SRT Motorsports – Dodge NSCS Brad Keselowski Open Interview – Texas

[media-credit name=”” align=”alignright” width=”199″][/media-credit]Friday, April 13, 2012

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Samsung 500

American Muscle

Brad Keselowski Open Interview

Texas Motor Speedway

Dodge PR

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T) HOW HAS PRACTICE GONE SO FAR IN THE CUP AND NATIONWIDE SERIES’?  “Not too bad.  The track is driving different than it did last year and years that memory serves.  It’s a bit of a challenge not only for myself, but for everyone.  We’re all still trying to get a hold of that and figure out how that’s going to affect the race.  It’s a little early to get a final answer on that, but we’re working through that in these practice sessions and hopefully we’ll be able to figure it out.”

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ISSUES WITH THE TRACK?  “I can speculate, I don’t have all the answers, but I can speculate.  When we got to the track this weekend, it appears that somebody has been running on it; I think there was an Indy car tire test or something.   I don’t know what tires they were running on, but it changed the track.  They laid down a real slick topcoat of rubber that we haven’t been able to wear through.  Usually, the Cup cars are able to wear right through that and get to where we lay down our own stuff.  That hasn’t been the case so far and that’s really affected it.  The tire itself seems to be a little bit different;  it’s supposed to be the same, but it’s definitely not driving the same.  Those two seem to be the issues.”

WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE HERE AT TEXAS RUNNING UNDER THE LIGHTS? “I think there are a lot less challenges to be honest.  I like it a lot better. There’s always the issue as the sun goes down, being able to see.  It seems to be more of an issue in the fall at race tracks versus in the spring for some reason.  I don’t know if it’s the way that they’re built or what.  There’s always the issue about being able to see, but other than that, it’s a lot nicer.  It’s a lot cooler. It’s great to be under the lights.  I think that it showcases the action a lot better.  To me, it’s a positive all the way around.”

SAM HORNISH HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT YOUR TWO TEAMS TRYING TO GET ON THE SAME PAGE.  WHAT KIND OF THINGS HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON?  “I think that it just comes down to people, getting people to just talk to each other and believe in each other.  Whether that’s drivers, crew chiefs or guys that work on the pit crews, that’s not easy to do.  Everybody has got to believe in each other.  It takes time and it takes success, quite frankly of both teams and then you both build a great reputation.  You can kind of force those things, but they almost have to come naturally and really come with success.  It’s certainly a goal of Penske Racing to see Sam Hornish competing for a Nationwide championship and I think that he’s got the equipment and people around him to do it.  It’s just a matter to put the pieces together.”

YOU’VE MENTION BEFORE THAT YOU MAY BE ONE OF THE LAST DRIVERS TO GET A CUP RIDE COMING FROM NO MONEY.  WHAT OPPORTUNITY DO YOU THINK SOME OF THESE KIDS IN NATIONWIDE HAVE TO MAKE IT TO CUP?  LIKE A COLE WHITT? “I think that if I were to look at drivers that have a respectable opportunity you’d have to look at Cole and Ricky Stenhouse.  We’ll see how that develops as it pertains to Cup, but they have an opportunity at the Nationwide level.  I think they are probably the only two that meet the criteria that you talk about.  We’ll just see how it plays out.  It’s hard to define how strong of an opportunity they have. Ricky’s is pretty strong; I shouldn’t say it’s hard to define his. He’s got a great car and a great team over there.  He’s a threat to win on any given week if he can put it all together and execute. Really, that’s anyone.  It’s hard to define what an opportunity Cole’s got.  I’ve worked together on the Jr. Motorsports team and enjoyed my time, but a lot has changed since then.  I don’t know how good of an opportunity it is or is not.  I guess time will tell.  I think those are the only two that fit those criteria.”

A.J. ALLMENDINGER TALKED ABOUT HOW THE OFF-WEEKEND CAME AT THE RIGHT TIME FOR HIM.  WHAT ABOUT YOU?  “I was thinking about re-doing the last few laps at Martinsville.  I didn’t really want a week-and-a-half to think about it and then how to prepare for Texas which is a track that I’ve struggled on to be quite honest with you.  I haven’t really had a good feeling for what it takes to run well here.  I felt like before that I came here, I had a great approach to it and was ready to go.  Now, it’s not anywhere like it was last year.  That’s kind of how this sport is; it kind of keeps you guessing.  It’s good to have some time to sit back and gather your thoughts and catch your breath.  I like to race.  I like to race cars.  I don’t circle on my calendar and say, ‘I can’t wait until this off-weekend.’  When it gets there I’m not afraid to have it.  I don’t spend my time thinking about what it would be like to have a break.  I feel like I’m very fortunate to have this ride and have the chance to driver race cars.  I enjoy it.  I’m not looking forward for an opportunity to run away from it.”

YOU WERE FIRED UP ABOUT THE REUTIMANN SITUATION AFTER MARTINSVILLE. HAVNG HEARD HIS EXPLANATION HAS YOUR OPINION CHANGED?  “I thought about it a little bit.  When it comes to situations like that, I always try to put myself in that person’s position and say what would I do?  I sure as hell would not have done what he did.  Even knowing all the points stuff, I still wouldn’t have done what he did.  I don’t understand it.  I don’t know what he was thinking.  At the end of the day, he’s the one that holds the steering wheel.  I don’t care who tells you what, at the end of the day, you hold the steering wheel and press the pedals.  You make the decision.”

YOU’RE BIG ON SOCIAL MEDIA.  HOW INTEGRAL HAS SOCIAL MEDIA BECOME TO MOTORSPORTS?  SHOULD THE MOST POPULAR AWARD BE TOOLED TO THE MOST INFLUENTIAL DRIVER ON SOCIAL MEDIA?  “Should they tool it?  I don’t think that they should tool it to anything or anyone other than the fans.  If the fans think that social media is worthy, or a driver that is strong in social media is worthy of more popularity, then they’ll vote in that way.  Yeah, I think that social media is very important to future generations and increasing the younger demographics to our sport.  I think that it’s well documented that it is needed.  I’m glad to be what I think is at the forefront on that effort.”

IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT YOU’VE THOUGHT A LOT ABOUT BEING A BIG STAR OUTSIDE OF THE RACE CAR TO ADVANCE YOUR CAREER OUTSIDE OF BEING A DRIVER?  “I went through some of that by failing at just being purely a driver.  I was lucky to be in the sport in a position where I was in the shadows to see what was going on and see those who were successful and learn from them. My family had a truck team as I was growing up and I worked on it as a low-level mechanic or a grunt of some sorts…a small grunt because I’m not a big guy.  We had this one driver named Terry Cook, who’s still in the sport today.  I learned almost as much from him as I did anyone else in this sport.  But more importantly, what I learned from him is the relationship with the media and sponsors that it takes to keep all that group happy and how he managed that.  It’s something that I studied a lot, to your point.  I’m thankful for that experience with him.  I wished it had worked out a little bit easier along the way.  Along the way, there were some failures of sorts on my end, some things I didn’t do as well as I could as it pertains to relationship with the media or fans or sponsors.  I think that I learned from experience more than anything else.  There were some good and bad ones along the way that got me to thinking about it for sure.”

YOU’RE RACING WITH A TEAMMATE WITH A LOT OF OPEN-WHEEL EXPERIENCE. DOES THAT MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY YOUR HAND AT THAT FROM TIME TO TIME? “First and foremost, I get a lot of opportunities from people to come drive their Late Model car or Sprint car… I think that Tony has that deal…Prelude.  I tell people all the time that I’ve got two great rides and I do.  I’d be a fool to ask for another one and sacrifice those other two.  That being said, the open-wheel world to me is unchartered territory that I would love to explore one day. My focus is right here, driving this Cup car and the Nationwide car and being able to win a championship.  I would have to check some boxes in my life and my career before I would pursue that path.  It certainly something that I pay attention to and like to watch and enjoy.  I still get caught up in the Formula 1 world and IndyCar world and watch it when I can.  I’m not going to let that be a distraction to my main goal and the goal of everyone at Penske Racing – win a Sprint Cup championship.  Right now, we’re full-steam ahead on that effort.”

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THE TIRE TEST YOU HAD AT MICHIGAN?  “Yeah, I thought it was a great test.  I thought all the drivers were on the same page.  I think there are some questions, but not a lot to be answered.  The track really rubbered in.  I think they did a great job re-paving that facility.  What I mean by that is they did a great job with their approach, which was to pave it in October and give the track a whole winter to cure.  That had the (ability) to where when we got on the race track, there was zero break-in time to the surface which is critical.  When we come there in June everyone can just go out there and run.  We saw (at) Phoenix where (they) had to rush their re-pave and in the process, it required some additional steps to make the facility to where you can even run without tearing the pavement up.  I think that hurt the racing (there).  The track did a great effort of dragging tires and so forth to supplement it, but it took us really until we came back this spring to get the racing as strong as it could be.  Michigan doesn’t have any of those issues.  I’ll define that has being a great pave job.  I also think that as far as the test in concerned, Goodyear built a tire that has a pretty good level of grip.  We’d like to see some more fall off in it, but with the speeds being so high, the last thing we’d like (want) to see is a tire that wears out, blows out and you hit the wall at 200-some mile-per-hour. I can understand the approach of being a little bit conservative with it.  That race in general is just going to be such a wildcard race, I don’t think that anyone knows what to expect.  I expect it to be exciting either way.”

WILL THE LAYER OF RUBBER THAT’S ON THE TRACK HERE AT TEXAS WEAR OFF AND IS IT SOMETHING THAT YOU’RE CONCERNED ABOUT?  “That’s a great question. I don’t know.  I think that it’s too early to tell. Nationwide had a practice (earlier today) and I didn’t participate in it with the 22 car because of the concerned that we had.  We wanted to let somebody else wear it off.  It will be tough to tell.  We’ll just have to see.  I think race time, the Nationwide race will be critical for it to really determine.  But if it doesn’t, I think the cars will certainly be a handful on Sunday, especially after five, 10, 15 laps. It will very much be a handling race if that’s the case.”

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