that he tells everybody and preaches to us all the time about his personal mantra I guess you could say. And that puts us in a position to where I don’t feel like Penske Racing saves cars or does anything special for the Chase in that sense. Obviously we build brand-new cars throughout the Chase but we do that throughout the regular season as well. I don’t see anything, you know, vastly different to stock up as the Chase is concerned. I know from my end it’s trying to be smart about the commitments that I have with media, sponsors, fans, etc. once the Chase starts and I’ve been plowing through as many of ‘em as I can beforehand. I appreciate some of your guys’ patience with that ‘cause once the Chase goes there probably won’t be so lenient on that end. We’re doing all we can to bring our A-game when the Chase starts. It might not be on the car side but it’s certainly something that we’ve thought of and will continue to think of and I know I will.”

IT LOOKED LIKE KYLE BUSCH WENT OFF THE TRACK LAST SUNDAY AND CAME BACK ON. DOESN’T THAT CHANGE SOMETHING? “Well a racetrack is not the freeway. It’s hard to remember that sometimes because people want to look at it and they say when you hit someone from behind it’s your fault. Well a racetrack is not the freeway and on the same token a racetrack is not the freeway just because somebody has pulled off the racetrack doesn’t mean they have to clear themself to get back on. It’s a little bit hard to explain why it is that way and it’s something I don’t really know. I think every driver has their own personal beliefs about it. I certainly believe that he exited the racetrack and came back on certainly and once that happens you’ve got to find your own spot. I think of it in that situation as a freeway but maybe he doesn’t, I don’t know and maybe others don’t, it’s hard to say. I’d would say that you’re spot-on in your assessment that he definitely went off on his own, barring whatever oil issue there was and not with my help. You know so that’s difficult. I can always say that when the situation was reversed and I pushed Marcos (Ambrose) off the track in Turn 10 and he was wide I certainly gave him a lane when we went to 11 because I felt like that was the right thing to do. Maybe it wasn’t, I don’t know. It’s tough because as race car drivers you have the ability to put people in bad positions and make them decide and this part of the code that different driver’s race by that you noticed out on the racetrack. You have the ability to put people in a position where they either lift or they wreck or you both wreck. And some drivers seem to really understand that and have a really defined code with that and some don’t. And I think it’s interesting because it dictates a lot of how the race plays out, specifically on restarts and we saw that at the end. You know I think every driver has their own code is basically what I’m trying to say and it’s hard to define what it is and as a competitor you hope that it’s consistent so that you can race them and know what you have time after time and you hope that when the roles are reversed that they react accordingly. I know that it’s my code to not get myself wrecked if I can prevent it. And I think that there are other drivers out there without naming names that if they have the ability to chop you off and wreck both of you they’ll do it and then come back through the media and say you wrecked ‘em. Well that’s not exactly how it works. It sounds good on TV and it might get some fans riled up but that’s really not what racing is and it’s really not what happened. And I think they know that and play that to their advantage. It’s interesting how it works out.”

Source: SRT Motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Brad Keselowski , Parker Kligerman
Teams Team Penske , Hendrick Motorsports
Article type Qualifying report
Tags dodge, keselowski, kligerman, penske, srt