Ford Performance NASCAR: Brad Keselowski Looking To Defend Martinsville Cup Win This Weekend

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

STP 500 Advance (Martinsville Speedway; Martinsville, VA)

Saturday, March 24, 2018


Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Reese/Draw Tite Ford Fusion, is the defending winner of this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race and currently sits fourth in the point standings.  He stopped in the infield media center at Martinsville following practice to talk about tomorrow’s race.


BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Reese/Draw Tite Ford Fusion – WHAT DOES LAST YEAR’S WIN MEAN TO YOU AND WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN AGAIN THIS WEEKEND?  “Winning last year was really, really special for me.  This is a special track with the history and tradition of the sport, so having success here kind of ties yourself to those legacies of some of the founders of our sport.  It means a lot to me.  Martinsville is one of those races where I just feel like you don’t kind of win it on luck, you’ve got to really earn it and I enjoy those types of races.  I enjoy the type of challenge it is to race here and to compete here at the highest level, so it was really, really good.  I have the clock in my house, which you get a good reminder once every hour of that day, so that sticks out to me and I’d like to get another one.”


WAS IT A MATTER OF CIRCUMSTANCE WINNING HERE OR IS WINNING HERE ABOUT THE LAST 20 LAPS AND HOW YOU RACE AROUND PEOPLE?  “There were a lot of woulda, shoulda, couldas.  I feel like I probably could have won the last three races here and I’m a little disappointed I’ve only won one of them.  I made some mistakes and caught some bad breaks and that’s just kind of part of how this race track plays out sometimes, but we’ve been in position a lot over the last half-dozen or more races and it didn’t come together before that for a number of reasons, which was a real bummer, but it finally did this last spring and I feel like we’ll have another great opportunity this time.  I think each weekend was probably a little different as to why it didn’t come together, but we kept the faith that if we kept running up front and in that position it eventually would and it did.”


DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR MEMORY WITH YOUR DAD IN RACING THAT STICKS OUT TO YOU?  “I think probably just being with our family when there’s any kind of success and celebrating together is always really special.  Those are the moments that stick out to me the most.  There’s that old saying the heart grows fonder with time and as I’ve grown up and gotten older I remember all the good stuff and have kind of forgotten all the bad stuff in that way.  So being around my family with the wins is probably the ones that stick out the most, whether it was my dad’s one NASCAR win in the Truck Series or a few of his wins at the ARCA level.  Those will always stand out to me the most.”


THE LAST FIVE RACES HERE YOU HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE BEST IN THE SERIES.  WHEN DID YOU START TO FEEL LIKE YOU HAD SOMETHING HERE?  “We had a couple really good races here I think in ’14 and ’15 and had a great shot at winning and just kind of learned from that and added a few more pieces to both the car side and my own side to grow from that.  It takes so much to run well and so many little different styles as a driver and then little techniques along with the car and how it’s prepared that I think it’s one of those things you just kind of dial in and we’ve got it dialed in.  The thing about Martinsville is it’s a track that is fairly consistent.  There are some variables with of course the weather and the tires, but once you can hit the basics of it I think you can kind of stay pretty close on the target, so it’s maybe not a perfect answer, but I think a little bit of both the car and myself.”


DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE THAT FEEL?  “We come here with a lot of confidence, for sure.”


WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT CHASE ELLIOTT ROUGHED YOU UP AT THE END OF THIS RACE LAST FALL TO TAKE THE LEAD?  HE HADN’T DONE OR SHOWN IN THE PAST.  “I don’t know if hadn’t done is the right term.  I was maybe a little surprised.  I was a little more probably disappointed to be in that situation.  At the end of that race it was pretty clear that everybody was just gonna run each other over and it was just who didn’t get ran over at the right time and right place, and we didn’t pass that one, so it kind of is what it is.”


HOW DO YOU BALANCE BEING OBJECTIVE IN THE BOOTH VERSUS VOICING YOUR OPINION?  DO YOU FILTER WHAT YOU’RE THINKING OR SAYING?  “Without a doubt.  I’ve been very privileged to have those opportunities — my last opportunity to do that in the TV booth.  I’ll do the Hollywood Hotel, I think in Talladega for the XFINITY Series, but that was my last opportunity last week and people ask me about that.  I feel like when I’m in that situation and I can’t be objective that I look over and there are two other people and I’ll let them handle it.  That feels like the proper way to me.  Maybe that’s not how everybody else would handle it, but if there is something I don’t feel comfortable commenting on, there is some strength in numbers and I feel like I don’t always have to say anything up there.”


DO YOU HAVE AN EASTER MEMORY YOU WANT TO PASS ON TO YOUR DAUGHTER AND DOES SHE UNDERSTAND THE HOLIDAYS BETTER NOW?  “She understands more than I want her to sometimes.  That’s the great thing about having kids.  I love Easter.  It’s one of my favorite holidays with spring and everything turning and of course what Easter stands for beyond that.  From my family we’ve always had a lot of fun on Easter.  It’s always been the guaranteed off week in racing, which we so much appreciate and hope to never lose.  That said, we always like to do something together as a family to try to get outside, whether that’s Easter egg hunts or my family always liked to play croquet, so we still do that as a family.  It’s been a lot of fun.  It’s kind of a weird thing to pay, but I’m not really good at any other sport, so I enjoy that one.  You can wreck other people in croquet, so that’s always a lot of fun.  I’ve always enjoyed that part.”


CAN YOU SYMPATHIZE WITH WHAT THE 48 TEAM IS GOING THROUGH?  IT’S THEIR WORST SLUMP.  “I don’t know, it’s hard to feel bad for a guy who has won 83 races.  It’s hard to feel bad over that.  There are a lot worse problems going on in the world, but that said I do know how frustrating it can be to be on a stretch where not only are you not winning, but you’re not as competitive as you want to be.  That happens.  There are a number of reasons why that happens and trying to figure that out is quite honestly more exhausting than trying to figure out how to go from fifth to first.  So in a lot of ways I sympathize with the effort that I’m sure they’re putting in, but I also understand that this sport has ebbs and flows and guys that get ahead and guys that fall behind.  It’s just the first time that group has really fallen behind probably in their existence to this extent, but I don’t expect it to last.  With respect to that I wouldn’t be too worried for them and I’m guessing they’re probably not too worried themselves.”


THOUGHTS ON TEXAS.  “It’ll be interesting to see how the track has aged over the winter, whether the second groove will come in.  I thought last year the track did a phenomenal job of kind of doing their homework, prep work on the track to where we could run the second groove in both the spring and fall races, which not a lot of tracks do, so I thought they deserved a lot of credit for that.  And we actually had one of the better repave races we’ve ever had.  That said, I don’t know what to expect in the second year.  Generally, winters really affect the track, but a lot of that seems to depend on the process that they’ve paved the tracks with.  If you look at a track like Michigan, it hasn’t changed at all and it’s the coldest of winters up there.  They used whatever high-grade pavement they used to repave that track, and on the flip side there’s tracks like Pocono that in four or five years has aged really well, so I don’t know what Texas will be.  I don’t know what compounds they used or any of the scientific jargon for that to have a good answer for what it will be like in year two, but I do feel like the track has put a lot of work into the prep and trying to make it the best it can be and hope they’ll do that again.”


DO YOU THINK THE WAY PEOPLE RAN OVER OTHERS LAST FALL WILL BE THE NEW NORMAL HERE OR IS IT BECAUSE THAT WAS A PLAYOFF RACE?  “I struggle to say it’s just because it was a Playoff race.  I think a lot about the 500 and I really haven’t had the success in the Daytona 500 that I feel like as a team we’re capable of and it’s really frustrating for sure, but after we got back from Daytona – you know we wrecked out this past February – you do the debriefs and you talk to all the guys and from a morale standpoint it’s really difficult when you look at races like that because it gets really easy to be kind of lulled into a false sense of what matters, where perhaps this is more so on the restrictor plate tracks than anywhere else, everybody gets a little lazy and starts to think, ‘Well, we don’t have to have the fastest car and we don’t have to really study and do our homework because at the end of these races everybody is gonna wreck and whoever survives is gonna win.’  It’s really easy to get lulled into that, but for whatever reason I think if you look more at the stats, more at the odds, at races like the restrictor plate tracks and races like here at Martinsville, although that will happen from time to time, it’s really not the norm.  It’s the rare occasions.  It’s the one out of every three or four races that turn into that, and you have to kind of harden yourself from thinking that way, but then on the flip side when they do happen, you have to recognize them and be tough enough to move on and accept them for what they are.  I thought Daytona was that way this year.  It’s been that way probably the last two years, but then the two years before that it wasn’t that way.  It was a really good, strategic, well-run, well-driven race by the entire field.  I suspect that Martinsville will cycle just like the plate track do, where you’ll have races like we had this past fall once every three or four times and then everybody comes away from it and says, ‘That was dumb.  That was crazy.  I’m not gonna do that again,’ and naturally they forget about it and do it again about a year or two later.  I just think it’s part of the ebbs and flows of racing.  In some ways it makes it exciting and unpredictable, and other ways it’s entirely frustrating and you just kind of have to live with it and roll with it.”


IS IT YOUR JOB TO BE PREPARED FOR BOTH?  “Absolutely.  You tried to be prepared for both.  The thing that makes racing in a lot of ways so much different than other sports is that you have less control over your destiny.  You look at a football player or a basketball player and they have so much control over hitting the shot, they have so much control over throwing the perfect pass or making the right move on the field.  Where in racing you can control your own move, but you can’t control the moves of everyone else around you and at any time that can ruin your day, so with respect to that there is certainly a little bit more of an out of your own control factor fate, whatever you want to call it, in motorsports that makes it somewhat compelling at times and also completely frustrating as a competitor at others.”


SPECIFICALLY, ABOUT THE MOVE WITH CHASE LAST YEAR.  DID YOU BRING THAT UP WITH HIM?  “I’ve had five or six months.  We’ve all had five or six months since Martinsville last time.  I don’t know.  I expect that will come back the other way somewhere down the line.  We’re both gonna be racing for hopefully for a long time and I’ll make sure it does.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.