Ford Performance NASCAR Notes and Quotes
Overton’s 400 – Pocono Raceway
Saturday, July 29, 2017
Brad Keselowski held a media availability session after first practice for tomorrow’s NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Overton’s 400 at Pocono Raceway.
BRAD KESELOWSKI. – No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion – YOU RE-SIGNED WITH TEAM PENSKE RACING. WALK US THROUGH THE PROCESS: “Yeah, it’s certainly a good thing. Those things are tough and they never go easily or smoothly as you want them to go. The most important thing is that it’s done. We look forward with a lot of stability. And that stability is important for a number of reasons. It’s important for me as a racecar driver that I have a place to work and drive and pursue my passion. More than that, there’s a place to work for the 100 or so that work specifically on my team or the 400 or so collectively that work at Team Penske to keep going and keep working. I’m happy for those guys. And to have the stability as well with respect sponsors and all those things to showcase them and hopefully be a place to keep the business model in a way that drives value for them and keeps us on the track in a competitive form. Those contracts are a big deal. I think sometimes to our fans they’re probably not a big deal and I understand that. To the livelihood of the sport and the livelihood everybody in the room, they certainly are. It’s nice have those done and to be able to worry about the true passion point we have which is the racing on the track.”
WITH THE TWO DAY SCHEDULE, HOW MUCH WILL THAT AFFECT YOUR QUALIFYING SET-UP AND CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE? “It’s a good question. Me personally, it’s not going to be a big deal. Having done the Xfinity races and qualifying race mornings and all that, I didn’t think it was much of a game changer. It does put a lot on one day…to be able to qualify and race. I’m sure there’s going to be a bunch of sponsor commitments in between. All in all, you’re gaining a day back, Thursday or Friday, it might be able to offset those loads. To me it’s net-neutral. So I’ll guess we’ll see when we get a few more of these under our belts and how that goes. I haven’t formed much of an opinion yet because I’d like to get a few under my belt. Having the experience from the Xfinity side I didn’t think it was a big deal. Cup is a little different and I’m sure there will be some things will pop up that didn’t pop up (over there) for good or bad. ”
WAS THERE EVER ANY QUESTION THAT YOU WOULD LEAVE TEAM PENSKE? “I didn’t have any intent. The whole time I wanted to get a deal done there. I never personally reached out to anyone else. I think there might have been some opportunities elsewhere. I’m a big believer that Roger gave me a great opportunity seven or eight years ago and I wanted to continue to see that play out. I kind of wanted to water my own grass and I felt like I had that opportunity it’s a matter of working out all the pieces of the puzzle to do so. It also seems like on these deals that if they’re not done by February, twelve months ahead, everybody starts to panic. So when you get a deal done in July everybody looks at you and asks what took so long. In some respects, yeah, I wish it would have gotten done sooner and in other respects you say time out, I still have six months until it really matters. I can so both sides of that. At the end of the day I feel like I have a great group. I’ve won races, usually multiple races every season I’ve been part of the 2 car. I think we’re going to have that opportunity for years to come and as a driver I think that’s a good thing to have.”
WAS ANY PART OF YOUR NEGOTIATIONS HELPING YOU GET FUNDING TO SUPPORT YOUR TRUCK TEAMS? “It is important to me. I think I have to be careful to not let the tail wag the dog. At the end of the day, the Truck Series model is one for me to participate in I have to be willing to make financial sacrifices or just cost money. Being a racecar driver is what makes that possible. I have to be really care of that.”
ARE DRIVERS HAVING TO TAKE LESS. ARE SPONSORS OFFERING LESS? “Everybody wants more for less. That’s just not in the NASCAR sponsorship market, that’s in every market. Business models are changing rapidly. Our
world changes rapidly with respect to communications and the next generation and consumption habits. I think sponsorship contracts are going to keep to evolve and change. I think the traditional model is going to go extinct soon and could be argued that it’s here right now. The traditional model (of just) being a consumer brand sponsor that just wants to see a car out there with there name out it will go extinct in the next couple years. That’s not always a bad thing. There’s other models that work and have proven to be successful. And the teams, although the owners may not agree with it, are still relatively healthy. So, time will tell what the true model is 10 years from now. I don’t think anybody really knows. I don’t we have it as bad as we say we do.”
WHAT DOES THE ADDITION OF A THIRD CUP CAR TO PENSKE RACING MEAN, IF ANY? “Hopefully it mean more depth. More ability to extend resources engineering where you can make the car faster. The biggest battle that we have right now in motorsports is aerodynamics. The teams keep pushing aerodynamics further and further to improve that. It’s just really the time and energy that you can spend on it. The more people you have, the more revenue you have, the more that you can work in those areas with engineering tools or experiments to get better. There’s a lot of hope with respect to that. It’s just not aerodynamics. It also carries over to the engine side with Roush Yates Engines. and a number of other categories of depth. Whether it be pit crews or shop mechanics, fabricators and beyond. Assuming that it’s pulled off and executed in the right way at those levels it should be a gain for everybody at Team Penske.”
HOW MUCH DO YOU LAMENT THE LOSS OF FIVE PLAYOFF POINTS FROM LAST WEEK? “I think the playoff points are probably understated. We ran the model really early after the announcement and it would have made a big difference in every season to who would have made the Championship 4 with having playoff points. And it’s going to make a big difference this year. I don’t think it’s going to change. Those things add up really quickly. It’s also important to note that there are more points to be earned this year. When you do fall behind, 40 (points) used to be a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it still is. Now a 40 point race is a top five point day. If you cumulate at the end of the race what everyone scored for the race, 4 points is usually about fifth. Fifth to eighth on any given race day. Forty points before was like winning the race. The gaps are a little bit bigger. We’ve scored more points this year than we have from any other season because of the stage points. I think there is a little bit of a balance there. In general, I feel pretty certain that the playoff points will change who will make the playoffs this year versus if there wasn’t any playoffs.
(INAUDIBLE QUESTION) “Yes, absolutely. But I wouldn’t say that it was just Indy that I felt that way. I felt that way at Richmond and Vegas where we finished second, had a shot of winning, were leading and it fell apart at the the end. There’s other races where we won Atlanta, Kevin was probably the best car there, and like anything else you have to say that sometimes you win when you shouldn’t have and sometimes you don’t win where you probably should have. You hope to be on the better side of that. Steal more than you have stolen. Never feels like you are. That’s the bigger picture look that I have at.”
YOUR PRESS RELEASE SAID “WELL INTO THE FUTURE”. WHAT DOES “WELL INTO THE FUTURE MEAN”? WILL YOU FINISH YOUR CAREER AT TEAM PENSKE? “Well into the future means that some people hate when you say how many years. I don’t particularly care but they ask me not to. And because they pay the bills I say, yes sir. I hope to be a racecar driver at this level into my 40s, which is seven years from now. I feel comfortable in saying that my contract is not for that long. So there’s no guarantees that I’ll be at Team Penske for the rest of my career. Hopefully when the next process comes up I’ll be able to have that opportunity to do so.”
DID YOU SAY IN THE FUTURE YOU THINK THAT SPONSORS WON’T WANT THEIR LOGOS ON THE CAR? “Not necessarily their logo, they just won’t be a consumer brand.”
DO YOU SEE SPONSORS WANTING ANYTHING DIFFERENT IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP. HAS THE SPONSOR-DRIVER DYNAMIC CHANGED? “They want clearer ROI. If you look at the model 10 or 20 years ago where we put a sticker on a car and it feels good, looks good. Nobody knows what the hell it means. That day is kind of gone. Everybody wants a number to show a CEO or Board. So if you’re in charge of these programs, data and analytics has really driven how these programs are viewed…whether it’s successful or not. Sometimes I think that it’s good, sometimes I think that’s bad. There’s a lot of things feel right that don’t necessarily have a number that look right. I think motorsports sometimes fall into that category. The biggest thing in general is that corporate America is becoming much more analytic structured driven and that’s really hard to do for any consumer brand. But it’s becoming more important for those brands. Hitting the analytics just right is really the key for this sport to be successful long term in the current model. That means being able to sit in front of a Board of CEO and answer tough questions and have analytics that showcase value. And I think they’re are a lot of great analytics that do so. Maybe not enough focus put into that category across the sport to be able to execute that.”