Ford Performance NASCAR – Michigan 2 (Brad Keselowski Media Availability)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, August 9, 2019

Consumers Energy 400 Media Availability — Brad Keselowski

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang — YOU HAD SOME GOOD NEWS THIS WEEK WITH DISCOUNT TIRE, CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THAT? “It has been a good week so far for a lot of reasons but certainly being here in Michigan, I always enjoy coming out here. It is a good chance to see a lot of family and friends and Team Penske with Roger Penske out of here as well. We get a lot of turnout for the team and our sponsor this weekend, Discount Tire, was founded here in Ann Arbor which is special as they have re-upped for the next few seasons. We have a lot of good news and good things happening. I am hopeful that we can convert that into a great race come Sunday and hopefully our first win here.”


American Muscle

FIRST TIME FOR PJ1 HERE AT THIS TRACK. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION? “I don’t know. I would really like to be an armchair and make a decision on Sunday night. I think at the end of the day it is done to try to make the racing better for the fans. Will it work or will it not work, I don’t know. I don’t think it was a bad race here in the spring but NASCAR is just trying new things and always trying to improve the racing and things that we can do. I always appreciate good effort and I know there was a lot of effort put into it. I am not thoroughly convinced it is going to work or not going to work. I could see either side. I think it is kind of a jump ball.”

YOU HAVE WON THREE TIMES THIS YEAR BUT MIS HAS ESCAPED YOU. WHAT HAS YOU EXCITED ABOUT THIS YEAR BEING THE YEAR FOR YOU HERE? “We had a great run here in the spring. I thought we were more than capable of winning. We had a pit road issue very close to the end when we were in a position to grab the lead and take control of the race. That was really frustrating. I felt like we had the speed last spring to be in contention at the end. Everything has to fall your way and you have to execute as well but that didn’t happen for us here and it hasn’t happened for us. It looks like we are off to a good start this weekend. We have really good speed. We are one day into a three day weekend so it is a bit early and presumptuous to say anything beyond that, but it is a good start nonetheless.”

HOW AGGRESSIVE MIGHT YOU BE WILLING TO GET IF YOU FEEL LIKE A WIN IS POSSIBLY THERE IN THE FINAL LAPS? “I don’t know. You don’t really know until you are in those shoes. That question always reminds me of the story of the guy that fell down in a canyon by himself and a rock fell on his arm so he bit his own arm off to get out. So people ask you what you would do to survive if you have to and I am guessing he never would have guessed that he would do that. I don’t know what I am capable of either or what I would do. I hope I don’t have to bite my own arm off. With that in mind, I think without a doubt I would do more for this race than most any other.”

YOU DID A TEST WITH SIMON PAGENAUD’S INDYCAR A FEW YEARS AGO. DID YOU GET AN APPETITE FOR OPEN WHEEL RACING? “Yeah, that might have been two or three years go. Time goes by fast. I had a great time and Simon and Team Penske were very gracious to have that opportunity. I feel like that was probably a one-time opportunity for a number of reasons, the biggest of all being that of course I compete for Ford in NASCAR. It is a lot easier to do a test session than it is to do a race in the eyes of those partners. Racing is so much different now than it was back in the AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti days where guys could do all those different series’ in the sense that we are in a sport now where about 65-75% of the revenue of money that pays for everything we do comes from sponsors. Those sponsors can be the Discount Tire that is on our car or the manufacturer and we really don’t want to piss them off. So when they tell us that they don’t really want us to do something we tend to listen. I want to be able to win races and be competitive but in order to do that you have to have a really fast car and you aren’t going to have a really fast car without the engineering and the engineering comes from the sponsorship and being able to spend money and develop the cars. It becomes really difficult to do those things. It is not always because we don’t want to do those things, it is because of the economical landscape. I want to be able to be a NASCAR driver at the highest level possible. To win races and win championships. Any other goal, dream or aspiration beyond that inhibits the ability to do it. So with that in mind, that opportunity is not one that I see coming to fruition any time soon.”

WHEN YOU THINK OF DRIVERS MOST LIKELY TO USE THE BUMPER OR SIDE DRAFT YOU TOUGH, WHO ARE SOME OF THE DRIVERS THAT COME TO MIND? “Everyone. If you are a top tier driver you are going to run these cars hard. You have to. You have to push the limits, not just of your car but of everyone else’s cars. I can’t think of anyone that is a top driver that I wouldn’t expect that from.”

LOOKING TOWARD BRISTOL NEXT WEEKEND, WITH THE PJ1 THERE AND THE DIFFERENCE RACING AT NIGHT VERSUS DAYTIME THERE. IS THERE MORE TO IT THAN THAT OR JUST ATMOSPHERICS? “The Bristol night race is a very special race and always has been. It continues to almost grow in its status. When we think about the Crown Jewel races of NASCAR it is right on the fringe of being one. You look at the race winners of the past two or three decades and they are all what I consider to be Hall of Fame drivers. That gives the race a lot of credibility. I would also say that the track has changed a lot with different configurations and pavements and grindings and PJ1. There is a whole list of things that have happened at the track over the last decade or so and that has changed it up a lot but it is still the same Bristol. It is still a really tough race track where things happen very fast.”

HOW MUCH DO YOU LOOK AT THE PLAYOFF CHASE FROM TOP TO BOTTOM AND IS IT SOMETHING GOOD FOR THE SPORT EACH WEEK WHEN THERE IS SOMETHING LIKE THAT BREWING? “I look at the points once every two or three days. Everybody is a little different. It is the clearest measurement of your success in the sport. It is one of the great things about NASCAR or being in this sport in general. You think about most careers, most lives and it is always hard to have a measuring stick. In sports, the scoreboard is up there all the time. You constantly get a reference on it. It is one of the things I appreciate about the sport so much. You really know if you are doing well or not. There is no ambiguity to it. I look at it a lot and I think it is interesting. I am not always completely sold on all the playoff stuff and the five’s and the 10’s and the bonuses and this and that. That is what it is. Certainly we pay attention to it because we want to be the best.”

WHERE IS THE LINE ON THE AGGRESSIVENESS ON THE TRACK? “The line is whatever NASCAR says it is. If you can pin them down on that then you are a better man than me. I am not sure that I have a perfect answer to that. I would like to think that there were so clear markers left in the sand or in the ground a couple of years ago with some of the issues with Matt (Kenseth) and Joey but then I saw a similar issue to that probably just last week. I don’t necessarily know that I know all the differences between what that line is and what it isn’t but what I do know is it is NASCAR that sets it, not the drivers.”

WITH DISCOUNT TIRE ADDING FIVE RACES, THERE WAS SOME QUESTION WONDERING WHAT IS GOING ON WITH MILLER LITE. CAN YOU ENLIGHTEN US? “I am pretty confident that Miller Lite is coming back but I don’t necessarily have anything to announce today as to what races or how many and so forth. I would rully expect them to be on the car next year.”

HOW DIFFICULT IT IS AND HOW MUCH OF A RELIEF IS IT TO GET ANY SPONSORSHIP DEAL DONE COMPARED TO EVEN FIVE OR EIGHT YEARS AGO? “It is the lifeblood of the team. It determines winners and losers before the race has even started. We talk about the sponsorship side and I think I am guilty of this at least, I don’t know about anybody else. But I see a press release that so-and-so’s sponsor has re-upped I just click and move away. I am so caught up in the headlines and performances and who bumped who and who is leading the points and has the most wins. The reality is that all that connects. That is telling you the future. The sponsorship announcements are telling you the future. Unfortunately most of those announcements you don’t get the scope of it. You might read that so and so just resigned as a sponsor and it might be pennies for a few races or mega-bucks for decades. It is hard to get a scale of those things but the scale determines your ability to engineer and develop in the sport. If you don’t have a fast car, you are not going to win in this sport. I have been very fortunate to have some pretty good cars that have given me opportunities to win races and Discount Tire has been a bit reason for that. Their willingness to continue to commit means to me, personally, that I will continue to have those opportunities and blessings to continue to have cars that can win races.”

HOW HAS YOUR MORAL COMPASS CHANGED IN WHAT YOU ARE WILLING TO DO OR NOT TO DO AT THIS POINT ON A RACE TRACK? “I don’t see a lot that has changed there personally. I think the racing is as intense as I remember it being over the last two or three seasons. It is definitely much more intense than it was when I first started in Cup. It is hard for me to really see change in the sport outside of maybe a two or three-year envelope. I think I get too close to the fire. When I have a five or 10-year envelope I can probably see it and appreciate it. I will probably have a different answer to that five or 10 years from now and say, ‘In 2019 a lot of things changed.’ Maybe I am too close to it and am in denial and can’t see it but I feel like it is similar to last year. Certainly the cars are a little closer together at some tracks, not all of them. Some tracks they are further away and that lends itself to naturally just making more moves. I don’t know if I would say that there is one thing that stands out to me that I would clearly say that the racing has changed dramatically and the tactics with respect to aggressiveness.”

WHEN YOU SAW CHAD KNAUS TELL WILLIAM BYRON TO GO GET THE 18. OF COURSE HE ENDED UP HURTING THE FRONT OF HIS CAR. DO YOU REMEMBER A TIME WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER THAT ANYONE TOLD YOU TO GET UP AND DO SOMETHING TO SOMEBODY? “I heard about it. I heard a third hand story about that. I was very fortunate to have some really great teams and people that cared about me early on in my career. Whether that be very early in my career with my dad and uncle or even as I got my first huge break which was driving Dale Jr.’s Xfinity car and having Tony Eury Sr. as a crew chief. He always made me feel like if something went down he was going to have my back. That is a big deal for a young driver. You need that. It is a big deal even more so for a young driver that is trying to feel his way out in the sport. He needs to feel like his car owner and crew chief are going to be there and not just in the press box, the press box is good, don’t get me wrong, but in the garage and at the car. Tony Eury Sr. always made me feel that way and it was one of his qualities that without it, I am not sure I would be where I am today.”

IT SEEMS LIKE AS THE YOUNG GUYS GET A LITTLE OLDER AND GAIN CONFIDENCE AND HAVE THESE RUN-IN’S IT SEEMS LIKE SOME OF THEM FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE EARNED THEIR WAY ALMOST. DO YOU AGREE? “Sometimes. Every story is a little different. I know my story better than I know anybody else’s. I think that it has been interesting to see over the last 10-20 years, 10 years of which I have been in the sport and 10 years watching as a fan before that, the crew chief base has changed. It used to be all these grizzled, tough guys that had started out sweeping a floor and worked their way up to driving the hauler or whatever it was. The next thing you knew they were working on the cars and became a master mechanic and naturally made their way up through the ranks until they were the crew chief and in charge of the whole thing 20 or 30-years later as the grizzled veteran leader. Over the last decade or two it has changed to where now these teams are all hiring these real smart guys. These guys that have these big fancy engineering degrees. I know when I had the truck team I was really cautious to not hire the really smart guys and put them with an 18 or 19-year-old kid because I felt like they needed someone who was grizzled and tough and would make them feel like the world was not coming to an end whenever there was a run-in on the race track because they were there for them. I see some of these younger drivers who are having a lot of success but aren’t surrounded by that and I feel as though they are going to have a lot of these types of moments that are kind of difficult to navigate. It is interesting to see who can play through it and who can’t”


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