NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Quaker State 400
Topics: Quaker State 400
June 30, 2012
KERRY THARP: Let's roll right into our race winner for tonight's second annual Quaker State 400 here at Kentucky Speedway. Winning for the third time this season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which leads all competitors is Brad Keselowski, the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing.
Brad, congratulations on this victory. Again, you wanted all three, but like you just said, you're glad you got this one, and getting three wins now has really got to be a big boost for you as we head down the stretch run.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I wanted all three, but sometimes that ain't meant to happen. But I was proud of the effort we put in all week long, and the heat with all three teams, Truck Series team, Nationwide team, 2nd, 7th and a 1st ain't bad at all. Who would have figured my best finish would have come in the hardest race. But that just shows the importance of teamwork, and the group of guys that I have on this Miller Lite Dodge that are just badasses. They are. They're badasses.
I tell you what, they put together a back‑up car from last year in 100° heat in an hour's time‑‑ not even an hour. It was like 40 minutes. I wish I had a stopwatch for that. Got it on the racetrack and got to run our laps for practice to make the adjustments we needed to be fast today. And that's what badasses do, and that's what got us to victory lane today, and I'm proud of these guys for it. I'm proud of them. Damn proud of them. I think that sums it up.
KERRY THARP: Crew Chief Paul Wolfe is here. Paul, congratulations. Brad was just commenting on‑‑
BRAD KESELOWSKI: How big of a badass you are, man.
PAUL WOLFE: All I heard was Bad Brad was back this weekend. I don't know if that's good or bad.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I called you a badass, and if I'm bad, that makes us all bad.
KERRY THARP: Maybe talk about some of the things that you had to overcome this weekend, obviously, and maybe some of the things that you had to do to the race car where it was racing so well tonight. Also the fact that you've got three wins now. That leads all Sprint Cup Series drivers. We've got nine races to go now before we get to Richmond.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Teams man. We're a team.
KERRY THARP: I know you are. But talk about these things and what you were able to accomplish tonight.
PAUL WOLFE: Well, it was probably the toughest weekend as a team that we've ever had up to this point. Not only did we have obviously really high temperatures. But having trouble on the first lap of the racetrack always sets you back. One thing about all the guys on the Miller Lite team is it seems like we're able to find another level to work when it comes to adversity. I think you see that with the driver as well as you look back to last summer when Bad Brad had a broken foot. And we were able to take that and I don't know if he thrives off of that or what, but it seems like when some people might think we're down and out, we're able to find a whole other level to compete and find ourselves in victory lane.
Just says a lot about everybody on the team, and some of the things we do back at Penske Racing. The process that we go through to build our cars. Knowing that when we bring out a back‑up car, there really wasn't any concerns for me. The biggest thing was there was a lot of work to do with changing the engine and not being able to have all the practice time that everybody else had.
But I knew the car we had was still capable of winning. So says a lot about that, and for us we just need to continue to work hard. I think there are a lot of good racetracks coming up for us, and we're definitely up for the challenge. I think we showed that tonight.
Q. Paul, you said that this was the hardest win you've had to work at and you did a great job. Can you talk about the resolve of your team and the heart that your driver has? He send responsibility for what happened on the track, and he was sitting there working furiously with you, and isn't that what makes a team?
PAUL WOLFE: Oh, absolutely. There were some choices we could have made and some things we could have done that maybe would have been a little easier on everybody as far as changing the engine. We didn't have to do that. We did it because we knew if we did that, that was directionally going to make our race car better. There is no one on the team that would ever question anything we want to do or changes we want to make. They all just seem to work hard.
Like I said, there were points on the day Friday where some of the guys looked like they were ready to flap out. Nobody checked up. We continued to work hard. We were able to get our car in the inspection line in time to get our qualifying spot, which allowed us to start where we were versus starting in the back of the field.
Q. Brad, you said after the race that there is no looking back at this point. That all you need to do is look ahead. Does looking ahead mean going all out for wins in the next nine races, or does it mean being a bit more conservative to make sure you're in the Top 10?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I think looking ahead means trying to make sure we just stay in the Top 10. I think you all got the points backwards. You look at who is leading with most points earned. That don't mean anything. The only thing that means anything is what's going to restart when the Chase is going, when it starts. That's going to be based off of who is in the Top 10 and who has the most wins. That is the only thing that matters.
That's where my heart's at, and that's what I want. I want to be the guy with the most wins and inside the Top 10, and I want to look forward to making sure that we stay inside the Top 10, and hopefully can climb up a few more spots to be safe. But wins and being in the Top 10, that's all that matters.
Q. Your last pit stop, you've got 59 laps left before the rest of the race, how were you able to stretch your fuel level? Were there any things that you did to the car to make it last that long?
PAUL WOLFE: I think one thing to point out is everybody's worked really hard on this EFI project at Penske engines. And I feel like for the most part we've been as good or better than most teams when it comes to fuel mileage. That's big in a lot of these races. Any advantage you can have whether it's fuel mileage or power, you take anything can you get, because you never know when you're going to need it.
From that standpoint, we knew we were as good as most or better, and from there it was just Brad saving a little bit.
My biggest concern at the end of the race was somebody else running out of fuel with two or three laps to go and the race get extended. From that standpoint, that's what we were saving our fuel for. We had plenty of fuel to make the scheduled distance.
Q. This is for Brad, but I'd like Paul to answer after. How much of everything that took place from lap one of the first practice can be attributed to a little bit to not Bad Brad but a hacked off Brad?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: What's that mean?
Q. Just kind of ticked off or maybe trying to make up a little bit for whatever transpired?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know.
Q. Was there anything to that? Not to say that you had anything to prove, but just anything extra that came out of that whole incident that lasted through the weekend?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, I don't like being pushed around, and I felt like what happened on the racetrack, that someone was pushing me around, and I don't like that. I hate that. I can't stand it, and I won't stand for that. I can't stand it. I don't know if that creates a level of desire that makes us better. I would look to Paul and say my race car was just fast this weekend, and we had a lot more speed than we've had over the last few weeks. But I know that doesn't make a very good story.
But I would probably say that's more the reality. This car was fast from the second we unloaded it. It was fast‑‑ the primary car was before I knocked the wall down with it. The one corner I had in one and two was so good, and when I got to three and four and somebody pulled up in front of me at half speed, I didn't want to lift, and I wasn't going to lift.
So I think that's as big a part of it as anything else. Then from there, certainly there's always that little bit extra you get when you're fired up. A lot of people would say that's a bad thing in a race car. The adrenaline is the worst thing that can happen to you, because you don't focus as well. Well, maybe it's not. I don't know. I ain't the one to answer that.
But I do like the result, and whatever way, whatever I've got to do to get them, I'll get them. But I'm not going to be pushed around, and that's one code that I'm going to continue to live by. That's how it shaped out in the beginning, and for whatever reason it worked out the way it did in the end, and I'm not sure why. But it did, and I'm thankful for that.
PAUL WOLFE: For us, I feel like as a team, we ran really well here last year. I feel like we continue to show that when we come back to places for a second time as a team, we continue to get better. So I think whether it was in the primary car or the back‑up car, we tried to be smart about what we were doing and felt like we brought back a better race car.
Maybe it's human nature that when you're ticked off or whatever, that you're able to find another level, and you definitely look at that sometimes and there are definitely a lot of instances where I've seen Brad be able to find speed in the race car when he is ticked off. Whether or not he's doing it, it seems like it happens.
Overall we felt like we had a good race car, whether it was the primary or the back‑up. We definitely did a great job executing in the race tonight.
Q. Brad, on Thursday, you said the new rules could be a game changer. Did you feel they changed the game tonight for you?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I felt like we were a lot closer speedwise than we've been over the last few weeks. I don't know if that's it. Obviously the 48 car was still very, very fast, and you can't take that away from them. Kind of like the time the 5 car was as well, and the 11 car has been fast all year. The same cars are still fast. It's just maybe the delta between what we're missing between them is a lot closer and I feel bad about that.
Q. You lead the series in wins now and pretty much locked in the Chase. What do you have to do to win a championship this year?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Got to win races. Tony proved that last year. You've got to win races. You don't back your way the Chase. Don't rest on your laurels. You've got to have fast car when's the Chase starts with great reliability and great execution. It's going to take all three, and those three are going to win races. Just throw that to the side.
I think you've got to go out and win races. Luck stuff, everybody says luck stuff in races. If you go out and have good cars and win races and execute and do all those things, Tony proved that you'll win a championship. And that's what it's going to take.
Q. A follow‑up on did you come to find out that when something happened to Juan's car or did he intentionally get into you?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know. I'll let Juan answer that one. We never talk, so only he knows the answer to that.
Q. What happened to your steering wheel before the race that could have been a disaster?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: It broke. I don't know. I've never seen that happen before. It was a standard MOMO wheel that you would get off at the racetrack here or a typical vendor. It had a lot of miles on it. I don't think it was the wheel on the car that wrecked, but I put it on before the race started, gave it a tug, and it broke in my hands. If that would happen on the racetrack today we'd have been obviously not winning the race and potentially worse. So I'm glad I back‑checked it before the race started and glad we were able to get a new one on the car.
Q. Brad, you seemed like you never run out of energy. You're always bouncing around. Did the three events in a row in this heat take anything out of you?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Hell no. Do I look like I'm missing any energy?
Q. You don't look like you could lose any weight either, but was it an issue at all for you?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: No, it's good. I feel great.
Q. Did you lose weight?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know. I didn't weigh myself.
Q. What do you weigh, anyway?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Not enough (smiling).
Q. So no issue at all?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: No, I'm great, man. I feel good. I'm going to sleep in tomorrow, but I would have done that either way.
Q. Brad, you lead the series with three wins, but you're 10th in points. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is there concern?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Like I said, I'm looking forward. Not looking back. If you're worried about being 10th in points, then you're looking back.
Q. Why are you 10th in points when you lead the series?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Tenth in points because we had the reliability issues early in the year. You take out our two or three reliability issues‑‑ was it two or three? I can't remember what it was‑‑ if you remove those, we're a legitimate top 5 team, and that's the way it's been all season long.
We've just got to remove those. Look at Kyle Busch. Kyle Busch is not a‑‑ was he 14th or 15th place? They're not a 14th or 15th place team, but they had three races where they blew up. And the penalty for those races is catastrophic. So he doesn't deserve to be 15th in points where he's at. He's a good driver and that's a good team. So I think you've got to look at that and say that's why we're where we're at.
We lost anywhere from 50 to 70 points in those two races. Give us those points back and we're 20 out of the lead at best, and maybe 30 or 40 at worst. I just feel like we're a good team and we just had those issues. We can't have those in the Chase. We had them in the early season, and we've moved on and we're looking forward.
Q. (No microphone) in the trailer the other day, did he give you an explanation that you thought was satisfactory as to what happened on the track? Have you talked to Juan Pablo Montoya to clear that up?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: No, I haven't talked to him. I tried to, he didn't want to talk. So we've moved on. Jeff said what he had to say to me, and I'll leave that between me and him.
Q. I see you checking your phone. How many tweets are you getting and text messages?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I couldn't keep up, man. Y'all are asking so many questions, I can't look down. Do you want to look for me?
Q. I'll leave that to you?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: (Laughing) that's good. I like it a lot. I like how the fans engage us back. I mean, hell, that's what y'all are. You're the voice of the fans, right? Sometimes I've got the way to go direct to them and I like to do both. I think it's fun.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations on your win here tonight.
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