Ford Performance NASCAR: Daytona 500 Media Day (Brad Keselowski)

by Official Release On Wed, Feb. 13, 2019

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Ford Mustang — YOU ARE A CAR GUY AND A RACER. WITH THE GEN-7 CAR LOOMING, BALANCING THOSE TWO THINGS, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE? “More manufacturers. Is that an option? It will take a lot of work. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I haven’t been privy to anything on the car for whatever that thing is being called, Gen-7 or not. It is going to require a lot of creative thinking. When it comes to those things, I can pie-in-the-sky dream about it all I want but at the end of the day I don’t have the knobs. There is one group holding the controls and it is all up to them at the end of the day which way they want to twist and turn them. I made a concerted effort going forward that I am not going to put that much thought into that stuff and let them figure it out.”

THE DRIVERS COUNCIL SEEMS TO BE GOING THROUGH A BIT OF A CHANGE. WHAT IS THE BALANCE BETWEEN GOING TO NASCAR TO PRIVATELY HAVE CONVERSATIONS AND USING THE MEDIA TO GET THE MESSAGE OUT? “Not very well. I don’t know if you have seen my track record. It is a very difficult scenario. The media has a lot of power in our sport. Social media has a lot of power in our sport. That comes at the risk of making a lot of people angry that actually run the sport. It is difficult. Sometimes you feel like you are pushing a sled uphill. It is just the way it is.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEW RULE OF LEAVING THE RACE TRACK SUNDAY THERE IS A DEFINITE WINNER AND IF THE FIRST CAR DOESN’T PASS INSPECTION, THEY ARE DQ’D? “My first thought is that I appreciate the effort. I know the teams well enough to know they will hold NASCAR to that and someone will push it right to the limit very early in the season and it will become a moment of truth. Hopefully whoever does that is not connected to me in any such way. It would be a really crappy headline to have. I drive the car. I am not really allowed to work on it. If it happens, it happens.”

DO YOU EXPECT PAUL TO CONTINUE PUSHING THE WAY CREW CHIEFS ALWAYS DO? “He better. You aren’t going to win in this sport if you aren’t pushing it. The competition is too tough at the driver level, crew chief level, pit crew level, every level. If you aren’t pushing, you don’t win.”

IS IT CHEATING OR IS IT RACING? “Depends on who you are.”

PEOPLE SAY THE CHANGE IN THE TRACK BAR RULE WILL HURT THE FORDS, ESPECIALLY THE SHR CARS BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE THEY WERE ABLE TO GET A LEG UP ON THE FIELD LAST SEASON. “Definitely the SHR cars were fantastic in Talladega last fall. As for the reason why, I am not so sure I can pinpoint it that accurately as it seems that some have. It seems there is a little more parity and at least the SHR cars aren’t as fast at the moment as they were at Talladega in the fall. We still have the Duels to get through and more practice and of course the 500. I don’t know if I have a clear enough picture to make any kind of clear observations.”

QUESTION INAUDIBLE: “I am not really sure. A lot of the racing is going to take place on restarts but I don’t think that is different than it has been in a lot of ways. It will be easier to push on restarts than before and more important to get pushed on restarts which can sometimes actually have the opposite effect. You don’t want to make anyone mad because you might need them. Time will tell.”

“I think qualifying will look a lot like the truck qualifying looked like before they went to single. You are going to see a lot of drafting. A lot of people trying to time runs. Not here obviously, but at the other tracks. You are going to see at least once this season where the final round misses the time cutoff. I think we saw that a couple times in the trucks. That is just very natural with this package put together with the format.”

WHERE DO YOU RANK ADAPTABILITY ON THE LIST OF SKILLS FOR A DRIVER? “I gotta say adaptability is probably the most important. Adaptability kind of coincides with other great characteristics but adaptability is what gives you power to sustain in this sport. The rules are always changing. It seems like every year there is a rules change we talk about and how it will really change the game and then you look back at the press quotes from the last dozen years and we have said the same thing. Some drivers are able to keep up with it and some aren’t. I look at a guy like Jeff Gordon who adapted so well to multiple rules packages and it was really impressive and was a testament to his staying power and success throughout his career. I look at that and think that is probably what made him a Hall of Fame driver.”

SO TO BE A GREAT DRIVER IT IS INHERENT? “Absolutely. Even the schedule, the different tracks. You have to go from a road course to a superspeedway to a short track and intermediate track. They are four completely different disciplines. I can’t think of any more important quality to have than that.”

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER A GOOD RACE? “Any race I win is a great race in my mind. Other than that, I really don’t care. I want to see a race that I have a fair opportunity to win and all those things. Beyond that. I accept racing for what it is. Some weeks it will be close and some weeks it won’t.”

WHY THE SPLIT WITH JOEY MEIER AS YOUR SPOTTER? “He had some other things that he wanted to do with flying and I had some things that I wanted to do and we weren’t able to come together. It is unfortunate but I think he is in a spot that he is happy now and I am happy for him.”

HE SAID YOU GUYS ARE STILL GOOD FRIENDS AND HE WILL STILL FLY YOU SOME BUT YOU WANTED HIM TO FLY MORE AND HE WANTED TO NOT GIVE UP BEING A SPOTTER. “Yeah, he wanted to remain doing both roles and that just wasn’t what I was looking for.”

YOU SAID WINNING A SECOND CHAMPIONSHIP TO YOU IS WHAT VALIDATES BEING A HALL OF FAMER. IS THAT INTERCHANGEABLE WITH THE DAYTONA 500? “I think a championship will always be bigger than the 500 and should always remain bigger than the 500. With that in mind, it would still be a huge accomplishment for me to win the 500. As to whether or not that would make me a Hall of Fame driver, I don’t know. It would feel really good though, I can tell you that. I am having a hard time quantifying it though.”

DOES THIS PLACE BOTHER YOU, TRYING TO CHASE THAT 500 WIN? “Yeah. This track is frustrating as hell. There is no way around it. It is a track that I feel like we are good enough to win at every time we come here and it hasn’t come together and that sucks. Especially when you get wrecked out and there is nothing you can do about it. You just pick up the pieces and go on. the good thing about this race is that it is the first race of the year so with that in mind, if you don’t win it, you just immediately move right on to Atlanta. You only get a few days to cry in your milk. That has been kind of the way it is.”

IS THERE A DAYTONA 500 MOMENT THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE BACK? “Probably 2014. We had the car to win and it was one of the few races we have had down here that we had speed and not been wrecked out. I just missed the last move that I needed to make. It made me a better plate racer. It is probably the reason why I won a handful of races right after it. You win from losing sometimes. But I still would like to have it back with the knowledge I have now.”

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF MOMENTS YOU REGRET OR THINK THROUGH NOW WHEN YOU GET READY FOR THE 500? “Regret is probably not the perfect word. There are moments that you would like to have back for sure, but there are moments that also made me better and I wouldn’t have gotten better without the mistake. So I don’t know if regret is the right term. I wish I could just do it over again, but with the lessen. That isn’t how the world works though. You have to move forward.”

IT FEELS LIKE THE LAST FEW PLATE RACES ALL THE BIG WRECKS HAVE HAPPENED AT THE FRONT. IS IT BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO BE SO AGGRESSIVE BLOCKING AND SIDE DRAFTING TO GET POSITION? “It seems like there are a number of people that get into the top two or three that really just have no clue what they are doing and they pull really bad, juvenile mistake moves and wreck the field. That has been unfortunate but it is what has been happening lately.”

WOULD YOU RATHER NOT BE UP FRONT THEN? “It is more about who you are around. There are a handful of drivers capable of running up front and not wrecking the field.”

ARE YOU SAFER TO BE 15TH THAN FIFTH? “Absolutely, depending on who is up front.”

DO YOU STILL FEEL THERE IS A NEED FOR THE DRIVER COUNCIL? “I don’t know. It is hard for me to answer for every driver. I definitely think there is a need. As for a want, I would say that probably not in the current way it is shaped.”

WHAT DO YOU CLASSIFY AS A BAD JUVENILE MOVE? “Just people that throw blocks that don’t understand the runs or what is around them. They don’t have full situational of spacial awareness but they think they do which is even more dangerous.”

“You can block if you know what you are doing but not every move can be blocked. You have a handful of people that have cars good enough to run up front and think that they can block every move and you can’t. It isn’t going to happen. You are going to wreck or wreck everybody else.”

DO SPOTTERS MATTER HERE? HOW MUCH MORE DO THEY MATTER HERE THAN 1.5 MILE TRACKS? “I think it is important everywhere but here spotters are very critical. It is ratcheted up here for sure.”

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