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Keselowski steps up Truck Series schedule in '12

January 14, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Brad Keselowski Racing will make its next transitional step in 2012 as the team owner will run a handful of Camping World Truck Series races -- including the Daytona season opener -- as a teammate to Penske Racing development driver Parker Kligerman.

In addition, Keselowski has hired veteran crew chief Doug Randolph to head Kligerman's program. Randolph last year worked on Rusty Wallace Racing's Nationwide Series program with Steve Wallace that finished 10th in the series but recently closed its doors.
Brad Keselowski (Autostock)

It's starting to come together. I'm roughly planning to do six races, but I'd prefer not to drive it, to be quite honest.



-- BRAD KESELOWSKI

Keselowski's races will be managed by Jeff Stankiewicz, who in 2011 led Kligerman's team to 11th in the Truck Series with four top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 25 starts.

"It's starting to come together," Keselowski said Saturday afternoon after his Preseason Thunder test ended at Daytona International Speedway. "I'm roughly planning to do six races, but I'd prefer not to drive it, to be quite honest.

"But for Parker's sake, I think it's important to get a good evaluation because this is a make or break year for Parker. We need a good evaluation of where our equipment's at throughout different periods of the year so we can understand whether or not he's making the most of our opportunity.

"Before you can say what the most of an opportunity is you have to define what the opportunity is. Are we giving him a good opportunity? Are we giving him an average opportunity? I don't have an answer to that and I think we'll have a much better indicator if we're able to achieve that."

To do that, Keselowski was compelled to shuffle his deck slightly, particularly when Randolph became available.

"I didn't feel like we were going to come into this year and be able to win a championship with the way it was done, or the way that we finished last year," Keselowski said. "I knew there needed to be a little mix-up, and I really like Jeff, I really like Parker and I wanted them both to be a part of the program.

"So I think we're able to structure it in a way that everybody was still in the program and we're able to bring in a fresh face that's able to bring some new energy in and hopefully everybody feels like it's a win-win."

Keselowski said one of his primary personal goals is still to win a Truck race and that Daytona's "absolutely a possibility. You just have to be smart and be there at the end."

To that end Keselowski said his team has built a brand new truck for Kligerman to race at Daytona and that Keselowski would race the Dodge that Kligerman used last fall at Talladega.

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2012 NSCS Preseason Thunder at Daytona Q&A with Dodge Motorsports Penske Racing’s Competition Director, Travis Geisler

January 14, 2012



TRAVIS GEISLER (Competition Director, Penske Racing)
HOW DID THE TEST GO FOR THE TWO PENSKE DODGES? “I think overall it was really important for our teams to come down here and work for three days. Certainly, there have been some changes on the 22 team with A. J. Allmendinger and Todd Gordon coming on-board. For that team, it was important to start working together. It was the first time that we had that group at-track working together. I’m happy with how Brad and A.J. have been able to work on-track and learn how to race with each other. How they work with each other is something that we have to be prepared for when we come back here for the 500. I think that’s all been good. We’ve been working through all the new rule’s package changes with PRV (pressure relief valve) and water pressure stuff. I know that NASCAR is working really hard to try and put the best show on that they can for the fans and we’re all here trying to help show them what their changes are doing and let them know some direction on what we think will help us put the best show on.”

DO YOU HAVE A COMFORTABLE BASELINE WITH THE ENGINE COOLING PACKAGE HEADING INTO THE DAYTONA 500? “I’d say in general that we have a comfortable baseline, but we’ve changed our pressure settings and grill tape opening three or four times now. It’s hard to really say what we have or comfortable with because we don’t know exactly what it’s going to be. We’re comfortable with how the changes affect our performance and what we need to do to adapt. When we come back here next month, there will probably be a little different package again and we’ll have to adapt from what we’ve learned the last three days of testing. I think we’ll be in good shape.”

HOW WILL THE RULES PACKAGE AFFECT THE RACING THAT MUCH? “I think that we’ll see a considerable difference from what we had at Daytona last year when the guys got the two-car tandem really refined. We’re drastically limited on how long you can push. You’ll still see two-car tandem racing. I’d be surprised if you don’t see at some point in the race that drivers will hook-up for a lap or so and try to gain some speed. It won’t be the story that dominates the race like it has in the past.”

HOW MANY LAPS CAN YOU RUN IN A TWO-CAR DRAFT WITH THE NEW RULES PACKAGE? “It all depends on which package we’re talking about. We’ve run so many different packages here that (its) varied from one lap to four laps. How that all goes and what we come back to the 500 with, I’d say we’ll be closer to one or less laps given what NASCAR decides to go with.”

WERE THERE ANY ISSUES WITH THE ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECTION (EFI) DURING THE TEST? “I’d say we’re in pretty good shape. Just like anything, you have your learning curve and we’re working through it. We’ve learned a bunch of things about EFI. Overall evaluation of the performance is difficult down here because everybody is on different agendas. Until we show up and race and everyone brings their “A” game to the table, it’s hard to say. I think we’re OK where we are with EFI. We’re working on it. Anytime there is a big rule change, the biggest margins for gains are right at the beginning. Once you get past a rule change, everybody has refined it so far that the gains become small. We know that there are big steps in understanding EFI. Dodge has helped us out a ton with their engineering resources. It’s a learning process for sure.”

Source: Darnell Communications for Dodge Motorsports, Press Relese
 

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January 13th, 2012

The first event of the 2012 Sprint Cup, the Preseason Thunder, is underway at Daytona International Speedway. There are three days of test running. At the halfway point, here are the results from the Penske team:


Day One Morning
Finish Driver Time Speed

26 A.J. Allmendinger 47.419 189.797
28 Brad Keselowski 47.504 189.458
Average-All Drivers 47.169 190.811

Day One Afternoon
Finish Driver Time Speed

3 Brad Keselowski 44.505 202.224
4 A.J. Allmendinger 44.506 202.220
Average-All Drivers 46.384 194.138

Day Two Morning
Finish Driver Time Speed

10 A.J. Allmendinger 45.961 195.818
27 Brad Keselowski 46.364 194.116

Average-All Drivers 45.875 196.260
NASCAR: Current results from Daytona at Allpar Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep News
 

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CUP: Keselowski - Performance Made Me Lead Driver At Penske

Date: 01/19/2012




Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe don’t feel as if they carry more weight at Penske Racing now that they’re the “veteran” team in the shop.

They might get asked first about how the organization should approach the task at hand, but Keselowski believes that’s more because he finished fifth in the Sprint Cup standings rather than having been at Penske two years longer than newcomer AJ Allmendinger.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with being a veteran,” says Wolfe, who is just in his second year as a Cup crew chief. “It’s getting results. When we ask for something, it’s a lot easier to get things when you get the results.

“When we ask for something or want to do something a certain way, when the boss gives it to you, you better perform with it. And we feel like [that’s what] we’ve done with it so far.”

Allmendinger came from Richard Petty Motorsports to replace Kurt Busch after the 2011 season and Penske elevated Nationwide Series crew chief Todd Gordon to Cup to replace Steve Addington, Busch’s former crew chief who left to become crew chief for 2011 Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart.

“I don’t know [if we have] more authority,” Keselowski said following the test session last week at Daytona International Speedway. “Maybe the question is asked to me first, but I can’t wait until the day when we get enough confidence in each other, AJ and I and everybody in the group, where we’re viewed very equally, and I think that’s coming with what I saw this week.”

After a shaky first Cup season at Penske, when he finished 25th in the standings, Keselowski won three races and finished fifth in 2011.

He might even have been considered the top driver at Penske last year. Though Busch has 24 career victories and won a Cup championship, he won just two races last year – to Keselowski’s three – and wound up finishing 11th in the final standings. He and Penske agreed to part ways after the season after a series of outbursts and controversial incidents by Busch last season.

With Busch out of the picture, it appears that Penske is building the organization around Keselowski, who signed a contract extension in November that will keep him at Penske at least through 2014.

“I’m really happy with how we ended last year,” Keselowski said. “There certainly are some areas to improve on, some of which I’ve seen us make large strides and some of which I have not.

“The areas where we’ve made large strides I’m very proud of and we’ve got to hit the items that we haven’t and we’ve got to hit them hard and have got to hit them quickly.”

Keselowski didn’t elaborate on where he feels his team needs to improve (critical of fuel injection last fall, he said “you know the answer” when asked about it last week), but he did say that being part of only a two-car operation – versus the three- and four-car teams fielded by Hendrick, Roush, Gibbs and RCR – will not be a disadvantage as the team works through any issues.

“It’s hard to get more than two teams to work together,” Keselowski said. “When you try to get three and four, it just turns into a circus. I don’t see any disadvantage being a two-car team.

“And if we were going to make it to the next level, we would need to go from two to four or else you become the odd man out. I think you see that at places like Gibbs.”

By having just two cars, it also should get Allmendinger integrated into the organization more quickly, Keselowski said.

“It just helps a guy like AJ get established quicker because there’s a little more equity in him, so to speak, or a little bit larger investment needed out of him, so that helps him get up to speed quicker,” Keselowski said.

For Keselowski to be successful, he’ll need to rely some on Allmendinger’s team.

“The biggest thing for us being the more experienced guys is just to make sure the communication between the two teams stays as it was last year,” Wolfe said. “That was a big part of our success.”


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A.J. Allmendinger Driver Bio




January 24, 2012 , AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - AJ Allmendinger got his first taste for speed in his home state of California, a place synonymous for spitting out fast racers in four-wheeled disciplines. His dad raced midget and sprint cars, so a life behind the wheel was inevitable. "Almost from birth, I've been at the track every weekend," Allmendinger explains. "I loved racing, and I grew to be part of it. It's a passion."

Allmendinger delivered blistering drives early on in his racing career, earning two International Karting Federation Grand National championships. In 2000, his performance in the Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow program earned a Champ Car test with Team Rahal. Then Allmendinger won the Barber Champ Car Karting Scholarship to participate in the 2001 Formula Dodge National Championship Series. He finished as vice-champion for the season and immediately ascended to the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series - claiming six race wins, Rookie-of-the-Year honors, and the championship.

The youngster's talent was reconfirmed in 2003 in the Toyota Atlantic series. In his greenhorn year, he shattered track records and logged eight poles and eight victories en route to the championship title. The 21-year old captured the Atlantic series record for most wins in a single season by a rookie, and became the second-youngest driver ever to win the championship.

In 2004, AJ graduated into the big leagues - the Champ Car World Series - earning five Top-Five finishes including two podiums and rookie of the year honors. His 2005 season was again marked by standout performances including six Top-Five finishes, four of which were podiums. After a mid-year Champ Car shakeup in 2006, Allmendinger helped his new team become regulars in victory lane, amassing five wins and a runner-up position for the series' championship.

Rumors of AJ's flirtation with the NASCAR world ran rampant mid-season of 2006. By October, Allmendinger had announced a two-race stint in the NASCAR Truck Series. His stellar performance prompted an invitation to join Team Red Bull's 2007 NASCAR Sprint Cup effort, and ended with Allmendinger signing on the dotted line to race the No. 84.

After two years behind the wheel of the No. 84, Allmendinger joined Richard Petty Motorsports driving the No. 10 Dodge for the final five races of the 2008 season. In the brief time together, AJ turned in some impressive performances. He scored the 14th most points of any driver in those races.

Allmendinger continued his success in NASCAR's top series in 2009 with Richard Petty Motorsports. He collected one Top-Five and six Top-10 finishes. In the final three races of the season, Ford Racing came aboard the No. 43 with AJ as pilot. In an impressive run, Allmendinger scored two Top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway and a 13th-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway.

2010 was a breakout year for the young driver. Allmendinger earned his first career NASCAR pole position at Phoenix in just the seventh event of the season. In addition, the No. 43 team posted its first Top-Five finish together when it scored a fourth-place finish on the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. In all, Allmendinger and his Richard Petty Motorsports crew worked together to earn two Top-Five and eight Top-10 efforts in 2010.

Allmendinger had an impressive start to the 2011 season, scoring an 11th-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500, followed by a ninth-place finish the next weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. He also scored a Top-Five finish at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the only 600-mile event of the season.

Allmendinger joined forces with race-winning Crew Chief Greg Erwin at the end of July and during their 17 races together, the pair earned six Top-10 and 11 Top-15 finishes, including four consecutive Top-15 efforts to close out the season. He barely missed making the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, finishing inside the Top-15 in the driver point standings for the first time in his Cup Series career. Overall AJ scored one Top-5 and 10 Top-10 finishes in 2011.
 

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Fri Jan 27, 2012
Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing team ready to make winning leap



Driver Brad Keselowski may not want the leadership mantle at Penske Racing, but it is his by default.

CONCORD - Brad Keselowski is 27 years old, with two seasons at Penske Racing as a Sprint Cup driver.

That tenure, albeit brief, is enough to make him the senior driver in the stable.

Just don't use the "leader" label on him, though. He'd rather be part of a one-two punch with new teammate AJ Allmendinger, who was brought onboard last month despite an 0-for-152 record in Cup action.

"Leadership in racing is tied directly to success," Keselowski said. "If you win races and you win championships, you pick up a goal. It's my goal to be a co-leader on this team with AJ or whoever my teammates are. That's very important. We need to both be leading and steering the ship. There's strength in numbers."

Keselowski may not want the leadership mantle, but it is his by default. Though winless in 2010 in his first Cup season for team owner Roger Penske, he drove the Miller Lite Dodge to Victory Lane three times a year ago. He and teammate Kurt Busch both qualified for the championship Chase, but neither could capitalize, and after the season, Penske and the petulant Busch agreed to split.

Allmendinger, a five-time winner in CART's version of Indy-car racing in 2006, hadn't come close to enjoying that same kind of success after jumping to NASCAR. But one set of Cup stats appeared to catch Penske's eye when he scoured the crop of available drivers. In each of his five Cup seasons, Allmendinger improved his points position, and he barely missed qualifying for the Chase for Richard Petty Motorsports last fall.

Keselowski said he likes his boss' willingness to roll the dice on Allmendinger. Penske, a 15-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and 12 IndyCar titles, is still seeking his first Cup crown.

"My goal . is to win a Sprint Cup championship," said Keselowski, who captured the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide title. "That won't be measured over one year as a term of success, it's measured over the tenure of my career here at Penske Racing. We'll see how that goes and I'm committed to make that happen. AJ is in the same position to show progress. He's primed for some major progress at Penske Racing."

Even though they've been teammates only a month, Allmendinger believes he and Keselowski can bring out the best in each other, and that's exactly what Penske has in mind.

"Brad's here to help. He's not just about himself, trying to make sure he shows everybody up and that he runs well," Allmendinger said. "There's no secret we want to beat each other, but we want to do it battling for first and second. Initially, he's going to have to bring me up to speed and figure out what this organization's all about, but we're going to have fun doing it."

On Thursday, Penske announced deals to solidify his team's future: contract extensions for Keselowski, crew chief Paul Wolfe and primary sponsor Miller Brewing.

"The reason why those are important is that they give us the continuity and the selling power to continue to bring in key people we need," said Keselowski, the fifth-place finisher in the Cup points in 2011.

"This sport is about people. There's a place for them to work now that offers stability, continuity - all the things that are important. Those key people are what's going to get us to the next level," he said.


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Hornish confirms full-season Nationwide Series program with Penske
January 26 2012






After only running a handful of events in the NASCAR Nationwide Series last year, former IndyCar champ Sam Hornish Jr. will run the entire schedule in 2012 thanks to increased support from Alliance Truck Parts and a new partnership with Wurth Group.

Alliance Truck Parts will increase its primary sponsorship role on the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge Challenger from six to 26 events in 2012. Wurth Group, a German-based automotive and industrial supply company, will be the primary sponsor of the car in seven events and an associate sponsor in the other 26.

“I'm really excited about this season. Last year was a little difficult to say the least,” Hornish said Thursday during NASCAR's Media Tour stop at Penske Racing's headquarters in Mooresville, N.C.. “I was able to learn a lot last year. I just feel like we've got a lot of things going for us [in 2012].”

Hornish strengthened his case for a future with Penske's NASCAR team by winning last fall at Phoenix International Raceway, when be topped teammate Brad Keselowski and a field full of Sprint Cup regulars to win his first Nationwide Series race. He is hoping the momentum from that victory carries over to 2012.

“Phoenix has always been good to me,” said Hornish, who earned his first IndyCar Series triumph at the track in 2001. “We've definitely got a lot of things headed in the right direction.”


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Originally appeared on News-Journal Online at
After Rolex win, Allmendinger still on go - Racing


After Rolex win, Allmendinger still on go
By GODWIN KELLY, Motorsports editor

DAYTONA BEACH -- AJ Allmendinger won the biggest race of his career on Sunday and hasn't had time to enjoy it.

Allmendinger, part of the winning No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley Daytona Prototype, drove the last three hours of the Rolex 24 At Daytona at Daytona International Speedway.


He had dinner Sunday night with the Shank team here and by 3 a.m. Monday he was on a plane for California to shoot a television ad at Infineon Raceway for Shell, the primary sponsor of his new Sprint Cup Series ride, the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge.

Allmendinger hasn't even had the opportunity to gaze at or fondle his Rolex Daytona watch, given to every winning driver.

"To make sure I didn't lose it, I gave it to my manager Tara (Ragan) to take it back home to Charlotte and have it fitted for me," Allmendinger said in a Wednesday conference call.

From Sunday to Wednesday, Allmendinger went coast to coast to work for his sponsor and work with his new race team.

After the production work was finished in California, Allmendinger flew back to Florida Tuesday night to test his No. 22 Dodge at Walt Disney World Speedway.

"I'm still trying to figure out where I'm at," Allmendinger laughed.

He has every right to be giddy.

Life is very good for the former Champ Car driver, who won five open wheel races in 2006, then stumbled into the Sprint Cup Series as a rookie with start-up team Red Bull Racing.

Since 2007, Allmendinger has spent most of his energy proving he can drive a stock car.

He got a bit testy when a reporter asked him if Sunday's Rolex 24 victory was his first win in a car with fenders.

"Yeah, unfortunately, thanks for that," he said, tongue-in-cheek. "Yeah, first official win. Yeah, thanks."

Allmendinger isn't 100 percent NASCAR. He is going to have equity in Shank's new IndyCar Series team, which will campaign with driver Paul Tracy, if all the details are worked out.

"But to me Sprint Cup racing ... (is) the toughest racing series in the world. Th
 

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Major Sponsorship Deals

Major sponsorship deals indicate NASCAR economy is turning

Thursday, February 02, 2012


At last, there's a large patch of blue to break up the doom and gloom that has clouded the NASCAR economy for the past three seasons.

To major corporations, there is still a strong perceived value in association with NASCAR teams and with the sport itself, but the focus of those commitments has changed, along with the numbers of dollars sponsors are willing to allocate to motorsports marketing.

During the late-January NASCAR Sprint Media Tour in Concord, N.C., Penske Racing announced the extension of its agreement with MillerCoors, whose Miller Lite brand is the primary sponsor of the No. 2 Dodge driven by Brad Keselowski.

Penske also has a multiyear deal in place with Shell/Pennzoil, another major long-term player in NASCAR racing and the sponsor of AJ Allmendinger's No. 22. Team owner Roger Penske did allow, however, that the annual price of a Sprint Cup sponsorship is more likely to fall in the $12-$15 million range, rather the $25-$30 million figures bandied about during the rise of the sport's popularity in the previous decade.
 

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via press release:

NASCAR Now Returns to ESPN2 Feb. 13; Allmendinger Joins as Reporter

02/08/2012

ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program NASCAR Now returns for its sixth season on Monday, Feb. 13, at 3 p.m. ET, coinciding with the week activities begin for NASCAR’s season-opening Daytona 500.



NASCAR Now will air Monday-Friday with half-hour episodes originating from ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Ct. A one-hour weekend edition will air on the morning of each NASCAR Sprint Cup race and NASCAR Now will air a weekend wrap-up edition starting with the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.



AJ Allmendinger, driver of the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge for Penske Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, joins NASCAR Now this season as a guest reporter for the weekend edition programs. “The Daily Dinger” segment will feature Allmendinger in off-beat interviews around the racetracks with drivers, crew chiefs, fans and others or reporting on a unique aspect of that day’s race.



Mike Massaro will continue as the primary host of NASCAR Now with ongoing hosts Allen Bestwick, Nicole Briscoe, Marty Reid and Shannon Spake. ESPN SportsCenter anchors Lindsay Czarniak, Michael Yam and Michelle Bonner also will fill in as occasional NASCAR Now hosts. Marty Smith will again be the lead reporter for the program while Briscoe, Massaro and Spake will also serve as reporters.



Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year Ricky Craven will continue as an analyst for NASCAR Now and other ESPN studio programs such as SportsCenter. ESPN NASCAR analysts Dale Jarrett, Rusty Wallace, Andy Petree, Tim Brewer and Brad Daugherty also will contribute to NASCAR Now as will ESPN pit reporters Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch and Vince Welch. NASCAR Now also will continue to have contributions from ESPN.com motorsports writers Ed Hinton, Terry Blount and David Newton along with ESPN the Magazine senior writer Ryan McGee and former NASCAR pit crew member D.J. Copp.



The program will originate from Daytona International Speedway for three shows surrounding the Daytona 500. In past years, NASCAR Now also has originated from remote locations including the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the White House, Chicago’s Navy Pier and other racetracks.



NASCAR Now and all of ESPN’s NASCAR television content is also viewable digitally through WatchESPN and WatchESPN.com, the groundbreaking online-accessible authenticated version of ESPN. WatchESPN is available on computers, smartphones and tablets through WatchESPN.com and the free WatchESPN app, which are accessible to fans who receive their video service from an affiliated provider.



Visit ESPN MediaZone - a resource for media professionals for ESPN's latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.



About NASCAR on ESPN:

ESPN produces comprehensive, multi-platform coverage featuring telecasts of the final 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, including the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Additionally, ESPN is the television home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series. ESPN’s NASCAR coverage extends to ESPN.com, SportsCenter, ESPN the Magazine, WatchESPN, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio and ESPN International, among other ESPN platforms. ESPN aired 262 NASCAR Cup Races over a 20-year period starting in 1981 and returned to NASCAR coverage in 2007. The network's award-winning, live flag-to-flag coverage on ESPN has been honored with 19 Sports Emmy Awards, as well as many industry honors. It is widely credited for helping to popularize the sport nationwide.
 

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54th Daytona 500 Boasts a Record Purse of more than $19 Million
New Mid-Race Leader Award For Leading Lap 100




Trevor Bayne was the winner of the 2011 Daytona 500.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 54th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET) – NASCAR’s biggest and most prestigious race – will carry a record purse of more than $19 million as well as a new contingency award that will payout $200,000 to the driver leading at the completion of Lap 100.

The posted awards for “The Great American Race” are $19,142,601 with the winner collecting a minimum of $1,431,325. The second, third, fourth and fifth-place finishers in the Daytona 500 will receive a minimum of $1,050,075, $759,600, $609,900 and $486,550.

The Daytona 500 Mid-Race Leader Award will reward the driver leading the midway point of the historic 200-lap, 500-mile race with a $200,000 bonus. If the race is under caution at Lap 100, the leader of the race at the completion of the fifth consecutive green flag lap following the caution will receive the award.

“There is plenty of incentive for drivers to run up front the entire race but even more so at the halfway point and the last lap of the Daytona 500,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “This year’s ‘Great American Race’ stands to be one of the most exciting and thrilling ever seen, and will serve as a great kick-off to the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.”

Tickets for the 54th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26 as well as other Speedweeks 2012 events can be purchased online at Daytona International Speedway - Daytona International Speedway or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP

If you are unable to attend in person, be sure to tune in to the Daytona 500 on FOX on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 1 p.m. ET.

Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway’s social media channels on Twitter (@DISUpdates) and Facebook (Daytona International Speedway - Sports Venue - Daytona Beach, FL | Facebook). In addition, fans can also follow NASCAR (@NASCAR) and hashtags #NASCAR and #DAYTONA500.
 

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Start Times Finalized For Speedweeks 2012 Events


2011 Daytona 500



DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For the third straight year, the 54th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26, NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race, is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start time (TV – FOX Sports, Radio – MRN Radio).

Start times for the other remaining events of Speedweeks 2012 at Daytona International Speedway are as follows:

• The 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race, Jan. 28-29, 3:30 p.m.
• The Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, Saturday, Feb. 18, 4:30 p.m.
• The Budweiser Shootout non-points event, Saturday, Feb. 18, 8:10 p.m.
• Daytona 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger, Sunday, Feb. 19, 1:05 p.m.
• Gatorade Duel At Daytona, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2 p.m.
• NextEra Energy Resources 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, Friday, Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m.
• DRIVE4COPD 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, Saturday, Feb. 25, 1:15 p.m.

The day of the Daytona 500 creates legends, breathtaking moments and more unforgettable memories than any other race in the world. Trevor Bayne, who at the age of 20 became the youngest winner of the Daytona 500 in 2011, will gun for back-to-back victories with the legendary Wood Brothers. In addition, Danica Patrick will make her NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut for Stewart-Haas Racing and become just the third woman to take the green flag in the Daytona 500.

Tickets for the Daytona 500 start at $65. New for 2012, kids 12 and under receive half-off Superstretch seats for the Daytona 500 while supplies last. Tickets are available online at Daytona International Speedway - Daytona International Speedway or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter (Twitter) and Facebook (Daytona International Speedway - Sports Venue - Daytona Beach, FL | Facebook).
 

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U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds to perform fly-over for 54th annual Daytona 500




USAF Thunderbirds

For the third time, the world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will provide the fly-over for the Daytona 500.

DAYTONA BEACH , Fla. – The world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will provide race fans with the flyover during the National Anthem for the 54th annual Daytona 500 – the prestigious season-opening event for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26 at Daytona International Speedway.

It’s the third time the flying team, officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, will perform the flyover for the Daytona 500. The Thunderbirds previously flew over the race in 2008 and 2011.

“It’s an honor to have the USAF Thunderbirds return to the ‘World Center of Racing’ and participate in the 54th annual Daytona 500 pre-race activities,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “The Thunderbirds are known throughout the world as an elite flying squadron and their rousing fly-over at the conclusion of the National Anthem will give goose bumps to the thousands of race fans in attendance and millions more watching on FOX Sports.”

“It’s hard to imagine a better way to start our 2012 demonstration season,” said Lt. Col. Greg Moseley, the Thunderbirds commander and flight leader. “Being part of an event as celebrated as the ‘Great American Race’ is a tremendous opportunity, and we look forward to showcasing the pride, precision and professionalism of the U.S. Air Force to NASCAR fans.”

The Thunderbirds flyover will feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft, soaring over the speedway at the moment the final notes of the Star-Spangled Banner are sung.

The Thunderbirds team is an Air Combat Command unit composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, four civilians and more than 100 enlisted people serving in about 30 Air Force job specialties. In 2012, the Thunderbirds will perform precision aerial maneuvers at more than 60 air shows in 32 different locations in North America.

Since the unit's inception in 1953, more than 350 million people in all 50 states and 61 countries have witnessed the distinctive red, white and blue jets in thousands of official aerial demonstrations.

Tickets for the 54th running of the Daytona 500 and other Speedweeks 2012 events are available online to Daytona International Speedway - Daytona International Speedway or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
 

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Penske: Sponsors in Place for 2012 NASCAR Season





by Pete Misiak
February 13, 2012


“NASCAR lovers love to drink beer.”

Hey, I didn’t say it. But it’s got to be true, because it WAS said late last month to the media by a spokesman for MillerCoors announcing a new multi-year deal between the brewer and Penske Racing.

"We don't make investment decisions like this without having a great sense of exactly what the alliance will deliver for our brands," MillerCoors Chief Marketing Officer Andy England said. "That's why I'm so excited about our continued partnerships with NASCAR and with Penske Racing. NASCAR fans are among the most passionate and loyal fans in all of sports, and they love nothing more than getting together with friends to watch the race while enjoying a cold, refreshing Coors Light or a great tasting, never watered down Miller Lite. Our distributors and retailers know that, which is why they're so supportive of our leadership in the sport."

In short, the millions of fans of the famed Blue Deuce and its popular driver Brad Keselowski can rest easy because Miller Lite will continue as the season-long primary sponsor of Penske's No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T with Keselowski behind the wheel. The new deal is an extension of the alliance that began in 1991.

"The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge is coming off a very successful season on the racetrack – one where we reached Victory Lane for a sixth-consecutive season while qualifying for the Chase for the Championship," said Roger Penske. "The continued support of MillerCoors will ensure that this long-standing partnership will remain one of the strongest bonds in professional motorsports. With Miller Lite, we are proud to have one of the few full-season sponsors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. That continuity is one of the many reasons Brad and the team are primed for another great season."

Keselowski’s new Penske Racing teammate A.J. Allmendinger will compete in Sprint Cup competition in the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T, which is also fully funded for the season.

Two cars will take part in the Nationwide circuit. Sam Hornish Jr. will run a full schedule behind the wheel of the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger. Keselowski will split time with Parker Kligerman in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger.

Kligerman will also race full-time in the Camping World Truck series for Brad Keselowski Racing, driving the No. 29 Cequent/Cooper Standard RAM.

Other sponsors this season include AVIS, PPG and Snap-On Tools.

England also announced that Coors Light is extending its sponsorship as the official beer of NASCAR, which began in 2008.

The Daytona 500 kicks off the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season Feb. 26.
 

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Dodge Notes & Quotes - Sam Hornish Jr. - Daytona Media Tour
February 16, 2012 , DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.
NASCAR Media Day
Dodge PR
Daytona International Speedway


SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts/WURTH Dodge Challenger R/T)

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ENTERING THIS SEASON? “I’m really excited about it. I feel like we’ve got a great opportunity with our Alliance Truck Parts and WURTH Group Dodge Challenger. I just feel like we’ve got a lot of things that we are capable of doing if we are smart and get some good finishes to start off the year, build up our point base. We want to run for the championship and we need to continue to work well with our teammates and try to learn as much as we can to have both of the Penske Dodge Challengers running up front. I’m just really cautiously optimistic about the whole thing, so I feel like the more that we can be smart, work together, do the right things, we just need to get off on the right foot and get through the first five races, get a good, solid points base and then figure out where we’re at and what we need to work on and what we’re doing right.”

WINNING THE NATIONWIDE SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP WON’T BE EASY FOR ANYONE. “Well, I sure hope it’s easier for us than some other people. I look at Ricky (Stenhouse, Jr.) who returns as the champion and Austin Dillon coming in as the truck series champion. I mean, there’s a lot of guys who are going to be strong, a lot of well-funded cars, because it’s one thing to have the drivers and the car counts there, but to have the driver and a well-funded car running every weekend for the championship, there’s some good teams out there.”

COMMENT ON YOUR WIN AT PHOENIX. IS THERE SUCH A THING AS A BREAKTHROUGH WIN AND WAS THAT FOR YOU IN THE NASCAR WORLD? “It sure made everything a lot better, but at the end of the day it helped us in a lot of things. We were really close to being able to sign our deal to be able to run full-time. We were trying to figure out which sponsors were going to do how many races and then, when we won, we had more races sold than we had races. It helped solidify everything and give us a great opportunity for this year to be able to move forward. The best way I can put it is it just gave us a lot of momentum going into the off-season. It probably made it a lot more difficult, though, having three months away from the race track for racing purposes.”

YOU HAVE A LOT OF BIG WINS IN YOUR CAREER. AT WHICH RACE WERE YOU AT YOUR BEST? IS THERE ONE THAT STANDS OUT? “Probably the race I was at my best I didn’t win, I didn’t even finish. It was the 2003 Indianapolis 500 and we were about 70 horsepower down from a lot of the other teams and the only other car that had the same engine manufacturer as me at that time, the closest one to us, was almost three laps down to us off the pace. We were running fifth with two and half laps to go and the engine blew up. We finished 15th even though our engine blew up, but that was a day that I ran a better race than any race I probably ever won in the IndyCar Series, including when I won the Indianapolis 500. I felt like I did everything right. We started kind of towards the back. We made good decisions. We didn’t have good pit stops, but I just was able to go out there and keep kind of struggling along and doing the right things. Pretty soon, here we are fifth with a couple of laps to go. It was probably one of the more heartbreaking days. That would have been like a win that day to be able to come out of that race in fifth. There were a couple of Cup Series races at Pocono that I ran pretty well in. We either had too many cautions or not enough cautions. About three in row there where we were leading within the last 15 to 10 laps of the race and we either get three yellow flags or we wouldn’t get any. It was always the opposite of what we needed.”

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE LARGE GATHERING AROUND DANICA PATRICK. “I saw Danica get interviewed one time and I don’t know that’s whose over there (laughter). Everybody is like ‘Well I’m going to ask you a question about Danica. How do you feel about that?’ Well I’ve known her for about 20 years, so I’ve probably been asked about every question. I’ve probably been lucky enough to probably get asked more questions about her than probably anybody else.”

YOU’VE KNOWN HER SINCE YOU GUYS WERE KARTING AS KIDS. WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE TO WATCH THIS THING GROW INTO WHAT WE SEE TODAY? “I’m sure that it’s good for the sport. It’s got to be. There are a lot of people that get their eyes brought to this because of Danica, Danica Mania, however you want to look at it. I feel like probably the biggest thing that we have to take out of it is you’re getting more eyes on it. Not everybody is going to watch and be a fan of hers. You kind of try and pick and grab and, you know, get the fans and the people that are interested in what you are doing when you get the opportunity, whether Danica brings it in or Travis Pastrana or whoever else has a big name and a big following. You just have to take advantage of those as much as you can. A lot of people ask me ‘What do you think about it? What can be done better?’ and probably the big thing is when she’s having a bad day or whatever else, we don’t need to maybe look at it every five laps or whatever; every 10 is okay. People say ‘Oh man I was trying to watch the race and I saw Danica all day.’ But I think that if anybody has a problem with that, I mean that’s their own issue to deal with at the end.”

WHAT PITFALLS SHOULD SHE EXPECT IN THE TRANSISTION FROM INDYCARS TO STOCK CARS? “You know, it is a lot more difficult. The one thing that I would say that I feel like she really has going for her that I didn’t have the advantage of is I won 19 races in 116 starts on the Indy car side and three championships in the eight years that I was over there. I only ran seven full-time seasons. The last season I spent back and forth between Indy cars and I knew that was not going to help me win the championship that way. I feel like I had a lot of success and when I came over here, I felt like if I didn’t have that same kind of success that people were going to doubt me and what I was capable of. So I probably pushed myself a lot harder than what I should have. She’s got the sponsorship around her that she’s going to be able to do this for a long time, so she just needs to be smart about how she goes out there. You don’t have to do big things right away. You have to go out there and learn, finish races. I can see if I had 2008 (his rookie season in Cup) to do over again, things would have been a lot different, but you only have one time to go through it. I got lucky enough to get a second chance.”

WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY IN 2008? “Well I might have felt like, you know, if I get lapped five times in this race, it’s okay as long as I sit there and learn instead of trying to beat my brains out to try and run in the top 10 and end up wrecked and have a hundred laps to watch everybody else go out there and race. I felt like I had to have the success here that I had in Indy cars or everybody was going to consider it a failure. Even though that might not have been my opinion of it, I was more worried about what our sponsors and the fans thought. I still get people saying come back to IndyCar every time I see ‘em. There was a lot of pressure, I felt like, to go out there and be successful right off the bat.”
 

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Dodge Notes & Quotes - A.J. Allmendinger Open Interview - NASCAR Media Day
February 16, 2012 , DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.


A.J. Allmendinger (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T)

HOW HAS TESTING GONE SO FAR THIS YEAR? “We tested in Nashville for two day and tested at Disney World. I feel like the team is gelling really well with Todd Gordon (crew chief) and the guys. For me, it’s been fun to be at the track and hang around with them. It’s hard to say, we were at Nashville and it was 35 degrees. Walt Disney World, that track isn’t like any other track that we race at. Just to get in the car, go through some changes. More than anything, for Todd and me build a language barrier together to where when I communicate; he knows what I’m saying. All those things have been really good. Speedweeks in its own, anything can happen. Like Phoenix and beyond is what I’m really excited about and really see where we’re at as a race team.”

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS THIS YEAR? “I expect everything out of myself. You look at the reason that I made this move is that I want to make the next step in my career and the next step is to win races and make the Chase. I was 13th spot when the Chase started last year; I was one out. You look at what the team (Penske Racing) did last year by putting both cars in the Chase. And Shell/Pennzoil, the drivers they’ve had in their race car to me are race-winning and race-championship guys. My expectation is on myself. When it comes to people outside of that, they have their own expectations. For me, it all comes from within and that’s winning races and making the Chase. As the season goes on, you have to see where your organization is at and maybe those expectations change. Sitting here right now, anything less than winning races and making the Chase is a disappointment.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DAYTONA 500? “There is so much that goes into it. We’re still all wondering how the race is going to play out. Big pack? Tandem? I think the good thing is that if it’s a tandem, my teammate Brad and I worked really well together at the test and focused on what we wanted and how to work together. Our cars are fast. Dodge, with all the resources going into our race cars, we had good stuff. I think we’ll have speed, it just matters how the race plays out. I think that if we can work together, going through the Shootout, Duels and getting into the 500, then we’ll have a pretty good idea on how the racing is going to be. More than anything else, I was excited about how Brad and I worked together. If we can do that, whether it’s a tandem or pack, if we can stick together as a group, we have a chance to being up front at the end of the race.”

DO YOU ALLOW YOUSELF TO THINK WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500? “No. We’re way too early to think about that.”

DO YOU HAVE A FANTASY OF HOW WINNING THE DAYTONA 500 WOULD BE? “I go to bed every night coming off Turn 4 and making the pass on whomever for the win and going into Victory Lane. It’s all a fantasy until it becomes a reality. There are so many steps that go into a 500 race around this place and so much that can happen. I almost think that you take it every 10 laps of the race. With 20 to go, you’re seeing how your car is; all the fenders and all the pieces still on it and then you start to figure out where you need to be the last couple of laps. That’s what makes this place fun.”
 

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Dodge Notes & Quotes - Robby Gordon Open Interview - NASCAR Media Day
February 16, 2012 , DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.

ROBBY GORDON (No. 7 MAPEI/Menards/SPEED Energy Dodge)

SINCE WE LEFT HOMESTEAD, HOW MUCH RACING HAVE YOU DONE? “The 150 (qualifying race on Thursday) next week will be my 17th race of 2012. That’s counting Dakar – every day being in the race, about 500 miles every day. We had a lot of fun with Dakar. Our cars were very fast.”

YOU RACE IN ALL FORMS OF MOTORSPORTS; IS ROAD RACING A PREFERENCE? “I love racing. I’m fortunate enough I get to race in world-wide events because of the Dakar, but in America, NASCAR is the Dakar in America. It’s the big event. When you come to the Daytona 500, it’s the event that shows up on the radar screen for the season. Ten years ago, it was the Indy 500 that showed up on the radar screen, maybe 15 years ago. Now, in American motorsports, it’s all about the Daytona 500. Obviously, we competed against the factory programs in the Dakar and now we want to and try to compete at Daytona. Last year we were running third, I ran with Trevor (Bayne) all day long, I led laps (seven) in the race and ran in the lead pack. I know I led Talladega which was the last restrictor plate race (hooked up in tandem) with Trevor again. The two of our cars work really well together. This is the same car that I had last year at Daytona; it’s the same car I did have at Talladega.”

YOU JUST SHOOK HIS (TREVOR BAYNE) HAND HERE AT MEDIA DAY; DOES THAT MEAN YOU HAVE ANY KIND OF DEAL THIS YEAR? “I consider him a friend. There are things that went on at Talladega; he lost the draft and I went back and got him. That’s part of being a good teammate. I think we’ve got that relationship. I really don’t know how it’s going to play out this year with the front bumper because I wasn’t here for testing because we were at Dakar. Also, what NASCAR is going to allow and not allow us to do? I think this two-car tandem has been around forever. I think we weren’t smart enough five years ago to understand if we just touch the brakes a little bit, we could keep this guy connected to us. So, this isn’t something new that just happened. It’s been here. We just weren’t smart enough as race team engineers, drivers and operators to understand when you get there, don’t hold it wide open any more. In the day, when you would hold it wide open, you would get away from the guy and the guy couldn’t get back to your bumper. Who would have known what we know now where you do a light lift getting into one and a light lift off of two, the cars would have stayed connected five years ago as well.”

WILL TANDEM RACING CONTINUE? “It’s inevitable. It’s not going to go away. Obviously, they’ve (NASCAR) cut the air off. But that’s just going to make the splits (changing position) a little bit more different which is probably going to cause a bigger one more. Race teams are very smart, methodical. We analyze everything. When there’s a rule in place, we’ll go and take that rule and chew it apart until we figure out how to make it better.”

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU, THE RACE TEAM, SPEED ENERGY, SPONSORS IF YOU WON THIS RACE? “I think it would elevate. Obviously, it would help SPEED Energy. SPEED is an associate with MAPEI and Menards for this race. It’s a MAPEI/Menards car like we ran at Montreal last year. It’s the blue car. I feel good about it. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. I don’t think we’ll be rocket fast in qualifying, but I think we will be plenty strong when it comes time to go racing.”
 

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RAM Notes & Quotes - Parker Kligerman Open Interview - NASCAR Media Day

February 16, 2012 , DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.

PARKER KLIGERMAN (No. 29 Cooper Standard RAM)

COMMENT ON THE EXCITEMENT OF BEING HERE FOR SPEEDWEEKS AND YOUR THOUGHTS ENTERING A FULL SEASON IN THE TRUCK SERIES. “This is my first year where I actually can say I’m doing a full season in something, I have sponsorship. I have two rides in a time when a lot of guys don’t have one. I think the biggest word for myself is grateful. I’m just grateful to have this opportunity. Obviously, Roger Penske and Brad Keselowski have had a lot of belief in me and so this season, for me, is about proving myself, but at the same time, repaying them for that belief. And being here now, at Speedweeks, just ready to go man. At the end of the day, we’ve worked hard over the off-season. It’s been an interesting off-season for me because I haven’t been having to look for money, so it’s not been about how we’re getting to the race track, but how fast are we when we get to the race track. That’s just exciting as a driver, that’s what you want. I’m ready to go turn left and go fast.”

WITH A SECOND AT KENTUCKY AND TEXAS LAST YEAR, IS THERE ANY WOULDA-COULDA-SHOULDAS ABOUT THOSE RACES? “I tell ya, we switched our third gear after those restarts and I complained about this third gear throughout the season. We actually got to those two restarts and it was most evident that we were lacking in third gear because in that Kentucky one, if I had had third gear, I probably would have been beside Kyle (Busch) down into Turn 1. So that would have been probably a little bit different outcome. Texas, I think it was just a bad restart for us, but we ended up second. But looking at that season, there was a lot of woulda-coulda-shoulda. And I think that season, when you look at the mid-season part, we were going to win a race. We were running top five, top three every week and it was just bound to happen, I felt like. And for the team we had, that was going to be unprecedented. When we left the shop, the doors were closed. There wasn’t anyone there. We were doing it old school. I don’t like to use this term, but we actually ran into some bad luck. We had 10 weeks straight to end the season that we couldn’t control a lot of things that happened. That kind of ruined our season. There’s a lot of woulda-coulda-shouldas, but I think with all the things that are happening this year, a new crew chief in Doug Randolph, I see no reason why we can’t go out there and win right off the bat and fight for this championship.”

DO YOU HAVE MANUFACTURING BACKING FROM RAM THIS SEASON? “RAM is definitely not to the level that we’ve seen in recent years, but they’re definitely supportive of what we’re doing and that’s all you can hope for. You can hope they can see what you doing, acknowledge it, and they say, ‘you know, this is something that we can hopefully help them where we can’. We can’t just hand you a boatload of money, but we can see if there’s ways and areas in terms of wind tunnel time or something like that that we can help you guys be a little better because we are behind you. We’re very excited about that and really happy to have RAM on board.”

ARE YOU STILL A DEVELOPMENT DRIVER FOR PENSKE RACING? “Yes, still signed to Penske Racing. Actually I re-signed here in December for another year, so I’m excited about that. I think the biggest thing about that is I said to someone the other day, I’ve been there since I was 18-years old. I’m 21 now and I’ve definitely grown up as a race car driver, but at the same time, when you’re in a place like that for so long and building relationships, I’ve grown up as a person. I’m proud to still be a part of it and still working for the Captain. Hopefully, this year repays him for the opportunities he’s given me.”

IS THERE A PARTICULAR NUMBER OF RACES FOR YOU IN THE No. 22 NATIONWIDE CAR? “I’d say at least 10. That’s a good amount to kind of look at right now. I think it is kind of depending on more success and Brad (Keselowski), you know, making the Chase and running for the championship, all that will change. It’s all up in the air. I think, at the moment, but I’d say a number to kind of put out there would be 10 right now.”

IS THERE ANYTHING NEGATIVE ABOUT GOING FROM ONE SERIES TO ANOTHER DURING THE SEASON? “Obviously, if you’re in Cup and running for a championship, say Brad as a young driver trying to go out there and achieve a first championship, I think there is some negatives maybe to running the Nationwide car full-time, having to split your focus. As we’ve seen, a lot of drivers struggle in recent years trying to do both at that time when there’s a lot of pressure and you need every ounce of effort you have to go run for that Cup championship and you’re splitting your time in the Nationwide car. As a young driver, racing trucks and Nationwide, it really is almost a benefit in a lot of ways. A big benefit is say I run the truck the same weekend I’m running the Nationwide car, the same track, I run practices and a race on that track the night before. I then hop in the Nationwide car and that should be simple. As a professional race car driver, I should be able to do that any day. I think as a young driver it’s just beneficial because you learn the ways to make that happen and be successful.”

YOU HAD FOUR CRASHES AND ONE BLOWN ENGINE LAST YEAR. DO YOU TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR SOME OF THOSE OR IS THAT JUST WRONG SPOT, WRONG TIME? “I take responsibility for two of those crashes, Dover and Michigan, trying to go for a win and trying to make a win happen, trying to make it happen when you should let it come to you. And that was one of the biggest lessons that I learned last year, letting things come to you and not making it happen. The other stuff, I think for two of our wrecks, we’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. At Talladega we were running second, basically about to lead and we get spun out. At Kentucky we have a bad pit stop, drive all the way from 21st up to fifth and get wrecked. Nothing you could do there. Running third at Las Vegas and Austin Dillon spins out in front of us and knocks us into the wall. That’s what I said – bad luck. I hate to use that term, but at the end of the day, that’s bad luck. The blown engine stuff, that was Talladega, we got spun out and I don’t count that. But as a young driver, people look at that and say ‘Oh he’s a crasher’ or something like that, but I don’t let it get to me. I know the real truth. I know what the circumstances behind it are. I think the real people in the sport that are really looking at young drivers understand the circumstances. I think at the end of the day, when you go out and have success and get an opportunity like I have this year and the second year out there winning races, that will go away soon.”

LAST YEAR YOU FINISHED 15TH ON THE LEAD LAP IN THE TRUCK RACE HERE AT DAYTONA. “Well there is an asterisk there. We were running third with three to go before that big wreck; I’m just saying (laughs). I was behind that 2 and the 51 or 15, whatever that number was, the one the spoiler fell off. Superspeedway racing, I love it. To do it a couple times a year, awesome. If we did it all the time, I’d hate it. At the end of the day, this new style two-car tandem deal that we have going on and trying to take it away and all the stuff that’s going on, I think it’s become even more about being smart because you’re going to use the two-car tandem to your advantage in a lot or ways. This Speedweeks is going to be really interesting. There’s going to be an interesting finish to every race because they’ll be people in the pack and people hooking up and people all over the place trying to time it exactly right. I think this will probably be one of the most exciting Speedweeks people will see in a long time.”

WHO IS YOUR DRAFTING PARTNER? “Brad Keselowski, man. He’s going to be running the No. 19 Twitter RAM and we have written rule almost that we will be together. Barring disaster, hopefully we can line up those last three laps and go finish one-two.”

DOES THE BOSS GIVE YOU MARCHING ORDERS IF YOU ARE ONE-TWO AT THE END OF THE RACE? “Everyone has been asking me that and I think he’d answer this the same way: if we are 20 truck lengths or a half a lap ahead of the field coming off Turn 4, I think it’s every man for himself at that point. He hasn’t won a truck race and I haven’t either, so we’ll see what happens.”

WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS ABOUT THE CREW CHIEF CHANGE FOR 2012? “I think as a young driver you need a lot of confidence building. You need someone there you can rely on a lot of times when you are asking the question about what’s going to happen. Bringing Doug (Randolph, crew chief) in just brings that experience, that notebook that we lacked last year. And I think we’ve already seen in the off-season with how we’re building our trucks, with things that we’ve changed. I think with Doug on board, it will almost be that little bit of leadership that we needed, that we lacked last year. Hopefully, that will be what turns us around and into being a championship contender.”

WHAT DOES BRAD BRING TO THIS TEAM? “He’s just very technical, he’s intuitive and he’s technical. Because of that, he helps us makes our trucks better. He’s not the type of owner to walk in there and talk about sponsorship and money and then walk out the door and talk to the driver and say do the job. He comes in there and he looks at the truck and says ‘What are we running here? I have an idea, let’s build the truck this way’ and that makes our trucks faster. He’s part of the reason we have been as successful as we have been in such a short amount of time.”
 

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Dodge Notes & Quotes - Brad Keselowski Open Interview - Daytona Media Day
February 16, 2012 , DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.


BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T)

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR WIN AT KANSAS LAST YEAR? “Kansas was a great weekend for us. It helped start us in the right direction for sure. It was a great moment for Paul Wolfe, my crew chief, to really gain a lot of credibility within the Penske organization. That credibility is what helped us gain so much momentum during the summer months. Paul being able to make the cars better, I think he deserves a lot of credit for that weekend.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT MARTINSVILLE CELEBRATING ITS 60TH ANNIVERARY THIS YEAR? “When I look at Martinsville, I look at the roots of NASCAR. You can’t help but think how much the sport has changed. I go to Martinsville and think about how small it was or is. It’s a half-mile and you think about some of the tracks that NASCAR went to that were a quarter-mile or smaller. You can’t help but think about how much this sport has changed and how much it has evolved. It’s great that a track like Martinsville is still a part of our sport through that evolution.”

WHAT CHANGES FOR A DRIVER WHEN YOU WIN FOR THE FIRST TIME? “It’s something that’s different for each driver. I think it’s really the manner in which you win. Mark Martin always said something that I agreed with which is that it wasn’t his first win that verified him, it was his second win. I really agree strongly with that comment. Looking back at my first win, I felt like it helped me get my foot in the door a little bit. I didn’t feel like I got through the door. I may have got an elbow in the door, but it wasn’t through the door. That’s what it means to me.”

DID YOU EVER REACH A POINT WHERE YOU FELT LIKE YOU GOT MORE RESPECT ON THE RACE TRACK? “Sure. I don’t know necessarily if I would associate wins as I would associate that with performance in general. I think that success will breed respect. Performance is a part of success.”

DO YOU LET YOURSELF DAYDREAM ABOUT WINNING THE DAYTONA 500? “Yes. Absolutely.” WHAT WOULD THAT BE LIKE? “I think about a moment. To me, when I look at a win, I always think of a moment that created the win. Do you allow yourself to win the 500? Yes. I think about the pass for the win or whatever moment it takes to get the win. That’s the moment that I think about. The wins that I have been fortunate to have, the memories that I have from them are those moments; the moment that you take the lead. Those are the moments that I dream of.”

DO YOU FEEL MORE PRESSURE ON YOU THIS YEAR TO BE THE TEAM LEADER? “I’m sure there will be more media pressure. I feel like I’m my own worse critic. I think that you guys can write some really mean stuff about me that wouldn’t be in comparison to what I’d say about myself. I’m happy to have the role. I think pressure is good. I think pressure keeps you honest. I think that it’s the next step for me to accomplish the goal that I have of winning a Sprint Cup championship and I think that you have to be a leader to do that. I’m now in a position to do that and I’m very proud of that. I’m ready for that pressure.”

DO YOU JUDGE SITUATIONS DIFFERENTLY NOW AS LEADER OF THE TEAM? “Yes. I think with age, you judge situations differently. Experience is part of age. You’re always learning. I look at the path that I took in my career and I’ve been very fortunate to be successful at the Nationwide and Cup levels. Success has not come from lacking mistakes; I’ve made plenty of those. Success has come from not repeating mistakes. For me, I get on myself when I make a mistake. I’d like to think at the end of the day that the pressure that I apply, my own worse critic, has forced me to learn from my mistakes and be better the second time around. I think that’s the secret to my success. It’s not from the lack of making mistakes, it’s learning from them.”

WHAT’S YOU APPROACH TO SOCIAL MEDIA? “I was thinking about this the other day when I was around my dad. I grew up with him and the race team in the Camping World Truck Series. I was thinking about his approach and remember thinking about how that was so 1990’s. I was thinking about how it’s a reflection on social media and how much from just five years ago the world has changed and social media is a large part of that. It affects the sport of NASCAR and how we engage our fans and our sponsors. I think those that are able to be leaders in that matter will come out on top. This new age of NASCAR that’s coming where social media has so much power, I’m committed to being one of those guys, committed more than just in words. I spent a pretty good chunk of money on the Twitter stuff that I have for the truck campaign.”

DO YOU HAVE A SECOND THOUGHT BEFORE YOU SEND A TWEET? “Absolutely not. If I have to think about it twice, it’s not authentic. If I have to stop and think, ‘If I should cut out this world not to make so and so mad’, I’m a big believer in authenticity. I’ve had a few moments where I’ve had to explain myself.”

HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR THOUGHTS ON EFI? “I said as much as I needed to say; as much as I could afford to say (laughs).”

DID YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT EFI CURB YOU OUTSPOKENESS? “I think looking back, I was having a really bad day that day. For me, it’s hard to say that it doesn’t affect. I think you understand better, after going through that process, that words you say carry more weight than you thought they did. Quite honestly, I didn’t think my words carried that much weight where people wanted to print that about the particular story. I think it’s an opportunity to reflect on that and realize that my words do carry a little bit more weight. Maybe I should care a little bit more about how people care about it.”

HAVE YOU TALKED TO GUYS LIKE TONY (STEWART) OR KYLE (BUSCH) WHO HAVE GOTTEN IN TROUBLE FROM THINGS THAT THEY’VE SAID IN PUBLIC? “No, not really. I probably should. It’s not a bad idea. There’s no shortage of people that have gone through it.”

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG DRIVERS? “I don’t think that it’s reasonable for any young driver to not make mistakes, but I think that it’s important to learn from them.”

HOW DO YOU GO FROM SUCCESS TO BEING HUMBLE? “For me, what’s tough as a driver, of being a member of a team, Penske Racing has sponsors worth millions of dollars. To get those sponsors, you have to make people feel like you’re worth a million bucks. So you better be pretty damn confident, right? How do you ask a guy, ‘Hey, I need $1 million for this race team’ and then tell him I don’t know if I can win? That ain’t going to work. You better walk into that room and say, ‘You know what, not only am I going to win, I’m going to win all the damn time! If not, you’re not going to get those big sponsors. That’s one reason confidence is so important. You have to balance it because that same confidence can come back to the pool of fans and media and be perceived as cockiness. You’re living almost duel lives trying to do that.”

WHY DID YOU DECIDE SO EARLY IN YOUR CAREER TO BECOME AN OWNER IN THE TRUCK SERIES? “Because I enjoy it. I really enjoy being a part of a group of people and being able to point the direction. There were opportunities to help out the Cup and Nationwide efforts at the same time and it just seemed like a win-win at the same time. The Truck series has always meant a lot to me. A lot of win-wins.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS BEING A BREAKOUT YEAR FOR PARKER KLIGERMAN? “There were some success and failures last year for Parker and the truck team. It goes back to can he learn from those mistakes and be better? If he can do that, the skies the limit for Parker. He’s got the talent. It’s all about his approach and can he learn from his mistakes?”

CAN YOU REFLECT ON THE DEPARTURE OF KURT (BUSCH) AND WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO HIM AS A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR YOURSELF? “When I look at Kurt, I think about a guy who was an excellent teammate to me. He didn’t get a lot of credit for that. The events of the last few months have not been easy for him or anyone else. I have a lot of respect for him and his talent and his commitment of being a good teammate to me. It’s with those thoughts that I feel like I would be a real jerk if I kicked him when he was down. I don’t want to be that guy. I think there is always something to be learned, whether in success or failure. As to what that is for Kurt, we won’t know for a few more years. It could have been the break that he needed. Who knows? It just depends on what outlook he has and where it goes from here.”
 
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