Ford Performance NASCAR: Indianapolis (Keselowski, Stenhouse Jr. & Menard Media Availability)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Saturday, September 7, 2019


BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang — IS YOUR DAUGHTER PRACTICING TO KISS THE BRICKS AGAIN? “Well, she remembers last time for sure. It is great to be back here. As soon as I pulled through the tunnel I thought about last year. It was so cool to win here. It was really special for me. I never thought I would have my face hung up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It is a complete thrill for me personally, as I am sure it is for all the drivers that have won here. It is a good feeling to be back here and I am hopeful that we can repeat last years win. Certainly it was a very special day for myself and the team and my family as well. I am ready.”

American Muscle

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO GET ANOTHER WIN HEADING INTO THE PLAYOFFS? “It is certainly nice that this time last year we won at Darlington, won this week and won the next week. That felt really good but then when we got to Dover we got caught up in a wreck. Talladega we ran out of gas. Kansas we ran fourth or fifth but it wasn’t enough to overcome the other races. It shows you how fleeting momentum can be. I would like to say it is everything but last year kind of showed it is not, at least for me. Probably what I am looking for the most is just to have the speed and the ability to execute. The wins and all that come when you have that. You need good finishes. With that, of course we still want to win, but when it comes to the playoffs I kind of feel like they are just their own animal.”

WHAT ARE THE NEXT 10 WEEKS LIKE? HOW DO THINGS RAMP UP? “The schedules are pretty busy right now and they just get busier. That can sort of wear you down but I try not to think about that. I try to think of it the opposite. It is an opportunity to win a championship. You can get caught up in the negatives of the responsibility that comes with the opportunity but I try to look more positive at the opportunity. Sometimes I am good at that and sometimes I am not. With that said, it is a tough stretch and it is meant to be tough. It is designed to be tough. It is part of the responsibility of having a great team to drive for and having an opportunity to leave a mark on this sport that has been around for decades and will be around for decades after I am gone. That is a real special time in anyone’s life and I just want to make the most of it.”

DO YOU REMEMBER COMING HERE THE FIRST TIME AND WHAT THAT WAS LIKE? “Yeah, it is an intimidating track as a race car driver. Daytona and Bristol are probably the only other two tracks it reminds me of in that sense. Daytona, when you pull in there you know what it means to stock car racing. Bristol, you pull in there and you are just completely surrounded by grandstands and everything is on top of you and it is super loud and aggressive. Indianapolis is a lot like both of those tracks in the sense that you are surrounded by the stands and you know the history and what it means to all of auto racing. I think with that in mind, it hits you pretty hard when you pull through that tunnel and you think about where you are at and what it means. That is a good thing. There are some tracks you go to and it is like, ‘This is just another race track’, Indianapolis is not just another race track. I think that is a good thing.”

WHAT DOES THE REGULAR SEASON CHAMPIONSHIP MEAN TO THE DRIVERS? “I think it is great. It would mean a lot to me to win it. There is a trophy that comes with it and I guess some small recognition but as a team and a driver I think it means a lot.”

DOES IT MATTER TO THE SPORT OR ANYONE ELSE THAT JIMMIE JOHNSON MIGHT MISS THE PLAYOFFS? “That is a tough one. I am not sure if I have a great answer for that. Jimmie has done a lot for the sport. What is tough is when you set the bar so high as he has in his career then when you don’t go over it that first time. People are quick to point out when that happens and recognize that. I think in a lot of ways it is somewhat flattering that if he doesn’t make it that it is his first time not making it for the time he has spent in the sport. I still think he has a great shot to make it. I wouldn’t write him off. Jimmie has done a lot in the sport and has some great fans and I am sure they would be bummed if he didn’t make it but at the end of the day, whether he does or doesn’t make it, there will still be 16 drivers that have a shot at the championship and this sport is bigger than any one person.”


RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang — WHAT DOES THIS RACE AND THIS TRACK PRESENT TO YOU WITH ONE RACE TO GO. IT IS SUCH A BIG, BIG RACE: “Yeah, I think it is kind of now with this package, I haven’t been on it with the package yet, but watching the Xfinity race with the similar package I feel like it is kind of a wild card similar to Daytona. We are all going to run so close together, or at least I think we are. You are going to be close to wide open for most of the track and I think that presents different challenges but it also can present some chaos and different strategies and late race pit calls that could put somebody else up front that maye hasn’t won this year. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Hopefully we can come out on the good end of it. You are going to have to have speed by yourself and a car that handles good behind other cars because you are not going to have clean air for much of the day. You might see the lead change quite a bid more than what normally happens here for us here at Indy. I think we are all kind of sitting here waiting to go practice, kind of unknowing what it will be like. It will be an interesting practice. I am sure we will be out there trying to figure it out.”

IF IT IS LIKE DAYTONA, ISN’T THAT YOUR CUP OF TEA? “Yes and no but it is different enough that makes it a different animal. The wild card that I feel like it is, like Daytona, is mainly because I think we will all be close together. The speed is not going to vary as much from the leader to the 20th place car. I think that is where the wild card race comes in. When all the cars are closer together in speed, it gives everybody else more opportunities to do something different on strategy and get out front and maybe win a race. It will be kind of crazy. For us, we don’t care about the stages. Obviously this is the last race for us to try to get a win, so if we had some decent speed and my car is handling good, Brian (Pattie) will call the race to set us up for that last stint to have the best change to win a race. We will see how it goes. It will be interesting I think. Like I said, all of us are excited to get out on the track and try to figure out what is going to be the best possible scenario for your car, whether it be leading, second or third in line and see how the draft works.”

HOW DIFFERENT WILL THIS BE HERE THIS TIME AT INDY WITH THIS NEW PACKAGE? “It will be 100% different than any other race we have had here on the Cup side. The Xfinity has ran this package or similar and we have watched those races but some of those races were three-wide coming across for a few of the stage wins. That was the battle for the lead. It will be interesting to see if ours ends up the same way.”


PAUL MENARD, No. 21 Menards Ford Mustang — “I think three and four seems grippier than one and two but turns two and four are the important ones. If you get a good exit off two and off of four you get it good, that will carry all the way down the straightaway.”

DO YOU LOOK AT THIS AS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS ARE DO YOU JUST GO RACE? “It is an, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the last chance.’ but we show up every week to compete at the highest level and this is our last opportunity to get in the playoffs. Not a whole lot different that we can do. We try to maximize points every week and this weekend points don’t matter, just the win. That is a lot easier said than done. You can’t stay out on 30-lap tires here. You just get eaten up. Maybe if you have five-lap older tires you can make something happen but basically you throw caution to the wind and try to make something happen.”

LOTS OF PEOPLE TALK ABOUT YOUR WIN HERE GIVING YOU A SHOT TO WIN AGAIN AND GET IN THE PLAYOFFS. DOES IT MEAN ANYTHING, THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE WON HERE BEFORE? “Yeah, sure, it helps. The package and the cars are so different than what it was in 2011 but anything can happen here. We stretched some fuel mileage in 2011 and we had a fast car. We didn’t have track position until we got up front and then stretched some mileage. The same thing could happen tomorrow.”

WILL THERE BE GUYS WORKING TOGETHER HERE ON TRACK? “Maybe there will be some give and take. This race you might work together a little more than we did last year. We are going to be going terminal velocity down the straight away so maybe you try to help somebody get a push past another car and work the draft a little better than in the past. You might see some guys working together tomorrow but at the end it is Indianapolis and everybody wants to win. You will help each other to try to get yourself in position but at the end of the day you are going for yourself.”

DOES THE FACT THAT IT IS INDIANAPOLIS TRUMP IT BEING THE LAST SHOT TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS? “Indianapolis is bigger than the playoffs for me. A win at Indianapolis is a win for the ages, playoffs or not. We always want to win at Indy.”

WOULD THIS TRACK BE CONSIDERED A “MAJOR” IN THIS SPORT? “Yeah. For motorsports in the world, Indianapolis is the most famous, prestigious race track in the world. For our series, a lot of people would say Daytona is our most prestigious race and racetrack but I disagree. I think Indianapolis is still number one in our sport in the world. The racing gets knocked down a lot but at the end of the day it is Indianapolis.”

WHERE IS YOUR TROPHY FROM YOUR WIN HERE? “In my office. When I sit at my desk I can gaze upon it.”

HOW WOULD IT FEEL TO WIN HERE TOMORROW? “Great for a lot of reasons. Obviously the number one reason is it is Indianapolis. The number two reason is that it would be win 100 for the Wood Brothers, something that is very meaningful to myself personally. The third best part would be the playoffs. You hate to say the playoffs would be the third best part about winning but it is true.”

EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE WON HERE, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVEN’T QUITE MADE YOUR MARK YET BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T REALLY BEEN A CONTENDER IN THE PLAYOFFS? “We haven’t run very good this year. For us to win a race is the only way for us to really get in the playoffs. I feel like we could have probably won a couple of races the last few years but it is the elite series in North America. It is hard to win these races.”

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