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NCS Keselowski and Buescher Iowa Media Availability

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series
Iowa Media Availability | Friday, June 14, 2024

The Roush Fenway Keselowski duo of Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher stopped by the Iowa Speedway infield media center before today’s practice and discussed a variety of issues with reporters.

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 6 King’s Hawaiian/Casey’s Ford Mustang Dark Horse – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT MARTIN TRUEX RETIRING AT THE END OF THE YEAR? “Martin certainly has earned a lot of respect and credibility out of the industry. He’s done that with things he’s done on the track and off the track. I’m sad to see him go and I’m kind of reminded that life is about change. It’s not always fun change, but it’s tough seeing any champion leave this sport, but we wish him the best in his next endeavors. To speak of his career as you were asking, Martin is just kind of a telltale story of this sport of somebody that came in with a really great pedigree, winning two Xfinity championships and got to the Cup side and paid a lot of dues. He was probably hung up in situations that weren’t ideal, but he stuck it out and got himself into a great situation and made the most of it, and deserves a lot of credit for that kind of consistency and patience. He’s a super talented guy. I look at him even last week at Sonoma and he’s a really good race car driver that knows how to put his car in the right positions. He’s a little bit of a throwback in the sense that Martin is one of those guys that I thought was really good at taking care of his equipment and being there when it mattered, so with each one of these drivers that goes away it’s kind of the end of its own little era. Martin was probably one of the last of the drivers that had chill to him. It seems like everybody new that comes in, I mean obviously Chris is probably the closest comp to Martin there is, but most of the drivers don’t have a lot of chill. Martin is a very chill guy, so I’ve got a lot of respect for him and I don’t know what his next chapter is, maybe he doesn’t know either, but that’s OK. He’ll be missed in our sport.”

CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang Dark Horse – “Brad covered it quite well. I know he’s raced with Martin a lot more through the years, but I guess that’s big news that we probably felt was coming at some point within the next year, but good for him. Like Brad said, he’s been a lot of fun to race with, a very respectable racer that I’ve been able to have good, clean battles through the years consistently. It’s always been a lot of fun for me and I still want to be a little upset for being able to run me down last week, but congrats to him. That’s really cool and wish him the best going forward. Like Brad said, you’re losing another veteran that is predictable, that you know you can race on track and have good, hard, clean racing for the vast majority of the time, and know that you can get out and appreciate that from each other. Time will tell what changes from there, but congrats to him.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A MIDWESTERNER, WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE CUP SERIES TO HAVE A PLACE LIKE IOWA TO RACE AT, ESPECIALLY FOR THE FAN BASE? “I think it’s a huge event for our sport. It’s obviously the inaugural Cup race here at a track that has paid a lot of dues. It’s been around now for 17 years, 18 years, so it’s finally having its day here. It’s exciting to see that for me on a number of levels. Geographically, I think it’s an important market for us as we kind of transcend the discourse of political conversations that are going on with coastal cities and everything else that’s going on you start to lose sight of that in NASCAR, that NASCAR is not just a coastal sport or a regional sport. It’s a national sport and it’s important, in my mind, to really live that out and I think we’re doing that by racing here in Iowa. It’s pretty much the exact middle of the country. If I was throwing a dart at a dart board, probably as close as you could get to the center would be Iowa and I think that’s important. There’s a lot of great race fans here that, I think, for a long time have been somewhat under represented with the tracks that they’re around or that they get to go to. We started to work our way out there a little bit with Kansas and some of those tracks, which is great. I think that was a good win for us, and it’s nice to see us continue to do that with a race here in Iowa. I think from everything I understand about the attendance and the support of the community it’s gonna be outstanding for all three nights, which is great, and it shows a pent up demand. I think it’s important to go where you’re wanted and it’s very clear that here in Iowa NASCAR is wanted. Beyond that, I’m glad it’s not another road course. It seems like every time we add a new venue to the sport, ‘Oh, a road course.’ It’s nice to add a new venue to this sport that’s an actual stock car-esque track and that’s clearly what Iowa is, so I’m really pumped for this community. I’ve kind of advocated for it for a while now and I’m pretty sure they didn’t do it because of me, but I’m still glad to see it happen. I’m glad to see a community that pays its dues get a race. Michigan is still a pretty long ways away from Iowa, but there’s still a lot of relatability that I have to this area and to the fan base here.”

CHRIS BUESCHER CONTINUED – YOU’VE RACED HERE A LOT GOING BACK TO THE XFINITY DAYS. WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING WITH THE TRACK CHANGES THIS WEEKEND? “I’ve been coming here for many a years now as well and certainly I’m excited to get to fly to this racetrack this time, instead of the driving we used to do. I do very clearly remember coming out to Iowa, whether that was ARCA racing or Xfinity racing and seeing an amazing amount of support from our fan base from this region. As simple as taking the track walk a few hours ago. We’ve been here three hours at this point and we’ve got fans yelling over the fence at everybody walking by saying, ‘Thanks for coming. We’re glad you’re here. We’ve been waiting for this.’ It’s Friday and very early in the weekend and we’ve already got people yelling out and showing support, so that’s really cool for this entire place. I love this racetrack since the first time I’ve come out here. Yes, the racing is gonna be different than what we’ve had in the past. On that side of it, certainly, I was excited about the old surface. Naturally, I love the old, worn out racetracks and we’ve gone through our fair share of repaves already this season with North Wilkesboro and Sonoma and also understanding that maintenance is necessary. There’s no way around that. Ultimately, we can’t have racetracks falling apart on us during our events, so I’m certainly not about to dig into it, but it is gonna be different than what we’ve seen in the past. We won’t be up against the fence. One, the new asphalt is very smooth and the outside asphalt right up against the fence is not. It reminds me of some of those teeth chattering moments up there wrapping the fence in the past. It is gonna be a very different style of race. We have a lot to learn. I know Brad was here for the test not too long ago and we’ll certainly, as soon as we walk out of here, be glued to the monitors watching Xfinity wrap up their practice as well.”

WHY DO YOU LOVE THE TRACK? “To Brad’s point it’s a short track-ish. It is a very fast place, but it’s put on some great racing. We haven’t had Cup races to watch here with this being the first time we’re coming out, so all the studying leading up to this one has been old Xfinity races, watching these events and just watching them and enjoying them thoroughly as a fan. To watch the racing and what it’s done for the show, of the different lines in the racetrack, the options you had as a driver from inside the car without having to wait until a pit stop to make adjustments, that’s awesome. That’s what we live for. On top of trying to take in everything we can to be ready for this weekend and refresh, it’s just fun to watch those races and realize what a fantastic facility we’ve got here and what kind of potential we have for our race this weekend.”

ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC YOU COULD HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND OR EVEN WIN HERE? “Yeah, on that point I’m optimistic about every week right now. I’m excited every single track we go to I will even stretch it as far to say I’m almost excited to go to Loudon next week. Richmond and Phoenix, through the past years those tracks have been tough. RFK through my years here I’ve been a part of tough times where we’ve circled racetracks and said, ‘These are our chances.’ We’ve got to really focus on these and we’re not doing that. We’re going to the racetrack each and every week feeling like we have chances to win races and that’s this one just the same as every other week. On that side of things, whether it’ got those similarities or differences, I’m excited purely from the fact that RFK has been building fast race cars that we’re showing up to the racetrack with a chance to win, whether that is Sonoma on a new paved road course, whether that’s been Kansas or whether it’s a big unknown at Iowa here this week.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – YOU AND DENNY WILL BE THE TWO OLDEST DRIVERS NEXT YEAR. HOW DOES THAT SIT WITH YOU? “I don’t know. I just think about Mark Martin driving until he was 50. One, I think that’s really impressive and, two, there’s a part of me that’s like, ‘Well, if he can do it, I can do it.’ And think, ‘Alright, well that’s still like another 10 years from now.’ So, for the record, Logano has been here longer than I have. He was just a little younger. I keep reminding him that. He’s got more consecutive starts than I have too, so it’ll be interesting. I guess when you get behind the wheel and you’re driving the car all of that stuff kind of goes out the window and it’s what you can do on that given day. I don’t think too much about that stuff, but every once in a while you have some of those moments. I had that moment this week when we were filming the last Race Hub show. I was just thinking about, ‘Wow, I remember when I was a rookie in Cup when this show started.’ You hate to see things like that go away, but it’s just different eras. Times change and that’s part of the reason being on the ownership side was so important for me and getting exposure to it at this point in time of my life. Inevitably, everything ends. I feel like I’m a long ways away from that on the driver side, although there are bad days where you do kind of kick yourself and you have those thoughts pushed in your head, but, fortunately as of late there have been enough good days to where you go, ‘Oh, no, no. I’m gonna do this for a long time.’ I left the Coke 600 saying, ‘Oh, I’ve got 10 years left in me.’ And when I left North Wilkesboro I was saying, ‘Oh my God, how am I gonna keep doing this?’ So, you’ve got the ups and the downs and you just try to level them out a little bit in your head. I hope this weekend I’m gonna leave saying, ‘I’ve got 10 years left in me.’ I feel like we’ll have the cars and the team to be able to compete at a high level and maybe even with the race. When you have the competitive element at the really high level, Mark Martin said it on Dale Jr’s. podcast, ‘They don’t make a drug like that. They don’t make a drug that good as being able to win races,’ so I hope we’re running really well and I have another 10 years left in me. That’s what I feel at least.”

WHAT IS AT STAKE FOR THIS RACE? “There’s been a lot made about the repave. Maybe that’s right and maybe that’s not. I’m sure it would be better to answer that Sunday after the race than it is on Friday. There’s a lot to be proven out. I look at the tracks that I think have been successful in their debuts and the ones that haven’t been successful in their debuts and generally I feel like what separates the good tracks and the bad tracks is how well they take care of the fans more so than whether there’s a three-wide finish for the win, and that’s gonna come down to the three t’s – the Humpy Wheeler three t’s of tickets, traffic and toilets. Isn’t that the Humpy Wheeler three t’s? I think they’ve got the ticket part figured out. I don’t know about the traffic and the toilets, but I hope they’ve got that figured out. I’ve read and heard some of the discourse here about the track and I know they’ve put a lot of work into tire dragons and all those other things to try to get two lanes to come in. No, it’s not gonna be three or four lanes maybe some of us hope, but still probably gonna be two good lanes of racing, so I think it’ll be a great race either way.”

YOU HAVE TWO WINS AT NEW HAMPSHIRE BUT THE NEXT GEN CAR HAS CHANGED THINGS. IS THERE A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN HOW THE TRACK RACES NOW? “It’s interesting. I don’t know if it was the car that made a big difference, but last year the groove moved all the way up against the wall, I think, at both ends and that was a huge change. I think it’s more of a factor of the PJ1 and the modified races and how the track has aged than it is the Next Gen car. Of course, the shifting there makes a big difference. That kind of changed the dynamics of the track, so it will continue to change. That’s a pretty safe bet, but I don’t think the Next Gen car was a big change for that track.”

HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY WEIGHT OFF THE SHOULDERS OF THE TEAM SINCE YOU HAVE A WIN NOW? “To some degree I feel a little bit of personal weight off my shoulders, but until we get both cars locked in the playoffs we still have a big mountain to climb. Obviously, we’ve been very close to that with Chris and the 17 car with a number of second-place finishes and a really good run last week at Sonoma. I’m eager to punch that through and have both of our cars locked in the playoffs. I think my goal that we set was to have it done by the middle of June to have both cars locked into the playoffs, so there’s still time. It’s the 14th? That’s less time than I thought, but we’re really happy with how competitive the cars are, how well the teams are clicking and there is some happenstance involved in winning races and some performance. I think we have solid cars right now. Were we as fast as the 5 car last week? No, no we weren’t. We weren’t anywhere close to that with either of our two cars, but I expect we’ll be very competitive over the next three weeks and have shots to compete for wins.”

CHRIS BUESCHER CONTINUED – IS IT TENSE AT THE 17 TEAM OR IS THE FRUSTRATION BUILDING WITH HOW WELL YOU’VE RUN, BUT HAVEN’T WON YET? “Certainly there’s a lot of weight and I guess it’s not really unfortunate, it’s just part of our sport. You reset those bags on your shoulders as soon as the year concludes in Phoenix and you start all over again. We’ve been competitive to Brad’s point. That was one of the biggest goals I had going through the offseason was how do we make sure the first eight races are way more competitive than where we were last season. We gave up a lot at that time and we certainly have had big chances and been really close that have ended in some catastrophic ways as well, so maybe from a points side of things we’re probably about the same place as we were last year, but the opportunity is way higher and the ceiling is much higher, so we’ve got to make it happen. We’ve got to capitalize and conclude one of these things at the end of the day and be able to lock ourselves into the playoffs because the bigger goal at the start of the season was how do we make sure that we’re locked in with a chance to win a championship, not just participate. We’re in a good spot, but we’re not in a great spot yet. We’ve got to go through these next handful of races and make all the pieces fit together and click right and certainly there has been some frustration on a lot of parts of it, but doing our best to not let that continuously build up and get worse. You’re gonna have days at the racetrack that aren’t gonna go your way and it’s part of competition, but we’ve got to control what we can to make them go our way. Last week was a good reset for our team on that side of things after some rough goes for us ultimately.”

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

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