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NASCAR Nationwide Series: Drive4COPD 300

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Drive4COPD 300

NASCAR Nationwide Series: Drive4COPD 300

Austin Dillon
Brad Keselowski
Elliott Sadler
February 25, 2012


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

KERRY THARP:  Let's roll right into our post race for our 31st Annual DRIVE4COPD 300, NASCAR Nationwide Series event here at Daytona International Speedway.
Our third‑place finisher is Brad Keselowski.  He drives the No.22 Discount Tire Dodge for Roger Penske.
Brad, take us through the last few laps of that race.  Certainly a lot of excitement.  Had to be on top of your game for sure.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah.  I don't know if I was necessarily on top of my game.  I haven't really figured this out.  I feel like when I run good, I fell ass‑backwards into it.  I don't know.
But I was fortunate enough‑‑ obviously the wreck was huge for us at the end.  There were several wrecks we were fortunate enough to make it through.  I don't know if that's skill or blind luck.
ELLIOTT SADLER:  Skill.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  When it happens to you, you say it's bad luck.  When you make it through, you say it's skill (laughter).
We made it through the wrecks.  Got there.  Coming off of four, saw 'em all wrecking, got underneath it.  I don't know who got into my door, got me sideways.  Somehow I saved it.  Killed enough momentum to get James by me.  We'll see if Elliott got me or not.  I'm still waiting for the answer.  What do you think?
ELLIOTT SADLER:  I think you got it.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  That's what I think, too.
That's what's racing is here.  I don't know if that's good or bad.  Feel like I won the lottery just to finish third.  I also feel like I was that close to winning at Daytona, and I want to win a race at Speedweeks so bad.  When you run all three series, the pressure, I was telling somebody the other day, is cumulative.  Speedweeks, you're thinking to yourself, I only got one more race left after this one.  You feel that.
But I'm still proud to have the efforts we've had the Speedweeks with I guess it would be third in the Shootout, second or third, whatever it is today, not so good yesterday.  We'll see how the Cup race goes tomorrow.
Like I say, I feel like the lottery winner to bring home the third‑place finishes.  Still took the effort of Penske Racing.  I'm appreciative of that.  I don't know how to explain the racing any different than that.  I don't know how anyone can and not be lying to you.
KERRY THARP:  Let's go to Elliott Sadler.  He drives the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet for KHI.  Elliott, certainly an eventful weekend out there for you this afternoon.  Talk about that race.
ELLIOTT SADLER:  Well, it's normal Daytona.  You don't never know till you see the checkered flag what's really going to happen.
Tony and I came apart on the last restart a little bit.  The 6 wasn't really pushing us that hard.  I came apart from Tony, so I lost a little momentum.  We had a ton of steam coming in the back stretch.  We definitely were going to win that race.  We were coming in on the outside.  We were running 20 miles an hour faster than the rest of them.
I don't know if Kurt came up, Joey came with him, all I know is the 20 came up in front of us, pinched us all in the in the wall.  I kept looking in my side mirror waiting for everybody go by.  I just hung a left off the wall, got lucky, found may way to find it back to the start/finish line.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  That's what happened?
ELLIOTT SADLER:  That's exactly what happened (laughter).
Great effort by my team.  Last year we finished 38th and felt like we had to dig ourselves out of a hole for the first four or five races.  Today we felt like we had a chance to win the race, led some laps.  We're very happy for that result.  Kudos to my team.  We got two top‑five finishes.  I think if we would have left the shop last week, we'd have two top‑five finishes and two cars in one piece, we would be very happy.  That's the results we have.
KERRY THARP:  Our top‑finishing Sonoco Rookie of the Year candidate, driving the No.3 Advocare Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, that is Austin Dillon.
Austin, talk about your performance out there this afternoon driving that No.3 Chevrolet.
AUSTIN DILLON:  We didn't get to stick to our game plan like we wanted to at the beginning of the race.  Changed up, got dropped to the back.  Had to work our way back to the front.  Got hooked up with Elliott at one point in time.  Got back up to a decent stop.  Got some track position.
Then we got faded back again.  Hooked up with Jr.  Drove to the front.  That one run felt really good pushing with him and Elliott, too.  It was fun.  It was difficult to tandem through the pack.  You had to fish your way through the pack.  When you had a gap to push, you could push.
My car was really good at pushing today.  The Advocare Chevrolet was fast enough to get to the front.  Ended up in the front.  Doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you finish up there, so it was fun.
KERRY THARP:  We'll take questions.

Q.  Two crazy days.  Last week we had a wild Shootout.  How does that play into your mind as you go into the 500 tomorrow?
ELLIOTT SADLER:  I think it's going to be the same.  Tomorrow we have less spoiler.  Tomorrow, the way the engines are not cooling as well with the radiator, stuff is different, there's going to be a lot more change, a lot more pack racing.  I think you're going to see a lot of the same thing.  It's the Daytona 500.  It's a once‑in‑a‑lifetime race to be involved in and try to win.  I think guys are going to go for it when it's showtime.
I think guys will be patient the first part of the race, test their cars.  Just like you saw today, when it gets time to go, crazy things happen.  I think you'll see a little bit of the same thing tomorrow.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  You'll definitely see less tandem, that's for sure.  You'll see a lot more pack racing.  The question is whether or not the field will single‑file out.  But I'm pretty confident you won't see a lot of tandem racing.
I think the end will look very similar to what you saw today.  We'll see who wins the lottery (smiling).

Q.  Brad, do you think those drivers who aren't running the full Nationwide Series this year, do you think it's going to hurt them?  You got this experience to carry into tomorrow.  Do you think it's going to hurt them or does that crazy two‑race‑a‑weekend schedule hurt more than it helps?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I think every weekend's different.  I think you can measure how it helps or hurts you numerous ways.  There are a lot of intangibles.
Obviously it's a higher workload.  There's no doubt.  I think that's what everybody sees.  But there are other intangibles that you just can't put a value to.  Like having the Cup pit crew out here today, I guess a live dress rehearsal.  How do you put a value on that?  You don't unless they have a bad day tomorrow and they didn't do it.
There's a lot of those characteristics that I think you'll see.  You just got to really peel back the layers.  I think it's really hard to define that, the answer to that.

Q.  End of the race you see two Busch brothers, Tony Stewart, guys not running for the championship.  Could you almost kind of see that whole thing happening?
ELLIOTT SADLER:  When you two‑car tandem, I can't see anything but the spoiler in front of me (smiling).  A few times I had to ask, Are we leading, which tandem pack are we in?  I pushed Tony the last 30 laps.
My spotter told me we're going all the way to the top.  I didn't know how many tandems were in front of us when I got to turn three.  He kept telling me what move we were going to make.  Went to the top.  Okay, a pack and a half.  One tandem, two cars are split.  At that time I saw the 20 car come across Tony's nose and wreck us all.  I'm not saying he turned right.  I guess he went to the right to miss Kurt.
Everybody is trying to win the race.  Of course, they're going to try to do everything they can to win the race.  Sometimes you're in the middle of it.  Sometimes you miss it.  It's Daytona, guys.  This is Daytona.  I think everybody gets a free pass to take free chances when you're here for Speedweeks.

Q.  Austin, first time out as a rookie of the year in the Nationwide Series.  You're not a stranger to restrictor plate racing.  Anything you saw today that you can take away?
AUSTIN DILLON:  I think I learned a ton today.  I think it was tough because if you get a run and you use the bottom, you just get sucked to the back.  You have to use the middle or upper lane.  I learned that.  Just following the draft.  These cars push a lot of air.  Learning how to draft.  The truck, they single out, get in a line, get one lane working.  I'm used to being third or fourth working that bottom lane.
I had a blast out there.  I tell you what, it was really fun.  It was three‑wide a long time.  The first 30 laps, I thought they were going to wreck a lot quicker.  We got up through there a few times, got to toss it around, ended up fourth, so I'm happy.

Q.  Brad, can you try to articulate the random madness of racing here, if you will?  It seems you can obviously be a great driver, have a great car, and at the end of the day, kaboom, your day is over?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  The thing that sticks out in my mind is if you try to create a template of what it takes to win on most every racetrack, I think you could get a pretty consistent answer from the driver base.  Obviously, having a fast car, great pit stops, making right moves, taking care of your tires, whatever it is on any particular track.
I think if you asked them what the template for success is here, you couldn't get a consistent answer because the process that I think we all take, the approach that we all take to win here is the same one that could net you a 35th and you don't do anything wrong, or a 38th, like Elliott said.
It's the same approach.  Sometimes it can win the race, and the next time you'll run dead last and you'll be wrecked.  I think that's really frustrating, obviously.  But that's the way it is.
I think if you compare that to the mile‑and‑a‑half's and so forth, the same approach will probably get you a range of 1st to 15th if you're a really good driver.  Same here could be anywhere from 1st to 43rd.  There's no guarantee of success here.  No matter how good your pit crew is, how good your car is, nothing guarantees you success.
I think sometimes for us drivers, that can be hard to stomach.  It's obviously frustrating.  But it also leads to a lot of parity within the field and a lot of first‑time winners.  Heck, I won my first race at Talladega under similar circumstances.
It could be debated till the cows come home whether that's good or bad.  I think we're all glad that there's only four or five of these races a year for that reason.  But they're certainly different than what you're going to see the rest of the season.
AUSTIN DILLON:  It stinks getting dug out of a hole.  Last two years at Daytona, running up front, get wrecked, end up 26th, have to dig out of a hole for the points championship.  It's nice coming out of here up at the front.  It's really nice.

Q.  Elliott, does that make this more prestigious if you do win here or because of the lottery nature of it, is it just kind of whatever happens happens?
ELLIOTT SADLER:  I think it's very prestigious to win here.  This is Daytona.  It's the home of the France family.  This is our Super Bowl.  Restrictor plate races are very hard to win, period.  You feel like you try to put yourself in the best possible situation you can.  Sometimes you roll up craps and sometimes you roll a seven.  It's just the way things work.
I think it's very prestigious wins whenever you try to win a restrictor plate race.  You've been the best.  It's about how good your car is, how fast you were, it's about you played the right chess game, got in the right lane at the right time, made the right decisions.
Of course, you have a little lady luck on your side, too.  It probably is the most frustrating races of the year.  Like Brad said, I'm glad we only have three or four of them.  Feels like you can do everything right, come into the last corner, takes you out, wipes away your whole day.
It's definitely tough racing, especially mentally.  But I think, yes, it's a prestigious win definitely for anybody.

Q.  Brad, I'm not sure how much of that replay you saw.  It looked like maybe if the caution comes out a little quicker, depending on how they enforce the yellow line thing, maybe you could have won.  Your thoughts?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I didn't even think about the yellow line.  Wow, that's really smart (laughter).  I got to see another replay.  Never got that far.  Dang.  We're going to have to go to the tape again.
You know, I think I walk a fine line with the comments there, obviously (smiling).
ELLIOTT SADLER:  I'm glad he asked you this question and not me.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I think there is no doubt to me the most dangerous aspect of our sport that's left is the yellow‑flag situation on the closing laps of a race.  And I make those comments not in regard to the fact that if the yellow came out earlier I would have won the race.  In no way do I make those comments in that regard.  I make those comments in regard to the fact that if you're running 25th, five or six seconds behind the pack when the wreck happened, the yellow didn't come out for about six seconds, from what I can estimate.  Obviously, there's a lot of tension in that area.
I'm pretty sure it was seen.  So the question is, What's the appropriate amount of time?  I think it's very much a judgment call.  We saw it with the wreck in I think it was the Shootout.  I think I would rather see the sport lean to the cautious side.  It's tough for NASCAR, obviously, to wave the yellow early and then take all the criticism from fans that didn't see their driver win if the yellow wouldn't have come out that early.  So I can see that side of it.
But I think that when I look at the sport and I look at the most dangerous frontier, it's not the next head‑and‑neck system, it's getting hit from a car who is six or seven seconds from a wreck but has to keep going because the yellow is not out.  It eventually will happen where they'll hit a very slow car at a very high rate of speed and it will not be good.
I think that's an area that is still maybe loosely defined and I'm not sure how to define it because I understand the difficulties that remain in that area to make those decisions.
It's something that I go into the 500.  When I think what I'm most nervous about, I'm most nervous about the last lap, being at the front pack, being wrecked and stopped in the middle of the field, and some guy from 35th, knowing that the yellow is not going to come out for another six seconds, you know, whaling me going 180 while I'm going 5 or 10, or when I'm maybe stopped.  That's certainly an area that I think about, for sure.

Q.  Brad, you know the culture of Jr. Motorsports as well.  How do they handle stuff over there?  Is it easy to get over stuff like that or is it not when teammates get into each other?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I think that's a situation that not everybody enjoys.  I think that's a group that takes it fairly personal.  I've seen them go through some tougher times and come out on top.  I'm sure they'll do that.
I certainly respect the passion that both the Eurys have over there.  You try to do what you can to work with your teammate.  That's not always possible.  When it is possible, sometimes it feels forced.  When it's forced, you get wrecked.
I think one of the best moves NASCAR did over the off‑season was pull away the radio communication because that took away a lot of team orders and kind of gave me a clean slate to go back to my owner, which is Roger, and say, Hey, I wanted to work with Sam, but I couldn't talk to him and this situation didn't look good, instead of just forcing it on in there.
So I think there's certainly an increased responsibility because of that rules change, but I'm very much in favor of it because it gives you the ability to have some more freewill, so to speak, which I think is always healthy for the sport, always healthy for the racing.

Q.  Listening to everything you have said today, Elliott saying tomorrow we'll see a lot of what we've already seen, Brad is not comfortable with the yellow flag situation.  Are you comfortable with how tomorrow's race is going to be?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I have no reason to be uncomfortable.  I don't know about you.
ELLIOTT SADLER:  I feel pretty safe in my car.  It's a one‑time gig for me.  Probably better for Brad to answer.  The way the races have looked so far this week, I don't see why this one is going to be any different.  Especially with the forecast of what's coming.  We don't know if rain is coming, is it going to be a rain‑shortened race, run 100% of the race.  You're going to have your crew chief in your ear if that is the issue.  It is the Daytona 500.  Everybody wants to win this race.
I just have a feeling everybody is going to be not as cautious as what we see at a lot of the other tracks.  It's just what this new formula that we have with the smaller spoiler, with radiator duct work, it just creates a lot more pack racing, a lot more of out‑of‑control cars.  I think we've seen great racing this week, especially with the Shootout.  I think you're going to see more of that tomorrow.
As far as feeling uncomfortable, we feel safe in our cars.  As racecar drivers, you accept the fact that we have a dangerous sport.  Like Brad said, sometimes the most uncomfortable if you're in the lead pack, you do get wrecked, you never know what's coming behind you.  That's the most uncomfortable feeling I've ever had in the car.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I feel like we walk a line in this sport between daredevils and chess players.  When we come to Daytona, tracks like this, where maybe we're more on the daredevil side, then we go some other places where I'd say we're more on the chess player side of the line.
I think it's important to have tracks like this that maybe average it back out a little bit.  Ideally we'd like to walk straight on the line all the time.  But, you know, from a standpoint of the sport, the health of it, I think not a lot of people watch chess matches.  I've never seen one televised.  Maybe I turned the channel and never watched it.  Not very exciting.
I think it takes that right balance.  Certainly being a daredevil is something completely different, as well.  I think it takes that fine line.  I think we have to walk it all the time.  We're probably a little bit to the left of the line when we come to these places.  But you know what, I'm okay with that.  I feel as it averages out, we walk it pretty well.

Q.  Elliott, not to kind of point out the generation gap between you and the two men on either side of you.  You did race back when there was racing back to the caution.  Discuss the difference.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  She called you old.
ELLIOTT SADLER:  Yesterday he was being called a backup singer, today I'm being old.  This is crazy.
I'll tell you what.  The thing that stands still in my mind, some of you may remember it, is Dale Jarrett sideways on turn four in New Hampshire, almost getting T‑boned in the door.  That's kind of when racing back to the caution went away in our sport.  43 very happy racecar drivers stood up and applauded NASCAR for making that change.  It's definitely a safety issue.
You're going to be on the receiving end of that rule sometimes and you're going to be on the bad end of it.  It's a full rotation, a full circle.  As far as the safety of our sport, I'm glad we have no racing back, the field is frozen.  It's still a gray area.  I'm glad I'm not pushing the button.  Push it too early, You should have let them race.  Sometimes you push it too late.
I think there was something magic that happened when the first car made contact.  It's definitely a gray area as to when to push the button to freeze the field.
I put that up with the HANS device, SAFER barriers as one of the things that NASCAR has done for the safety of the 43 drivers on the racetrack.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Don't forget the safety workers, too.
ELLIOTT SADLER:  Yeah.  If you're sitting there on fire, wrecked, trapped, you want the safety workers to get to you as fast as you can.  They're kind of fearing for their life also.  They don't want to jump in front of a car running 180.
NASCAR does a pretty good job of preaching to us‑ I'm glad Brad brought that up‑ but at every driver's meeting, slow up, yield to the fire trucks, let them get to the guys involved in the crash.  And this not racing back to the caution has speeded up that pace where they can get to the cars that are wrecked just in case somebody is injured or anything like that.
KERRY THARP:  Congratulations, Brad, Elliott and Austin.

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