Ford Performance NASCAR: Las Vegas Playoff Media Day (Brad Keselowski)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Thursday, September 12, 2019


BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Ford Mustang

American Muscle

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TRACK THAT YOU HAVE FIGURED OUT THAT THESE OTHER GUYS HAVEN’T WITH YOUR THREE WINS HERE? “Certainly Vegas has been a good track for us. When they made the change to make Vegas the first race of the playoffs, there was not a single complaint here. We are looking forward to it. I don’t know, it has a good balance of challenge to get through the bumps in 1 and 2 and then the exit of turn 4 you have to be perfect. I really like that challenge and our team sets up a car really well for that.”

RIGHT NOW, WHERE DO YOU THINK PENSKE STACKS UP IN THE PANTHEON OF TEAMS? “I think we are in a good spot. Certainly we would like to have the top three spots in the points right now but we are not anywhere to complain about either. We have had some strong runs of late and hopefully we peak at the right time. That is what the playoffs is all about.”

DO YOU THINK THE AGGRESSION LEVEL WILL RAMP UP EVEN HIGHER IN THE PLAYOFFS AND MAYBE THE DRIVER ETIQUETTE BOOK BEING RE-WRITTEN? “The racing is always changing and evolving. If it didn’t it would always be really boring. The cars keep getting after and the drivers push them and each other harder. Combine that with the rules on the cars making it so important to make your passes on the restarts, you really have such a narrow window of time to make something happen that you throw more desperate punches, so to speak.”

YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN AFRAID OF THE AGGRESSION OF IT. DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE TO RAMP IT UP AT ALL? “Sometimes I certainly challenge myself to be more aggressive than years prior. That is a different challenge, but a good one.”

IF THERE IS A LIMITED WINDOW IN ESSENCE OF GAINING POSITIONS ON A RESTART, WHY WOULD ANYBODY WANT TO SET UP THE CAR FOR A LONG RUN? SHOULDN’T EVERYONE SET UP THEIR CARS FOR SHORT RUNS? “You get some of these races where you do get the long runs and you can find an advantage. There has been more tracks this year than ever before where it is less of an advantage to have a long run car. That continues to change. I think if you went back to the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s, long run cars won the majority of the races. Like 90% of the races. Now we are seeing that flip where it is almost like short run cars win 90% of the races and long run cars win 10% of the races. It is a completely different approach as the sport has evolved and aero is more and more important and restarts are more and more important. There is a 10% window where a long run car will win out but it is certainly different than years past.”

THIS RACE IN THE SPRING WAS DIFFERENT WHERE CAUTIONS WERE THE STAGE BREAKS. DO YOU LOOK AT THE SPRING RACE AS AN ANOMALY OR IS THAT KIND OF A HINT OF WHAT IT MIGHT BE LIKE AGAIN WITH NOT MANY WRECKS? “I think generally speaking, and I don’t have a stat book in front of me, I need David Smith of somebody to answer that. I think there are more cautions in general during the playoffs than in the regular season. It is something that factors in but not necessarily a guarantee.”

WHAT WOULD WINNING A SECOND CHAMPIONSHIP DO FOR YOUR LEGACY? “Well, it would be a huge mark for me personally. I think there is a big difference between drivers that have won one championship and two, that is my own personal barometer. There is quite a long list of drivers in the sport now and past that won a single championship. The ones that I think get mentioned or thought of the most are the drivers that have won multiples. Certainly winning a championship is a legacy. Winning a second championship is an elite legacy in the sport. Something I certainly hope to do and have put a lot of emphasis on and probably is the biggest thing I want to do in the sport. That opportunity is in front of us over these 10 weeks.”

THOUGHTS ON RICHMOND BEING IN THE PLAYOFFS THIS YEAR? “I think there is a good balance of race tracks in the playoffs. From the big tracks to small tracks to intermediate and road courses. It is probably the most balanced playoff schedule that we have seen since the invention of the playoffs. I think that is a good thing. I like it.”

RICHMOND AS A SHORT TRACK, THAT SEEMS LIKE A PRETTY GOOD RECIPE FOR GUYS THAT HAD A BAD RACE ARE GOING TO WANT TO HAVE TO MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN THERE: “Richmond is a great example of one of those tracks where long run speed seems to be paramount. If that aggression comes in and you get some yellows then short run will win out. Last year at Richmond we thought it would be a lot of yellows and come down to short runs at the end. We had a phenomenal short run car but the last run of the race was almost 100 green flag laps and we fell from the lead to seventh or eighth just praying for yellows that we didn’t get. That is part of how racing goes. It is very hard to predict.”

DO YOU THINK WITH IT BEING A NIGHT RACE HERE THAT IT WILL TAKE THE ADVANTAGE AWAY FROM SOME OF THE MARQUEE TEAMS? “No, I don’t see it being a big difference. The only thing I see it affecting is the fans in the stands and the pit crews having a little better go of it and being a little more comfortable which is a good thing.”

QUESTION INAUDIBLE: “I think Ryan has shown that he has the speed and competitiveness to run up front and lead a lot of laps. It is hard for me to really dig any deeper into it because I don’t know what I don’t know. When his car is dialed in, he can run as well, if not better than Joey and I can. He certainly has had those moments over the years.”

SEEMS LIKE A LOT OF THE TALK THIS WEEK HAS BEEN ABOUT JOE GIBBS RACING BEING THE FAVORITE TO WIN THIS CHAMPIONSHIP. WHERE DO YOU FEEL LIKE PENSKE STACKS UP? “We are week one of the playoffs. Very dynamic. It isn’t like if you are the best car this week you will be the best car 10 weeks from now. It changes with the cars and engineers development and the different types of tracks that are in front of us. I feel like we are in that fringe top-five range. I think we are looking to push to be the best and to dominate races. That is really key. You look at these playoffs and it is almost a certainty that you will have some bad races and when that happens it is about how you can recover. Do you have the points cushion from the regular season to fall back on or can you win and dominate a race to recover? Those are the keys. With that in mind I try not to think about it any deeper.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Ford MustangCAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE ROVAL LAST YEAR AND WHAT HAPPENED ON THAT RESTART THERE? “The Roval is a tough track and that is not necessarily a bad thing. One little slip up is a big accident. I had a little slip up, Kyle and I both had a slip up and we had a huge accident. It was a bummer. It cost us a chance to win the race as well as him. Not the way we wanted to go out. It is all part of the challenge of a very technical track.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MATT DIBENEDETTO GOING TO THE WOOD BROTHERS NEXT YEAR AND IS HE SUPPOSED TO PUSH YOU TO THE WIN THIS YEAR AT TALLADEGA? “I mean, if he wants to. It might be good for him (laughter). Matt has certainly earned his opportunities. He has caught some bad breaks and now he is catching some good brakes. That is part of the ying-yang of life. He has done a good job of riding the storm and deserves credit for that on his own. I was a little caught off-guard by the announcement. Mr. Penske gave me a briefing on it the day before and it was silence on the phone as I was processing it. There is of course the Paul (Menard) side of it and seeing him leave the sport. I think he has been kind of a true and tried person of character in the sport and you hate to see that happen but certainly understand it. Of course there is the feel-good side to Matt getting a quality opportunity. I kinda want to see how it plays out. There are certainly no red flags by any means, I am just curious to see it all play out.”

TO SEE SOMEONE LIKE MATT HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR YOU TO SEE THAT THERE ARE STILL GUYS THAT CAN DO THAT? “I look at guys like Matt DiBenedetto and Ross Chastain and a few others as being proof that if you hang around and you show the commitment that good things are going to happen for you. They might not happen on your timeline but if you have the talent and wherewithal to stomach the bad that eventually the good will come. It is good to see someone like him get rewarded.”

“I wouldn’t say that we are on talk everyday relationship but certainly I know him. He was part of the Ford camp last year and I spent a little time with him. Not an everyday thing but enough to get to know him casually.”

HE HAS BEEN A LOT MORE COMPETITIVE ON TRACK, HOW HAS THAT ON TRACK RELATIONSHIP BEEN? “He has speed. He seems to know how to put himself in good positions and that is more than half the battle in NASCAR.”

DO YOU THINK THE FIRST ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS IS THE TOUGHEST? “I think all the rounds are hard. They are supposed to be. It is hard for me to say one round is harder than another. The round of 8 has been a bit of a struggle for me but I don’t think of one round being harder than the others. I think of every race being critical.”

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