Ford Performance NSCS Notes and Quotes Pocono II: Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford, holds a press conference before practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 29, 2016 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford, holds a press conference before practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 29, 2016 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.

Ford Performance NSCS Notes and Quotes

Pennsylvania 400 – Pocono Raceway

Friday, July 29, 2016

Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion, was involved in an accident earlier this week during testing at Watkins Glen International. He stopped by the infield media center at Pocono Raceway this morning before practice to talk about the incident and his hopes for this weekend.

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR WEEK. “We had a pretty long week, or short week depending on how you want to look at it, with testing in New York and trying to get ready for everything else that’s coming up, so we’re glad to be here. It’s been a good track for us, trying to keep the roll that we’ve been on here going. I think we’ve got a great shot at winning. Of course, we qualified up front here and on the pole in the first race, which really puts a little bit of pressure on you coming back because it’s kind of hard to top that, but we didn’t win. I think we finished third and had a shot at it there late. Last fall in this race we finished second, so I think we’ve got a great shot in general of winning here again and would like to get number five up on the board and just kind of ready to get to it.”


OTHER THAN THE CRASH, WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW REPAVE AT WATKINS GLEN AND DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED THE LAST TIME YOU WRECKED LIKE THAT AND CAME HERE? “I do remember it. If I didn’t remember it, I’m guessing they wouldn’t let me sit here (laughing). My thoughts on the pavement is I think we’ve seen a pretty dramatic shift in probably the last four or five years with respect to the type of pavement that’s being used to repave the tracks. We probably saw that again at Watkins Glen, where the pavement is very, very smooth. It lasts a really long time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t wear the tires, which is a key component to the way the cars perform and it’s kind of an interesting relationship there, but the track itself has a lot of grip, it’s very smooth and should put up some fast speeds.   Of course, the struggle is to try to get the cars to where they can run in multiple grooves because of the limitations of the tire and the new surface, so the track itself is in beautiful condition to run single file, but we’ve got to continue to work on aggregates and tires and all those things to open up the passing.”


WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUNG DRIVERS MIRED IN THE BACK OF THE PACK AND WORRIED THAT THEY CAN’T SHOW THEIR TALENT? ANY ADVICE TO KIDS WHO THINK THEY CAN’T GET BETTER THAN 35TH ON ANY WEEKEND? “First off, if you have that mindset you’re not going to. If you’re defeated in your mind, you’re not gonna ever get there in reality. I think there was a good point in time in my career where I was not in quality rides or equipment and you’re being watched whether you think you are or not no matter how you run, and all you can do is outperform your equipment and that’s running smart races and building great relationships with your team and people that are in the sport – maybe even your manufacturer – and I would tell anyone in those situations that to make the most of your opportunity and you’ll keep getting opportunities. You will leapfrog in this sport, and not just in this sport but in this life. I’m a big believer in that, so I don’t believe in the cycle of being stuck in bad equipment. I believe in the cycle of in this life, more times than not, you get what you deserve or where you’re supposed to be. Of course, I’ve caught some breaks to be where I’m at right now, and I recognize that, but I think if you go out and make the most out of every opportunity that you have in life that things work out, and that’s just been my guiding light.”

IN REGARDS TO THE WRECK AT WATKINS GLEN. ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THE TIRE BARRIER YOU HIT OR WHETHER THERE SHOULD BE A SAFER BARRIER THERE? AND DID YOU DO ANYTHING TO THE FLOORBOARD, FOOTBOX AREA SINCE ROAD AMERICA OR OTHER RECENT CRASHES TO HELP YOU? AND WILL YOU DO ANY CHANGES TO THE BRAKE PACKAGE YOU WERE USING TO AVOID IN THE FUTURE? “I guess three parts there, so bear with me if I miss a part or two. Am I comfortable with the tire barrier? I understand the whole tire barrier concept.   In general, I’m not comfortable with tracks that have run offs that lead to very harsh angles, and that’s certainly the situation that that track has, and always has had it. Road courses remain the most dangerous tracks in motorsports for a good reason because of that, but we know that going in. Some place has to be the safest and some place has to be the most dangerous. It’s funny because a lot of times we end up talking about Daytona and Talladega and they don’t ever worry me as much as road courses do, I can promise you that. But I guess from a tire barrier perspective taking out the angles, yeah tire barriers or SAFER barriers it’s kind of a wash to me on those types of tracks. Preferably, we’d just have angles to where when you hit you can hit it with a SAFER barrier and not have to worry about things, but I understand there are some limitations there because a lot of these road courses run different series and so forth, and they don’t want to get into a situation where a minor spin damages some rich guy’s $300,000 car. So there are some trade-offs there, I understand, but that’s just part of it.   As far as the car, there has been a lot of changes in our car since 2011 with regards to safety. I think we went through, at least with Team Penske, a complete safety overhaul from the pedals being redesigned to hopefully not break my feet, which they didn’t and that was great. The floorboard is redesigned with a completely new style of carbon fiber and I’m trying to think of the right term there – but composite materials. The seat, we helped a company design a new seat from that time, which I think there are a handful of teams in the garage that are running it that we feel is significantly safer. The steering wheel itself. Max Papis designed a new steering wheel that’s meant to absorb a lot of energy, so that was redesigned. I know the shifter was redesigned. I’m sure I’m missing some parts out there. I know there was some helmet redesign work and some seatbelt redesign work, so a lot of pieces were redesigned and I think, from what I can tell at this moment, all of the pieces that we were able to redesign performed very well. The one piece that we weren’t able to redesigned was the steering column.   That’s probably the weakest link in those type of impacts at the moment. Of course, there’s always going to be one weak link, but that one in particular continues to be a pretty big issue. I think we’ve seen that a couple times over the last few years where the steering wheel comes back up in your face and can do a lot of damage to your helmet and your head, etc. I got lucky that I didn’t get too much of it, so in general I would say that I’m fairly pleased but always looking for more.”

WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE BRAKES? “There was an installation error with the brakes. The brake line wasn’t installed in the proper way and it broke.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE STRUCTURAL CHANGES NASCAR ANNOUNCED.   DO YOU KNOW IF THAT WILL INCREASE OR HOW MUCH WEIGHT THAT WILL ADD TO THE CAR AND IF IT WILL CHANGE THINGS LIKE CENTER OF GRAVITY? AND WOULD YOU MAKE THOSE CHANGES FOR TALLADEGA SINCE IT’S DURING THE CHASE SINCE IT’S OPTIONAL? “I can’t speak to your second part as far as will I make the changes. I don’t work as much on the race cars as I used to, so I will definitely not be making any changes. But the teams themselves, I don’t think we have any plans to undergo those before Talladega. The timeline for building those cars has already come and past with respect to that particular feature on the car. Even though the cars aren’t complete, that feature on the car that is done through our chassis shop – I saw the cars yesterday actually, so I know it’s already done past that step – so it’s kind of too late for us. I’m sure there will be some others that do undertake those steps.   I think it’s probably the right direction with respect to those race tracks, although I would have liked to have seen it probably done in a different way with respect to not adding as much weight to the car. It’s kind of one of those dorky engineering formulas where you add more mass to something to make it safer, but then when you hit something else you hit it harder.   We’re safer in a sense because the cars are bigger and more steel – it’s like a tank – but when two tanks run into each other it’s still two tanks running into each other, so you lose the efficiencies there. So I think overall it’s probably a net gain, and I think there’s probably a challenge that could be undertaken by the industry to find a better way to do it than just throwing steel at it, but that said I’m still happy that we’re thinking in the right direction.”

HOW DO YOU RATE YOUR SEASON TO DATE AND CAN YOU TAKE CHANCES NOW TO WIN MORE RACES, OR DO YOU FOCUS ON GETTING PREPARED FOR THE CHASE? “I think having four wins at this point is certainly something we’re ecstatic about. If we’re looking back and not forward, that’s a good place to be in the year is to have four wins just past the midway point. Unfortunately, it doesn’t count for much once we get to the Chase, but it’s something we can be proud of and look forward and say that we’re off to good start. As far as taking chances, I kind of feel like it’s the exact opposite. I know you hear all the time about taking chances, honestly, I feel like it’s the exact opposite. I think as a driver you things a lot differently once you already have wins, where you take less chances. I think the team itself takes more chances with parts and respect to failure and strategy, but it seems like as a driver it’s like with having the reset in the Chase it reminds me of like an NBA game where you reset at the end of the third quarter. So all you do as a driver is try not to have any fouls. You try to not have everybody mad at you until you get to the last quarter, so that’s kind of my take on it because it doesn’t really matter. Once you have a win nothing else really matters.   You could have 10 wins and it doesn’t get you anywhere, so I think from that perspective there’s more chances probably from the team side and as we’ve seen this Chase evolve there’s probably less chance-taking from the driver’s side.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT RESTARTS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THEM? AND HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DID KYLE BUSCH GAIN FROM COMPETING IN THE TRUCK SERIES AS MUCH AS HE DID? “I would say that restarts have developed into a key part our racing since we’ve gone to double-file restarts. What happens is you always have one line that’s preferred and one line that’s not. Of course, you have the whole restart zone situation and what that has created is this offense/defense mode that everyone goes into depending on whether they’re in the preferred or non-preferred lane. It’s just different tactics than I think what we’ve traditionally seen in this sport, and those tactics have evolved over time to where the drivers that have a lot of experience are pretty darn good at it, so the more experience you can get at it in those other series is very beneficial, especially as the leader.   I would say that Kyle is getting out of it what he puts in. He puts in a lot of work and he’s getting a lot of results out of it and he deserves a lot of credit for that.”

WHERE WOULD YOU RANK YOURSELF IN TERMS OF RESTARTS?   “Some days you feel really good and some days not so much. I think right now, it’s my opinion, that probably Joey Logano is the best restarter in the sport right now and Kyle is probably a pretty close second. I think I’m probably in that top-10 bracket, but not as high as I want to be. I want to be the best at it.”

YOU TALKED ABOUT THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN LEARNED SINCE YOUR ROAD ATLANTA ACCIDENT, BUT WHERE DO THINGS NEED TO GO NOW WITH THIS INCIDENT?   WHAT NEEDS TO BE LOOKED AT? AND WITH REGARDS TO THE STEERING WHEEL WAS THAT YOUR HEAD THAT HIT OR YOUR CHEST? WHAT BENT THAT UP? “I think everything, to your second question. I think everything. With respect to what needs to change? It’s a good question, one that I don’t know that I have all the answers to. The answers I do have is that there’s only so many of those hits you’re gonna take before someone gets killed. It’s just the way it is. I know that. It’s not something I’m comfortable with, but I think as a sport there’s a lot of different ways to look at it. At the end of the day I am still standing here. Odds are that if 100 people take that hit, one or two are not gonna be standing here anymore. I think that’s pretty safe to say, so since a half-dozen have taken pretty similar hits in that same part of the race track I would say that it begs to reason that maybe a change should be made in that area. But I can’t say that I have a specific idea at this time because more people are gonna take that hit and eventually one of us ain’t gonna come back.   That’s something that the smart guys that work on that stuff are gonna have to figure out some time.”

WHEN YOU MAKE A STATEMENT AS STRONG AS THAT WHY DON’T THE GUYS SAY THEY’RE NOT GOING TO DO IT OR SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE CHANGED BEFORE WE COME BACK. WHY NOT SOME ACTION THAT’S PUT FORTH WITH IT? “To some point we’ve signed up for a certain level of risk and that’s right on the edge of what’s acceptable risk. I think every driver has their own line and if you’re looking at it from that perspective, I think every driver is saying that that’s the acceptable risk they’ve signed up for and it falls within those parameters.”


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.