Brad Keselowski Gets First NASCAR Sprint Cup Victory With Ford Racing

Ford Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes:
Bank of America 500 (Charlotte Motor Speedway)
Saturday, October 12, 2013


·         Brad Keselowski’s win tonight is his first with Ford Racing and 10th of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career.
·         This makes Keselowski the 79th different driver to win a NSCS race in a Ford.
·         The win is Ford’s 618th all-time series victory and the 29th by Penske Racing.

Ford Finishing Order:
1st – Brad Keselowski
10th – Carl Edwards
13th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
16th – Greg Biffle
17th – Marcos Ambrose
18th – Joey Logano
23rd – Aric Almirola
29th—David Gilliland
30th – David Ragan
31st – Casey Mears


BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW – “It was just a never-give-up night.  We had a lot of struggles tonight.  We didn’t qualify well, but we kept working our way forward.  I knew we had a good car.  I’m not sure we were as good as the 48 or the 5.  I never got to really race them until the end and they had two tires, so I think we were probably pretty even.  When Paul made the call to take four tires and I saw we were that close to the front, I knew we could get them.”

WHAT ABOUT RACING KASEY?  “I love hard racing and there are a handful of guys you can’t race hard with in this deal because they freak out, but Kasey is not one of them.  He’s an excellent driver and he ran me hard, but he ran me clean and that’s great racing.  I’m proud to race with him.  He did a helluva job and deserves a lot of credit for it, but, at the end of the day, the Miller Lite Ford Fusion was just fast and we persevered.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – No. 17 My Best Buy Ford Fusion – “I’m not happy with how it went, but I’m happy with the finish.  We weren’t very good.  We were better than I thought we were gonna be, so I guess it’s a positive.  We just can’t seem to make any changes that change the car, and then when we make an adjustment that we collectively come up with to loosen it up, it tightens it up, so I don’t know.  We’ve got to figure these cars out is the issue.  We don’t have a handle on how we need to adjust throughout the race, but we ran in the top 16 all night, so I think that’s a positive.  We haven’t done that all year  long, so we ran there all race and finished there, so that was a positive for us, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion – “It was a long night.  Congratulations to Brad for putting a Ford in Victory Lane.  He did a good job, but we just struggled all night.  We’re fortunate to finish 10th.  I hate to say that, but we just weren’t very good.  It was really hard to pass, but not for everybody.  Some people could make it happen, so I have to say that as far as how the tire drove and all that stuff, I’d say this was better and more fun to drive.  This is my kind of race track.  It’s aging, but we just couldn’t make anything happen.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – “It was a great night for us, obviously.  Whenever you can win it’s a great night, but to win under the circumstances we did.  We had a little adversity in the middle of the race and then a great battle with two stallions here – Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth.  So to put all of that together at the end and come out on top is something we’re gonna be proud of and cherish for a long, long time.”

PAUL WOLFE, Crew Chief – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – “I think we’ve had good race cars here, especially the second half of the season, and it just seems like every time we turn around something goes wrong – some things in our control and some not – but you start to question the things that have worked for you in the past be successful like you start wonder if you need to do something different.  All the guys that work on these race cars and put them together back at the shop, I know everyone hasn’t done anything different than we did to win a championship.  The thing was to just stay focused and continue to work hard and know that eventually our luck and some things had to start to go our way and get the results.  I think we were obviously able to do that tonight, so it’s definitely a big relief to get that first win this year.”

ROGER PENSKE, Car Owner – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – “I think we’ve shown speed as Paul said and we’ve had some issues – some of our own – but at the end of the day we hadn’t been to victory circle.  I think for Brad, obviously, he was concerned.  We all were, but at the end of the day we knew that he was the guy that gave us the championship last year and I think, Brad you don’t realize that every driver in our stable now has won a race this year.  AJ, Blaney, Sam, Joey, and the two guys on the Indy Car side, so I’d say this is a pretty good night for us.  Paul, I want to thank you for persevering and the team.  The Ford engine was really running tonight.  You could really see it down the back straightaway that we had some speed.  The car was really handling and we just had to get him up there.  I thought when we saw the jack under the car I said, ‘Here we go again, not a good night,’ but at the end of the day when it was time to go and we raced the best it was Brad behind the wheel that made it.  It wasn’t a fuel economy run, it was him digging deep and bringing us to victory lane, so it was a great night for us.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – NON-CHASERS DON’T WIN OFTEN.  HOW DID YOU SET OUT TO BUCK THAT TREND?  “I never thought we couldn’t.  I don’t look at those things and say just because you haven’t done or someone else doesn’t want to do it that it can’t be done.  That’s just setting yourself up for failure.  The perception is and rightfully so that the guys that are in the Chase are the cream of the crop.  That’s how obviously they would make it in the Chase and they should win races, and probably sweep the Chase, but this is a very good team.  Some circumstances like Paul said under our control didn’t go our way and we didn’t execute with, and some not under our control.  But along the way all season long we’ve had the speed, we’ve had what we need to be a championship team, we just haven’t put them all together.  All the pieces haven’t come together on the nights that count and they did, for the most part, tonight.  I feel like Paul said we’ve had speed in our cars.  There have been weeks where we’ve had the execution, not as many as we want, but we haven’t always had those pieces together, and then there have been weeks where we’ve had the speed and execution and we’ve just had some rotten luck.  Atlanta comes to mind and I think the spring Loudon race I thought we could have won that race and the yellows went against us, or Daytona with the cautions and Phoenix with the cautions.  It’s just been kind of one of those years where you say, ‘How much more can they throw at you?’  I think we ran out of things for them to throw at us tonight with the jack and still find a way to win, so that was very special.”

PAUL WOLFE CONTINUED – “I agree and I think the fact that we weren’t in the Chase, I don’t think had anything to do with the speed in our race cars and the capability of anybody on the team.  I think we’ve shown over the last year and a half that we were capable of winning a championship and doing the things that it takes to do that.  Things didn’t go our way and we didn’t make the Chase, but that didn’t mean we didn’t have the speed, so to be able to win a race during the Chase I don’t think should be a big surprise.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TAKING FOUR TIRES ON THE LAST STOP?  “I wanted four and I wasn’t leaving until he put lefts on it.  If he wouldn’t have put four on, I was gonna yell and scream like a little kid.”

PAUL WOLFE CONTINUED – “I think going into the race in our pre-race talk we kind of have a plan and know what we feel like we want to do in different situations, especially down to the end there.  You know the guys that already have the track position.  They’re not gonna want to give it up, so you know they’re most likely gonna do the two-tire, so, for us, to beat them or to have a better shot at beating them, you need to do something a little different and with not many cars on the lead lap, for me, I thought it was a pretty easy call to take four tires at that point.  I knew our car had speed in it. We showed that, but it just took us a while to get there.  We had the issues on pit road that set us back, but we slowly worked our way towards the front and kind of having that last caution there at the end just kind of reset it for us and gave us the opportunity to get in Victory Lane.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WIN AT CHARLOTTE?  “Winning at Charlotte is important for a lot of reasons, but the most important one is you look at your team and the people that travel on the road.  This is a bit of a traveling circus 38 weeks a year and there are a lot of sacrifices that are made for those people to travel so much and that’s not even counting the testing and other demands that there might be, so those guys spend a lot of time away from their friends and family and make sacrifices to essentially make me a hero.  That’s not something that’s lost on me, so when they have the opportunity to come to Charlotte and bring their family and friends and kind of showcase what they do, and then you combine that with success, I think it really validates to them some of those sacrifices they made – whether it’s missing their kids’ soccer game or what-not – and it’s something very special for them, so, to me, when I look back at tonight I’m gonna look back at the victory lane photos that you’re in and that have your shop guys or your road guys and they’re there with their mom, dad, son, or daughter or wife – whatever it might be – and know that those moments mean a lot to them.  That’s the most significant thing to me about winning in Charlotte and why it’s always very, very special because it’s more about giving back to them in a way and hopefully my guys really enjoyed it.”

IF YOU EXECUTED MORE WOULD YOU BE IN THE CHASE AND IS IT MAINLY FOCUSING LIKE YOU DID LAST YEAR MORE?  “When I look at execution that’s more than just a pit crew, that’s me too.  I can always be better as well, so I’m very careful about how we word that and say that.  I think I can do a better job.  I look back at a couple races – the Daytonas and Talladegas – I don’t think I executed like I needed to, and it’s been all-around different issues.  It’s hard to pick just one and I know that’s difficult because everyone wants to always find one thing.  A lot of people came up to me and ask me about fuel mileage and say, ‘You seem to have better fuel mileage last year, do you think that was the difference?’  No, not really.  I think we’ve got great fuel mileage this year as well.  The races are playing out different and the strategy for the Generation 6 car is different, so it’s not fair to really pick one area.  But, obviously, if we would have executed better I do feel like we’d be in the Chase, but we can’t look back we’ve got to look forward.  We won here today and I want to win every other race left in this season, and I want to win next year, so instead of spending a lot of time complaining about missing out on opportunities early in the season isn’t gonna do us any good.  We’ve got to look forward and we’ve got to find ways to win as this sport continues to evolve.”

PAUL WOLFE CONTINUED – “Brad pretty much said it well there, but I don’t think it’s really doing anything different than what we’ve done.  There are times when you second-guess what worked for you in the past and does it still work ,but I think the biggest thing, like Brad said, some of the strategy stuff has changed with this car.  We’ve seen different racing this year.  We’ve seen a little bad luck.  We’ve made mistakes as a team.  There’s not one thing that stands out, but absolutely from a raw speed standpoint, yes, I think we’re definitely capable of making the Chase.  All it would have taken was two or three of the things that happened to us, whether it was a mistake on our part or a caution falling the wrong way, yeah, maybe we would be in the Chase, but we’re not and, right now, our focus is continue to try to win races and be better as a race team so we can come out stronger next year.”

DID YOU HAVE TO FIX THE JACK POST?  “The post was OK it was just the side skirt that comes down off of the body was folded under from the jack, so we just wanted to get that out so it didn’t drag the track.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – WHEN YOU LOOK AT THIS TROPHY ARE YOU GOING TO THINK ABOUT WINNING CHARLOTTE OR WILL YOU THINK WE WON CHARLOTTE BUT IT WAS THE YEAR WE DIDN’T MAKE THE CHASE?  “No, I’m gonna think that without that yellow we probably wouldn’t have had an opportunity to win the race, but last year without the yellow that came out, we probably would have won the race.  It’s funny how that works.  I was thinking of that as I was pulling into victory lane about how we had a dominant car here last fall in 2012 and the yellows just played against us and we didn’t get an opportunity to really capitalize on it.  This year, we had an excellent car as well and we caught a little bit of a break with the yellow, so it’s funny how those things come around sometimes.  Either way, we got a win and that’s what I’m gonna think about.”

HOW HAVE YOU DEALT SEEING PEOPLE TAKING PLEASURE IN YOU NOT DOING AS WELL THIS YEAR AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED IT?  “In a competitive environment like racing is there’s always gonna be people that root against you no matter what you’re doing.  It’s actually a little bit of a thrill, in a way, when you can step back and really appreciate it.  In the moment it kind of sucks when your sister goes on stage and introduces you and there’s always that one loud annoying guy that boos you and three or four people that cheer – whatever it might be.  In the moment, that’s not really all that much fun, but when you get back home and you think about it in a grander scheme and big picture I guess you would say, you realize what that means.  You realize that there’s the one guy that’s a great fan of somebody else and he knows you’re a threat and is gonna take pleasure in you not succeeding because he knows it’s just a better opportunity for his guy to succeed.  So I think you have to see those things big picture and it’s hard to do in the moment, but as I look back at it, certainly I want to be cheered and I want people to be excited when I win, but I also know that the reality is you’re never gonna have everybody that likes you.  And I think when you try so hard to make everyone like you and to be everything to everyone you end up being no one to anyone.  It’s just something that’s not possible and you have to move on and accept it.  Yes, there are gonna be people that take pleasure in our failures, but there are also a lot of people that take pleasure in our successes and I’m not going to reward those that take the pleasure in our failures.  I’m gonna enjoy the success with those that enjoy it like I do.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED — WHAT’S KEPT YOU GOING?  “That’s actually a really great question.  I think when I look at Roger and putting together the 22 Nationwide team and the success we’ve had over there, that re-instills confidence in myself.  I think I look at some other things that have happened – the truck team runs really well, that makes me feel good – and I know too in the back of my mind that we’ve had strong runs with this car and with this team and we just haven’t finished it off.  When you look back on the weekend and get all these fancy graphs and things and you see them and you read them and say, ‘All right we were the fastest car at this point in the race, and we were really strong in this category or that category,’ and you see those categories are different week to week, and you see that you’re really good in one each category but on different weeks and never all together.  You know it’s there.  You know you’ve just got to put it all together.  It’s like this great jigsaw puzzle and you start to make progress on it.  Am I frustrated that it didn’t come all together?  Absolutely.  But you start to see hope and I’ve seen hope the whole year, but I think the relationships that we have together with all three of us here – Roger and myself and Paul – is really important to me and has helped a lot as well.”

HAVE YOU GOT THE TANK YET?  “No, but I might have a little more funding to go get one now, so I guess that’s good.  I’ve got to win a couple more this year.”

PAUL WOLFE CONTINUED – DID CHANGING FROM DODGE TO FORD HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE STRUGGLES THIS YEAR?  “No, I don’t look at the transition from Dodge to Ford.  I think that’s gone really smooth and those guys have supported us real well.  I think just changing to the Gen 6 car is more of a challenge than switching manufacturers in my eyes.  We’ve had speed.  We’ve had great cars to start the season off.  We were in position to win a bunch of races the first handful of races and thought things were going well, and we just lost some momentum.  Like Brad said, a lot of the strategy and the way these races play out definitely changed a little bit from what it was with the old car, and then it seems like we definitely didn’t have the speed in our cars maybe through the middle part of the season, but I feel like the last part of the season we’ve been back to having the good speed and haven’t been able to execute.  Obviously, tonight wasn’t an easy night for us, but with a fast race car and Brad doing a great job and staying focused all night, we were able to overcome the issues on pit road and get that first win.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – WHY DO YOU THINK THERE ARE A HANDFUL OF GUYS WHO FREAK OUT WHEN YOU START RACING HARD?  “I just think it’s a compliment to Kasey and to Matt.  Kasey and Matt race the way I think this sport should be done and I think we put on a show today.  I hope the fans enjoyed it.  I obviously enjoyed it winning, but when I look back at this race  — and Bob asked this question earlier – when I look back at this race part of what I’m gonna remember is obviously the side-by-side battle for the win in the closing laps.  That’s so important to this sport.  That’s our overtime finish.  That’s our marquee moment.  That’s our fourth quarter, final drive touchdown for a win.  It’s being able to make a pass for the lead in the closing laps and to do that it takes a level of respect between drivers and that particular group – Matt and Kasey – they have that and I have that with them and that’s why it’s so rewarding to race with them and to win a race like this.”

COULD THAT BE THE ANSWER TO YOUR 100 PERCENT?  “I think it’s really healthy for the sport, in my opinion, to have last-lap, last-segment – whatever you want to call it – I know it wasn’t the last lap, but it was the last half-dozen or so battles for the win.  I think that’s the kind of drama our sport needs and that’s something that I’m proud to be a part of.  The rest of it, I don’t think , is productive, but that was, to me, what I look back on and think of as great races, whether I’m a part of it or not, so it’s something that I’m just proud of because it kind of fits my code or racing.  Hard racing, fair racing for the lead for the win when it counts at the end.”

ROGER PENSKE CONTINUED – WHAT HAVE YOU DONE THROUGH THIS TO SHOW YOUR GUYS YOU STILL HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THEM?  “I think it starts at the beginning of the year when we set the team up.  I had the confidence because coming off the championship last year we had a professional organization, a group that pulled together.  When I look at the season and I’m communicating with Paul and certainly Brad and the team on a daily basis.  We talked about little things that maybe we hadn’t done so well, but I think reliability.  If you look at the fuel system and things like that that we had to deal with this year, and certainly the new car, I’d say reliability.  My concern was we needed to get on top of those things and there was no excuses from the crew.  Obviously when I saw some of the pit work we’ve had over the last several weeks we sat down as a group here about a week ago after New Hampshire and took our top 10 people and set a pretty strong agenda for where we’re going, and I think a byproduct of some of that we saw tonight.  We knew we had good cars and we’ve got the best drivers.  It was a matter of executing and I never lost confidence.  I’m a guy that the glass is half-full, not half-empty.  I wanted to see Brad get a win.  He didn’t want to go through this season after being the champion.  You saw when Tony Stewart got his win before he had his accident what it meant to him and I think I’ve seen that in the past, but we did get Joey in the Chase.  That was a big, hard run and if Brad would have had the reliability here at the end he would have been in too, but, to me, Kyle Busch didn’t get in it last year.  I think Gordon didn’t get in one year, so you’ve got some great drivers sometimes that don’t make it.  That doesn’t mean that they’ve lost anything, it’s just the way that it works out.  This is a very competitive sport.  Every aspect of it is and at the end of the day you have some winners and loser and tonight we were a winner.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH THIS ADVERSITY MENTALLY?  WHAT IS THE RELIEF LIKE KNOWING YOU’VE WON THIS YEAR?  “Obviously it’s a relief because going into the off-season and having to answer those questions – not just from the media but those questions come up from yourself – they’re not fun at all.  But now we don’t have to do that.  When the moment came where it was obvious we didn’t make the Chase, which, by the way, wasn’t until about 50 to go at Richmond, from that moment on I looked forward and didn’t look back.  I don’t look back unless someone asks me to look back.  It’s not productive, but you still need to have success and carry some momentum into the next season, and I think that’s what we did today.  That’s the monkey that we got of four back, but I do think this is a really key moment for us.  This is not as big a clutch win as it would be if we would have won Richmond, but still a clutch win for us in a very important scenario in front of all the hometown guys, and we had a lot of sponsors and a lot of people here tonight – a lot of team guys here tonight with their families like I said earlier – and to be able to win in front of them – the boss is here too, I forgot about that part.  I’ve got to win in front of him, but that’s important and we showcased that we’re capable of getting that done if we all just put it together when it counts.”

PAUL WOLFE CONTINUED – WHEN YOU ARE BEHIND SOME OF THE OTHER GROUPS AS FAR AS GETTING A HANDLE ON THIS CAR HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT TO KNOW THERE ARE PROBABLY GOING TO BE CHANGES TO IT AND YOU HAVEN’T TOTALLY FIGURED IT OUT?  “I wouldn’t say we’re much far behind from some other teams.  I think we haven’t executed, but as far as just figuring out the speed in the cars I don’t think we’re very far off on that.  It was a challenge for us, but I feel like as a company we’ve done a good job adapting to the new car and having speed.  Obviously with the 22 group making the Chase and getting a win, they’ve shown great speed and we have as well, so I feel good about that.  You just have to continue to work hard.  We’re gonna do this test on Monday and be ready for whatever they throw at us and be able to adapt.  That’s what it’s all about and this sport changes so fast that you have to have great people in place that can continue to move forward and find ways with new rules to get a jump on the competition.”

ROGER PENSKE CONTINUED – WHAT DOES THIS WIN DO AS FAR AS HELPING SECURE THE BALANCE OF SPONSORSHIP FOR NEXT YEAR WITH MILLER TAKING 24 OF THE 36?  “I think it’s obvious the relationship that we’ve generated with Miller for many, many years with Rusty and Danny Sullivan going all the way back.  They committed to us even when we didn’t have the best season because it’s not about one season or one driver, it’s about the relationship and certainly as I went to them and said, ‘Could we look at a little different format going forward?’  And it was a business discussion between the two organizations.  I think we’ve been able to put together a sponsorship.  When you think about our team going forward with sponsorship with Shell/Pennzoil through ’17 and also with Miller, and then we have the great associates with us, we’re in great shape now with two great drivers and I think with Paul and Todd and the rest of the team that’s certainly important to us.  But the relationship with Miller is outstanding and I think that Brad has been a great leader with them.  They like him.  They like what he does out in public with a lot of the things they have him do around their customers.  It’s important and I think that’s one of the reasons they signed up with us.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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