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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Gatorade Duel 2

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Gatorade Duel

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Gatorade Duel 2

Dave Blaney
Brian Keselowski
Joe Nemechek
February 17, 2011


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

KERRY THARP: Brian Keselowski joins us, and our two other competitors got in based upon last Sunday's qualifying time, and that's Joe Nemechek and Dave Blaney. Congratulations to all three.
Joe, talk about the Duel out there today and being able to get in on your qualifying time. That had to be comforts for you, as well.
JOE NEMECHEK: It definitely was. When you have a time to fall back on, the qualifying time, the way it works, you can do more things. You try not to put yourself in a bad position. For us today, I mean, the whole goal was to try getting our other car in the race. Everything went good right up to the green-white-checkered. That car didn't make it in.
Just part of it. I'm proud and excited to be in the Daytona 500. I've got a sponsor onboard AMFMenergy.com. Great company, friends of mine. They've got a great small business that's really growing. Some other folks are helping us out down here, another Florida-based business, DAB Constructors. All good stuff.
KERRY THARP: Dave Blaney, talk about your racecar, your team, your chances on Sunday and being able to get in there on your qualifying time, had to feel good.
DAVE BLANEY: It did. Came down to the last second for us. We didn't have a good enough time to lock in, but it was something to fall back on. We didn't get it done. We didn't finish in our top two. We lost a drafts partner, kind of were stuck. But then Michael finishing top two in the other one saved us last minute. That was pretty brutal to sit there and watch and hope something good happens to you, but that's what we had to do today.
KERRY THARP: Brian Keselowski, your rookie season here in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, you're going to be lining up on the starting grid for the 53rd running of the Daytona 500. How does that feel?
BRIAN KESELOWSKI: It feels absolutely awesome. Obviously I would not be here without Brad. I think he's one of the best pushers out there. We struggled just to even really get here. Still putting together the car at the racetrack. Man, we just did not run good at all all weekend. It still goes to show you that you got a chance no matter what. You find a guy to push you, thank God it was my brother, I don't know if anybody else would have stuck with me that long. It gives everybody a shot at it and says that the independent guy that can go out and find a racecar, put it together, get a good push, everybody's got a chance at that. I hope that it proves that everybody got just as good a shot as I do.
KERRY THARP: Questions.

Q. Brian, your brother said your relationship was up and down, just like all of his relationships. Can you give us some background on where you stand, the history of the Keselowski brothers?
BRIAN KESELOWSKI: Well, we get along a whole lot better that we don't live together (laughter).
I would say it's up and down. We're both really competitive with each other. We both wanted the exact same position at the exact same time. It's a tough thing growing up. I couldn't afford to go racing. I worked on my family's truck team. When we got a little bit of money, got a little bit of sponsorship, Brad got to go quarter midget racing, but by then I was too old. I couldn't find a car to drive, we couldn't afford to go run a local car, but we could afford to do a quarter midget or something. I didn't get to start driving till I was 18 years old. By then, he had two or three years of experience, winning championships. I started in the highest local division I possibly could. My dad made me build the thing from the ground up.
They pushed me in the right direction, my uncle, mom and dad. But I had to do it all on my own. Bought my own truck and trailer, racecars. They helped, give me a motor. If I didn't put it together, I wasn't going racing. That's a lot like it is right now.
Honestly, it's just me and my dad right now. My uncle came down and helped me this weekend. That was about it. Without a lot of friends and family, a lot of help, we wouldn't be here today.

Q. When he's had success like he's had, it's human nature to be jealous. Was there some of that?
BRIAN KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I would say so. When it come down to it, Brad got a good opportunity. It wasn't the greatest opportunity, but he got an opportunity to run the Nationwide Series that I was supposed to get a chance to drive. I talked to the team. I won an ARCA race. They were pushing to try to get me in the car.
Because of some things that happened that I couldn't make some races in the ARCA series, I was hoping to make here at Daytona, I wasn't eligible to drive that race. They put Brad in the car. I guess the rest is history.
I feel like if roles could have been reversed, there's a possibility I could be in the same position he's in now. There's no guarantees. I would have liked the chance.
Yeah, there's always a little bit of jealousy. Then you have to say, What if it wouldn't have worked? We'd both be sitting home. It could go either way. We made our first Daytona 500. I guess it's not all a bad thing.

Q. Brian, you said you and your dad and your uncle. Is that all you have here?
BRIAN KESELOWSKI: We had friends that came down here on Wednesday and bought their licenses. Without it, that would be about it.

Q. You're living in North Carolina?
BRIAN KESELOWSKI: I'm actually living at Brad's townhouse over on junior's property.

Q. Junior is your Slum Lord?
BRIAN KESELOWSKI: I wouldn't quite say that.

Q. It's just the two of you, that's the whole racing operation?
BRIAN KESELOWSKI: Yeah, pretty much. As of a week ago, it was just two of us working on the cars. I had a couple cars working through the winter, but I just honestly couldn't afford to pay them anymore. They had to move on and do other things.
It's just been me and my dad. I called my uncle in the middle of last week and said, I really need the help. He said, I'm coming down, I got to get out of Michigan. He hasn't been down at the racetrack very much. He's like, oh, geez, we're going to have to build the car at the track.
It's always been a family operation for us. It continues to be that way. While I'd like to have a little bit of extra help so I don't have to do the better part of it myself, I don't know if I'd want to have it any other way. I love working on racecars. It's what I grew up doing. I started as a kid. I never drove a racecar till I was 18, I always worked on them. I have a good knowledge of my cars inside and out of what they are. It can only get better from here. It's great. I'm so excited about it.

Q. Brian, can you talk about buying the car and getting the car here.
BRIAN KESELOWSKI: We bought this car as a package deal I guess two Decembers ago now from Evernham. I mean, it's an original Evernham before Gillette type of deal. I think it's the eighth one they ever built. Bought a package of four really old cars originally thinking we were going did make them Nationwide cars.
At the start of last year, I moved down south. If we're going to go COT racing, Nationwide, we got to be here. As bad as last year went for us, we had to do something different. We never got a chance to cut them up and make Nationwide. For a little bit of money, I can cut the nose, do the Daytona test. I felt like I had a good drafting car. It was helpful to come here. If we couldn't really afford a good motor, there was no way we were going to make this race. We ran so bad all week. There's no way, we're done.
They dropped the green and I stayed with some guys. All right, maybe we got a chance at this. Then a couple drove away and we couldn't get anybody to help us. When Steven Wallace got behind us, that really helped a lot. He really helped a lot because it kept me on the lead lap. If you're off the lead lap, you're done. That kept it till Brad had his problem. I'm not sure what happened there. When Brad got back there, I knew this was our chance. If there's anybody that's going to push me, it would be Brad. I thank God for it now. If there was anybody else, there was no way they were going to come and stay on my rear bumper the way that he did.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the side drafting. They said when the cars got up front, other guys side drafting could take the air off of you and almost pull you back.
JOE NEMECHEK: Well, I'm just saying from experience, when you're trying to pass other two-car packs, depending if you're high or low, yes, that air does try to suck your car around when you're going by. It's actually pretty violent when it does it.
I think the faster they go, just like the three teams of cars that were up front, it's not as bad. If you're trying to pass someone who is doing a switch, it's pretty incredible.
DAVE BLANEY: I saw a couple guys, like if one pack was trying to pass the lead pack, they got right down to the right door of the pusher in the first pack, they could separate the cars a little bit. That's all it took for that pack to keep going.
There was some of that. I don't think guys showed it too much today. I think you'll see more of it Sunday.

Q. Brian, I'm wondering, what was it when you roomed with Brad that annoyed you the most? The other two guys, talk about what kind of a feel-good story this must be for everybody today.
BRIAN KESELOWSKI: Well, I guess I was always the older brother, two and a half years older than Brad. When we'd go out and do stuff, he would want to tag along and do it. Of course, the older brother never wants the little brother to come do that. I was off doing things, I was working on racecars, doing all sorts of stuff. He always wanted to tag along. I think that's probably what annoyed me the most.
Honestly, I had a question about a year or so ago, I think it was Brad Daugherty asked me, How last Brad changed? I said, He hasn't changed at all. That's how he's always been. He's always been kind of a snotty little kid (laughter). I hate to say that because he just pushed me in the Daytona 500. He knows I love him. But it's just part of it.
I don't know. Maybe that's just from my end of it. But, I don't know. Honestly, once we don't live together anymore, I got along with him a whole lot better. He's off doing his own thing, I'm off doing my thing. We don't see each other very much. Until the driver's introductions, I don't think I saw him half a minute all weekend. He's busy, now running the truck team, has Nationwide and Cup cars. He's testing, going to photo shoots. We don't really have a lot of communication together.
He's tried to help me out a little bit here this winter because it's been a very tough winter. We were lucky just to survive through the winter let alone come down here. As of Wednesday, I didn't know if we were going to make it. That's been a great thing, thank God. We're in the Daytona 500. I mean, Wednesday, if you couldn't even get here, now you're in the race, it's amazing.
DAVE BLANEY: All the guys in the garage know what Brian has to work with. It's not much. To come down here and make this race, I don't care how you make it, to make this race is awesome. It's something you'll never forget.
JOE NEMECHEK: One of those Cinderella stories. You have a big payday coming, Brian. You need to hire some help (laughter).

Q. Brian, after the race, Brad was asked growing up with you, did you ever talk about racing in the Daytona 500 together? He said, I'm not sure if we ever dreamed about that, but I did dream about the day we wouldn't beat each other up. Can you talk about that? Before this race, since neither one of you really had a teammate in it, did you talk about working together at all?
BRIAN KESELOWSKI: Yeah, a little bit. But honestly I didn't think my car was fast enough for him to even worry about me at that point. I told him, If you can get behind me and push me, that's great. He's like, I don't think you're fast enough. I'm like, You're right.
We didn't talk a whole lot about it. He gave me some tips, where I needed to stay on the racetrack, told me what I needed to do to my car to keep it in line, make sure if there was anybody behind me, keep nice and steady. I watched a lot of him and Kurt out there in practice pushing each other around. When I seen that, I knew what I needed to do when he come behind me. I felt like that was good.
As far as I wouldn't say we absolutely dreamed about being in the Daytona 500. That's always your personal dream. But, you know, we race a lot with each other. I felt I was a little better Superspeedway racer than he was. We pushed a lot of each other, wrecked a lot with each other. That's the way it goes online.
I don't know. It's just a great thing every which way you look at it right now.

Q. You have a big payday coming. Last place in this race, quarter million dollars. That's pretty much all of what you made last year. Can you quantify for us what that will mean, how far you can stretch that money as an independent.
BRIAN KESELOWSKI: If there's anybody that can stretch money, that's us. My dad has been doing that for years. That's how we've always had to race. Until we got a little bit of decent sponsorship in the truck, the ARCA side there, man, we struggled. That's all we've ever done, really since the '60s.
I don't know. I mean, it means I can pay my bills off finally. It's been a really rough winter, I'm telling you. It means I get to go to Phoenix next week. Honestly, that's two of the best things I could ever need right now.
I'm really, really, really glad that that happened. I can look everybody in the eye again and say, Thank God this worked. I told everybody this is going to work, just hold on, please help, and they did. So thank the Lord.
KERRY THARP: Brian, Dave, Joe, congratulations.



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