Ford Performance NASCAR: Brad Keselowski Bristol Q&A Session

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Ford Performance NSCS Notes and Quotes

Bristol Night Race Advance – Bristol Motor Speedway

Friday, August 18, 2017

Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Autotrader.com Ford Fusion, announced yesterday that his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team would cease operations after the 2017 season.  He elaborated more on that decision today at Bristol Motor Speedway.

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Autotrader.com Ford Fusion – WOULD YOU HAVE CLOSED THE TEAM IF IT HAD MADE MONEY?  “I don’t know.  Probably not.  There were a lot of decisions that went into it.  There wasn’t really one reason, but certainly at some point every business needs to have some profitability, but I never went into it expecting to make money, so I can’t really blame that.”

BUT YOU LOST TOO MUCH?  “Everybody is losing a little, but that was one of the factors.  I wouldn’t say it was the only one.”

HOW VIABLE IS THE TRUCK SERIES AND WHAT DO YOU SEE FOR IT IN THE FUTURE?  “The Truck Series has been around a long time.  It’s gonna be around a lot longer than me, so I’m not so self-centered to think that series is based solely on my team and participation.  It’ll be around.  It’ll be all right.  I don’t know where the future is gonna take me in my life.  I know that I’m trying to be positioned to have as many opportunities as possible to kind of control what that might be, and this is a necessary step business-wise to have those opportunities.  It’s not really the most pleasurable one to undertake.  In fact, it really kind of stinks, but it was the right move long-term and I’m hopeful that it works out for the best.”

HOW LONG DID YOU STRUGGLE WITH MAKING THIS DECISION?  “There were a few months of planning and thinking and making sure that everything was right and the I’s were dotted and the T’s were crossed, but there was definitely a few months.  It wasn’t an overnight thing.”

YOU MENTIONED KEEPING THE FACILITY.  DO YOU KNOW WHAT OTHER KIND OF BUSINESS YOU MAY WANT TO PURSUE FOR THAT BUILDING?  “We’re not ready to announce anything, but I know where I want to go and we’re in the middle of putting all that together.  Until it’s together, I don’t want to get too far down the road with it, but I know that I’m committed to the facility and the community to have an operational and functioning business in that area and plan to do just that.  Hopefully, that opens a spot to retain a good number of our people.”

IS FORD NOT INTERESTED IN SUPPORTING A SERIES THAT USED A CRATE ENGINE AND DIDN’T RELY ON ITS OWN ENGINEERING?  “I don’t know exactly what Ford’s interests are or weren’t.  I can’t really speak to that.  It wasn’t really a factor in the decision.”

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE BKR ASSETS?  “I’m actually gonna keep a good bit of it.  The trucks and the parts go out of style and are irrelevant so quickly that I’m gonna liquidate that, but a good part of the equipment that we do have I’m gonna keep and utilize for future opportunities.”

DID YOU TALK TO NASCAR ABOUT THIS AND DID THEY OFFER ANY THOUGHTS?  “No, I didn’t.  It’s not really NASCAR’s responsibility to look out for me or my team.  There’s a little bit of good faith there, but I knew going into this deal that the burden is on me to make it work, so I wouldn’t blame them for anything.”

WOULD YOU EXPECT SOME OF YOUR TRUCK SPONSORS TO FOLLOW YOU?  “I do think that we have some paths.  I don’t have anything to announce, but, of course, very hopeful that will be the case.”

WERE SOME SPONSORSHIPS SET FOR NEXT YEAR?  “Some of them were.  That’s always a tricky road to navigate.  I’m not ready to announce any of those future plans, but it definitely was a factor.”

HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO TELL YOUR TEAM?  “It’s very difficult.  I feel like we’ll be able to find a good home for probably 75 percent of the group, whether that’s new business opportunities, Team Penske or different things I still need people for within the fold that I have.  I feel really bad for the 25 percent that I’m not gonna be able to find a spot for, but I’m wishing them the best and thankful for their help over the years.”

HOW DID AUSTIN AND CHASE TAKE THE NEWS?  “I think Austin has got his game face on and is focused.  Chase, of course, he’s got more to work through without having an open-wheel past and stuff that Austin has to go through.  But Chase is what I would call a Sunday driver.  He’s not there yet, but he’s one of those guys that is so talented that I have a feeling he’s gonna be just as strong if not stronger for it.”

DO YOU STILL ENCOURAGE OWNERS INTERESTED IN BEING INVOLVED IN THE TRUCK SERIES TO DO SO?  “Yeah, I think there are obviously some things to work through.  If somebody came to ask me about it, I would certainly talk to them and share the passion I have for the sport with them.”

WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF A DECISION LIKE THIS?  “There are a lot of relationships.  Being a business owner it’s more about the people than anything else.  You care about them and they give you their all, and you want to give them your all.  In some ways you feel like you’re letting them down when you’re not able to keep it going, so that’s never any fun.”

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT COULD HAVE CHANGED YOUR DECISION AND SWUNG IT THE OTHER WAY?  “I could have won the lottery (laughing).  There are a lot of factors.  Like I said, the biggest thing is I want to be positioned to have the best opportunities possible when I get done being a race car driver, and one of those opportunities is to be a team owner.  For that to have any chance of being successful, it’s going to be critical for me to have all of my ducks in a row specific to having other income-generating businesses.  This is the only way I could get the opportunity to do that, so I feel like it’s the right decision.”

SO THE IDEA IS TO USE THE FACILITY TO BUILD A NEW BUSINESS AND THEN USE THAT TO HELP SUPPORT AS A CUP PARTNER?  “It’s an idea, absolutely.  It’s a little bit of a counter-offensive with respect to if you look at all the business owners at this level – and really all three of these levels – they have a sustainable, profitable business outside of motorsports and that’s going to remain the key for any owner to have success because the reality is I can only be a race car driver for so long.  When that time comes up, my business would have had to shut down because I don’t have a profit center, and having that profit center is what helps you get through the ebbs and flows that every race team has, so I need to have one of those profit centers.  That doesn’t mean that I’ll be a Cup owner one day, but that means when the time is right if we achieve the goals that I have, I’ll have the opportunity to make that decision myself and not have it made for me.”

WAS THIS DECISION PART OF YOUR TEAM PENSKE CONTRACT RENEWAL?  “It was made in the same time.”

WERE YOU HOPING FOR MORE SUPPORT FROM FORD?  “You always want more, but it’s a pie and there’s only so much to go around.”

WHAT ABOUT THE TEST AT DARLINGTON ON TUESDAY?  “Our team is still participating.  Chase Briscoe will go and I think Ross Chastain is gonna test our second truck.  I’m very encouraged to see the progress NASCAR is making on that front and support it as well.”

THERE WERE RUMORS YOU WANTED TO GO AND TEST?  “I’m not able to go.  I’ve got family vacation time and I was booked by the boss.”

WHAT AREA MADE IT TOUGH FOR YOU TO BE AN OWNER IN THE TRUCK SERIES AND DRIVE FOR ROGER PENSKE AND MONSTER ENERGY?  “There are obviously some conflicts with the sponsors and all those kinds of things and trying to keep them together and wanting to make sure we’re putting all of our resources to work to achieve the ultimate goal of winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup.  That can sometimes be a conflict, but that wasn’t a sole reason at all and I don’t want anyone to think that.”

WHAT ABOUT THE CUP CAR TODAY IN PRACTICE AND THE TRACK?  “The track is moving around a bunch.  I expect it to be very dynamic throughout the weekend, so we’ll see.  It’s hard to tell who is fast and who is not when it’s like that, but, I’m sure at the end it will be the usual cast of characters.”

DO YOU THINK IF YOUR TRUCK TEAM WON MORE RACES OR A CHAMPIONSHIP THIS DECISION WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT?  “No, not really.  I think that strategy remains the same either way.”

HOW MUCH DID YOU LEARN WITH THIS SITUATION THAT YOU CAN TAKE INTO YOUR NEXT BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY?  “A bunch and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.  I don’t feel like we’re done yet.  We’re just going a different path.”

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