Ford Performance NASCAR: Keselowski and Harvick Texas Transcripts

by Official Release On Fri, Mar. 29, 2019

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Mustang – IS THERE A NEW ELEMENT THIS YEAR THAT HAS ALLOWED THE TEAM TO BE SO SUCCESSFUL COMPARED TO PREVIOUS YEARS? TEAM PENSKE HAS BEEN GOOD FOR A LONG TIME. “I think it takes a lot to win at this level and a lot of things have to come together is maybe more accurately said. I think if I was to look at a few key points I would say one of them is from Ford Motor Company and the efforts that they’ve put in. They made a couple really nice moves over the last two or three years that probably culminated when they were in a better position to roll out the Mustang than they would have been elsewise to where the Mustang came out, and I don’t think we missed a step. I think we probably took a step forward with the Mustang, so that’s been very helpful to Team Penske, so credit to Mark Rushbrook and the team there at Ford and the things they’ve done to do just that. They brought on this guy named Tommy Joseph who I talked about last week. He’s been a big gain for us on the Ford side, and then I think beyond just the Ford specific oval, I would say that Doug Yates and his group with the engine side have done a really good job responding to some of the challenges when you make the changes that have been made to the engine and so forth and kind of staying on their toes, and part of that goes back to Ford again because I think Ford bringing on Stewart-Haas was a good marker for Doug Yates and his group to push them as well, so that culmination has been really strong, some strong decisions made by Ford Motor Company that have kind of been high tides for all ships. If I was to look at anything, I would say that’s probably the biggest factor and it’s come together this year with the new car and the rules changes.”

WHERE IS THE BALANCE BETWEEN ENTERTAINMENT AND COMPETITION FOR THIS SPORT? “I think if you back up to the schedule announcement. I’ve got to say I was pleasantly surprised somewhat, kind of ecstatic and shocked that there were as many changes as there were. I didn’t see that one coming. I think that was a good shot in the arm for the entire sport and I think that’s an example of changes you can make that don’t compromise competition for entertainment. I don’t always believe that you have to trade is I guess what maybe I’m trying to say and the schedule change is a direct reflection of that. I think it’s important to keep the schedule fresh and to have new ideas and to keep up with some of the challenges in the marketplace, whether it be the Olympics or whether it be markets that have made significant investments, so I was pretty excited to see that personally. I just go back to what I said earlier, I don’t think it always has to be a trade off. I think you can make the competition and entertainment better without always having to sacrifice one or the other and the notion that you can’t has always been very frustrating to me. Those ideas are the ones that I think you should always throw out the window right away – anyone who tells you you have to trade and has an idea that requires a trade, so as far as where the balancing mark is, when I put my race car driver hat on I’ll be honest I put a concerted effort to say I don’t care as long as I have the fastest car of the group then everything else will figure its way out. It’s a tough line for the sport to walk. Obviously, the entertainment factor is important and integrity is important with the competition side. I’m not sure I’m the right person to always give an answer. I think at the end of the day the fans are pretty smart and they’ll give you their answer and they’ll answer you with ratings and attendance.”

COMING UP ON 10 YEARS SINCE YOUR FIRST CUP WIN. HOW DID THAT WIN FURTHER YOUR CAREER AND SET THINGS IN MOTION? DID THAT LEAPFROG YOU TO PENSKE? “I’d like to think that it opened some doors for me. It’s hard to say because none of us have complete control over our destiny, but when I look out the window I’m not sure I would have ended up at Penske if I hadn’t won that race. It was a major marker. It opening up, in my mind at least, but I can’t speak for Roger or Discount Tire, it opened up the window for me to get the Discount Tire deal, which I needed to really feel good about driving for Team Penske because that opened up the XFINITY Series for me, opened up the team development side that I thought was gonna be so critical to our success and to kind of get Penske on its feet. If you recall, they were in a bad place at the time, and I don’t know if that would have happened without winning that race. Maybe it would have. I don’t know. It’s a better question for Roger and Discount Tire, but either way I’m glad it happened. I’m thankful and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”

HAVE YOU FELT THIS PACKAGE TAKING MORE OF A TOLL ON YOUR BODY PHYSICALLY? “I think the cars are obviously a little hotter and there’s a number of reasons for that, more on-throttle time, probably more specifically on the shorter tracks to have the right side window in, so there’s a different between driving around with the windows down and with the windows up in a really hot car. So, yeah, I would agree that they’re definitely more physically demanding and that’s part of the challenge. That one I don’t think really bothers me. I think it’s not dangerous it’s just a little harder, so I think going into Bristol next week that will be the big challenge. I think I said that last week in the press conference after the race. That race I think has a lot of people on pins and needles, not just physically, which it should be physically, but with the cars themselves. I think the cars are really gonna see a lot of load and a lot of stress, especially if the temperatures are pretty cool, which generally they are in the spring Bristol race, so I think at the moment the drivers are definitely feeling it a little bit more, not to the point where I think it’s dangerous or anything like that, so I’m not too concerned about it, but I am concerned about some of these higher load tracks that the cars and teams will be a little bit behind and that could have a big effect on the race.”

THOUGHTS ON QUALIFYING. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN? “I don’t know. I just had this conversation with my teammate, Joey Logano, and part of me thinks it will be very similar to what we saw at California and part of me thinks it won’t. The one thing that I would say separated California from this track is that the cars here at least will be faster in two laps than they will in one lap, so that would probably mean you’ll see everybody make a lap at least, but there are no guarantees, so we’ll see. We’re gonna learn together.”

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang – WHERE IS THE BALANCE BETWEEN ENTERTAINMENT AND COMPETITION AFTER THE CHANGES ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK? “As far as the schedule, in my opinion for the 2020 schedule is a huge step in the right direction and I think those round ends and putting Bristol in there and having Daytona be the last race of the regular season, I think there’s a tremendous amount of really good things that are put in there and I think that will continue to get better as you go into ’21 and you see those track agreements come to an end at the end of ’20. The one thing I would like to see with that two-week gap in there, I’d love to see that first week include a mandatory shop closure of all the race teams to really rejuvenate the guys, gals and everybody in the sport to come back fresh and really get kind of a midseason break. You see them do that in Formula 1 and I really think for the morale and just to keep everybody from getting just beat into the ground I think that would be something that would be really interesting to see happen. But I think from a schedule standpoint we definitely have some really good changes that were in there. There’s always gonna have to be an entertainment value and there’s always gonna be a balance and I think when you look at the penalties in qualifying it still really doesn’t fix a lot of the things that I personally don’t like about qualifying. I can’t wrap my arms around being last to be first, but I love group qualifying and group qualifying and this package are just hard to marry together on a lot of these race tracks because you have to draft, so it’s a tough scenario to try to figure out and we go out and try to do the best we can in the scenario we’re in and go from there and if it changes it changes, if it doesn’t it doesn’t.”

HAS THE RACING BEEN MORE PHYSICAL THIS YEAR WITH THE NEW PACKAGE? “I have not felt that. I can tell you the center of the corner speeds are up, but I guess ask me that question after next week.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR FUTURE AT STEWART-HAAS? ARE YOU GOING TO BE TRADING IN YOUR DRIVER SUIT FOR A THREE-PIECE SUIT SOON? “As you guys have probably heard a lot, that’s fake news (laughing). So whoever wrote that is speculating on a lot of rumors. I’m not getting out of the race car. I feel really comfortable with where I’m at as far as how I feel in the race car, where my home life is as far as balance with my kids. I feel fairly confident that being a part of the TV side of things is something that I want to do in the future, but it’s not gonna happen in the next couple of years I can tell you that, and it’ll be evaluated to sit in the seat first before at the end of those next couple of years before it’s even considered 100 percent to do something different. We have a lot of things that are going really well and the race car is one of them, so that’s just somebody looking for a headline there and there’s no way that happens. I have contracts and things that are already in place through 2021.”

IS THIS A PLACE WHERE A TEAM OTHER THAN GIBBS OR PENSKE CAN WIN? “That’s a good question. Right now, we have no clue with the way that the rules are right now. Friday is so drastically opposite of what you need on Saturday and Sunday that you don’t really learn anything about your car. I think for us we’ve had fourth, fifth-place cars at a lot of these styles of race tracks and so it’ll be interesting to see how the track progresses with the PJ1 on the race track. I think tonight will start to tell the story of what’s gonna happen with those grooves. Turns one and two are still gonna be the key to this race and that’s really been our moneymaker since they’ve repaved the race track is getting through the centers of one and two and being able to make passes and carry speed and do that in traffic and out of traffic. I think that it’s gonna be that same key, but turns three and four will be easy. You can run the bottom. You can run the middle. The cars are slow down the straightaway, so they’re gonna be easy, wide-open on that end.”

DOES HAVING OTHER THINGS IN YOUR LIFE MAKE THE EVENTUAL TRANSITION EASIER ONCE YOU DECIDE TO STOP DRIVING? “I think as you look at the management company side of things that’s much different than what it was ever intended to look. I didn’t expect it to be doing the things that it’s doing and be a profitable business and be doing something that I like to do. I like sports in general. I like being in this garage I like racing, but I also like other sports so that’s been encouraging for me to see it build and be able to start to build something that you didn’t really expect to be building from that side of things. I enjoy the TV side of it, but there’s still really nothing that really replaces the competitive side of things from being in there holding that steering wheel and making decisions. I still get a big kick out of situations like we’re in right now of being able to make changes to the cars and talk to your engineer and crew chief and walking through the garage this morning with the car through inspection, so I love that part of the racing as much as I do the driving and being a part of the team and helping solve a problem that is sometimes broken, sometimes really good and sometimes bad. That, for me, especially with this group of guys and the more you talk to people who retired and did things it’s always like, ‘Man, I just wish I would have stayed in the competitive situation that I was in and not tried to do something different or quit too soon.’ You hear a lot of talk about the schedule getting shorter, condensing things and as you look at that, that makes life easier to manipulate how you make things function at home too. Things get shorter, I feel good in the race car and I just don’t understand why a lot of people think you should get out because there’s so much to do with being competitive in this sport is so much to do with experience and if it’s going good why wouldn’t you want to just keep going? There’s too many things I still enjoy about it. There are only a couple of things I really don’t like, but it’s not mine. If it was mine, I would do some things that I don’t like differently, but I really like my race team and I like my people that are around me and, for me, that’s just something that would be really hard to replace by watching somebody else do it.”

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  1. Jerry Palmer says:

    NASCAR has made sure this week is all about the 48 team . He went 2 laps down last week and ever since it has been all about JJ and only JJ. This s*** is rigged and fans see it .

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