Ford Performance NASCAR: (Brad Keselowski Media Availability)

Ford PR


Date: Friday, June 30, 2017

Event: Coke Zero 400 (Media Availability)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Daytona International Speedway (2.5-mile superspeedway)

Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford Fusion, met with media members Friday prior to qualifying of the Monster Energy Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford Fusion — HOW IMPORTANT HAS YOUR TRUCK TEAM BEEN IN YOUR CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS? “First off, my truck team is very important to me. It’s an opportunity to give back in another world which is the one that has provided me the opportunity to do so many other things. It’s always going to be an important topic to me. It’s one that has been very important through the last few years of my life. Whatever contracts end up being settled on it will be a significant role in it.”

IS PART OF THAT AN INTEREST IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES? “I have a lot of interest but I don’t want to pigeonhole into any of it right now.”

IN THE MEETINGS WITH NASCAR AND THE DRIVERS TODAY, WAS THERE ANYTHING YOU LIKED OR DISLIKED? “I wouldn’t say in our meetings this morning that there wasn’t anything that really caught me off-guard. There are things that you smile and are happy to see and then there’s things that you say we have to work on that. Today was no different. I can’t say that there was anything that anyone here said is all too shocking, unbelievable. There’s a lot of small tweaks that we’re always working on with respect to formats and new ideas on how to make this sport better. In my mind, the environment of collaboration, to be able to kind of work through things and throw ideas out to NASCAR and vise-versa. I think it was a good process and one that we can expand on. It’s so big. It’s bigger than one person ability to govern and manage it. We all see it through different lenses and the best perspective is when you can get all those lenses together. And those meetings are very productive to do just that. I’m glad to be a part of it and glad that they exist.”

WHAT IS IT ABOUT BRISTOL NIGHT RACE THAT MAKES DRIVERS GET MAD, THROW HELMETS, ETC.? “It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy in respect to that it gets so much hype that I think the drivers get caught up in the hype of the Bristol night race. I know I did when I won there. It felt like a bigger win to me because of the hype that you get out of that race. As goes the good times goes the bad times where the bad times seem to hurt a little bit more and you get more frustrated by it. That short track environment is more prevalent to see those types of incidents that make you mad, make you upset. With an environment that feels electric sometimes we feed into it.”

HOW MUCH MORE WEIGHT DOES THIS RACE CARRY FOR YOUR TEAM? “This is a good race for us. It’s  the one that we’re looking for big results from because of the success that we’ve had. I don’t believe that we brought the same car from Talladega. I kind of learned not to love race cars a few years ago where we won at a race track and the car didn’t have a scratch on it and I saw it in the back junkyard cut into pieces. I wanted to cry. From those days forward I stopped reading the numbers and giving them names. I couldn’t even answer what car it is. I know it’s the best car the team feels like it could put together for this race. I know our crew has made some improvements since then to make us stronger. We had a really strong practice session. We are looking for big results. We came off our worst track last weekend with a solid finish. A few weeks before that we were quite lackluster, a bit dismal. Wrecking out at Charlotte and Dover and not really getting the run we wanted at Michigan. We kind of have the ups and downs right now and hoping to have the wave of momentum with the ‘ups’. We’re coming off a strong run at Sonoma and entering a track where we won last year and feel like we’re going to have a really, really strong race car to race with here tomorrow. We’re expecting big things tomorrow.”

DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE ANY TWEAKS TO THE STAGE RACING? “I don’t have a real strong opinion. There has been a lot of dialogue about the stages and if caution laps should count, not count. If we should go to yellow or not go to yellow. I don’t think that’s going to make a difference either way. It’s something everyone wants to talk about. The teams are pretty adamant that they want to see the laps count because they are putting miles on the engines and don’t want that to count for nothing. And I think that NASCAR is pretty adamant that they want them to count, otherwise the teams would run the cars out of gas purposely on the last last lap so they don’t have to pace around and waste that energy. It would really throw a wrench in the whole strategy game. I think the fans would ultimately lose. I’m fairly open minded to the topic of laps and the stages and all that. Honestly, I don’t think that it will make a big difference to the overall experience when it’s all said and done, but I’m respectful that some do.”

DALE JR. MENTIONED THAT YOU AND JOEY AND DENNY WERE STRONG ON PLATE TRACKS. ARE THERE ANY COMMONALITIES BETWEEN YOU FOUR? “Plate racing is it’s own breed. What makes you a successful NASCAR driver is so difficult and significant to me. When you compare it to other sports, it would be like if you took a star athlete like Tom Brady and told him, ‘You’re a great quarterback, but this week you’re going to line up at tight end and next week wide receiver and the week after that you’re going to line up as a safety.’ It’s four different positions. He might fit great as a quarterback, but he would admit that he doesn’t line up great in any of those three positions. In NASCAR, even though it’s the same field much like in football with Tom Brady lining up in any one of those other positions, the game changes dramatically when you go to different genres of race tracks. From the restrictor plate tracks, short tracks, road course tracks, to the intermediate tracks. The techniques and styles…what you look for…everything is so much different that even though it’s still a race, everything is foreign to you if you’re an expert in one field and you go to another track. That’s why we see road course ringers at road courses. That’s to the extreme of how foreign a race can get. The adaptability is key. To me, restrictor plate tracks the way they are you can’t get any meaningful experience in them because even in practice the dynamics of how the packs work is not even close to realistic to what you’re going to experience in the race. You can fool around with it on computer simulations. The computer simulations are miles off of being able to replicate how all the air is flowing over the car and exactly what’s happening out there on the race track. You have to learn by experience. Through mistakes. Through film review. Through self-teaching. Some people adapt to that really well, some don’t. Some are naturally talented at things. I don’t think you can be naturally talented at plate racing. I think you have to learn it. I think you have fail at it and apply the lessons. Some have done better than others through the year and that’s generally what separates us. The car side is important as well. But you do see some of the drivers repeating success. Maybe not each and every time, but the majority. I would expect that to continue.”

HOW WOULD YOU EVALUATE STAGE RACING? “I like it. That’s a bit self-serving because I’ve had some success at it. Overall, it’s good for the sport. There are some people that don’t like it. I understand the nostalgia and so forth. I strongly believe if this sport was created in 2017 that this is exactly the type of racing that we would have. With today’s society, today’s expectations, I believe you would have seen last week and this week, without stage races certain teams would realize these weeks are to their strengths and effectively took the week off and just rode around. I don’t think that’s healthy for our fans. I don’t think that’s healthy for our sport. With stage racing format, I believe the dynamics have changed. There’s more emphasis every week. There’s more value to the ticket a fan purchases or the time a fan spends watching the races. I think anytime that we can increase the value for the fan without increasing costs it’s a good thing for the sport. I think stage racing has done that. I’m a big fan of it.”

WHAT COMES TO MIND OF RICHARD PETTY AND THE LEGACY HE’S LEFT BEHIND FOR NASCAR? “Well, you don’t get the nickname the “King” for nothing. He’s ‘leaving’ because he’s so active in the sport. He’s leaving a legacy that won’t even be touched by any other driver. Maybe even athlete in the sports world. I would put him on par with Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and all those guys. What they’ve meant to golf. I can’t think of anyone in football or hockey. Maybe a Gordie Howe? He’s still here. He’s still in the garage everyday. He’s been retired for 25 years and he’s still in the garage every race week. He still has team that he actively participates in. He’s still invested in the sport. You still see him promoting the sport with different things whether it’s when NASCAR goes to the White House or trips to New York or any of those things. He’s active with the Hall of Fame. Twenty-five years later! I don’t know where I’m going to be when I retire, I hope it’s a long way off. But I doubt that I will still be here every week. Let alone from all the success that he’s had on the race track, there’s just so many facets to his legacy that I feel bad sitting up here and trying to talk about it because I know that I’m missing so many pieces because of everything he’s meant to the sport. We’re lucky that he’s in our sport and not in another sport.”

FORD HAS WON FIVE OF THE LAST PLATE RACES. IS FORD THE TEAM TO BEAT AT PLATE TRACKS? “I think that every year we see seem to see different cars and teams and manufacturers have strengths and weaknesses. I think we’re starting to see at this point and time in the season where the Fords have distinct strengths and weaknesses. Probably more that we’ve seen in the last four or five years with the manufacturers. The Fords right now are the best cars on the speedway tracks for a number of reasons. One of which is the power in their engines is very strong a the higher rpms. And with the current gear rules and current engine packages at Daytona and Talladega, the engines sustain higher rpm for the duration of running in the pack. I think the Ford engine is probably a ways behind at the lower rpms with the other manufacturers which tends to show itself at short tracks and even some of the road courses. It’s a bit of a testament to Kevin’s success last week and (ours) at Martinsville. It definitely shows up at tracks like Loudon, Phoenix and so forth. The Fords might be ahead at the restrictor plate tracks, they’re far behind at the lower rpm tracks. And I think with the bodies, the Ford body on the Gen 6 car lends itself to well to the restrictor plate tracks with having high-efficiencies with respect to its drag characteristics. But then again, on the mile-and-a-half tracks it’s probably behind the competition with respect to balance and we’re fighting that right now. There are some strengths and weaknesses. I would agree that the Fords have some strengths right now on the restrictor plate tracks and probably behind on the other race tracks. Like anything, if your golf game is good on the greens and not good on the driving range you have to make the putts. So the Fords are doing a good job at that. I would like to see it be a little more balanced out with our strengths and weaknesses but with the current landscape that’s where it is right now.”


Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 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.