Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes - Brad Keselowski Teleconference Transcript
November 8, 2011 , CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011
Dodge Brad Keselowski Teleconference Transcript
Dodge Motorsports PR
BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T)
HAVE YOU EVER TRIED IRACING AND DO YOU PLAN ON RUNNING THE IRACING PRO RACE THIS WEEK?
“Yes I have. I have been part of iRacing for quite a while. It’s a lot of fun to always race online. I haven’t been on in a little while, but winter time is coming and I’ll probably get back on, probably not this week, but I would say definitely over the off-season.”
YOU SIGNED A THREE-YEAR CONTRACT WITH A TWO-YEAR OPTION. ARE YOU GOING TO TRY TO GET YOUR CONTRACT PUT TOGETHER SO IT’S NOT A DISTRATION NEXT SEASON?
“That’s a very good question. I would think that you will know more about that in the coming months.”
REGARDING REACTION TO THE KYLE BUSCH PENALTY AND THE FACT NASCAR IS GOING TO LET HIM RACE THIS WEEKEND?
“I actually felt like it was handled very well from all parties as well as an incident like that can be handled. And I really, after having the hindsight of time to think about it, obviously during the race weekend we’re worried about our own stuff and what it takes to get our car to run well and win races, but you know as far as the penalty was concerned and so forth and having some time to think about it, it was done very, very well.”
AND AS FAR AS THIS WEEKEND, DO YOU THINK A SECOND GROOVE IS GOING TO COME IN? IN THE NATIONWIDE RACE DO YOU MAYBE HOPE TO BE IN THE OUTSIDE ON AT LEAST SOME OF THE RESTARTS TO KNOW WHAT YOU COULD BE GETTING INTO IF YOU’RE ON THE OUTSIDE FOR THE CUP RACE?
“No and no [laughs]. No, that’s the only way I can answer that. I really feel bad. I think the championship very may well come down to a car that gets the outside lane on a restart at Phoenix and if it’s the last restart, that could be a death sentence.”
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THIS YEAR IN YOUR RUN FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP? IT SEEMED TO BE A HUGE LEARING YEAR FOR YOU.
“Well I think you’re always learning in this sport and I think as a team we’ve grown together. And I don’t know if that’s really learning as much that is learning the importance of having good people around you. We have great people at Penske. Paul Wolfe (crew chief) and I seem to be clicking very well and we have a great shot at having a very competitive year next season, but we’re not done with 2011. We’ve still got two races left. We’ve got the opportunity to get up to at the very least third in points, maybe even higher if Carl (Edwards) and Tony (Stewart) make a mistake. We’re focused on 2011, what we can do to maximize it, and we’re very proud of the season that we’ve had.”
HOW HAPPY ARE YOU AT PENSKE RACING?
“Very, very happy. You know I think we’ve got a lot to be proud of like you said there. I think as time goes on, if we can continue to grow like we have this year the sky’s the limit for all of Penske Racing.”
COMMENT ON TONY STEWART AND ALL HE HAS ACCOMPLISHED IN HIS CAREER. IS IT HARD NOT TO ADMIRE SOMEONE LIKE THAT?
“Oh yeah, Tony Stewart is a highly talented race car driver and I don’t think anybody can discredit any of the things that he’s done. And when he’s on his marks, boy is he on his marks. You got to give him a lot of credit. I think he’s the guy to beat as this championship unfolds and we’ll just have to see, but he’s done some very amazing things in his career for sure.”
LAST WEEK YOUR TRUCK TEAM ANNOUNCED FULL SPONSORSHIP FOR NEXT SEASON. COMMENT ON HOW THAT PROGRAM HAS DEVELOPED AND WHAT YOUR IMPRESSION OF PARKER KILGERMAN IS AS HE GETS THROUGH HIS FIRST FULL SEASON THIS YEAR.
“Last week was a very big week for the truck team to announce sponsorship for the 2012 season, which is great. We try not to look too far ahead, but when it comes to sponsors, you have to have that done. So I’m very, very proud of those efforts from a marketing side and having the funding kind of shored up to finish off the year, or finish off next year will be great. I’m very, very happy that we’re able to get that done. It’s a big credit to our team and some of the things they’ve done this year. Obviously I’d like to see the truck get in victory lane. It’s been close with several second-place finishes. We just need to climb over that hump and get it done so I think we’re all interested to see how that’s going to play out. And for that to happen, Parker has got to continue to grow and develop, which is really the point of this program. It’s around to give opportunities to drivers like Parker who are on the cusp of being a high-caliber driver or star in this sport. We’re going to make sure that he gets all those opportunities that he can and hopefully, he can capitalize on ‘em and he can make it to the Sprint Cup level. You know I’m committed to doing the best I can to give him those opportunities, so we’ll just have to see how it plays out. We’ve been up and down. I thought that the first part of the year with Parker was a bit of a struggle and then the summer months came in and I thought he started getting in a rhythm and clicking off good finishes. I was very proud of that, very encouraged, you know, for races to come. And to be quite honest, as the fall has come in, it’s kind of gone back into struggle mode. We’ll just have to see. The key for him is to come back next year and fire out the gate very, very strong. And if he can do that, then I think we’ll be very encouraged about his career moving forward.”
WITH THE ADDITIONAL FINANCING IN PLACE, IS THERE ANY CHANCE YOU MAY RUN A TRUCK RACE HERE AND THERE? “
Well, you know, I started the truck team because of the love I have for the truck series and certainly feel like I have some unfinished business there. As a driver, I’ve been close to winning races and something has always happened. I would like to finish that off, for sure, but that’s not my primary goal. The primary goal of being involved in the truck series is to give opportunities to guys like Parker Kligerman. And I’m sure the day will come where I need to run a few races to keep the funding going for guys like Parker and more than just Parker, crew members on the team and so forth. And so when those days come, I certainly will run some races, but as of now that day hasn’t come and I don’t have a clear answer on what races I’ll run, but I’m sure that day will come.”
AS A DRIVER DO YOU HAVE A NEED TO PAY IT FORWARD? DALE (EARNHARDT JR.) TOOK AN INTEREST IN YOU AND GAVE YOU A BREAK AND NOW YOU’RE IN THE POSITION TO GIVE SOMEBODY A BREAK.
IS THAT HOW IT WORKS? “I think so, I really do. I think I’ve had the benefit of time over the last few years to become successful. It hasn’t been easy and there’s been a lot of hard work involved, but not all of it has been to my own credit. Much of it has been to the credit of others and whether that’s Dale giving me the opportunity or guys coming over and working on my team that are very talented and make my cars faster or pit stops better and you learn over time the importance of people. And the tricky thing about that is that you just don’t find people good people anywhere. You’ve got to grow ‘em, you’ve got to raise ‘em and you’ve got to be a part of their lives. So it’s very, very difficult to do that and it’s become very apparent in my career that it’s also important to give back. I think it you want to be a star in this sport, you have to give back. I don’t think you can keep pulling apples off the tree. Eventually you’ve got to pull an apple off the tree and plant the seeds and the truck team is a chance for me to plant those seeds. And when that tree grows up from those seeds that are planted, it’s a good feeling, a very good feeling, and it’s an opportunity for me, even though there was a lot of work on planting those seeds, but it’s an opportunity for me to have a tree to eat from for years to come. Whether that’s having the next great crew chief, car chief or tire changer, having the next teammate, or additional team at Penske Racing because we’ve invested in that and certainly I was a part of it. I think that’s a good feeling. I think that’s crucial to my success in the sport for years to come. I look at Kevin (Harvick) and the things that he’s done with his truck and Nationwide teams and not only has it made him more successful, I think it’s garnered him more respect and rightfully so. He’s made a commitment to the sport for the last few years. Obviously, he’s getting out of it now, but he’s put in a lot of years of service to the sport. I think that’s really cool to see and I really want to emulate that because I think that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.”
IS EVERYBODY AROUND YOU PRETTY COMFORTABLE AS FAR AS “BOYS HAVE AT IT” AND HOW FAR YOU CAN AND CAN’T GO?
“I don't think so. I think it's a constantly evolving line. We just want to make sure we're on the right side of it.
HOW DO YOU DO THAT?
How do you do that? You try not to put yourself in situations where you're close to the line.”
YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH THE BULK OF THE CHASE NOW. WAS IT EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE?
“Absolutely. Absolutely. I'd hoped, to be quite honest, the last five races, we unveiled a new car at Penske Racing, and I'd hoped that we would gain speed with that car. It appears that we gained a little, but not on the field. It appears the field gained a little more than we did. Other than that, it's everything I hoped for and everything I thought we were going to see in the Chase. I feel very lucky to have four top fives so far and then we've had four bad finishes, four finishes of 16th or worse. That's been tough, but that's part of the deal. I'm very proud to have a seat at the dance. It's been good.”
TONY HAS A LOT OF MOMENTUM GOING. WHAT IS THE SPECIFIC REASON YOU SEE HIM AS THE PERSON TO BEAT?
“Tony right now is the guy to beat because, quite simply, he's fast. His car at Texas was fast. Look at him at Kansas; he had one of the fastest cars. Same thing with Chicago. We have Homestead coming up. I think he'll be very, very fast there. I think he's got the resources of all of Hendrick Motorsports behind him to get him right for Phoenix. I see a lot of resources being put into his team. He's a very, very skilled driver, more than qualified to get the job done. I think he's the guy to beat.”
IF IT COMES DOWN TO 10 OR 20 LAPS TO GO AT HOMESTEAD AND HE AND EDWARDS ARE WITHIN A POINT OR TWO OF EACH OTHER, WHO WIN?
The guy with the fastest car and the best team.”
YOUR EARLY FINISHES IN THE SEASON SADDLED YOU DEEP IN THE 20s IN THE POINT STANDINGS. HOW MUCH DID THAT SHAKE YOUR CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF? HOW DID YOU GET OUT OF THAT RUT AND RACE TO THE LEVEL YOU ARE AT NOW?
“Well, I don't think we ever had any confidence to begin with, so I don't think we lost any. It took us a while to build that confidence. I think it started with a good showing in the All-Star Race, at least in the Showdown for the All-Star Race. Then we were able to just keep plugging away and getting better. Confidence built slowly and it built with speed in our cars. Once you have speed, then it's just down to execution and catching the right breaks. We started to execute in the summer. We started to catch the breaks. I was very proud of that. It was definitely a tough stretch at the start of the year. It just came down to finding speed in our car and then executing.”
HOW LOW DID YOU GET OR WERE YOU CONFIDENT THAT EVERYTHING WOULD TURN AT SOME POINT?
“That's a tough question. Yeah, I would say there were some dark days, yes. Certainly after Richmond, that was a miserable, miserable day in the spring. That was about as low as it got. We were able to climb our way out of it. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by good enough people that I didn't let it get us down, or they didn't let me get down. I really can't complain about the lows.”
COMMENT ON THE INITIATIVES NASCAR HAS FOR REACHING OUT TO THE HISPANIC AUDIENCE AND YOUR PERCEPTION ON EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON IN NASCAR TRYING TO INVOLVE MORE HISPANIC PEOPLE.
“Well, I think we see that more than just in NASCAR. I know with my own sponsor, Miller Lite, that's certainly a strong initiative of theirs, to reach out to the Hispanic market. I think it's a larger frame than just NASCAR. I think it's a great opportunity for our sport. I think it's an opportunity to continue to open more eyes and bring in more faces and bodies. I don't see where it can hurt us at all. I very much welcome it.”
HAVE YOU BEEN WITH ANY OTHER INITIATIVE INVOLVING THE HISPANIC MARKET?
“I have not to this date. I'm sure I will be in the very, very short future.”
A FEW WEEKS AGO YOU HAD A VERY REVEALING INTERVIEW ON ESPN. YOU KIND OF LEFT US HANGING. WHY WON’T TONY STEWART TALK TO YOU?
“I don't know. I don't have an answer to that.”
LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS WEEKEND, THEY’RE USING SOME SORT OF TIRE-DRAGGING SYSTEM TO WORK A GROOVE IN. WHAT IS YOUR FEELING OF THE DRIVERS IN THE GARAGE AREA? LOOKS LIKE WILD CARD RACE DOESN’T EVEN BEGIN TO DESCRIBE IT.
You're right. Wild card doesn't start to describe what I expect out of the Phoenix race at all. I think a big question will be how the track will rubber in. I don't expect a lot as far as that is concerned because of how hard the tire compound is. I think the track, it has a coating on the top of it that needs to be worn through. The tire appears to be too hard to achieve that. So really, I don't see it being fixed by simply dragging tires, but I could be wrong. There are a lot of questions yet to be answered as for how the race will play out in Phoenix.”
IT APPEARED FROM YOUR TWEETS WITH DENNY HAMLIN THAT YOU TWO KIND OF RESOLVED THE TRACK INCIDENT ON TWITTER WITH YOUR APOLOGY AND HIS HONESTY ABOUT NOT HAVING A GOOD CAR ANYWAY. DID YOU THINK THE KYLE PENALTY HAD ANY INFLUENCE ON THAT? DO YOU THINK IT’S GOING TO HELP OTHER DRIVERS SETTLE INCIDENTS IN THE FUTURE?
I don't see where the Kyle penalty had any influence on that. I think perhaps Denny and I's relationship has grown severely, I would say over the last two years I think to say the least, and that's not a bad thing.”
DO YOU THINK GOING FORWAD THERE ARE GOING TO BE ANY BIG IMPLICATIONS, DRAWING A LINE IN TH SAND?
“Man, I really don't know. I think you only find that out over time. That's why you got to watch all these races.”
COMING INTO THE CHASE YOU WERE A WILD CARD. NOW YOU’RE FIFTH IN POINTS. WHAT DOES THAT SAY FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM? THAT HAS TO GIVE YOU A LOT OF PRIDE?
“Absolutely. It just says how far we've come as a race team over not just the last year, but really six months. It's been very good. I'm very proud of our efforts. I think we can still be better. I think we have room to grow in a lot of ways. I'm committed to doing that. I'm very proud of what we've done to date and I hope we can go out there and keep racing like this for years to come.”
DO YOU PLAN TO BE AT DAYTONA FOR THE TEST NEXT WEEK? IF YOU ARE, WHAT IS THE GOAL?
“No, sir, I am not. I believe, to my knowledge, we're going to have a Daytona tire test or some kind of Daytona test in January. I'm not sure of that. To my knowledge, there was a plan for that. We've spent so much time with the fuel injection testing, as it be right now, that we have not had the opportunity to catch up at Penske Racing to a very quick test which is scheduled for Daytona next week. We will not have a car in attendance as far as I'm aware.”