Ford Texas Thursday Advance (Brad Keselowski)

Ford Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes:

NRA 400 (Texas Motor Speedway)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

American Muscle

Brad Keselowski, currently second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver point standings, took time to meet with media members prior to Thursday’s testing session at Texas Motor Speedway.

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – TALK ABOUT LAST YEAR HERE. WOULD YOU SAY IT WAS A DEFINING MOMENT? “Yes and no. I would say it would be a defining moment if we had won the race. I think it was a defining moment for me knowing that we could run competitively at tracks others didn’t feel like we could. I felt like we could. Coming back here, while we might not have gotten the win we wanted last fall, I feel like we can get it done this spring. Our cars have been very strong. Last week was a bit disappointing and we weren’t quite as fast as we have been the weeks before, but to have a sixth place run and be disappointed shows really just how far this team has come and how competitive we can be on a weekly basis.”

THIS HAS BEEN A FORD DOMINATED TRACK RECENTLY, IN PARTICULAR THE ROUSH FENWAY TEAM. HOW MUCH DO YOU SHARE NOTES OR GO TO THEM FOR INPUT HERE? “I am not really sure why that is that some tracks favor specifically – the Roush group really runs good here, you are right. I have said before that I think sometimes certain teams but emphasis on certain tracks. I don’t think Roush does that here but they do run really well here. I think it has been really good for both sides, Roush and Penske Racing, to be with Ford. We have been sharing a lot of information and the trust factor is now starting to build. There has been more and more sharing over the last few weeks really than even before. We had some issues with our cars at California that were manufacturer related that the Fords didn’t have and we were able to lean on them and find a solution. Hopefully that will carry over to this weekend and those are the kinds of things we hope to be able to help each other out with and if we can reciprocate to them we will do so.”

IS THERE EVER ANY HESITANCY IN HOW MUCH INFORMATION YOU SHARE WITH EACH OTHER? “There is always going to be some hesitancy to share information. We are competing for the same trophy at the end of the day. I think it is wise for both of us to acknowledge that we would rather finish second to a Roush car than run 14th and be the best Ford. I think it is that spirit that will carry us to be the best we can be.”

THE NRA IS SPONSORING THIS RACE. HOW MUCH SHOULD NASCAR BE INVOLVED IN SAYING YAY OR NAY TO SPONSORS, EVEN AT THE TEAM LEVEL? “Well, I can’t speak for everybody but I can speak for myself in saying that I would really rather stay out of politics and just race. That is certainly not the situation though. Sometimes we get thrown into it whether we want to or not. I think the best thing is just to acknowledge it and try to move on with it. For me, I really just wish Tony Stewart or someone would throw a helmet or a punch so it wouldn’t be a story. I don’t think it is a story and maybe that is part of who I am. I own rifles and those things and I don’t own pistols but I would like to own two of them after Saturday night. I enjoy that style of life and I
think we should all move on with it and let people have fun. That is all I can say. Let us have fun. I don’t think we need to take ourselves that seriously.”

CAN YOU COMPARE LAS VEGAS TO TEXAS AND HOW THOSE TRACKS COMPARE? “I think you look at Vegas and California, one is a mile-and-a-half and the other a two-mile. Vegas is really, really fast. The tires don’t seem to fall off much there and California is fast. There is nothing wrong with that but there is a lot of tire falloff and it is very flat. You look at those two and I would say Texas is right in between them. There is a lot of falloff here but the track is very fast and has a lot of banking. The best cars here will be the one that can balance the setup between Vegas and California.”

YOU ARE BRINGING A NEW CAR TO A NEW TRACK AT KANSAS NEXT WEEK. DO YOU THROW OUT WHAT THAT TRACK HAS BEEN PREVIOUS? “Kansas is tough. They have that new pavement down and it has that really funky aggregate to it and I really wish tracks would stop using that pavement. It is really not good for our sport. I think we are curious to see, because of the tracks with that new aggregate, Kansas and Michigan are the first two to be in an area that have real frost and that tends to break the track surface in a little quicker. I am curious to see how it has aged over the winter. That is going to change, just as much as
anything, as far as the car. It is another car, and I think another tire and a winter to sit on the track. I wouldn’t necessarily think that the guys that ran very well last fall would be the ones to beat this spring.”

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE NEW CAR HERE AT TEXAS? “I have said it before and I will stick to it. Every weekend is a big weekend right now for our sport and this new car. We have been very fortunate over the last two or three races to have great runs. Not just as the 2 team, but as the sport. I think we have seen compelling racing and great battles. I think the car is doing as well as you can expect it to coming out of the gate. I think there were concerns after Phoenix and those have been blown out of the water with the racing at Vegas and California and even Bristol. That doesn’t mean the car can’t continue to grow and be better. I would like to see us continue to work in those ways because I think when you look at the car that we are at 80 or 90-percent development on it from a sport side, maybe not even that. With a few little tweaks the racing could be even better every week. If we could do that we would sure hit a home run for the sport. I am interested in seeing how committed we all are as a sport to doing that and like I said, if we can hit that it would really showcase great racing for our fans.”

YOU SAID LAST WEEK YOU WERE LOOKING FOR MORE SPEED. IS THAT ON THE CAR SIDE OR THE ENGINE SIDE? “The engines have been great. I am a little confused, not by you, but some people on Twitter or in the garage that have asked me about the engines. We are significantly further ahead power-wise of where we were last year. That is the best gauge I have and I think that we have a lot to be proud of. If we are missing speed I know it is not in that category.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR AGENDA HERE TODAY? “We brought a test car today, not our race car. We are going to work on different concepts today and tune in our race car tomorrow.”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TODAY AND TOMORROW? “The track will be fully green with no rubber on it today and the speeds will probably be the highest we will see other than qualifying. The temperature differences will change the track too. It is a whole different approach.”

WITH WHAT YOU LEARNED AT VEGAS AND CALIFORNIA, HOW MUCH OF WHAT WAS ON THE CAR AT VEGAS IS ALREADY OBSOLETE? “Not much. A lot of our stuff has carried over and there have been a few rule changes that have either helped or hurt but not noticeable. A lot of stuff has been carrying over and that is good for our team at least.”

GOING BACK TO LAST FALL, YOU AND JIMMIE HAVE BEEN LIKE NECK AND NECK WITH EACH OTHER EVERY WEEKEND. HAS THIS EVOLVED INTO A ONE-ON-ONE COMPETITION? “It feels that way sometimes doesn’t it? Yeah, believe me, I know where he is at and he knows where I am at.”

DO YOU KEEP EVERYONE ELSE IN THE FIELD IN MIND THOUGH? “Yeah, you have to. You can never just focus on one guy solely but that doesn’t mean you can’t lend a stronger eye to one guy over the others.”

HOW DOES WINNING THE TITLE LAST YEAR CHANGE THE TARGET ON YOUR BACK? “I am not really a target guy. I don’t feel like one. The great thing about a new season is everyone starts out fresh and feels they can be the guy to beat and are racing the whole field and not just you. Toward the end of the season as the Chase shapes out and the field dwindles to certain guys that have been strong all season I think you can feel more of that but at the start of the year everyone feels like they can win races and win the championship. They want to beat everyone, not just me.”

IN THE WAKE OF JIMMIE JOHNSON WINNING AGAIN AT BRISTOL LAST WEEK, HOW DO WE VALUE IF A GUY WINS A BUNCH AT ONE TRACK IF THEY ARE A GREAT DRIVER OR IF IT IS BECAUSE THE ORGANIZATION HAS THE TRACK FIGURED OUT AND THE CAR SET UP RIGHT? “That is tough. I kind of look at it as a report card. You have your sections like math, science, English and then you break that down into a driver, the car, the execution of the weekend; whatever divisions you want to put it in. It is almost like a GPA and the guy with the highest GPA wins that weekend. Probably luck is part of it too. You know, what is difficult is that there are no 4.0’s in this garage. I want to rephrase that. There are very rarely 4.0’s. You might have a guy score a 3.8 and win a race. I look at Denny (Hamlin) and when it comes to short track racers and short track drivers I think he is the best in the garage. He is the A in the garage. He might have had B cars, I don’t know. Maybe Jimmie is a B and he has A cars. That might be what Denny is alluding to. To Jimmie’s point they would both be right in that case. I do think that Denny Hamlin is the best short track driver in the garage.”

THE TIRE CHANGES THIS WEEK. DOES THAT AFFECT YOU AT ALL? “I don’t know. The tires change so much I can’t even keep up. When I think I understand the compounds and tread gauges and whatever they are, we do a test somewhere and I realize I know nothing. I have been trying not to over think that part of it. Certainly it is a very important part of how our sport performs on a given weekend. I really like the tire we had last weekend and I think we had a great tire at California. I am really interested to see what this one is like. I don’t feel like I add anything credible to a tire conversation.”

YOU ARE THE SON OF A DRIVER AND YOUR GUY DRIVING TRUCKS FOR YOU, RYAN BLANEY IS AS WELL. DO YOU SYMPATHIZE WITH HIS POSITION? “I think he is just now getting his feet on the ground and learning the self-confidence issues and how to get out from underneath the showdown of his father. I have been there and know that feeling. It is tough. It is a good pressure to have and a great opportunity and at the end of the day that outweighs everything else.”

AS A KID WHAT HOT ROD DID YOU WANT? “I always liked the Dodge Daytona. The Superbird and the Daytona because of the wings. I always thought that was cool.”

WAS THAT YOUR DREAM CAR? “It was. I have a lot of dream cars though. I just bought a van. I bought a van and I am building – this is going to sound kind of weird – but I am building a van and going to make it into an A-Team van. It will be a replica van. I am going to paint it the A-Team colors and put the spoiler on it and I will use it to drive to races at Martinsville and Bristol, someplace short. Charlotte, Darlington. It isn’t built yet, so I won’t have it til the late fall, but I think that will be really neat. I like stuff that is kind of quirky.”

WHAT IS THE UPDATE ON THE TANK? “I have a lot of stuff going on there but I don’t want to say anything. Until it is done I don’t want to say anything.”

HOW MUCH DO YOU ENJOY BEING A SPECTATOR IN ALL THESE ON AND OFF TRACK ISSUES THIS YEAR? “I think we all enjoy watching it. I enjoy really almost everything about the sport. I am glad not to be in them that is for sure, but they are a lot of fun to watch and I can understand why everyone likes them so much.”

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