Friday, Sept. 16, 2011
Dodge Motorsports PR
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Brad Keselowski Open Interview
BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T) CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS WEEKEND AT CHICAGOLAND? “Well, obviously the first race and wanted to get the Chase started off very well and looks like we’ve got a great opportunity of doing that. The last few races on the mile-and-a-halfs have been very good for our team on the Cup side and feel really good heading into this one accordingly. Just try to keep the momentum we’ve had as the season has been progressing and carry it through the Chase.”
HAVE YOU HEARD ANY VOICES LATELY? HAS JIMMIE JOHNSON PUT ANY TAPES IN YOUR HEAD? “Still no voices, man. I’m a hard sleeper. Maybe I’m just not listening. No voices, feeling really good.”
YOUR SEASON IS PROBABLY IN THE OVERACHIEVE CATEGORY. ARE YOU ENTERING THE CHASE PLAYING WITH HOUSE MONEY A LITTLE BIT OR ARE YOU GUYS TAKING THIS AN EQUAL SHOT TO WIN? WE KIND OF EXPECTED THE OTHER 11 GUYS TO BE HERE. HOW ARE YOU APPROACHING IT KNOWING THAT YOU GUYS HAVE HAD AN AWESOME SEASON SO FAR? “Well, hell I expected us to be here. I can’t speak for everyone out there but as a team we expected to have a shot at this and it’s good to finally make it happen in our second year together and we don’t feel like we’re a fluke. You know for us entering the Chase I feel like we’re entering it in somewhat a very low key, low pressure feeling of ‘Hey, we’ve made it this far. Let’s keep it going’ and I don’t see why we can’t. You look at other things people try to compare it to like the NCAA basketball and ‘Oh this team has had a big run and they’re coming through’ but I don’t think it’s the same way because in racing we’ve been racing against the same guys as the last few weeks and we’ve been running with ‘em and or beating ‘em and I feel like we can just continue that. I don’t see where anything has changed and I feel like if anything as a team we’re getting stronger so that’s good.”
THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF TALK THIS WEEK ABOUT WHO THE GUYS ARE THAT ARE FAVORITES GOING INTO THE CHASE AND WHO ARE THE DARK HORSES. DO YOU PAY ANY ATTENTION TO THAT AND WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELVES LINING UP AS THE CHASE GETS READY TO START? “Like where do I rank myself, is that what you’re saying?” YES. “Those are difficult questions to ask because, quite frankly, I don’t spend a lot of time computing them. I feel like every second you sit and worry about how many points I’ve got to score or what average finish I’ve got to have or who’s the guy I’ve got to beat, that’s another second you don’t use to focus on what really matters and that’s how I can go faster and make better moves on the racetrack. And that’s what I spend my time focusing on, not looking at, you know, who’s eighth in points but maybe will make a run. I don’t look at that stuff. I don’t think that’s the right way to approach it.
“Yeah, I do feel like everybody’s even. I know there is those, what is it, 12 points from first to 12th spread? I just don’t see, I mean, heck, you can win the race and what’s that, that’s over five or six of those. Even if that guy finishes second, which what are the odds of that, you just go out there and do your business you’ll erase those very quickly.”
THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT TEAMMATES, WHAT THE ROLES ARE, HOW THEY’VE DONE THINGS TO HELP EACH OTHER, WHERE THAT LINE IS. LOOKING BACK AT LAST YEAR, SINCE YOU WEREN’T A CHASE PLAYER, DID YOU SEE THINGS ON THE TRACK THAT MADE YOU THINK THIS IS WHY THIS GUY IS DOING IT TO HELP A CHASE COMPETITOR? “You know every once in a while you see something that’s very blatant, everywhere, every once in a while.” WHAT’S BLATANT? “What’s blatant? You know, that’s a guy like who comes off of pit road, he’s having a miserable day, he’s three laps down and the leaders catch ‘em and maybe you’re running second and his teammate’s running third and he just doesn’t let you go. That’s fairly blatant. I think those are probably more of what I can see as well and the other things; quite honestly, I’m too focused on my own race to know.
“Well, every once in a while you see ‘em but, I mean, mostly you spend your time focused on your own race and you can’t catch those things because you’re not looking for ‘em. You have to be looking for ‘em sometimes.
“Well I think the line, since it’s not defined by the sport, is defined by the people that participate in it. And for me, there’s certainly a line of what I’d be willing to do to help Kurt [Busch, teammate]. I will do what I can to help ‘em if the situation arises where things are bleak for myself and it’s advantageous to help Kurt. But there’s certainly a line and a code that each and every driver walks that, you know quite frankly, might be different between each and every driver. And that’s a tough question to answer for everybody else.”
COMMENT ON HAVING BOTH OF THE PENSKE DODGES IN THE CHASE. IS IT AN ADVANTAGE? IS IT A DISADVANTAGE? ARE THE GUYS WHO MAYBE HAVE TEAMMATES OUTSIDE THE CHASE HAVE A LITTLE BIT MORE THAN MAYBE WHAT YOU GUYS DO? “Well I definitely think it’s a huge advantage to have both the Penske Dodges in the Chase from the standpoint of what it means for team morale and what it means for the manufacturing process within at Penske Racing. I think last year was a prime example. We’re always building new cars but we built new cars in the Chase for Kurt and we allowed ourselves to become somewhat complacent and just build those cars for Kurt only because he was in the Chase. And I think that put him on a little bit of an island so to speak. I mean, he would probably agree with that where he didn’t have any help from the other two teams. It was, I don’t want to say the motivating for the company and for the processes but it was all focused on one guy and some people would say that’s an advantage but I would argue that goes right against the whole theory and premise of a multi-car team when you just take all your resources and put it on one guy. Now that we have two cars, both cars at Penske Racing in the Chase, it allows us to rally the troops within at Penske Racing, have good reason to spend a lot of money building new cars that are the same, getting ‘em done early, etc. And I just think the process goes a lot smoother as far as what it takes to get the company going and get the teams going. I definitely think you want to have all your cars in the Chase. I really do believe that that’s a supreme advantage if for no other reason than what it means to the company and the morale within.”
AS WE START THIS CHASE, WHO, IN YOUR OPINION, IS THE FAVORITE? WHO ARE YOU GUYS ALL CHASING? “Well, you know, there’s a lot of favorites, which is kind of weird. I feel bad for Jimmie [Johnson]. Every year he comes into this deal, at least that I can recall, as the previous winner and he doesn’t get labeled the first favorite, which is kind of strange. You would think the guy that’s won it the last few years would be labeled as the favorite. But we all look at different things as drivers to label favorite and right now it’s hard to not label, you know, Jeff [Gordon] as the favorite. You know he’s done a lot over the last few weeks, won races and been in position to win many more. So that’s very impressive. His cars have a lot of speed and there’s a lot of potential out of that camp. Doesn’t mean they’ll realize it but there is certainly a lot of potential there. They have the highest potential and I think a lot of people would label him as the favorite, his team as the favorite accordingly.”
YOU SPOKE TUESDAY ABOUT THE STRESSES OF THIS VERSUS THE STRESSES WHEN YOU FIRST BROKE INTO THE NATIONWIDE SERIES. HOW HAS THE EVOLUTION OF YOUR
RELATIONSHIP WITH DALE JR. BEEN NOW THAT YOU’RE BASICALLY EVEN FOOTING FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP WITH A GUY WHO USED TO BE YOUR BOSS? “I don’t think it’s changed, heck I don’t know. I still enjoy him as a friend and racing against ‘em and so forth. I don’t know, we’ll find out [laughs]. Right now I think he’s just as focused on the other 10 Chase drivers as he is me. Certainly at Richmond it would have been an interesting moment had something happened where I bumped him out but it didn’t come to fruition. So far so good [laughs].”
MIKE HELTON WAS EXPLAINING THAT TEAMS ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE THE DRIVER, SPOTTER, CREW CHIEF ON ANALOG CHANNELS BUT THAT THE TEAMS ARE ALSO ALLOWED TO HAVE DIGITAL CHANNELS ON WHICH THEIR TEAM MEMBERS CAN COMMUNICATE. DOES PENSKE USE THOSE OR HAVE YOU HEARD OF OTHER TEAMS THAT MIGHT DO THAT? “Well as I understand the rule, the only one who is required to use an analog radio is the driver. Everyone else can use whatever they want to use. Obviously if the driver has an analog radio and you’re trying to communicate with him, on another style radio you’re not going to get through so the team has to have another radio just to call the race, or an analog radio. I’m pretty sure almost everyone in the garage is using all of the above so I guess that would be yes.”
SO THERE IS A WAY TO HAVE COMMUNICATIONS THAT AREN’T WITH THE DRIVER? “Absolutely.”
WHEN YOU SPOKE EARLIER ABOUT THINGS THAT YOU WOULD DO TO HELP KURT, DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE LINE IS THERE OR DOES IT DEPEND ON THE SITUATION? “I think it’s situational. It’s hard to say that there’s a concrete line because there’s so many different opportunities it’s just not that simple. I think when you do something that hurts your name or your reputation that that would most likely be the line.”