Keselowski - Watkins Glen Friday media visit

Dodge Motorsports

BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T)

HOW’S YOUR ANKLE FEELING? "I’m here and driving, so it can’t be too bad, right? It’s felt better. It definitely doesn’t feel much better than last week. Driving is obviously hell on it.”

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

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

WHAT IS YOUR ANKLE LIKE DRIVING ON A ROAD COURSE VERSUS POCONO LAST WEEK? “Obviously you brake harder and more often. It’s not that bad. I can make it work. It’s certainly not great. It’s just hard to have the finesse like Marcos (Ambrose) and those guys have when you’re in pain. I’ll just have to make it work.”

HOW MUCH DOES IT INHIBIT YOU? “I’m sure it’s holding me back somewhere. I’m trying to minimize that. The biggest thing for me is to not spend a lot of time dwelling on it because I don’t want to build in an excuse to not run good this weekend. I want to work hard and find a way to do it. I don’t want to make an excuse that it’s my foot. I’ve made it a point to not put too much thought on it.”

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF TOUGH? “Being considered tough is relative to who you’re talking about and being compared to. At the end of the day, I’m just driving race cars. I just have to find a way to make it work. I’m not sure what that’s going to take, but I’m just going to have to shut off the pain and get in there and drive.”

COULD YOU HAVE DRIVEN WATKINS GLEN LAST WEEK? “To be honest, my foot doesn’t feel much different than last week. It’s going to take another five-and-a-half-months to get back to 100 percent. It’s just something that I’m going to have to fight through.”

DOES ANYTHING ELSE HURT THIS WEEK? YOUR BACK? “Yeah, it hurts. To be quite honest, it hurts more going over those bumps than anything else. Every time that I hop one of those curbs it’s just like falling out of your chair. It doesn’t feel good. I’m trying really hard not to build in an excuse to not run good this weekend. We have a fast car, so you just have to grit your teeth and bare it.”

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS THIS WEEK? “I think to say that we’d win this week would be a little unrealistic expectation. I think if you look at my road course experience, we’ve shown improvement. We got our first top 10 on a road course at Sears Point (Infineon) this year. This is only like my 12th or 13th career road course race ever. I’m slowly improving. I’d like to get a good, solid finish out of it. I finished 20th here last time and felt like we were a 15th-place car. If we can just keep chipping away and just keep getting a little bit better, a top 15 or top 10, that would be a hell of a day.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT THE PAIN WAS LIKE THIS WEEK? “The hardest part is the therapy to get it better. They keep trying to tell me the stuff that they’re doing makes it feel better, but it feels a lot worse in the short term. We’ll just have to see. I’ve never had an injury like this before. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to recover. As a race car driver, it’s never fast enough.”

YOUR CREW CHIEF SAID THAT YOU DON’T HAVE A STANDBY DRIVER? “I’m not putting someone else in my car. I didn’t last week and I won’t this week. We’ll just figure it out.”

HAS YOUR STRATEGY CHANGED SINCE YOU’RE GOING AFTER THE WILD CARD BERTH? “No. I think the way that we’ve been performing lately; the practice speeds today were top-five, top-10 car. I think that it would be a disservice to change what we’ve been doing. We need to keep plugging away, top 10s, and top 15s. Who knows? If we have a shot to win like we did at Pocono, grab another win, that would be huge. To get out and play defense is the worse thing that we could do.”

IF YOU WERE NOT IN THE WILD CAR RACE, WOULD YOU GET OUT OF THE CAR? “No, absolutely not. I don’t think that being in the wild card race is affected by whether I’m in or not in the car. I think I owe it to the guys who work on my car to gut it out. I expect a lot out of them, they have every right to expect a lot out of me.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FOOTWORK IN THE CAR AND IF YOU HAVE HAD TO CHANGE IT BECAUSE OF YOUR INJURY? “I try not to change anything because it’s the only way that I know how to driver. That makes it to where you just grit your teeth and drive through the pain.”

DID YOU HAVE ANY DRIVERS COME UP TO YOU THAT YOU DIDN’T EXPECT TO CONGRATULATE YOU ON THE WIN? “Dale Jarrett and guys like that who I have a lot of respect for did…Jeff Burton. Those were all really kind words. Probably the biggest one was Matt Kenseth because he never says a word to me and he sent me a message. I thought that was really, really cool.”

WILL YOU GET ANY MORE PAMPERING WHEN YOU GET BACK HOME TO MICHIGAN? “No. No more pampering back home. The best pampering is laying down in my bed, trying to stay off my feet.”

ARE THERE AREAS OF THE TRACK THAT WILL MORE TROUBLESOME FOR YOU? “It’s really every area on the race track, every area requires a lot of braking. You look at Turn 1 and you fight wheel hop there where you really need to modulate the brakes and that’s been very difficult for me to do. I think that’s one of the biggest areas. You still have the Inner-loop and places like that and all the high-speed braking zones where you have to carry a lot of finesse.”

CAN YOU TAKE ANY PAIN PILLS? “I haven’t taken anything. I’m trying to estimate what the pain is going to be like on Sunday. I ran hard today to make sure that I would know. I really haven’t had a discussion with NASCAR on what’s permissible and what’s not. I don’t like taking pills and I’ll do my best to not take them. I just feel like it slows me down. I’m going to do my best not to take anything before the race.”

CAN YOU TELL A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR CAR FROM THREE OR FOUR MONTHS AGO? “Oh yeah, our cars are way better than three or four months ago. I’d rather not go into detail on where or how, but they’re way better.”

WHAT WAS THE TURNING POINT OF GETTING YOUR CARS BETTER? “You have to go back to some of the changes that were made in May. It’s just obvious. If you just graph out how we’ve run and look at it, you’ll see that we’ve performed much better since the month of May and all the changes that we made at Penske Racing.”

IS SITTING OUT THE NATIONWIDE RACE TOMORROW HARD FOR YOU? “Absolutely. It’s the car that I’ve been fortunate to win the championship and win races in. I love driving it. I like doing double-duty. Sometimes you have to look at a little bit bigger picture and that is this Cup car, getting it in the Chase and trying to be as close to 100 percent as I can once the Chase starts.”

YOU SHOW YOUR FRUSTRATION DIFFERENT THAN KURT. WERE YOU FRUSTRATED EARLY IN THE YEAR AND HOW DID YOU SHOW IT? “Absolutely frustrated. The cars that we had at the start of the year were not near what I thought I needed to be competitive as a driver and to grow and have opportunities. Obviously that’s changed since then.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Brad Keselowski
Teams Team Penske
Tags dodge, keselowski, nascar, sprint, watkins glen