Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes - Brad Keselowski Open Interview - Homestead
November 18, 2011 , HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Friday, Nov. 18, 2011
Dodge Brad Keselowski Open Interview
Dodge Motorsports PR
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T)
“Well I guess the first thing I can say is it is my goal and I think more so than in words, but in action, if you look at the role I have as an owner on the truck side, to become a man of stature in this sport, who can be part of a leadership role that I think it takes for this sport to be complete, where that’s from driver interface with the fans, media or sanctioning body. And it’s because of that that I speak my mind and this particular instance, probably with not the highest level of discretion. I could have done a better job with that. Because of that intention, it’s also useful for me to look out for the sport and look out for those I might need along the way to be successful, and to be able to have that role that I desire. So that makes it, as I’ve said to some of you guys, inherently and best nature of myself, to keep some of those conversations private, whether that’s with NASCAR or not. And this particular instance is probably one of ‘em. Certainly that’s not something I desire to have to go through, that process but, you know, sometimes you have to go backwards to go forward. It’s what it is.”
DENNY SAID TODAY THAT HIS FINE LAST YEAR CURBED HIS TWITTER AND STOPPED HIM BEING SO OUTSPOKEN. WILL THAT HAPPEN TO YOU?
“No, I think you can be yourself. I think you can say what you think. I think I could have said what I thought with a lot more discretion and I guess that’s probably the strongest thing that I take from it. You know, I’ve got a great sponsor with Miller Lite that encourages me to be me, to say what I think and how I feel about things. And that moment, where I probably didn’t use the highest level of discretion with my words, was an authentic moment, how I felt. I feel lucky to have a sponsor that allows me to do that. So you know I think that if anything I’ll probably be smarter, not necessarily quieter.”
DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY A SPORT HAS TO NOT HAVE DRIVERS SPOUTING OUT ABOUT THINGS THAT THEY FEEL WOULD BE DETRIMENTAL?
“I understand why the sanctioning body and the leaders of the sport feel that way. I understand that, although I may not agree with it.”
DO YOU BELIEVE THE THINGS THAT YOU SAID SOMEHOW DENIGRATED THE SPORT OF NASCAR?
“I guess that depends on what that means to you. What it means to me, what I said, to me, was a reflection out of protection for the sport, not out of any wish to do harm or any bias to my own team standing. It was my intention to be open and honest and share with what was a fan event how I felt with the fans, and what I felt was in the best interest of the sport. Obviously, that contradicted someone else’s thoughts.”
ARE YOU GOING TO PUT SOME MONEY ASIDE EVERY YEAR FOR FINES? IS IT JUST PART OF DOING BUISINESS IN SOME WAY?
“Well, I wasn’t really planning on it (smiles). That’s still a lot of money, I don’t care who you are. It’s tough because as the sport is ran and as it has to be ran, it has to be a dictatorship. And I think if you look at any racing body that hasn’t been ran that way, it’s not
successful. A long time ago, my uncle used to tell me this saying: to keep racers together is like herding cats. They all go different directions and they never go the way you want them to go. And the only way to get ‘em to go straight is to give one guy the cattle prod or the net or whatever it takes to get ‘em right. Racing in inherently a dictatorship and because of that, successful racing organizations, whether it’s NASCAR or Formula One and I guess before that you can look at IRL, it has to be that way. And with that said, you know that group has the power and you have to respect it.”
DID THIS CLEAR ANYTHING UP ON YOUR END?
“I’ll be honest, I thought what I said was edgy, but I didn’t feel it was that edgy. I think every circumstance is different, so I don’t think it can be a clear situation.”
RYAN NEWMAN SAID AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR YOU GUYS WERE TALKED TO ABOUT THAT. DO YOU REMEMBER THAT CONVERSATION? WHAT DID THEY TELL YOU?
“Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, Brian (France) uses a good analogy that I like about the restaurant and not saying that the food is bad and that you shouldn’t eat here, which I think is a great analogy. But I go back to a story that I tell people and anyone who ever ate with me knows that I do this wherever I go, that when I go to a restaurant and ask the waitress about the food, the first thing I ask her is what would you not order, what’s the worst item on the menu? Because I feel like any restaurant you go to is going to have bad food and they’re going to have good food. And you only trust the person for a recommendation if they can admit that they have one item on the menu that’s not quite so good. And it’s out of that respect and appreciation when I can get an honest waitress that’ll say ‘Hey, this is terrible; you should get this’ that I believe her when she says, you know, don’t eat the omelet, eat the French toast. And that I believe her if she can look me in the eye and say hey, you know the omelet is not so good. That’s how I’ve always viewed the sport. I’ve always viewed the sport as being creditable when it can admit its fallacies.”
DID YOU EXPRESS YOUR CONCERNS ABOUT FUEL INJECTION TO NASCAR OFFICIALS OR WAS THIS THE FIRST TIME?
“I have not.”
SO DO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT WAS ONE OF YOUR BIGGER MISTAKES?
“Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. I think I could have handled it better and when I say I could have used better discretion, I definitely could have gone through some channels that I did not make enough time for.”
WHAT DENNY SAID LAST YEAR WAS MORE OF A SLAP AGAINST OFFICIATING LIKE YOU GET FINED IN OTHER SPORTS. WHAT YOU SAID WAS JUST SOMETHING THEY DIDN’T LIKE.
“I think honestly, if you look at it, it was a compliment to the officiating on how well NASCAR for years has handled the situation with carburetors and I was in support of that decision the last 50 years.”
DOES THAT SEND THE MESSAGE YOU CAN’T GIVE YOUR OPINION ON STUFF?
“Hell, I don’t know. I ain’t got all the answers.”
IN RETROSPECT, COULD YOU HAVE SAID WHAT YOU SAID IN A WAY THAT YOU THINK WOULD NOT HAVE PRODUCTED THAT SORT OF REACTION?
“Yeah, I think could have been honest without perhaps as confrontational.”
DID THEY DISCUSS WITH YOU WHAT PARTICULAR AREAS OF SPEECH THEY FOUND OFFENSIVE? “
Yeah a little bit, sure. I’ll leave that part private.”
WERE YOU SURPRISED ?
“Am I surprised? Nothing surprises me anymore. I think I’ve done other things and gotten away with ‘em that were worse. My Dad used to tell me when he got a ticket once for going five miles an hour over and I remember thinking ‘Man, that’s garbage Dad, you should appeal that.’ He says ‘You know, I done a lot worse that that and I had this one coming.’ I think that’s probably fair in my case too.”
WAS DODGE UPSET?
“Hell, I don’t know if anybody was upset other than NASCAR (laughter).”
HOW WILL THIS IMPACT YOUR CANDOR WITH YOUR FANBASE?
“I think I can continue to have the same candor and continue to be authentic. But like I said, you can use a little discretion, absolutely.”
DID YOU THINK THIS FINE WOULD COME OUT?
“There’s no secrets in today’s world.”
ONE VETERAN DRIVER SAID THAT HE DIDN’T THINK YOU WERE ACCURATE IN WHAT YOU SAID. WAS IT TRUE THAT IT WAS NOT ACCURATE?
“Well, I don’t think so. Certainly you can pick apart anything someone says and find small inaccuracies. Does that make the bulk of it inaccurate? No, but you can certainly fine small inaccuracies in what I said, so I’m sure whoever that was that said that has some points in the book. I think there were some good points made.”
HAS THIS ADVENTURE CHANGED YOUR OPINIONS ON EFI?
“Not so much (laughter). The big story is we’re here for the championship. We’ve had a great year, last race, and very proud of where we’re at. And this is just one star in the galaxy that will fade and burn away and we’ll all move on.”
WHO DO YOU THINK WILL WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP AND WHY?
“Man I really like how Tony (Stewart) goes out and win races. I really, really appreciate that. But I think Carl (Edwards) has a small advantage on him.”
WHAT IS IT?
“I think that engine is a huge advantage and I think Tony’s team is doing other things better to make up for it, but that engine that the Fords have right now is so much of an advantage that I can’t see Tony being able to make up for it four weeks in a row. But then, on the other side, I look at Carl and he’s caught all the breaks for the last nine races, maybe further than that. Eventually, that’s got to go the other way. I’m kind of torn.”
HOW DO YOU WORK TO MAINTAIN OR UP THE ANTE FOR NEXT YEAR, BASED ON HOW YOU FINISHED THIS SEASON?
“Well, there’s a whole process for making our stuff better for next year. We’ve got to stick to it. We’ve got to make it happen over the winter. We’ve got a lot to go, a lot to do over the next few months as a company and as a team. We’ve got to make it happen, got to get stuff done. If we can do that, I think we can come back and not only repeat this year, but have a shot at the title more so that what we even had this year.”
WHAT SPECIFICALLY NEEDS TO GET DONE?
“Well, I‘ve got my list, but I’m not really looking to share it.”
ARE THERE ANY FAVORS THAT ARE OWED IN THE SENSE OF IF TONY OR CARL COME UP ON YOU, YOU ARE A NEUTRAL MANUFACTURER ?
“I don’t think I owe any of them any favors. Maybe one of ‘em owes me a couple, but I don’t think of it the other way around.”
WOULD YOU HELP ONE OVER THE OTHER?
“I don’t know until I’m in that moment. You don’t know until you’ve got that heat on. And anybody that can answer differently than that probably isn’t being truthful.”
WOULD IT BOTHER YOU TO SEE CARL AS CHAMPION?
“It bothers me to see anyone as champion other than me. I want to be that guy. Anyone. I want to be that guy.”
WHAT IS A MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM THIS SEASON?
“You know starting with Daytona and my brother, getting him in the Daytona 500. That was a great moment for my family. And then moving through the season, winning at Kansas, first win in the Miller Lite car, then Pocono, obviously, to win after getting hurt. Bristol was amazing. I’ve always dreamed of the night race there and that’s such a special race. You know the wins always stick out, but getting my brother in the 500 felt like a win.”
CAN YOU SUM UP THIS SEASON IN A WORD?
“Long (laughs). I’m ready for a break.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THANKSGIVING? WHAT WILL BE ON YOUR MIND THURSDAY AFTERNOON?
“Sleep (laughs). I’ll be ready to get some sleep. It’s been a long year, but a good year. I’ll see my family a little bit, not on Thursday specifically, but they’re here this weekend. We’re good.”
CAN THE LIONS TAKE GREEN BAY?
“They did last time, beat ‘em last time. I feel good about it.”
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE THANKSGIVING DISH?
“Yeah, my Mom makes homemade noodles. I don’t like turkey. I’ve never liked turkey. It’s a dry bird, dirty bird. I don’t like it.”
WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR?
“Everything. It’s been good.”