Ford Performance NASCAR: Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick Texas Media Availability

NASCAR CUP SERIES

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2020

BRAD KESELOWSKI AND KEVIN HARVICK MEDIA AVAILABILITY


American Muscle

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang — SHOULD IT BE A BIG ENOUGH SAFETY ISSUE FOR NASCAR TO BLACK FLAG A DRIVER IF THEY CAN’T HEAR THEIR SPOTTER? “Not really. I’m okay with it. If the shoe were on the other foot, I’d want to just keep on racing. In general, I like when NASCAR stays to the side, so no issue for me.”

WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET FOR THIS WEEKEND? “I’d like to go there and score a lot of points. We had a solid race in Kansas, just came up a few spots short and a great performance overall. If we can bring that kind of speed and so forth to Texas, we will be in great shape. Obviously, sitting on the cutoff line is not ideal because I could have a great race and still get knocked out because somebody else wins, so the best thing for us to do is to go win that thing. There’s three races left in the season and simple math, if I win one of the next two and then the last one, we’ll win the championship, so I’m trying to keep it that simple.”

HOW MUCH DO YOU WORRY ABOUT IT OR AGONIZE OVER IT? “It’s pretty easy to overthink. I’m trying not to read too much into it and just go out and do my job.”

ARE YOU SURPRISED JOEY LOGANO’S AGGRESSIVE DRIVING STYLE HASN’T EARNED HIM A LARGER FAN BASE? “I hadn’t really thought about that. I can’t say that I necessarily always know what the fans want or expect, and I’ve tried to just be myself and if that’s good, great. If it’s not, it’s not. It’s funny because we’ll do things on social media all the time and the ones that we’re like, ‘Yeah, that one is gonna be really popular and people are gonna like it’ more often than not, aren’t. And the ones that we just do kind of like, ‘Well, this is fun. If people like it, great. If they don’t, whatever’ end up being the ones they like the most, so it shows you what I know about what people like.”

CAN YOU GIVE SOME PERSPECTIVE ABOUT WHAT JOEY WAS ABLE TO DO AT THE END OF THE KANSAS RACE, HOLDING OFF HARVICK FOR SO LONG? “The track really came in the last run at Kansas for whatever reason. I don’t know if it cooled off some more or what not, but it gained a ton of grip, which was enough for the leader to be able to run wide-open pretty easily, and when that happened it almost turned into like a mini Daytona and you could really hold the lanes. To Joey’s credit he did an awesome job of making that happen. He and his spotter, T.J. are pretty strong and really good at that kind of stuff and he pulled it off flawlessly. It’s certainly not easy, but it was made possible by the high amount of grip that the track had and the low amount of horsepower.”

WHAT DID YOU DO WITH YOUR GRANDFATHER CLOCK AND WHY IS MARTINSVILLE SUCH A SPECIAL PLACE? “It is a special track. First off, as far as I’m aware it’s 1948, the oldest track on the circuit. That’s pretty cool. There’s only one track that can be the oldest and have the most history and pedigree and Martinsville is that. That brings a special allure to it, an allure that I think everybody likes, and then the other piece I would add is it’s a really special trophy with that clock. I know it means a lot to me. I have one twice there and I’ve got one clock at my house and one clock in my office. They’re very special and it serves as a constant reminder of how big that day was to me personally.”

WHAT HAS THE EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE FOR YOU AND JEREMY BULLINS IN TERMS OF COMMUNICATING AND WORKING WITH EACH OTHER? “It wasn’t the way I thought it was gonna go. I thought, obviously, it would be normal and we would have meetings every week and we’d go through all these things and then COVID happened and God laughed at our plans, but that said, we’ve been trying to make the most of it and I feel like we’ve done a really good job. You expect to be better the second time you go to racetracks. I think for the most case that’s been spot on for us, and there’s a little bit of a honeymoon phase that we’re certainly in and trying to enjoy. Hopefully, we can ride that momentum to a championship.”

HOW MUCH DO YOU FEED OFF OR ENJOY THE PLAYOFF PRESSURE? “Feed off it is an interesting way to put it. I think I feed off having fast race cars. As far as the actual playoff atmosphere, there are things I like and things I dislike about it. The reality is it is what it is and I have to make the most of it and I try to focus on that.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT MARTINSVILLE NEXT WEEK? THE CUTOFF RACES OFFER THEIR OWN UNIQUE CHALLENGES. DOES MARTINSVILLE HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO BE THE ONE THAT LIGHTS THE FUSE ON SOMETHING BIG? “It certainly is shaping up that way because sitting fourth in points as I am right now, or on the cutoff line — however you want to look at it. Technically, I’m third in points, but fourth in the playoff standings. But sitting there you obviously feel very vulnerable that one of those guys that’s not in can win. You look at the cars that aren’t in right now it’s Chase Elliott and Martin Truex that probably stand out the most, and I could definitely see one of those two going to Martinsville and winning. It’s shaping up to be quite a firestorm when we go to Martinsville.”

AS A FORMER TEAM OWNER, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A NEW OWNER COMING INTO THE SPORT? “From my experience as a team owner it’s all about revenue generation. How are you going to sell sponsors and bring in the cash flow that can cover your cost, which is easier said than done. There is stiff competition in that category. My self-serving advice would be to tell them,, ‘Make sure you hire a really good driver’ because that really is the tip of the spear in a lot of ways, and I do believe that, but be ready for a big challenge and love the grind. That’s what I tell anybody who wants to be a part of this sport.”

HOW PROUD OF YOU AT WHAT YOU WERE ABLE TO ESTABLISH WITH BKR, SEEING MANY OF YOUR FORMER DRIVERS NOW EITHER IN CUP OR GETTING CUP OPPORTUNITIES? “I’m really proud. I’m waiting for my commission for a few of them owners, but I’m not gonna hold my breath if you know what I mean. It’s been a great experience to see these drivers make their way to Cup. I didn’t do it for the recognition or the commission or any of that kind of stuff. That wasn’t why I did it, but I’m glad to see other drivers get an opportunity like I got to be at the top level and to have someone support them, and I had multiple people that helped me in my career, whether that was at the late model level, the truck level, the Xfinity level and without any of those people I couldn’t be where I’m at today, so I’m glad to play a role in seeing six different drivers get to the Cup level in some way, shape or form full-time, and I think eight drivers overall when you count part-time. Seeing Chase and Austin over the last week-and-a-half sign up for Cup is really refreshing and rewarding. I’m proud of that track record of being able to bring all those drivers to Cup, and wishing them all the best as they get there. In some ways it makes you feel a little old, but, like I said, I’m just really glad that I can look back at that part of my legacy in this sport and know I made a difference.”

CAN YOU EXPAND ON YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL WE’RE WATCHING THE DEMISE OF SOME FORMS OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND GIVEN HOW PERVASIVE IT HAS BECOME IN NASCAR, WHAT DO YOU FEEL IT WOULD MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF THE INDUSTRY? “I think there’s a lot going on in our world right now, obviously even outside of the political landscape. Some of the things I see on a daily basis in social media that even you guys have to deal with is pretty messed up to be quite honest. On my side, I get some of the jabs too and I’ve had to build thick skin and deal with that, but eventually that’s gonna come to a head and something is gonna need to come in and clean this all up. I’m not sure how or when that is gonna happen, but it’s getting past time for that to happen, so I think that was really the emphasis of my comments. I really hate to see how it’s devastated the media landscape. As a kid one of my favorite things to do was to read what was then called The Winston Cup Scene, and having that newspaper copy in you hand and reading a story in it and know it was written by writers that were there at the racetrack each and every week and that knew and loved the sport and that were supported with an income that gave them a suitable livelihood to do so. And to see things like that disappear is a tragedy, not just for the consumer like myself that would consume it and build trust in that publication, but it’s a tragedy for the industry to lose that kind of source, and for those that have worked in those type of publications. Some of the people on this call today were probably a part of that, and I’ve always hated that for them, and social media in a lot of ways has been the blessing and the curse, and the curse is just that — that it’s destroyed some livelihoods and hurt a lot of how our sport is communicated and our world in general. Not that there is necessarily a solution that I can offer today, or ever will be able to offer, but I just can’t see it sustaining this way to where eventually we have to get to where we can trust everything we’re reading and know that it’s coming from those that are being taken care of along the way.”

WHY TO YOU THINK YOU’VE BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR FORMER BKR DRIVERS MAKING THE JUMP TO CUP? “I’m certainly not gonna take all the credit. I thought we built a great team of people that certainly was a very strong supporting cast for drivers, and then I brought into it a personal experience that was very relevant to the day and age that all of those drivers have made it to, whether it was being a Cup competitor myself or having grown up through a system that was really just starting to get to a point where it didn’t so easily provide for developing drivers. So those personal experiences along with the supporting cast that formed BKR really helped us shape drivers, but also we made it a point to recruit some really talented people. I look at a guy like Ryan Blaney. His talent speaks for itself. He can just get in anything and go fast, and he’s got a full-time Cup ride accordingly. Same thing for Chase Briscoe, just phenomenal. I still remember the first time I scouted him and watched him use the lanes and not just use them. There are quite a few drivers that use multiple lanes, but there are very few drivers in their early phases understand how to use all the lanes on the racetrack, so there are just little idiosyncrasies that I saw in each and every one of the drivers that I knew. It meant that they had good building blocks to start with. Ross Chastain, I remember him driving a truck a year or two before I hired him that I thought was not all that great, and he was making it go fast. It’s really hard to teach. Some people have it and some people don’t. It’s not for me to say why some people have it and some people don’t, but it’s pretty obvious, and that’s just a couple stories along the way. Austin Cindric, his ability to get in a road course car and absolutely haul ass with no practice was just astounding to me. That was pretty special, but each and every one of these drivers has something that makes them great in their own way.”

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang — HOW APPROPRIATE IS IT TO HAVE MARTINSVILLE AS THE FINAL RACE BEFORE THE CHAMPIONSHIP? “I would expect it to be exciting as it always is. Obviously, when you add in the drama of the last race of the final round to lead into the Championship 4, I think it lends itself to making it more exciting. I would classify it as exciting just because of the fact of where it’s placed on the schedule and it’s normal trends are in that direction anyway.”

ARE YOU SURPRISED JOEY LOGANO ISN’T MORE POPULAR WITH FANS BECAUSE OF HIS AGGRESSIVE DRIVING STYLE? “I’m probably the wrong person to ask. I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other.”

SHOULD NASCAR BLACK FLAG A DRIVER IF THEY CAN’T HEAR THEIR SPOTTER? “I think we’ve all driven races with and without our radios, so I don’t really know what the right answer is on that. That’s just something that I don’t really have a whole lot of say on as far as what’s right and what’s wrong.”

HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED IN HANDLING PLAYOFFS THROUGH THE YEARS? “I think you just have to believe in the preparation and the things that you know how to do. I think our team is very good at that. I think as you look at the playoffs we try to race this way every week. We don’t try to do anything different. The preparation and the level of expectations is the same on week one as it is on week 35 or 34 as you go into the playoffs, so we’re not gonna try to count points or anything along those lines. You count points as a second move, as your backup plan just because of the fact the thing that you can control the most of moving forward is to win the race. I think our team believes in that and I think you have to race to win and then see where it all falls in the end. That’s what we do on a week-to-week basis and I think that mindset has really just not changed the way we that we talk about things, not changed the way that we approach things, not changed really anything as we go into the playoffs, so you just have to let the results just be what they are and do the things that you do on a weekly basis in order to just race the same way. It’s not a switch that you can flip. We tried that in the beginning and mentally it’s just not the right thing to do because you’re not mentally prepared and mentally trained to think the way that you have to think in the playoffs if you don’t do that on a week-to-week basis.”

WHAT IS THE KEY FOR YOU IN NOT DWELLING ON ISSUES THAT CAN HAPPEN DURING A RACE, LIKE A SLOW PIT STOP OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT? IF YOUR PIT CREW HAD GOTTEN YOU OUT FIRST AT KANSAS, YOU MAY HAVE WON. “If we’d have gotten the right restart, we would have done the same thing, so I think you just have to take that stuff with a grain of salt. There’s gonna be weeks that you look back and you got that track position and won races because of it and some weeks you don’t get the track position and you don’t win, but it’s all up and down. Everybody has good weeks. Everybody has bad weeks. I mean, they had a good day and that one particular instance that we needed to be great and the 22 had a great pit stop, and we didn’t have a bad one, we just didn’t have a great one. The restart didn’t work out with no help from behind and wound up in the position that we were in. I think even today you still want to win and still frustrated that we didn’t win on a day we had a really fast car and felt like we could have won the race, but I think when you look at it it’s also a little bit childish to complain when you finish second and race for the lead all day. I’ve been on the flip side of that, so you definitely have to balance that with what’s realistic and good and bad and you kind of have to take all that in stride and just move on with it.”

YOU’VE BEEN SO STRONG AT TEXAS. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE FALL RACE THERE THAT MAKES YOU JUST A TICK BETTER? “I’d really like to thank Eddie Gossage for redesigning the racetrack because for whatever reason since Eddie has redesigned the track and things have kind of fallen into being favorable for us and the things that we do with our race car and myself as a driver it just kind of fits everything, so it’s just finally the last few years we’ve been able to capitalize on what we had on the old racetrack as well and that was fast cars. I think as you look at really everything that’s happened at Texas it’s just been A-plus, and when you have that confidence in a racetrack and the guys have confidence in the setup and the car and the things that they change from year to year it’s hard to beat confidence. There’s always things that can happen, but I truly believe that we’ll go there and have a really fast car and be comfortable the week leading up to it that you made the right decisions because we’ve made a lot of really good decisions there in the past. It’s just been a great place for us.”

DO THE PLAYOFF POINTS COME IN AT ALL FOR YOU? “They give you a good backup plan, and then you hope. Using that hope is great for what we did in the regular season. They don’t mean anything if you don’t capitalize on them. It’s a lot easier to put yourself in a position by winning races, but you can get yourself in trouble so fast and lose so many points so quick. You spent the whole regular season putting yourself in a position to have a backup plan and the way that we got that backup plan with those points was to win, and I think as you look at the things that we’ve been able to do, I think that’s still the best strategy — try to put yourself in position to win and the things that you did by capitalizing on that during the regular season lead to a good backup plan because you still don’t have control of that 100 percent from a points side of things. Winning solidifies that 100 percent for moving forward if you can do that.”

WHAT COULD POTENTIALLY HAPPEN AT MARTINSVILLE FOR GUYS THAT DON’T HAVE YOUR KIND OF BACKUP PLAN? “I think a lot of that depends on what happens this weekend. I truly believe that somebody from the final eight will win all three of these races. I don’t obviously know who that is and then you come down to one points spot, so a lot of it depends on who wins and if somebody outside of the top eight wins, then there are two points spots. So there are a lot of scenarios that can take place, but in the end Martinsville is gonna be Martinsville and then you put it as the final race to earn your way in and it will make it extra exciting.”

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO NEW TEAM OWNERS WANTING TO COME INTO NASCAR? “That’s a great question, but it’s not a simple scenario. I think the most important thing that you have are people. The only way to be great is to have great people. If you have average people, you’re gonna have an average team. If you have good people, you’re gonna have a good team. If you have great people, it leads to the opportunity to be great, so it’s all about putting the right people in the right places. Obviously, you have to run it to a budget, but I’d rather buy less tires than not have the right people because in the end it’s a scenario that you’re only as good as the people that are surrounding you and that is 100 percent true. I think you see the good drivers wind up with the good people and the good teams and good organizations and they all wind up in the same place for a reason. A lot of times those are the people that realize it takes everything to be perfect to be successful in this sport, so hiring the right people is definitely the biggest key to the equation.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL YOUR MENTALITY HAS CHANGED GOING INTO THE LAST THREE RACES OF THIS YEAR COMPARED TO OTHER YEARS? DO YOU HAVE MORE ENERGY AND LESS FATIGUE? “Oh, 100 percent. It’s a totally different feeling from a physical standpoint than what you’ve had in the past, but the flip side to that too is sometimes I don’t feel as good getting out of the car as I would when I’m in the car Friday, Saturday, Sunday, especially during the summer just because of the fact that you just become so used to the heat and all the things that happen on the hot days that you become accustomed to that. I feel like as we went through the summer not being in the car all the time kind of took a little bit more of a toll and you kind of had to approach things differently. Obviously, now it’s not that big a deal with the temperatures we’re racing in now, but I would tell you from an end of season standpoint it doesn’t feel like the end of the season because you just don’t have that ultimate fatigue that you normally get being run down and tired of traveling and all the things that come with the three-day weekend grind that we’re typically accustomed to and traveling so much. It feels much different than what we have done in the past, for sure.”

WHAT HAS IMPRESSED YOU MOST ABOUT CHASE BRISCOE ON OR OFF THE TRACK? “He’s a great person and he’s very, very determined. I think as you look at his background and the things that he’s done to get to this point it’s purely because of who he is from a personal side of things and what he can do in the car. When you combine those things, he’s just a great guy to be around and works really hard at what he does. It says a lot about our Xfinity program with two guys that are moving on to the Cup Series now. Obviously, Cole having won in the Cup Series and now Chase is on his way to doing the same thing, so Chase is just a great guy and can drive the heck out of the race car and that, for him, is very important because it’s helped a lot of people support him through the years that took to get him to this point and ultimately it paid off to be racing at the top level, so really, really happy for Chase to be able to get that opportunity. I think he will do a great job for Stewart-Haas Racing for a really long time after he gets his feet on the ground in being able to win races and help take Stewart-Haas Racing forward for many years to come.”


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