Ford Performance NASCAR: Michigan 2 (Keselowski)


Ford Performance NASCAR Notes and Quotes
Pure Michigan 400 – Michigan International Speedway
Friday, August 26, 2016

Brad Keselowski comes back to Michigan International Speedway in search of his first victory at his hometown track Sunday afternoon. The Rochester Hills, Michigan, native spent the morning driving the 1901 Sweepstakes exact replica on track with NBC’s Kelli Stavast and delivered the Heritage Trophy to MIS President Roger Curtis. Keselowski spoke about the experience and more.

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – HOW IS THE NEW AERO PACKAGE (laugter) “It is good. I had a blast. That is the new low, low, low downforce. It is good we gave Roger his trophy back, the manufacturer trophy that Ford had from Joey’s win here in the spring. Hopefully we can get that back here on Sunday. That would be great. I am glad to be in Michigan. Happy to be here.”

HOW TOUGH IS IT TO DRIVE THAT CAR AND LOOK BACK AT THE DRIVERS AT THE EARLY PART OF THE CENTURY? “Motosports certainly has changed a lot. It changed a lot from there, that’s for sure. It was fun to drive. There are a lot of little things we probably take for granted now as far as amenities are concerned. The sport is building and getting better all the time. The cars we have now are really phenomenal pieces. Under appreciated by me at least.”

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO DRIVE SWEEPSTAKES? “I got it up there pretty good, up to about 50 or 60. I had a rider and Kelli and didn’t want to get anyone hurt but we still got it going pretty good. Those cars there are all about horsepower. Now you look at our cars and it is about horsepower and handling and everything that matters to win here on the Cup side. Back then it was about just running. The race that Sweepstakes won, there were 40 entries and only two finished. The others all blew up or broke down and had all kind of issues. That is a good indication for how motorsports have changed.”

THIS CUP AERO PACKAGE HERE AT MICHIGAN, HOW DO THE CARS HANDLE? “The cars are very loose. They are very difficult to drive as they should be. That causes a lot of wiggles and bobbles and all those things on the race track that tend to lead to a lot of excitement. Hopefully, more than anything, it gets the cars to where we can run closer and tighter as a pack and have even more passing.”

DO YOU HAVE A COUPLE THINGS IN MIND OR ONE THING IN MIND THAT MIGHT BRING YOUR FIRST WIN HERE? “We have been right on the door. I don’t know how many more times I can finish second, third, fourth and fifth here. It is frustrating and good at the same time. The worst part, to be honest with you, is we finish just good enough to get asked. I would rather either win or finish 20th (laughter). To be right there, that close is tough. It is right in our sight. It is good and bad at the same time. In motorsports, specifically NASCAR, if you continue to run up front and finish in the top-five at a track, you will win. It is just a matter of time. We have four wins. It has been a very good year for us. The last five races we have been in position to win and it hasn’t happened. Sometimes that is just the way it goes. Whether it is leading a bunch of laps and having issues at the end or getting caught up in someone elses’ wreck. Those things happen. All you can do is position yourself for good things to happen by being up front and being a contender. It has been a really good season and we have been doing that here at Michigan. I have to believe that eventually it will pay off.”

A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO YOU HAD A TASTE OF THE OPEN WHEEL INDY CAR. IS THAT A REALISTIC POSSIBILITY FOR YOU ONE DAY TO RUN THE INDY 500? “Who knows. There are so many moving pieces there. I don’t know what realistic is or isn’t. I am knocking on doors to see what opportunities there are an will continue to kind of evaluate it and be prepared if the right one comes up.”

 YOU TOOK KIND OF A HARD HIT AT BRISTOL. WHEN THAT HAPPEN AND IN THE WAKE OF DALE JR’S SITUATION, DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT ANY MORE OR LESS THAN BEFORE? “Drivers are a perishable fruit, just like anyone else that is an athlete. You career is easily spoiled. You have to be careful not to drop the fruit and bruise it. Those incidents are tough but it is part of the gig.”

YOUR OWNERSHIP OF THE TRUCK TEAM, HOW IS THAT WORKING OUT? “We are having a great time. This is actually one of our biggest weekends. One of our sponsors, Cooper Standard, is part of the Careers for Veterans initiative and we joined up with my foundation, Checkered Flag Foundation, and we have the race here Saturday. We will have 3,000 people here which is great for the Truck race and they will be somewhere there in the grandstands. Most of them veterans, and their families as well. That is a great thing and something we are really proud of. I am looking forward to that race as well. The truck team has been fun and I want to get the championship. We have been close. We have been second the last two years. We are right there with Daniel Hemric and we need a win with Tyler Reddick to have a shot in the Chase which is coming up. I am excited for the next few weeks and the opportunities that lay in front of us.”

YOU GUYS AT PENSKE HAVE WON THE TWO 2017 PACKAGE RACES. IS THERE A GOOD REASON FOR THAT? “I think there actually is a really good reason for it. I think from an aero perspective NASCAR took all the cars after Pocono and from an aero perspective right now the Fords are the worst. So when you go to a lower downforce we aren’t at quite a disadvantage. Since we are running well we have other advantages on the car but from and aero perspective we are the worst in that category but the lower downforce fits us well.”

HAVE YOU HEARD ANY RESULTS FROM THE POCONO DEAL? “Well there you go, that is your answer. I am sure you would be shocked to know who won.”

WERE THE NUMBERS SHOCKING? “I didn’t see the numbers personally so it isn’t fair for me to say but I could read the faces of the people that did see the numbers and I know the meetings that happened right after and I would say based on that there were some reactions to say we were a little further behind than we wanted to be.”

ANY CHANGES NASCAR CAN MAKE? “I wish we would stop changing things for balance of performance. I think that is a bad thing. I think balance of performance is something that hurts our sport when we continue to make changes and concessions. As long as when we are on the good side of that it stays the same. It seems every time we get on top there is a wind tunnel test or some kind of rule changed to try to pull us down but when we are behind it is like, ‘oh now, lets keep it fair and equal and everyone with the same opportunity.’ As long as it is consistent either way I am good with that.”

THEY RAN THE TIRE DRAGGER HERE. WHAT IS YOUR GUESS OF WHAT WILL COME FROM THAT? “This track is one of the tracks that was repaved with an aggregate that has not been advantageous to the style of racing where the track widens out and opens up for a lot of passing. The only thing we have really found to kind of combat that has been this tire dragging thing. It goes out there and tries to put rubber down in the track and open the groove up. Sometimes I think it works great. Other times it is a good effort that doesn’t work. I am not sure what it will be here.”

WHAT MORE IS THERE TO LEARN FROM THE PACKAGE THIS WEEKEND? “That is a good question. My understanding is that NASCAR just wanted a second data point. The tire drag was a piece of that data point and making sure the track was wide enough to facilitate the type of racing we are hoping this package can put on. Even though we felt like this Michigan race was drastically better than last year’s Michigan race, it still wasn’t what we were looking for. In order to eliminate variables, the track has been altered with the same package.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – WHAT TRAITS OR CHARACTERISTICS DOES A GOOD SPOTTER HAVE? “He knows how to use a radio. That is a really important part and usually he has some kind of driving experience to know what you are looking for before it happens.”

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN TERMS OF THE CHATTY LEVEL? “I am on the high end. I want to know everything and then I will filter it from there.”



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.