Ford Performance NASCAR: Brad Keselowski Charlotte Media Availability

Ford PR
(Ford)

Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Stars Stripes and Lites Ford Fusion, held a Q&A session prior to today’s practice session.

 

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Stars Stripes and Lites Ford Fusion – “We’re glad to be here in Charlotte for race weeks.  Of course, the Coke 600 is a little bit more of a special race week, I think for a number of reasons with respect to the race being so long and kind of being a crown jewel.  But also with respect to Memorial Day Weekend and some of the history of our sport – you guys in the room know how this all works, but with respect to NASCAR and a lot of its founding members, coming back from World War II and founding this sport it’s created a strong legacy and tie-in to our military and I think that year over year NASCAR puts a lot of effort collectively from the tracks, the teams, the sanctioning body and even some of the sponsors to honoring that legacy and this year is no different.  NASCAR has the program with the fallen soldiers on the roofs of the car, which I think is really humbling in a lot of ways.  We’re glad to play a part in that, but I have my own foundation, the Checkered Flag Foundation, and I feel like it’s important to give back in a lot of ways because of the privileges I have as a race car driver, so we have a number of initiatives and we’re here to talk about those today.  Probably most importantly Bill Lawson is here with the PVA, which is the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and we have a program we’re launching with them for the next few weeks that we’re gonna talk about a little bit, which has to do with the stages.  The Coca-Cola 600 has four stages, which some people probably know that.  I had to be reminded of that myself, so there’s some extra opportunities there to win stages and earn stage points and that’s one of the things I think as a team we’ve done really well this year.  We haven’t probably had the average finish that we want, but our stage points have really propelled us through the season and kept us competitive in the points.  So with respect to that, we’ve created a program where essentially we’re going to make a donation for stage wins over the next few weeks of the racing season if we’re able to accumulate them of $1000 a stage win to the PVA for some programs that they have.  I feel very fortunate that our partners on the race car have joined us with Alliance, Wurth and Snap-On, some of our key partners, and Bill and his team have a great program that he’s here to talk about and how that’s going to be applied to help veterans find jobs.”

 

BILL LAWSON, Paralyzed Veterans of America – “First, let me thank Brad and the Checkered Flag Foundation for supporting our organization.  He’s been a supporter of ours for quite a long time.  I also thank Wurth, Alliance Truck Parts and Snap-On for joining the campaign.  Brad mentioned Paralyzed Veterans of America.  We’re actually celebrating our 72nd year as an organization.  We were founded back in 1946 with a group of injured veterans that came back from World War II.  You know and you’ve heard it in the media lately that the unemployment rate has been going down, but nobody talks about the unemployment rate for veterans with catastrophic disabilities.  It’s unfortunately not going down, so Paralyzed Veterans of America decided we would start a program called Operation PAVE.  PAVE stands for Paving Access for Veterans Employment, and what we do is we partner our counselors with disabled veterans and we look to see what kind of skills do they have and then we try to marry them and their skills with an employer.  We also help their families to find jobs as well.  One thing that Operation PAVE does is we try to bring back the dreams of those people that came back with those catastrophic disabilities and one of those dreams is to have a good job with a good organization.  To date, we have helped over 5,000 disabled veterans find occupations.  I will give an example of one in Richmond, Virginia.  This guy was a quadriplegic and basically homeless.  He was sleeping on a friend’s couch, but he got ill and had to go to the spinal cord injury center at a Richmond hospital and one of our counselors saw him at the bedside and got to talking with him and they worked with this guy and now he’s working for the state of Virginia making high five-digit numbers, so we have changed a life and built a future there, and that’s what this program is all about.  We can’t do it without help from sponsors like Brad and his Foundation and we can’t thank you enough for that, Brad.”
“That’s pretty hard to follow, but we’re glad to support.  I think the NASCAR community cares about the military in a way that few other communities do and I hope to play a small part in helping you guys out in other initiatives within the military and those that have made sacrifices for our country along the way.”

 

“I might mention too that the services that we provide not only to our Operation PAVE, but in all the programs the Paralyzed Veterans has is free to all veterans.  We charge nothing for our services and we can only do that with the support of sponsors.”

 

DOES YOUR ROLE AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER HELP YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE AS TO HOW YOU HELP OUT WITH THIS PAVE INITIATIVE?  “Absolutely because, quite honestly, some of the veterans that I’ve worked with or had the privilege to work with over the years have been some of the best employees with the work ethic and discipline that they have, so I’ve seen the positives along the way and certainly had some experiences that can help appreciate an issue like this.”

 

WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS PROGRAM SPECIFICALLY?  “I really like programs based around jobs because I think the experiences I’ve had with my foundation have shown that most veterans and even those on active duty just want to be treated like normal people.  For us, I sometimes think we take for granted what normal is and having a job is one of the most normal things you can have, having an income ability to feed your family and take care of yourself, so I like initiatives like that because I think from the time I’ve spent with the number of military members that’s one of the things I hear the most.”

 

THOUGHTS ON ROGER PENSKE GOING INTO THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME?  “Yeah, I think it’s great.  He has a legacy that’s harder to define than most everyone else in the Hall of Fame because of his background – not just as a team owner, but he has a background as owning the tracks, his background of owning businesses that can help sponsor the sport, and beyond that, so he has such a diverse background and there’s really not a part of this sport that I can think of that he hasn’t touched.  So I think he deserves a lot of credit for that and it’s great to see him get the recognition of the Hall of Fame.”

 

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR TRIP TO NORFOLK AND THE TIME YOU SPENT THERE?  “We’ve had a busy month.  We’re announcing this program today with the PVA, which we’re proud of.  We have a camp going on right now as well to help military members, Operation Purple Camp that we’re really proud of, which is an initiative to help out service members who are returning from the battlefield and kind of get reintegrated with their families.  Of course, we have the Eckard family whose son, Chris’, name is on the windshield of my car that we’re honoring for his commitment and sacrifice.  I spent some time with their family yesterday and that was really humbling.  And we also got the opportunity over the past month to go to Norfolk and check out the latest aircraft carrier, the Gerald Ford, which I can tell you is pretty amazing with the technology and the people that it takes to make that thing run is just state of the art and really at a very high level.  It’s always an honor to get to do these things.  It comes as both a privilege and responsibility that I have from being a professional race car driver, so it’s great to be able to act upon that.”

 

WHAT ABOUT YOUR SEASON AND POCONO NEXT WEEK?  “We’ve been decent.  We haven’t won a race, which is frustrating.  I think Kevin has won so many that a lot of people are saying that right now.  I think Kevin has proven the cars have a lot of capability.  We haven’t gotten that out of our cars to this point.  We’re hopeful to do so.  Maybe it’s this weekend – knock on wood.  It would be a big weekend for us, but I’m optimistic that we can get there and get there fairly quickly.  Every weekend is a new opportunity just to do that and we’ll see what we have for this one.”

 

 

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