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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Cheez-It 355 at The Glen

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Cheez-It 355 at The Glen

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Cheez-It 355 at The Glen

Brad Keselowski
Martin Truex, Jr.
August 11, 2013


WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK

KERRY THARP: Let's roll right into our post‑race for today's 28th annual Cheez‑It 355 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International, and our second place finisher is defending series champion Brad Keselowski. He drove the No.2 Miller Lite Ford for Penske Racing.
Brad, I know you wanted that win awfully bad. Just talk about how things were going out there this afternoon for the No.2 Ford.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: It was a strong day, absolutely. I had a shot at winning at the end, which sure was a lot of fun, and came up short. Three years in a row in a second, that kind of stinks, but proud of the effort, proud of the recovery because I dug us a deep hole very early in the race trying to pass McMurray, and I loss control and about knocked our race out right there and finished our car off.
But good recovery and great positioning at the end, just came up that little bit short again. Back to the drawing board, and we'll go get 'em again next time we come back here.
KERRY THARP: With Brad's second‑place finish today, he now moves up to eighth in the points. He is nine points ahead of 10th. We'll take questions now for Brad.

Q. You just alluded to this, but obviously wanting to get the win but also knowing what kind of a good points day that was, does the points part of it even go through your mind, or is it just win for you?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: In my mind, points are great when you're in the Chase. Before that, to me it's about wins, even if you don't end up in the top 20. I'd rather be a wild card with four or five wins than be a guy in the Chase with zero wins. I guess I don't look at it that way. I could have definitely dumped Kyle and won the race. That stuff goes back and forth, and I'm sure someone in the tabloid side of the media will make a big deal about that, but it won't be me because I know I did the right thing.
KERRY THARP: Let's do that again. The question was wins, obviously going for the win, good points day. Your thoughts as far as wins and points?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, wins are a priority to me without a doubt. When it comes to making the Chase, I'd rather, like I said, be a team that has five or six wins and be a wild card or three or two wins, whatever that might be, than be a team that made the Chase the zero wins. I guess that's the only way I can explain that. I wasn't racing or running today thinking, boy, I need a great points day, even though I definitely was cognizant of the fact that the 5 and the 24 and obviously the troubles with Tony, but I didn't enter this race thinking, Let's run second or third; that would be great; that would be a lot better than taking a risk and winning. Hell no I wasn't thinking that. I wanted to win the race, and that's where my heart's at.
KERRY THARP: Martin Truex Jr. has joined us. He came in third in today's race, and he drives the No.56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. Martin, talk about this. Certainly you were up in a position to contend for the win. Just talk about how things looked from your vantage point.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, all in all it was a good day. Obviously we wanted to win this race. It would have meant a lot to us. We had a really fast car on newer tires, and I think where we struggled the most was longer runs. As the runs went on, the 18 would start getting away from us, and it felt like we could have ‑‑ we almost got the lead there that one restart when we had just pitted, caution come out and we had fresh tires when we took off, and I feel like if I just could have cleared and got some of that clean air, it may have been a different outcome. I may have been able to take care of my tires a little bit better.
We ended up having a bunch of restarts, and the air pressures got build up and the car started sliding around a lot, and I just didn't quite have the grip that Kyle had or even Brad on the longer runs.
We were a third‑place car all day, just missed it a little bit, but all in all a good day for us. It's frustrating when you can just see the leader all day and you're right there behind him and you can't do anything about it. Tough day all in all.
KERRY THARP: Martin finishes out today's race 10th in the points with one victory.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Good for you, buddy.
KERRY THARP: He is two points ahead of 11th.

Q. Brad, you said I didn't want to wreck him, I've had enough drama. Were you referring to last year's finish?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: No, just in general. I've had a career full of a lot of drama, Martin.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: You cause it all.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: See, that's what everybody says. I feel like I'm innocent.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Some of the things you say and do.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: What do you expect?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I'm just having fun. You guys can call it drama, I call it having fun.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: You guys know he says half the stuff he says just to get y'all fired up.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I'm keeping the ball in play. Have you not seen how hard it is to be a journalist nowadays, people getting laid off and fired? You're welcome, America. (Laughter.)

Q. So just drama in the course of today?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I mean, just in general, I don't know how you pick one period of drama. Obviously I spun out on my own. You missed that part, Martin.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I seen it in my mirror.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: You did? Yeah, it was really smart of me. Golf clap? Yeah, good job.
But that, and I guess I felt like, to rewind, I don't think Kyle would agree with this but that's his choice, I felt like last year was a racing deal. He went off the track, I filled the hole when he came down. If I would have wrecked him today, in my mind it wouldn't have been a racing deal, it would have been just wrecking, and there's a huge difference. When somebody blocks you, that's different. When somebody runs off the track, pulls down in front of you, that's racing. Those are all just racing deals. When you just run into the back of someone and drive them headfirst into the wall, that's bullshit racing, and I just don't like it.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Earmuffs.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: That's what it is.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I agree, totally.

Q. Are you saying there wasn't any temptation at all, there wasn't the angel on one shoulder‑‑
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, there's always temptation, yeah. You're a married man. I'm sure you look through Maxim magazine. It's no different. Maybe something a little more vulgar than Maxim magazine. But I'm just saying there's always temptation, but I'm just saying he probably has looked at a magazine with a girl that looks really hot. It doesn't mean there isn't temptation, but there's a level of respect and a code of honor that you have to have as a man.

Q. Second, after you spun, you and Paul were going back and forth a lot in terms of strategy, in terms of fuel only, two tires, etcetera. But that all seemed to work out in the end. Could you talk about that a little bit?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, Paul just saved my butt after I tried to screw up the day. We've had some races where strategy has bit us in the butt royally, and today was one of those days where we caught a good break. That's just being quite frank about it. Unfortunately we didn't capitalize on it, which is disappointing, capitalize on it in the sense of a win, but this is the first race in a long time where I could say we've caught a break, and I don't even feel like I need good breaks, I just don't want any bad breaks. Today we caught a good break, and that's part of what put us in a good position to win the race.

Q. Brad, just talk about the level of frustration of just coming so close at this track three straight years, and do you dwell on little things that you may have done differently to‑‑
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I move on pretty quick. It'll probably take me a day or so to move on, and then when I come back to this racetrack and everybody shows the reruns of the last few years you kind of dwell on it again. But I'll be over it by the time we get to next week's race in Michigan.

Q. Does it hurt any more to lose to Kyle Busch?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I mean, he's good. It doesn't hurt more, no. Maybe if we were in the Chase and there was one race to go and he was the points leader and I was running second, yeah. But just because he's Kyle Busch doesn't mean it hurts more. He's a great driver and I have a lot of respect for him accordingly. I don't really hold any personal grudges against him to make it hurt any more. Maybe that's not reciprocal, I don't know; you'd have to ask him. But not for me, no.

Q. This is actually for both of you. What, if any, difference is there when you're at a road course like this and you can just see the leader take the lead and the win?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, I mean, I don't feel it's that much different than an oval track. You see the leader, you want to catch him and pass him. That's what we're here to do. Obviously the way you go about it is different. It's easier I would say to pressure the leader into making a mistake at a place like this than it is on oval just because of the braking zones, and you go five or six feet too far into Turn 1 and you miss it you're going to get passed for the lead.
You kind of approach it a little different than you do an oval, I would say, and I think Brad will probably agree with me on that. But at the end of the day, it still is all about if you can see the leader you're tasting it. You want it. You're doing everything you can to try to get the lead.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I would mostly agree with what Martin said, with the only exception being at a road course it's a little easier to force a mistake on the driver ahead of you. I know Martin is really good at that and Marcos and those guys are all really good at that, so that changes some of your discipline to racing.

Q. The esses today were a bone of contention in a lot of situations and you guys escaped them. Martin, I know early in your career here you had an incident there and were on the bottom of the pile. Some thoughts about the esses?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I mean, that's like the high speed part of the track. It's very blind, especially when you get two wide, and if you get in certain situations in traffic and you really can't tell where you're at, but you've got to stay in the gas or you're going to get run over or passed by a bunch of guys.
That's just‑‑ that place is just a recipe for disaster. It's really narrow, it's really fast. There's curves on both sides. If you miss it by a couple inches, you're going to be in a wreck.
It's a little bit easier when you're up front. Brad and I were side by side a couple times through there, me and Kyle went up through there side by side once, but I'm telling you, you're on pins and needles and you're just waiting for something bad to happen when you do it. It's definitely a tough deal, and you get back in the pack there, again, you get blinded, it's hard to see where those curves and things are at. That's what causes wrecks up through there.

Q. You guys both moved up four spots this week after the race today. How do you feel about going into the tracks you have the next few weeks?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: How do I feel about the next‑‑ is it four races left to the Chase?
KERRY THARP: Four races.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: And we're at Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta, Richmond? Well, with the exception of Michigan I would say I feel very, very strongly about how we're going to finish out the race to the Chase. We ran very strongly at Bristol in the spring and have a great track record there. Atlanta we just came off a tire test, and that went very, very well, and then we had‑‑ we have a team‑specific Richmond test coming up in a week and a half. So three out of the four expecting us to have great speed and a potential shot at winning.
Michigan has been one of our weaker tracks. The repaved style of track hasn't been one of my favorites or go‑tos, but we're very optimistic that we can at least get a solid finish like we did in the spring there.
I really see no reason why we can't sustain our position in the points if not improve it before the Chase starts. But more importantly, as I was explaining to Holly, I would rather have a win or two and be a wild card than finish seventh or eighth and squeak my way in without any wins because the momentum of a win and the confidence builder it instills in both yourself and the fear that it puts in your competition is more than worth it.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I feel really good honestly. The last three weeks I felt like if we could just get through those three weeks, those three flat tracks, which we didn't set the world on fire by any means; we struggled but we struggled to 11th at Indy and 15th or something at Pocono, and even though those were terrible results they were good for us.
So I feel really good from here on out. I'm a lot like Brad. Bristol has been really good for us. We've run well there. There is a lot of risk involved with that track because a lot of things can happen there. But obviously looking forward to going to Atlanta. That's always been one of my better tracks, and we come close to winning there last year. Michigan, I think we ran really well there the first race this year, and so I think we're in good shape.
We just need to‑‑ there's a lot of things that can happen in four races. We just need to keep doing what we've been doing and keep racing hard. It seems like this year every time we got ourselves in a comfortable position in points, we had a really bad weekend, out of our control, places like Daytona and engine problems and things that we've had throughout the year.
The points are what they are. We're just going to go racing and try to do what we know how to do.

Q. Brad, going into that last lap or during that last lap, where was the best place for you to possibly force him to make a mistake and/or make the pass?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know. Really all of the corners. There wasn't one particular corner specifically, maybe that's why I didn't pass him is I didn't figure out one particular corner. I was just slightly better than him really through every section on the last lap and just needed to be a little closer to really effect it. I got pretty damned close but needed a little more time that close to him to really make a difference. I probably needed it not to be a green‑white checkered. If that race would have been a five‑ or six‑lap run, I think we could have done it.
KERRY THARP: Brad, Martin, congratulations on today's performance, and we'll see you at Michigan.

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