Ford Performance NASCAR: Brad Keselowski Martinsville Zoom Transcript




American Muscle

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Dent Wizard Ford Mustang — YOU SAID YOU COULDN’T SLEEP LAST NIGHT. HOW ARE YOU FEELING? “Really good. I feel great. These next two races really set up terrific and I’m just excited. I was really nervous about Texas. I thought Texas would be the most difficult race for us to get through in this round and it ended up going really well for us. And these next two races I’m just, I don’t want to say licking my chops, but I feel like based on our season’s performance to date, they present the best chance for us to go out and really have a chance to win and get a second championship, so I’m pretty pumped about it.”

ARE YOU RACING TO WIN AT MARTINSVILLE TO GET IN OR DO YOU SEE OTHER PATHS? “I think there are other paths, but I think we’ve got a great shot at winning. I’m looking at starting from the pole. That’s a good feeling, and then I’m thinking about obviously the speed we’ve had to date on the short tracks and all those things combined I feel pretty good.”

SOME DRIVERS SHUT DOWN SOCIAL MEDIA DURING THIS TIME, BUT YOU DON’T SEEM TO CHANGE MUCH OF WHAT YOU DO. WHY? “Yeah, I think that’s pretty accurate. I used to just do social media all by myself and I have a little bit more help now than I used to, so that’s been a big deal for me. I lean on that help and support that I get to keep it to where social media can still be fun for me, and I’ve always said that I get more out of social media than what I put in. I still feel that way. I understand why some people might not feel that way and that’s okay, but I’m just steady Eddie — stay the course.”

HOW MUCH SAY SHOULD A DRIVER HAVE WHEN A CREW CHIEF CHANGE IS BEING CONSIDERED? “I think you always want to have some input no matter what your job is on what happens around you, so certainly I always think a driver should. One of the roles of a car owner is to see what’s going on around him and with his team and make decisions that might not always be popular but are best for the team, so there’s certainly a balancing act there.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ROTATING THE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE IN FUTURE YEARS AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS PHOENIX HAS MADE? “I think it’s great to see a racetrack and a community make an investment like Phoenix Raceway has. That track went from being pretty outdated to arguably being the most modern NASCAR track we have, so it was very welcome by the industry. With that came an embrace for the championship weekend for 2020 and I think that’s really well earned whenever you’re willing to make that kind of an investment on a facility. To your other question about the championship race changing season to season, I’m supportive of that. I think variety is the spice of life and I think one of the reasons in my mind why NASCAR had such a big boom in the late nineties and early 2000s is they were going to different tracks. New tracks were being added to the schedule and some of the good tracks that we already had were kept on the schedule and I’d like to see that become the norm. I’m really excited with what I’ve seen with the changes for the 2021 schedule and I think NASCAR is maybe thinking similar.”

WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET GOING INTO THIS RACE? “I want to win. I know we’re gonna have a shot starting from the pole and having the first pit stall. That’s as good a shot as you’re gonna get at Martinsville out of the gate. Of course, you’ve got to execute and deliver during the race, but I’m certainly going there to win and not thinking of anything differently.”

IS THIS YOUR BEST CHANCE TO WIN THE TITLE SINCE YOU WON YOUR FIRST ONE? “I would say this year and probably 2015 were two really good opportunities for me to win a championship. I didn’t pull it off in 2015 and I feel like that was in retrospect my fault. I feel like I’ve had other great seasons — 2014 was a great season, but we didn’t really have the speed on the mile-and-a-halves and the championship came down to a mile-and-a-half at the end. In 2012, we had great mile-and-a-half speed and it did come down to the mile-and-a-half, so all things considered I think I have the best chance I’ve had and probably equal the chance I had in 2012 and 2015 and I’m really excited for it.”

HOW MUCH WILL YOU PAY ATTENTION TO DENNY AND RACE HIM ON POINTS BECAUSE IF SOMEONE OUTSIDE THE TOP 4 WINS, THAT LAST TRANSFER SPOT WOULD BE ELIMINATED? “I don’t want to play defense. I just want to go out there and play offense. I’m confident we’ve got the capabilities as a team to do just that, so probably will not spend that much time thinking about him — at least not intentionally.”

WITH MARTIN TRUEX HAVING WON THE LAST TWO RACES THERE AND HIM BEING BELOW THE CUTLINE. DO YOU RACE HIM ANY TOUGHER AND TRY TO MAKE IT A LONG, HARD DAY FOR HIM TO MAKE HIS LIFE MISERABLE SO HE CAN’T GET THAT WIN? “I plan on making it miserable for everyone. I’m an opportunist. I’d like to just win it and not worry about it. I think it’s very dangerous for me to focus on one car. I want to focus on my car if I’m gonna focus on any cars.”

WHAT WILL THE BALANCE BE FOR YOU IN TERMS OF AGGRESSION AT MARTINSVILLE? “I haven’t had any of those conversations with Jeremy and I don’t anticipate we will. I think we’ll just completely focus on controlling our own destiny by winning.”

DO YOU FEEL THE DRIVER WHO WINS THE FIRST RACE IN THE ROUND OF 8 HAS AN ADVANTAGE AND WHOEVER WINS THIS WEEKEND WOULD BE DISADVANTAGED BECAUSE THEY WON’T HAVE AS MUCH TIME TO PREPARE FOR PHOENIX? “I thought previously that there was a good conversation to be had about why winning Martinsville was so important because you could spend two or three weeks in the wind tunnel with your Homestead car, and aerodynamics being so important for Homestead gave you a lot of time to tune that car up and put a lot of focus on it. Probably not so much the case for Phoenix. Not that aerodynamics aren’t important at Phoenix, but not like they are at Homestead. I would say with that in mind, along with the COVID effect, I don’t anticipate it will be as big of an advantage as it used to be.”

HOW DO YOU BALANCE WHAT CHANGES YOU MAKE FROM THE FIRST MARTINSVILLE RACE TO THIS ONE? “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. I know as a team we’ve brought some new things and I anticipate we’ll be a little bit better.”

HOW HAVE YOU HAD TO ADJUST THE THINGS YOU WOULD NORMALLY DO WITH YOUR CHECKERED FLAG FOUNDATION? “It’s definitely a challenge. I don’t want anybody to feel sad for me or my foundation, but it’s definitely a challenge. We shifted to moving our events. We had two events we had to cancel, which was kind of heartbreaking — not from the fundraising side, obviously that doesn’t help any at all, but more because we couldn’t do things for the people we really cared about. For the past three years we’ve been working to raise funds to build a Fisher House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is close to my hometown and my home state. We finally got the thing open and it was just as COVID hit and we couldn’t go to the grand opening and that really stunk. I really wanted to go to that, but that’s not life or death. There are a lot worse things going on in the world, so I try to keep that in perspective, but we have a number of initiatives that we pushed off to the winter, specifically after the season, so we can have some gatherings and so forth that don’t jeopardize my day job, so to speak. So it’s just part of everybody adjusting and acclimating to the new realities of the world we live in.”

DOES TALENT MATTER LESS THIS WEEKEND IN THE SENSE OF ME BEATING YOU ALL I HAVE TO DO IS KNOCK YOU OUT OF THE WAY? IS IT EASIER TO BE A GOON ON THE TRACK? “I’ve never heard of it put that way. That’s interesting. There’s part of me that says it’s harder and it requires more talent because the finesse that it takes to get around Martinsville is much higher than it is to get around a Texas or a Kansas or a Homestead, but then on the other side to your point, it is easier to just catch somebody, run them over and move on. So I think it’s somewhere in-between. It’s probably a little bit of both. It’s a little bit harder and a little bit easier. It’s a little bit harder just to make speed and to run away from the field and have a dominant day because it takes a lot of talent, I think, to manage the car at a track like Martinsville. On the flip side, it takes less talent, to your point, of being able to just hit somebody and pass them. So, yes to both. It’s both harder and easier.”

THERE’S SO MUCH AT STAKE IN THIS ELIMINATION RACE ARE YOU WORRIED IT’S EASIER FOR SOMEONE TO JUST ROUGH UP ANOTHER DRIVER OR DOES THE THREAT OF RETALIATION KEEP THAT FROM HAPPENING? “As I’ve gotten older and dare I say a little bit wiser, I’ve learned not to worry about things I can’t control. I don’t particularly worry about what the racetrack lineup is because I can’t change it, I can’t control it, all I can do is try to be the best I can within the environment. Worrying doesn’t really help me at all, so I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it that way, but it does require some adapting.”

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