Ford Performance NASCAR: Richmond 2 (Brad Keselowski Media Availability)

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Federated Auto Parts 400 (Richmond, VA)

Friday, September 21, 2018

 

Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Reese DrawTite Ford for Team Penske, comes to Richmond Raceway fresh off his third win in a row last weekend in the playoff opener at Las Vegas. With a spot in the second round already clinched, Keselowski talked about what that means for his race weekend at one of his favorite places to race.

 

With Paige being from the affected hurricane areas and your foundation getting heavily involved, can you talk about your efforts you guys are doing?

 

Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Reese/DrawTite Ford Fusion — “We’re doing what we can and I don’t think there’s any one person that can do everything but everybody can do a little bit of something. I gotta give my wife, Paige, lot of credit. She skipped the race last weekend so she could be there and my family, well Page’s family which is my family now lives out on the edge. They’re out on the coast area and a lot of family and friends we’re certainly affected so she’s spent some time out there and came back day before yesterday and kind of gave a download. So we had a number of things we’re working on doing for my foundation, Checkered Flag Foundation, which does a lot for first responders and military. Of course, a lot of first responders are actively involved and I thought it was interesting because she kind of had her boots on the ground. Even though that hurricane hit that area you kind of think the worst is over but it’s actually getting worse. So with that in mind, with the flooding, everything, you know, continuing to increase, those guys are in a lot of dire need and it’s nice to see some other people join in.  Ryan Newman’s foundation, Christy Newman was out there and and doing some things. We’ve got some stuff we’re doing to help them and then we have a number of programs from clothing to food trucks and gas to try to help those people out. Darlington Speedway helped out, Talladega Speedway has helped out a little bit. We have raised about $40,000 so far, which has been good. Paige and are making some donations as well and matching some donations from our fans. So we’re really proud of that. We are hopeful that will make an impact and help some people that are really in a bad spot. But I gotta get my wife most of the credit. She’s the one making it happen while I’m trying to trying to win races. That’s been going pretty well. But she’s been a real superstar.”

 

Do you see any change in the direction of NASCAR now that Steve Phelps will be President?

“I honestly don’t know much about it. I kind of read it with with you guys. I can’t say that I really have had a chance to catch up. It’s not like Steve hasn’t been involved before. Steve’s in every meeting I’ve been a part of. So I don’t really expect a big difference. I’m not saying that’s good or bad. Steve’s been with the team for quite a while.”

 

It has been 15 years since NASCAR eliminated racing back to the yellow flag. Can you explain your thoughts on that rule?

 “I don’t really have any strong feelings on it. There’s some parts I like, some parts I don’t like about it. The pure racer and he wants to always race. Then the flip side you see some of the danger aspects and how far this for has come safety wise. That’s part of it. That’s one of the things the sport has going for it is we’ve been – knock on wood – very fortunate to to not have any major safety issues here and quite some time. That is something to be proud of. I think that change probably attributed to it. With cars that are compromised that have already been in a wreck the last thing they need is to get hit by another car that’s going full speed trying to race back. I think all in all it’s probably a good change and has helped the safety of the sport.”

 

Two months ago at Pocono you were telling me that you were confident that you guys would find what you needed when you needed it, talking about speed execution.  Has the confidence shifted a little bit that you guys now have a fighting chance at this championship?

“It certainly feels good to have those 25 playoff bonus points now. That is a big deal especially as you get into these later rounds of the playoffs. So, that’s been a huge boost for us. The wins of course been really good for the pit crew to build their morale. We’ve made a number of changes there over the last few years and and this is the best we’ve been on pit road. So with that in mind we’re really proud of that and when you see it actually deliver results that means a lot to everybody and spurs on some confidence. For me, I think we looked at a few racetracks in the past as being some of our best tracks with Martinsville, Talladega and possibly here at Richmond so we’re pretty pumped up to come here regardless of whether we had won the last few weeks and feel this will be a good track for us.”

 

This is your first look at the revamped infield they’ve done here. What are your thoughts on the project with it geared towards the fans and just how important that is and your overall thoughts on what you see here with the new digs:

“Well, I think it’s nice to see the racetracks spending money. They’ve been making a lot lately so it’s good to see them put it back into something but you know those types of efforts are very important to our sport. It’s very important to keep our facilities up to date for our fan experience and the core of our sport is keeping our fans engaged. When you upgrade your facilities you’re doing more than just making something nice and shiny. I always like to think that you’re showing respect back to the people that use it and make it possible and so that’s something to be proud of for sure.”

 

Last week at Vegas you were talking about how when it is important to know what is on the line for everybody else in the race. You don’t have the same thing on the line now that you have advanced. Will that change anything about what you will do on Saturday night and do you think there will be some desperate people challenging you in that situation?

 “The first thought that comes to mind is I listened to a little bit of the race broadcast from NBC and I thought Steve Letarte said something that was really, really smart, which was that when we get asked by the media, the drivers do, how the playoffs change the way we race and all those things are our natural answers to say that it doesn’t affect anything. I think that’s because we’re kind of stuck in our own little bubble where we don’t see how things affect us, even when they do affect us, because it’s probably subconsciously. So my initial thought is no, it doesn’t change anything. But I think the the proofs in the pudding when you watch these races that things definitely change with when you have different things on the line. Whether it be the playoffs or you want to race in the playoffs specifically. Things definitely change and perhaps are more subconscious, which makes it hard to give a great answer because my initial answer is probably with my heart is no, but when I try to step back and look objectively it’s pretty obvious looking at the field that it does.”

 

In 2014 you won twice in the playoffs but didn’t make the final round. In 2015, Joey Logano won all three races in in the second part of the playoffs but didn’t make the championship. Would you be in favor of a rule that says if you win a race in the playoffs that you automatically qualify for the championship?

“I don’t know. There’s so many rules as it is I would hate to add more. I’d like to get rid of half of them. Every time somebody asks about making a new rule, I cringe. I think that there’s always an idea to change and enhance and sometimes I think we just need to pick some things and stick with them whether they’re work perfect or not and just go. I don’t know that’s probably not a great answer but there’s probably no perfect system that’s going to make everyone happy. In this case, to your point, that scenario doesn’t make people happy. That’s just the way it is sometimes.

 

What do you think is the catalyst to what you’ve been able to do the last few weeks? Anything different for you?

“I’m not really sure. We’ve been really strong on pit road that certainly helped and we’ve got some good breaks with yellow flags and so forth that’s helped. We got some good brakes was restarts and getting good lanes and that certainly helped. When the opportunity presented itself we haven’t screwed it up and we’ve got some great opportunities that have presented themselves cumulatively, and we put them all together. That’s that’s never a bad thing, right? But with respect to that, I think you have to one recognize that we’re fortunate to have the opportunities and that we haven’t just dominated the races. When you dominate a race, you don’t really need an opportunity. You just don’t need any bad luck. We have not been dominating the races, we’ve been able to get opportunities to kind of change our fortune and we’ve made the most of them, so I think you recognize that and then you recognize that making the most of your opportunities is so important in motor sports and in life. That’s, that’s where we’re at today with with these wins that we’ve had.”

 

You won this race in 2014 in dominating fashion. Is there anything you can take from a performance like to this race?

 “That was a phenomenal day, it really was. I feel like we probably could have one three or four races here and two or three of them have kind of slipped through my hands on restarts or things of that nature. With respect to that, that’s part of what makes winning the last three so sweet is knowing that I’ve had a lot of other races that have fallen apart where we’ve had opportunity. It makes you appreciate them. Richmond is one of those tracks we just really like and we look forward to the race.”

 

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