NASCAR Media Conference
September 5, 2013
THE MODERATOR: We have our defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Brad Keselowski. Saturday night you got to lay it all out. Even then you don't know. Talk about your mindset.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Sure, I haven't put too much thought into the actual race other than just going out to win it because that's probably the only thing that's going to matter for us. Even that might not be a enough. If you won it, you've done all you can do.
I feel like we've been very competitive really all the way back to Indy, where we probably weren't as good as we wanted to be. We just haven't produced results like we feel we're capable of.
At the end of the day, that's what this sport is about, it's about results, where you finish the race. We just haven't had those. I know we're capable of it. I feel honestly like we can come here and win the race. That's really all I've thought about and all that is going to matter.
Q. After last year's magical season, did you ever expect to be in this position? How much of you being here do you blame on Texas?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Wow, going deep on me already (laughter).
I feel like we're a great team. I feel like in the sports world, especially racing, you can only really control how fast you are and how well you execute. You can't control the luck side. We've had a lot of bad luck. There's been some times where we haven't executed.
The shortfall of execution hasn't made up for the luck issue. So I know, and I said this last week at Atlanta, we could turn a corner tomorrow and win the next five or six races. That's where we're at as a team.
Obviously that hasn't happened, it hasn't clicked that way. That doesn't mean we're not capable of it. What's happened to us this year could quite honestly happen to any team.
As far as Texas and whatnot, I haven't honestly put that much thought into the effect of that on our season. I do know we've left a lot more on the table than 25 points, which is what we lost there. We left a lot on the table this year.
It wouldn't necessarily be fair to blame every short fall on that one.
Q. Let's say in the final laps you were in a position where you actually have a shot, the only way you're going to make it is you have to take somebody out.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: You're the second person to ask me that in the last five minutes.
Q. What was your response?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: My response was you have to watch and find out 'cause I don't know. I might change my mind from whatever I tell you here. Depends on the situation, how I feel.
Q. You didn't take Kyle out at Watkins Glen.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: No, I didn't. That's a statement.
Q. The stakes are higher here.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: There's always different scenarios. That's a question that's asked without any variables, is completely hypothetical. There's always a situation that dictates a different response.
An example of that be would, if I was leading the race, the guy behind me hit me to take the lead, one lap, I'm back to his bumper, hell, yeah, I'm going to drive through his ass, okay? That's the reality.
Now, if you're in a scenario where we were with Kyle, then not so much. There's so many different scenarios, I don't feel it's fair to answer that question. I don't know all the variables.
Q. The variable is it's the last lap, make the Chase with the win or not.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: My career is dictated by much more than this weekend. I plan on running in this sport for a very long time. I feel like I have the people around me to be successful for a very long period of time.
That said, just driving through someone and sacrificing code and morals that it takes to be successful for a long time for one weekend, you know, that seems very nearsighted.
It's a difficult question. I don't think it's that simple to answer.
Q. Is there a responsibility to the team to do all that you can to get in the Chase?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: You're asking me what my responsibility to the team is? I'm not following you.
Q. How do you see your responsibility toward the team in doing all that you can. At the end of the day this sport is about championships.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Sure, it's about results.
Q. If I'm on your crew, you don't do everything that you can do, have you let me down?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I think, you know, everybody's got a different answer for those things. At the end of the day, this is still a championship team that's won races. I would like to think that weighs more heavily on the mind than one particular race and an opportunity to wreck someone that wasn't taken.
Q. If you don't make it, are you mentally prepared for that? Are you going to go home and slam doors?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, I would probably do that either way, if it makes you feel any better. I bought a little boxing rink. I'll go down there and punch something.
Am I mentally prepared for that? I don't know the answer to that. You know the answer to that after it's happened.
I do know, again, I can't say this strongly enough, that I feel great about the majority of the people that are around me. I think that different circumstances, we could be having a lot of different conversations, but we're not.
I see the glass being at least half full and not half empty. But either way, not making the Chase would obviously be a disappointment. Our expectations as a team are to make the Chase.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: No, I didn't, because I know I did all I could do at Atlanta. I know I did all I could do at Bristol.
The items that disappoint me or really weigh heavily on my mind are the things I could control and didn't do the best I could. That scenario to you guys might seem trivial. That's knowing at Pocono we were a 3rd or 4th place car and we finished 6th or 7th. I know at Bristol and Atlanta there was nothing I could do.
Q. This must‑win scenario, are you thinking a different strategy from lap one?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: No. I'm thinking it will come down to the last pit stop, how well the pit crew gets you out, whether you get the right lane on the restart, how willing you are to gouge in front of you. That's probably what this race will come to.
Q. I ask this not in anticipation that you won't make the Chase, but because Tony didn't make it the year after he won the championship, does that take any of the potential shame or embarrassment off of being a champion who is not able to defend your title?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, I mean, I'd be ashamed if we didn't run well. That's what I would be ashamed of. And we're not running badly.
I think the scenario that Tony had that year just shows how easy it is to miss a Chase, because these are the best drivers in the world. They're elite drivers, elite teams. There are scenarios that are just, quite frankly, outside of your control. You combine those with one or two small mistakes, it all stacks up really quickly.
I would say that Tony would probably say that's what happened to him that year just as I am now.
Q. I know you review things after every season. If Saturday doesn't go like you want, is your list going to be twice as long?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Obviously. I have a long list of things that I know we could have done better this year that we haven't. We have to hit them and be better. Not just next year, if that's the scenario, but right now.
Whether I make the Chase or we miss the Chase, I still plan on going out and trying to win the next 10 races. I think that we can have a shot at doing that.
Q. How has this year tested your leadership?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, you know, you're always tested a lot more by adversity than you are when things go right. Everybody likes to look at the guy who does a great job of handling things when we go right. I'm more impressed with people that can handle things when they go wrong.
There's obviously scenarios that I could have handled better. For the most part I think that I've handled it as well as you could in the current situation.
Q. You had a test here not too long ago. The information you got, how is that going to impact Saturday?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I felt positive about the test, for sure. This was a track where our results, when Paul and I first got together, were not very strong. We've had a series of probably two or three decent runs here. We were looking to push ourselves over that edge, over that hump, win races here. I think that test will give us that opportunity.
Being able to test at night was kind of a cherry on top.
Q. What have you learned about Joey Logano over the last two‑thirds of the season?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I've been impressed watching him build confidence. I don't know if that's really a learning question, but that's what I've seen in him. I've definitely seen him build a lot of confidence and help lead his group to be in a pretty strong position.
Quite honestly, as it stands right now with how he's ran over the last I think six weeks, he would be my favorite to win the championship. He's definitely got the momentum. His team has got things going for them in so many different directions. There's a lot of confidence that comes with that. He's been catching the breaks, too. That stuff seems to be a little perpetual. When it's good for you it's perpetual, when it's bad for you it's perpetual.
Q. Were you concerned at all that the drama at the start of the season was going to affect him?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: No, I think that drama was actually good. I think that's a character builder. I look at it as a sign of strength, not weakness. Those issues only come up when you're running well. Nobody really remembers a fight between a guy running 20th and 25th. They remember it when you're going for the lead and trying to win races. That's where he and his team are.
If he could overcome that ‑ which he has ‑ I knew he'd be in great shape. I've always believed in his talents. That's why I wanted him to come to Penske Racing.
I didn't spend that much time focusing on it. It was kind of his test, not mine. It wasn't really for me to worry about.
Q. How much of what you think has you in this position is correctable and how much do you think it was just luck, fate, all that kind of stuff?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Hmm. That's difficult.
I would say probably 50/50. Half of it we could have corrected, half of it was misfortune. That's probably fair.
Q. If you don't make it, are you going to view this as a lost season for you?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Any season you don't win a championship should be a lost season for every driver, you know. I can tell you, like I said last week, just making the Chase this year and running 8th or 10th or whatever would not have been a good year either. That's how I feel about it.
Q. If you didn't make the Chase, would the silver lining maybe be that Paul could drive your truck at Martinsville?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know where that one's coming from (laughter).
You know, it would be cool to see Paul run a race or two. I haven't thought that much about it. Should I? Do you have inside info that I should know about? Maybe one day. Never say never.
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