Ford Performance NASCAR: From Sunday’s New Hampshire Bullpen

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series Media Availability
New Hampshire Motor Speedway | Sunday, July 18, 2021


The following quotes were obtained from Sunday’s pre-race media bullpen session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 eCascadia Ford Mustang — WHY IS OWNERSHIP IMPORTANT TO YOU?  “I’ll probably save some of that stuff more for Tuesday.  We’ll have some announcements around some things going on there around that time, but, for now, I think I was really pleased with some of the things that Roger said.  He’s been really good to me over the years.  I’m sad to leave that situation, but excited about the path forward.”

ANYTHING HE SAID YOU DIDN’T AGREE WITH?  “No, not particularly.  They’re gonna be great.  They’ve got a lot of good things going over there with Austin and I’m happy for them.”

CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH THE TIMELINE?  WHEN KNOW YOU SIGNED A ONE-YEAR DEAL FOR 2020 AND RP SAID IN 2020 HE OFFERED YOU A MULTI-YEAR DEAL AND YOU SAID YOU JUST WANTED TO SIGN FOR ONE, AND THAT HE THOUGHT YOU MIGHT SIGN THIS YEAR FOR TWO OR THREE.  CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH YOUR PERSPECTIVE?  “Last year was certainly a very unique situation with a lot of uncertainty around what was going to be the future of not just the sport or even my team, but for all of us.  I think there were a lot of spots in there for interpretation and ultimately I did sign a one-year deal for 2021 with an eye towards waiting to see things stabilize and as things stabilized the marketplace stabilized with it and probably actually grew, to be quite honest, and I think right now there’s a lot of demand out there for proven drivers that can win races and that demand remains.”

COULD YOU HAVE AN OPTION FOR A MULTI-YEAR DEAL WHEN YOU RE-SIGNED FOR 2020 OR WAS THAT JUST  A ONE-YEAR DEAL?  “When I re-signed it I signed for one year with no options or anything like that.”

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE BASEBALL TEAM?  (Laughing)  “Well, I’m from Detroit.”

I KNOW YOU’RE FROM DETROIT, BUT I’M THINKING YOU MIGHT HAVE A DIFFERENT ANSWER NOW?  “I like all baseball.  Baseball is one of my favorite sports.”

HAVE YOU THROWN AWAY ALL OF YOUR TIGERS GEAR YET?  “I haven’t thrown away any gear.  I’m proud of every piece of memorabilia I have over the years.  I’ve got stuff from the Reds.  I’ve got stuff from the Tigers.  I’ve got stuff from three or four others, the Diamondbacks.  I can’t remember them all, but I’m not throwing anything away.”

DID YOU THINK THERE WAS A TIME YOU WOULD BE A PENSKE LIFER?  WAS THAT A HOPE?  “Yeah, certainly I think everybody has aspirations that where they go to work that things will work out where you can stay forever and continue to grow, but life has other plans and there’s no bitterness about that.”

DID YOU CONSIDER A MULTI-YEAR DEAL AT PENSKE?  “Oh, yeah.  I considered a lot of different things.  Ultimately, the decisions I’ve made for the future are about what’s best for me, my family and my professional and personal life.”

WAS IT HARDER TO WALK AWAY THAN YOU MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT?  “Yeah, it was pretty hard.  It’s always hard to walk away.  There are some great people that I hold near and dear and always will.”

WHEN YOU SHUT DOWN YOUR TRUCK TEAM YOU SAID YOU WERE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO BE DONE IN AN OWNERSHIP ROLE IN NASCAR.  WHAT IS IT ABOUT THAT MADE YOU FEEL YOU WOULD END UP IN THAT DIRECTION?  “I really enjoy the ideas of ownership and management and seeing people grow, being a part of success in a broader role.  Of course, sometimes it means being part of failure in a broader role as well, but the idea of building teams and seeing people grow and be successful together, I take a lot out of that.”

WAS THERE A LOT OF EMOTION THIS WEEK WHEN THE DECISION BECAME OFFICIAL OF YOU LEAVING PENSKE?  “Yeah, there’s a lot of emotions about it.  I imagine those emotions will live for years to come.”

WHAT HAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP BEEN LIKE WITH AUSTIN AND DO YOU FEEL HE’S READY FOR AN OPPORTUNITY LIKE THIS?  “Yeah, I don’t know what more you could ask out of Austin.  He won a championship last year.  He’s won the most races this year in the XFINITY Series.  If he isn’t ready for Cup now, what else does he have to do?  So, I’m happy for him.”

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Autotrader Ford Mustang — WHAT KIND OF CHANGES DO YOU SEE FOR TEAM PENSKE WITH BRAD LEAVING?  “There’s obviously a lot of changes, but I think there’s a lot of opportunity.  I think we’ve all seen what Austin is capable of doing in the Xfinity Series.  Something that I think about him is his work ethic is up where it needs to be.  He probably works harder, I wouldn’t say he works as hard as me, but he’s pretty close to it, so I think we’re able to push each other a lot.  I think his road course ability is something that we’ve seen that is very strong already in the Cup Series.  I think he’s gonna be able to bring a lot to the table.  Obviously, I’m bummed about losing my teammate, Brad.  Brad has been a great partner throughout the last eight or nine years at Penske.  We’ve worked really well together, but, obviously, he’s found his way and something that’s very exciting for him, and I’m happy for him.  We’ll have to figure out our new way and how we do it, but we have so many great people at Team Penske that, honestly, we’ll be able to make the transition.  We’ll have to learn each other, and I’ll be learning a couple new teammates through all of this.”

YOU’LL BE THE ELDER STATESMAN NOW.  DO YOU FEEL YOU’RE READY FOR THAT LEADERSHIP ROLE NOW?  “Thanks.  You’re not the first person to tell me that (laughing).  I feel like Brad and I led it together throughout the last few years.  When we first started it was just me and him, it was just the two of us, so we were able to do a lot together.  I feel like Blaney has definitely raised his game over the years as you can see, so it’s gonna be up to us to kind of lead the organization around.  It’s not just the drivers though that do that.  It’s a whole team.  I think you look at Travis and Mike and Tim and Roger and Walt — everyone at the table to steer the ship.  I’m glad to be part of that team, but it’s everyone working together and figure out the right direction from there.  There are obviously a lot of changes next year with the Next Gen car, so if there’s gonna be a time for this, it’s probably now, so I think that’s why you’re seeing so much moving around already.”

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS?  “I’m not sure yet.  My sister is getting married, so I have to go to that, which will be great.  And just spend time with the family.  It’s nice to have a couple weeks off during the nice weather.  That was the best part about COVID last year was we all got to spend time together when it’s warm and not when it’s cold out in the winter time, so a lot of pool time.”

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW HARRISON BURTON?  “Not very well, yet.  I plan to get to know him fairly well over the next few months and get him prepared as much as he can be for the Cup Series.  This is tough stuff up here.  This isn’t easy racing against these guys and try to guide him along as much as I can.  It’s in my best interest for him to run well, trust me, so I’ll try to put my arms around him and try to guide him and help him.  Obviously, his dad has been here and done that, so he’s got some good people around him.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Tarkett Ford Mustang — THOUGHTS ON HAVING AUSTIN AS A TEAMMATE NEXT YEAR?  “Austin was already planning on going to the 21 and then with Brad’s plans, RP made a move to just put Austin in the 2 car because he’s got a lot of relationships with the Penske people already and sponsors and things like that, but Austin has done a really good job with the way he’s progressed over the past three our four years from Trucks and XFINITY.  That  has been pretty great, I think.  I think he puts a lot of hard work in.  I mean, he’s won a bunch of races and won an XFINITY championship and probably one of the favorites to win it again this year, so he’s paid his dues and done a great job and he’s very deserving of it, for sure.”

WHAT HAS THIS SENSE OF CHANGE BEEN LIKE AS YOU PREPARE FOR NEXT YEAR?  “I’m not longer the young guy over there, so that’s nice (laughing).  I don’t get stuck with the short end of the stick on some things, but I’ve known the Burtons for a long time, too.  I’m a little bit older than Harrison, but I spent a lot of time with Jeff and everybody and know Ward and Jeb really well.  That’s a good family.  I’m actually neighbors with Jeff, so I think Harrison is gonna do a really good job, but, yeah, a big shakeup at Penske, but with the circumstances of Brad moving over to Roush and things like that, I think there’s two younger, very talented drivers coming in that I think will do a really good job.  I’m really excited to work with them and see what they can do, and I think, right now, next year with the new car is probably the best time to be a rookie coming in because everyone is kind of starting over.   I don’t think the learning curve is nearly as high as a rookie coming in this year and trying to learn these cars.  Everyone is gonna be learning the new ones, so I think they’ll do a really good job.  I know they’ll work really hard and try to help them out as best we can along the way.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE FOREVER SINCE YOU’VE BEEN TO WATKINS GLEN?  “Honestly, I forgot we didn’t go there last year.  I like the area a lot.  It’s a great racetrack and the people and the fans there are awesome, too.  I look forward to getting back up there.  It’s gonna be nice.  We’ve got a couple weeks off here for the Olympics and go back and have two road courses back-to-back with the Glen and Indy.  I think it’ll be really nice to restart it, but going back to the Glen, I know the fans are obviously really excited about that and I am too because we get a good crowd up there.  A lot of these places where we didn’t go last year, especially I think the fans are just out in full force because they didn’t get to maybe go to their favorite track last year and things like that, so it’s good.  I’m looking forward to it.  Hopefully, the weather is nice.”

WHAT ARE YOU DOING DURING THE BREAK?  “I’ve got a couple plans with some friends and family, but not too much.  Just relax a little bit.  Watch the Olympics.  Nothing too crazy, just hang out and maybe see some people you haven’t been able to see in a while.  Two weeks off though is gonna feel like an eternity.  I’ll definitely be back and ready to go racing, but I’m not getting into a whole lot.”

WOULD IT BE GOOD TO HAVE THIS KIND OF BREAK EVERY YEAR?  “The two-week break, I think a lot of people need it.  I’m not saying I need it.  I’d race every week, but a lot of the road crew gets worked to the bone.  I know we haven’t been traveling to the racetrack for three days out of the weekend here, but they work really hard and they all have families.  I don’t have a full family, kids or anything, but a lot of those guys and girls do and it’s nice for them to spend a lot of time because you know you have 14 weeks straight of racing and the playoffs and it’s gonna be crunch time.  I don’t know about two weeks off.  One week off is good enough for me, but the Olympics will be cool.”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SPORT?  “I don’t really know.  My family was a big gymnast family growing up.  My sisters were gymnasts, so we always watched those events.  I’ve always watched gymnastics.  Simone Biles, she’s amazing.  She’s incredible.  I think she’s probably going to win a bunch of them this year, but that or like track and field stuff is pretty cool, too.”

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang — IT WILL BE TWO YEARS SINCE WE’VE BEEN TO WATKINS GLEN. DOES IT FEEL STRANGE NOT TO HAVE BEEN TO A PLACE FOR THAT LONG?  “It feels a little bit strange just because of the fact that we obviously have a huge following when we go to Watkins Glen and sell out after sell out.  It’ll be great to go back up there and that’s a racing town.  I mean, the town is basically built off of racing, so it’s a fun place to go up and see that enthusiasm and as we’ve seen everywhere with those types of crowds, the enthusiasm coming from the crowds right now is definitely fun to be a part of.”

WHAT MAKES WATKINS GLEN UNIQUE?  “I would definitely say it’s the bus stop.  I think there are just so many things that happen over on that part of the racetrack.  It’s fast and it’s a really cool corner to watch and be a part of.”

WHAT’S IT LIKE IN TRAFFIC WHEN SOMEONE GOES OFF TWO ROWS AHEAD AND THE DUST ALL FLIES UP?  “It’s better than it used to be.  It’s actually the corner out of the bus stop now that throws up all the dirt, so maybe we need that same water truck that came to Road America that watered the dirt down before the race.”

WHAT ARE YOU DOING DURING THIS TWO WEEK BREAK?  “We’ll be at home.  We go all the time, so, fortunately, these two weeks fell at home for Keelan’s race schedule, so we get to spend two weeks at Go Pro and then the third week in Indiana, so it stays busy.  During the week is really when the normalcy part sets in.  We do normal things, and then depending upon the weekend as far as when you take off is how you determine how busy you’re gonna be that week with travel.”

WOULD THIS BREAK BE A GOOD THING TO DO ANNUALLY?  “I do.  I just wish they would take one week and shut the teams down completely.  I think it would be great for the guys in the shop just to have a week to know that they could plan for.  The first week of the off week would be great for those guys to just not do anything.  It’s not like we can change anything anyway.  They’ve got us locked in with all the parts and pieces and everything that we do, so it’s not like you can change anything.  I wish they would just think about those guys, and I think the mindset would be great for those guys.”

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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