NASCAR Teleconference April 7. 2009 An interview with: BRAD KESELOWSKI TRACY JUDD: We're now joined by Brad Keselowski, driver of the GoDaddy Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. And after a pretty tough start to his season, Brad is now ranked 7th...
April 7. 2009
An interview with:
TRACY JUDD: We're now joined by Brad Keselowski, driver of the GoDaddy Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. And after a pretty tough start to his season, Brad is now ranked 7th in the standings. That is the first time he's been in the Top 10 this season. And he comes to Nashville where he won his first career series race last June.
Brad, it probably feels like a long time coming. But you've gotten yourself back into contention. Can you talk a little about the obstacles that you and the team have overcome to get you to this point?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, we've been through a stretch, and some good, some bad. We haven't gotten the finishes we deserve, but we've ran extremely competitive, and that's encouraging. I feel like we had tools. You know, we've had a couple of bad races there, and if you just eliminated one of those bad races, we'd be third in points. So we'd be right where I feel like we can run every week and run with Kyle and Carl and them.
You know, it's trying to stay focused on the long haul here. It's a long season, and, you know, it's tough because you try not to get down knowing that we've got 29 races or something like that, which is a lot of races. But there's no chase in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Every week is important. It was a shame to give up the first few weeks with bad finishes.
But it was encouraging to run competitively and know that if we could have just finished where we ran all day, we'd be right there where we want to be.
Still it was exciting to get back to Nashville. I think we can go there and repeat what we did last June. We've got the effort to do that, the car to do that. We've made some gains here in the last few weeks which are encouraging to me to go to Nashville. So we'll see.
TRACY JUDD: I asked the same question of Scott, so going to Nashville especially a great track for you. What are your thoughts on the opportunity to have the chance to pocket that extra $25,000 bonus if you win that first dash for cash race? Do you think that reward will make some tight racing even tighter?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, yeah. $25,000, that's a lot of money. I was really surprised. It's kind of great of Nationwide to do that. It's going to be awesome. I'm excited about that whole program. I look at the four races, Nashville, Iowa, Kentucky and Memphis, and I think we've got a good shot of winning the whole thing. So that's encouraging. I can't wait to get that. I'd sure like to hold that checkup in Victory Lane, that's for sure.
But we're going to have some tough competition to do it with, Kyle, Carl, and a couple of the other guys running well. I really think Kelly buyers is going to run strong too at Nashville, I'm kind of excited for him. So I'm sure I'll have some competition for it. But there is some motivation for sure to go out there and get that.
Q: It seems to me I heard you say last weekend you wouldn't mind doing 38 or 40 races a year with Dale Jr. as your teammate. But since you're the full-time guy at JR Motorsports, talk if you would about having different drivers come in and working as your teammate? And since you're kind of the senior guy, how does that whole relationship work?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, it's unique having as many different teammates at the Sprint Cup level I've got four great teammates with Dale, Mark, Jimmie and Jeff, and superior talents for sure, and you learn a lot from them.
At the Nationwide level I have Brian Newman, Tony Stewart, and Scott Wimmer who you talked to, as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Mark Martin as well in the Nationwide Series. But there are a lot of teammates, lot of different skill sets. Each one of them brings something different to the table that you can learn from, whether it's their demeanor, the way they treat the team or react to adversity or just their specific driving talents.
So there is something to be learned from each and every one of them, and it's kind of interesting to see. Because as a driver, sometimes you get in a rut of where you start doing things and you don't think about the consequences or maybe you don't even think about different ways of doing things until you see somebody else coming to do it that way, and you go, wow, maybe I can do a little better here. So I've got that with all these teammates, and that's cool.
So there are some downsides to it, as far as continuity and being able to work with one guy over and over again which is kind of what I was saying with Dale there after Texas. I think that we work strongly together as teammates, and I wish he was my teammate every week in the Nationwide Series, if it that was possible. So that's kind of how I feel about it.
Q: It seemed like you had a terrible run, and wasn't long after that that Dale Jr. picked you up. Could you talk about the lows and highs that you've been through at the track there?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Nashville was my last race that I drove for the Nationwide Series. I drove for a different car owner back then. And that was the end, man. That was it. I was done right there, man. I sat out for about a month or so until July when I got to ride in Dale's car in Chicago.
But, yeah, I thought Nashville was going to be the end of my career right there. We went there, it was an embarrassing situation. We had a road course car and no motor. It was a bad situation all together. And there was no money to be had around there. And that team folded up right after that race, so that was a struggle.
To come back there exactly one year later and win was very rewarding. Now we're going back there again with that trophy in hand and looking to do it again.
So I've been through struggles there. And Nashville was kind of strange like that, because I can go there and think of the bad times and the good times all at once.
Q: Did you come up with some sort of plan for your career in the weeks between those races when your team folded and you got something going? Did you come up with some other plan? What were you thinking in that period of time there?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Heck no, man. There was no Plan B. I was going to figure out how to make this work. I didn't give up on it. And that's how I got the opportunity I got is because I didn't give up on it.
I never really looked at doing anything else or was not willing to accept defeat when it came to that. Looking back at it now, that was kind of key to getting the opportunity I got.
Q: As far as adapting, you've had to adapt quite a bit coming up to this level. Can you talk about adapting to this competition at this level? And also, if you could, about this sponsor changes, you've had a couple of really good sponsors, but they've changed on you.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, well, I guess first off starting with adapting to the competition or the cars? Which one were you talking about?
Q: At the competition level, basically, as you move up. It takes a little bit more adjusting than say it would in ARCA, right?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, obviously as you go up the levels, the competition gets tougher. It demands more out of you. You know, your ability to make mistakes and get away with it goes down severely. You know, you're just -- I tell you what, to beat Kyle right now you've got to be perfect. You have to run a whole race and not make a mistake. You have to have a good car and do everything right.
That speaks volumes for the series. Because I think right now it's the toughest it's ever been as far as to be able to run with Carl and Kyle, two of the best talents. Not just in the Nationwide Series, but in the Cup series. You know, they're tough. You've got to do everything you can and figure out a way to beat them.
Like I said earlier, there are some young talents in there with Justin Allgaier, who I view as being similar to myself. He's going to be a tough guy to beat. Wouldn't be surprised if he's won some races this year. He's going through that same transition I went through last year as far as adjusting to the competition and what's acceptable and what's not on the racetrack. This is a tough transition, and a tough series with some very skilled competitors.
Q: As far as the sponsorships go, you've had to make those changes, too?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, that's kind of unique. You know, we've put together a program here at JR Motorsports with several different sponsors. As far as is that situation goes, it's unique from I see the same thing going on over at Kevin Harvick's company. And it just allows us to reduce the expenses of each sponsor, and play an active role in our sport without having to pick up the whole tab.
I think the sponsors get what they're looking out of it. If you look at the consumer brands we have with Unilever, Klondike, Hellman's and Lipton Iced Tea, it allowed them to kind of meet some of their goals you know for reaching out and leveraging their NASCAR partnership without a huge expenditure of the whole season because they can use our names now, and they have licenses and all of that to use our names on their products and so forth, and to advertise in stores. So I think it works out well for the sponsors.
But there are additional challenges. Our paint shop works overtime now, and my car that I'm actually running at Nashville was affected by it because it was the only car we had painted in a Go Daddy scheme. So, you know, it makes it a little difficult, but we find a way to make it work, and it's working, and we're just happy to have them on board.
Q: What has humbled you most about driving at NASCAR level?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Humbled me most? Hmm? Well, I think the biggest thing is you know I see it all the time with other drivers. You can be on top of the world one day and on the bottom the next. I think you see that with guys like Jeff Gordon who last year went through his struggles, and pretty much everybody wrote him off.
I think there were some people out there calling on him to retire or fire his crew chief and all of that. And that is a very humbling experience. To see that come full circle to where he's at now is kind of encouraging that you can make it through those struggles.
TRACY JUDD: Great job, B.K. Appreciate your time. Good luck this weekend. We'll see you in Nashville.