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Mar 09, 2014 - 09:11 PM
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· 2014 Las Vegas: NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Results - Keselowski, Ford Win! (Mar 9, 2014)
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2014 Las Vegas: Brad Keselowski NASCAR Sprint Cup Post-Race Press Conference
Posted by: ASkyler on Mar 09, 2014 - 09:08 PM
NASCAR News
2014 Las Vegas: Brad Keselowski NASCAR Sprint Cup Post-Race Press Conference


PAUL WOLFE, Crew Chief - No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion - WHERE DID YOU STAND WITH FUEL? "When we pitted there at the end and the 99 and 88 stayed out, we knew we were plenty to the good. I didn’t figure there was any way they could make it, but wasn’t sure yet where they were fuel mileage-wise, so as the race started rolling on there that last run we started calculating numbers and trying to figure out where they were at. We kind of knew where the 99 was. Obviously, with Roush Yates Engines we know we’re all pretty close there, so we had an idea he couldn’t make it, but the 88 we weren’t sure. That’s why at one point once I knew the 88 was a little short I told Brad he needed to do what he could to get around the 99 and start putting pressure on the 88 because if we didn’t he only need a half-a-lap and that’s about when he ran out. So being able to get around the 99 and putting pressure on the 88 to run wide-open was, I think, the key and I think Brad’s determination - you saw - in a lap or two he was able to get around that 99 and start putting the pressure on. That was very important. Overall, I’m very pleased. It was a great effort today. We were on a little different strategy today from time to time with everybody, but the thing that has made the 2 team successful over the last few years is being aggressive and we’re gonna be aggressive this year. That’s what we did today and it paid off in a big win for us. We just have to continue to work hard. This new rules package, there’s been a lot of work done over the off-season. There have been plenty of days Brad has come into my office and bugged me if we were working hard enough or if we needed to be testing and I told him to just hang in there. We’re working hard and obviously we’ve shown everyone at Team Penske has done a great job so far, but the key is continuing to build on that and find ways to be better because it will only be time and everyone will figure out this new rules package and be a lot stronger."

 

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ROGER PENSKE, Owner - No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion - YOU’VE HAD A GREAT WEEKEND. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT ALL OF THIS MEANS TO YOU? "First, obviously, the call that Paul made - as he said - we’re gonna take a few chances. We knew we had a fast car. You could see in clear air how good the car was, but at the end the call with Junior, obviously, he had a great car. I’ve never seen him drive better and it was gonna be a real gunfight if we had to run with him the last part of that last lap. Again, Paul said, ‘Hey, he’s probably a lap short, just push him.’ He got by the 99, as he said earlier, and that made a difference. To me, the team had just done a great job. The off-season commitment. The Ford motors are strong. We’ve seen the reliability so far this season. You saw it in Nationwide yesterday and the pole the first two weekends has really made a huge difference. Joey has really stepped up now and we really have two great drivers, not only for today but long-term when you look at our team with the average age. To me, it was a rewarding weekend realizing the way the rules are, to have a driver that has won a race - that really almost qualifies him for the Chase, especially after the tough year he had last year. People might have counted him out, but I think he’s focused. You can see it in his driving and, to me, we’ve got two great drivers. As far as the hole-in-one, I never knew I’d get so much publicity for a hole-in-one. I told somebody about it and the next minute they’re asking me where. Just to tell everyone, it was at Augusta. I was very fortunate to be a member there. We lost William Clay Ford today, a patriarch of the Ford family and someone that has meant so much to Detroit and the automobile business on a worldwide basis and certainly to the Big Three. I take my hat off and my thoughts and prayers are to his family, but is it ironic that he and I joined Augusta at the same time back many years ago, and to think today we won this race. So I’m gonna give this race to William Clay Ford."

WHAT HOLE WAS THE HOLE-IN-ONE ON? "It was on the par-3. It was the 150-yard number 4."

ROGER PENSKE CONTINUED - WHAT KIND OF LEARNING EXPERIENCE WAS IT FOR BRAD TO MISS THE CHASE LAST YEAR? "Obviously, a lot of things changed last year. A new manufacturer, new motors, new reliability. We had to get our cars right. We had some reliability problems from a heating situation that I would have to say was ours, but it was tough. We got wrecked a couple times that didn’t help us. I think Brad matured. I think you’ve seen his m.o. this year. He’s certainly focused and you have to have a little bit of adversity before you get better and I think that’s what happened to Brad Keselowski."

PAUL WOLFE CONTINUED - HOW MUCH MORE DID BRAD OVERTHINK THINGS AND WHAT WOULD HE SAY WHEN HE’D COME IN YOUR OFFICE? "That’s just Brad’s style and that’s why we love him. He’s dedicated. He wants to be the best out there and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to do that. Sometimes it can wear you down, there’s no doubt about that. He was on me hard over the off-season, but I know he’s just passionate about this sport and being the best. You think about the times when you do get frustrated, I think this is probably a better situation than a guy that doesn’t show up at the shop and understand what’s going on. So I’m willing to deal with that sometimes. As a group, I think over the off-season all of the guys have sat down as a group and individually trying to understand where everyone was at, what we felt like we needed to do to be better, and I feel like the group is really working well now. We’ve shown that the first three weeks and this win here helps give everybody a little confidence that we can get back on top where we want to be and where we were in 2012, so a lot of hard work ahead of us, but a huge win today."

ROGER PENSKE CONTINUED - IS IT ANY MORE DIFFICULT TO FIELD TWO TEAMS THAT CAN CONTEND EACH WEEK AND HOW CLOSELY DO THE TEAMS WORK TOGETHER? DO THESE TWO WORK BETTER THAN ANY GROUP YOU’VE HAD? "I go back to probably Rusty, where we really had some continuity with Ryan when we were really running well, but I think today the combination of Joey and Brad is super. When you look at their age, they’re talking every day. Last night they were going over the changes on their cars, but even more important I think Todd Gordon and Paul have really bonded together. In fact, really what pulled us together might have been our issue at Texas last year when we all had to pull together to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to move forward out of this.’ To me, that kind of set the stage, but Travis Geisler, when you look at Mike Nelson, we’re one group. The cars are the same. You can see how well they run. They’re qualifying very close together and I think it’s an open book. To me, that makes the difference, so I’m thrilled with where we are and I think we’ve got a great runway for us long-term."

PAUL WOLFE CONTINUED - "I don’t disagree. I don’t know for sure what goes on at other teams, but from the guys I talk to and know I feel like probably the 2 and 22 probably work more closely than anyone in the garage, and I think, like the boss said, that’s why you see the cars qualifying on the front row together, why we run well when one runs well, and that’s key. With only having two cars, we need to work closely together. When one runs good the other runs good and vice versa. That’s important to be able to move forward as tough as this sport is, is to be able to have someone to lean on if you’re having a bad day or you’re off a little bit. When these cars are built back at the shop they’re all built the same. You could take a 22 or a 2 and just change the paint scheme on it and bring it to the race track. I don’t think there are many teams that can say that, so I think that’s a big reason for a lot of the success we’ve had and we’ll continue to work that way moving forward and hopefully continue success."

PAUL WOLFE CONTINUED - DO YOU FEEL MORE FREEDOM TO TAKE MORE RISKS THIS YEAR? "I think there’s an opportunity there. I’ve said this before with all the new rules packages and changes that there’s opportunity. We like opportunities and you’ve got to work hard and make the most of them. I’m just proud so far we’ve been able to do that and it will take a lot of work to stay where we’re at, but I think everybody on this team is committed to do that and we’ll just keep going."

BRAD KESELOWSKI - No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion - TALK ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WINNING AND HOW THIS TEAM IS COMING TOGETHER RIGHT NOW? "It’s great to be here. I’ve seen a few of you before and some a little too soon ago, but I’m glad to see you again and glad to be back here in victory lane. It’s very special to get a win early in the year when it’s just such a reliever for everyone on the team and myself included to get that win in early and be able to enjoy the races and opportunities that we have, instead of being stressed out about them. I think, if anything, it actually lends itself to better racing. The chance that Dale and Stevie took with the 88 car was way out there and it was a good risky move on their part because they had nothing to lose because of this format, so I think that shows some of the opportunities that come up and how they can be stress-free days. I’m looking forward to being able to take those same opportunities because, believe me, I’m not scared to take them and I know Paul’s not, so look out. It’s gonna be a lot of fun."

PAUL WOLFE CONTINUED -- YOU WERE ON A DIFFERENT PIT SCHEDULE AND DIDN’T LOSE TRACK POSITION. HOW KEY WAS THAT AT THE BACK END OF THE RACE? "It wasn’t really a big surprise. We kind of knew where the tires were at and how they hold up. That’s part of the strategy. By no means would we have stayed out if we didn’t feel like our car was good enough or the tires would hold on. The biggest gamble there was just the fuel window. Like I said before, the things that have made us successful is being aggressive and we’re back and we’re gonna be aggressive."

YOU MISSED LAST WEEK TO WELCOME A NEW BABY AND YOU WON THIS WEEK. ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT SKIPPING ANOTHER RACE? "I don’t know about skipping any races. It was a big week for me last week and something very special that you can’t compare to a race win. It’s a total different feeling and I’m fortunate to have a great family that supports me and I’m fortunate to have a great company like Team Penske behind me to know that I could leave the race track for such a special day for me, and we could still go out there and run like we did. That’s just a testament to everyone on this team and all the hard work we’ve put in. I’m not planning on taking anymore days off, though. It was tough to watch that one on TV, for sure."

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED - WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NEW RULES PACKAGE? "It’s just a common theme throughout American motorsports - the cars continue to get harder and harder to drive in traffic as they make more downforce and as the engineers and all those guys continue to really hone in on these cars and find ways to make them create more downforce. It’s something that’s happening throughout all motorsports, not just NASCAR. You’re seeing the same thing in F-1 and beyond, so it’s making it very difficult to drive the cars in traffic. It makes the cars very easy to drive by themselves, so it’s just part of the evolution of racing and maybe not necessarily what we want to see happen from a fan perspective, but it’s just where the competitors are taking the racing. We’ll see where that goes from here."

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED -- DID YOU FEEL ONCE YOU GOT PAST THE 99 AND YOU PRESSURED DALE THAT IT WAS JUST A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE YOU CAUGHT HIM AND HE RAN OUT OF GAS? "Yeah, passing the 99 was a huge moment for us. That gave us an opportunity to really put pressure on Dale. I felt like we could run him down. I could tell he was saving a little bit based on the lines he was running compared to where I had seen him earlier in the day, so he was able to save a little bit but once I ran up on him with him not running his fastest line, he was running his fuel-conserve line - once I saw that, we ran him down in I think 10-15 laps, whatever that was, and forced him to get up into his speed line and that was just taking fuel from his car. Once that happened, I knew we were in really good shape. It was gonna play out one of two ways, he was gonna have to get in the fuel-conservation mode, and I think I could have passed him and drove away, or he was gonna have to burn fuel to keep me behind him and at that point it was just a matter of if a yellow came out or not because it’s just at ticking time bomb and it worked in our favor today."

YOU COMPARED YESTERDAY TO A GAME OF TETRIS IN RACING WITH KYLE. HOW WAS TODAY DIFFERENT? "Yesterday was more about lap traffic and going through that. Today, lap traffic played a little bit of a role, but not a significant role. That one lap I was able to get underneath Dale in one and two, I can’t remember what lap that was, I got a little bit of help in traffic, which was huge for us to be able to put pressure on him and certainly not good for Dale. But those things considered it was definitely different being the hunter instead of the hunted, but I had fun with it both days."

CAN YOU TELL US ANY STORIES WITH DALE JR. WHEN YOU DROVE FOR HIM AND GETTING KICKED OUT OF THE SHOP? "I don’t remember back that far, but I know Paul has kicked me out a few times, and I think Roger has given me a couple of sideways looks, but that’s part of it. You find one that sticks every once in a while and that’s part of the fun of this sport. I love doing things that no one has done before, and that’s a lot of fun for me, whether it’s sending out a tweet during the middle of the Daytona 500 or trying a move on the race track to win a race. Those moments, to me, are a lot of fun and probably the funnest moments in racing when you’ve done something no one else has done because they’re a significant accomplishment that no one else can really own. We’ve done a few of them and I know we’ve got a few more to come, but they come from all those crazy ideas so every once in a while there’s a good one."

DO YOU THINK ABOUT HOW DALE JR. HELPED YOU EARLY IN YOUR CAREER WHILE YOU’RE IN THE PROCESS OF TRYING TO PASS HIM FOR A WIN? "Oh yeah, absolutely. Today, when I was thinking about it my thought was, ‘He’s already won a race, so he’s got nothing to worry about.’ That was kind of what I was thinking. I would have damn near wrecked him if I had to with that in mind, but it’s part of the deal and I’ve had a lot of fun racing with Dale over the years. This is the first time that I can recall really racing that close for the win at the end. Daytona this year we restarted side-by-side on the green-white-checkered, but I really wasn’t there. I wasn’t there when it counted and here we were there when it counted and to race him like that, that’s what you live for as a driver - or at least I do - those moments where you’re side-by-side and you lay it all out on the race track and bring back the car with the tires smoking and the engine smoking and you’re worn out inside because you gave it all you had. It was one of those races there at the end and for it to be one of those races against someone who has provided me such a tremendous opportunity those years back, it definitely is something I cherish even more."

ROGER PENSKE CONTINUED - HOW DO YOU FEEL THE CHANGES THIS YEAR HAVE BEEN FOR THE SPORT SO FAR? "There’ s no question that the qualifying sessions, we had three here this weekend, lots of strategy, it’s right down to one last lap in that third session has made a huge difference than just sitting and watching one car go by for an hour-and-a-half while they’re qualifying, so I think that point number one they get a check in the box. It’s all about winning now and I think the wins are so important and once you get in that position that you’ve won a race and it gives you a real good chance to be in this Chase it allows you to make your car better, as Brad said maybe we take some chances where we might not do things we’d do otherwise to get us better for that last run. To me, it’s interesting. We talk about teams in the NFL that might have had an 8-8 record, but end up in the Super Bowl and win. I’ve seen a lot of talk about what can happen and I think it’s interest for the fans and from my understanding there have been a lot of positives about the change. I’m certainly 150 percent, and maybe today 200 percent because we’re in the show and the poles certainly haven’t hurt us. I can tell you this, our sponsors - and we have some of the best in the business - are very pro what they see here, not only for our team but also for the sport."

HOW IS JUAN MONTOYA DOING ON THE INDYCAR SIDE? "We’re excited. Juan has lost about 25 pounds, so he looks like a track star now. One thing we know about Juan is he tells it like it is, but he’s done a great job. We had a real good test at Sebring, probably his best run here was probably in this past week. To me, he’s made great progress. Obviously, when we all line up we’ll find out, but he’s a racer. We’ve had a lot of interest and the team sponsors have come to us now. I’d say a good move for him and we think it’s gonna be a great opportunity for the sport as we go forward. It’s been an excellent move for us."

NOW THAT YOU HAVE ONE CAR PRETTY MUCH IN THE CHASE, DOES THAT CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE WITH THE OTHER TEAM AS FAR AS GETTING THE 22 IN? "We’re not allowed to help each other. We learned that, didn’t we, at Richmond (laughing). We’re gonna exchange all the information we can between the two teams as Paul talked about earlier and we said we’re really operating as one organization. In fact, when the cars come out of the paint shop, you really don’t know what car they’re gonna be until the put the decals on, so, to me, we’re gonna stay consistent. Joey and Brad have built a great relationship and, believe me, the way he ran today - came from the back there, was strong right there at the end - I think we’re gonna see him in victory lane too. That’s our goal right now - to do whatever it takes to get him a victory."

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED - HOW MUCH DID WHAT HAPPEN LAST YEAR BOTHER OR MOTIVATE YOU? "It’s not fun, that’s for sure. For me, I wouldn’t say I let the negative comments motivate me too much. I was motivated the whole time, I didn’t really need any extra motivation, but I guess I found my happy place looking at a guy like Tony Stewart, who I still consider to be one of the best race car drivers out there and probably one of the best of all-time, and you look at him and he won his first championship I think in 2002 and his next in ’05 or ’06 and another one in 2011. When you look at that there are three, five, six years - whatever - in between those, and when you look at those championships I think he showcases how sometimes things work in cycles. The sports world works in cycles and we didn’t have the year we wanted to have last year. I’m not afraid to admit that and I’m definitely not gonna hide from it, but we also have to be realists and know that a lot of things have to come together to win - the team has to be perfect, I have to be perfect, and a little bit of racing luck has to be going your way. I don’t think we hit either one of those three last year, but we weren’t far off on any one of those three, so with that in mind you’ve got to just move on and realize that’s part of the cycle. Fix what you can fix and we certainly have done a lot to address issues where we were not the best we could be, and I have personally and the team has, and obviously a little bit of racing luck today went our way.

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED - "Somebody asked me here before the race last year we started off with, I can’t remember, a fourth, a third and a third and second, but we didn’t get a win. Any one of those first five or six races we easily could have one, but we just didn’t get any racing luck and then in the middle of the year we had every bad racing break. Today we caught a little bit of racing luck and we were in position to make the most of it. You can catch racing luck and be running 10th and it doesn’t really mean anything, but when you’re running in the top two or three like we have been the last few weeks, you catch a little small break and you’re there to exploit it and get a win. Sometimes you catch breaks, sometimes you make them happen, but today we were in a spot either way to capitalize on it. Like I said, kind of viewing that in a holistic approach with all those things in mind. I think I was able to move on and I’m still able to move on and a win today just solidifies our position moving forward."

WHAT ARE SOME GOALS NOW? "I want to win Indy. That would be big. That would be a really big win and Michigan would be a really big win. I’d take Bristol and California while I’m at it, but there’s a lot that’s important. We just want to get some more wins and then obviously you’ve got to get on steady footing once you reach the back half of the year with your cars and team to where you’re just consistent frontrunners so you can really get into those last 10 races and make some noise. That’s important to us as well."

ROGER PENSKE CONTINUED - WHAT’S YOUR UNDERSTANDING ON WHY NASCAR TOOK THE RIGHT-REAR SHOCK FROM THE 22 YESTERDAY? "The information I have is they check the pressure and they said after the race it was, and again they checked it this morning was seven or eight pounds more pressure in it, so they’re looking at it. We showed our gauge was probably 10 pounds less than that when they did it yesterday. That’s the information I have today, but obviously it’s a minor issue."

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED -- WHAT DID YOU THINK YOUR CHANCES WERE HERE THIS WEEKEND? "We know at Team Penske we’re gonna have great cars and we know we’re gonna have a great effort and winning on almost any weekend. It’s hard to pick one particular weekend and feel better or worse than others, but then you look at some of our track history here at Las Vegas and it hasn’t been all that great. I can remember running a couple races here, I was thinking back to my first start here in 2009 before I was driving for Roger, when I was driving for Rick, and I think it was my third race ever in the Cup Series and I remember Rick Hendrick walking up to me and he said, ‘Just run a whole race and don’t wreck and you’ll have a good day.’ I made it all the way to turn three and four on the first lap and wrecked, and I had made the choice that day or that weekend to stay after with Dale Jr., after we spent the week here in Vegas afterwards, and he never invited me to do that again because I was sore and mad and didn’t have any fun and didn’t party or hang out at all. I was so bitter about that weekend, so you look at it from that perspective and say, ‘I don’t have a great track record here at Las Vegas,’ but we sure did make it look a lot better today. I’m sure there are other tracks that we can hopefully do the same this year."


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