Tag:Brad Keselowski
Posted on: November 28, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 5:28 pm
 

2011: biggest surprises and disappointments

By Pete Pistone


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(Keselowski's Pocono win driving with a broken ankle helped bring the No. 2 team closer together)

The 2011 Sprint Cup Series season is in the rear view mirror and as always there were several surprises along the way both of the good and bad variety.

Here’s a look at those who exceeded expectations this past season as well as those who would rather erase their 2011 effort from the memory bank:

Biggest Surprises

Brad Keselowski

The Penske Racing driver enjoyed a banner season that will be remembered as his NASCAR coming out party. Not only did Keselowski excel behind the wheel he also became one of the garage area’s “go to” guys, not afraid to speak his mind and always ready to give a candid assessment of any situation. Granted that philosophy got him into hot water recently when NASCAR fined Keselowski $25,000 for his criticism of the new electronic fuel system, but don’t expect the incident to completely change his ways. His winning performance at Pocono driving to victory lane with a broken ankle and other injuries suffered in a testing crash at Road Atlanta only days earlier cemented the cohesiveness of the "Blue Deuce" squad. Keselowski raced his way into the Chase as a wild card with three wins in the regular season as his ticket and although wasn’t able to mount a serious threat for the championship, proved he belongs in future conversations about title contenders.

Trevor Bayne

His storybook win in the Daytona 500 to start the year is the stuff of legends and Bayne kicked down the door of stardom with his stirring win in “The Great American Race.” Unfortunately he was derailed from following his dream by a mysterious illness that knocked Bayne from the sport for nearly three months and set back his development. But once he returned to the full-time Nationwide Series ride with Roush Fenway Racing as well as his limited Cup Series slate for the Wood Brothers, Bayne once again demonstrated why he’s considered one of the brightest young talents in the sport. His first career Nationwide win at Texas was every bit as impressive as the Daytona victory. However Bayne now faces the challenge of the economic pressures of the sport and how that will impact his 2012 plans in both divisions. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

This time a year ago Earnhardt Jr.’s Sprint Cup career was in a shambles. He had just completed a miserable 2010 season that saw him finish 21<sup>st</sup> in the point standings and score only three top five finishes all season long. But then team owner Rick Hendrick installed Steve Letarte as Junior’s crew chief in a shake up of the Hendrick Motorsports organization and almost instantly the improvement began. Earnhardt started the season running more competitively than since he first joined Hendrick in 2008 and came very close to finally snapping his three-year winless streak. Although he leveled off later in the campaign, Earnhardt made the Chase and finished seventh in the final standings with four top five and twelve top ten finishes to his credit. More importantly was the new sense of enthusiasm and confidence instilled in Earnhardt and the feeling more success was right around the corner.

 

Biggest Disappointments

Kyle Busch

This was supposed to be the year that Busch finally broke to the next level of his Sprint Cup career and not only challenge for a championship but win one. He rattled off a series-leading four wins in the regular season and entered the Chase as the number one seed. And then as has been his pattern in past playoff runs things fell apart only this time they did so in spectacular fashion punctuated by Busch’s Camping World Truck Series altercation with Ron Hornaday in Texas. NASCAR parked Busch for the remainder of the weekend, only the third time in more than a decade the sanctioning body sat a driver out of a Cup race for disciplinary actions, and his promising 2011 season ended in a controversial thud. Despite all of his success and more than 100 career wins across NASCAR’s top three divisions, Busch enters next year at a definite crossroads. 

Jamie McMurray

His three big wins of 2010 put McMurray near the top of many people’s list of drivers to make the Chase this season and perhaps contend for the title. But the entire Earnhardt Ganassi Racing organization including teammate Juan Pablo Montoya seemed completely off its game this year and McMurray finished 27<sup>th</sup> in the final standings. He had only a pair of top five finishes all season long and looked nowhere near the same driver who won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 the previous campaign. 

Joey Logano

The expiration date of waiting for Logano to finally fulfill the lofty promise he brought with him to NASCAR’s top series is closing in. After ending the 2010 season on a torrid pace Logano seemed ready to take it up a notch this year and at least punch a ticket into the Chase lineup. But he got off to a bad start and never was able to recover from a series of disappointments and challenges including the Joe Gibbs Racing team’s engine woes. There was some speculation mid-season that JGR was courting free agent Carl Edwards to join the organization and move Logano either to the Nationwide Series or out completely. In the end Edwards stayed at Roush Fenway and Logano remains in the No. 20 ride – for now.


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Posted on: November 10, 2011 10:35 am
Edited on: November 10, 2011 10:36 am
 

Video: Brad Keselowski on Inside NASCAR



One of the sport's top drivers, Brad Keselowski, visits the set of Inside NASCAR to talk about his difficulties in Texas, the suspension of Kyle Busch, and his plans for the final two races of the season.

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 12:06 pm
 

Brad Keselowski enjoying breakout season

By Pete Pistone


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(Keselowski points to his June win at Kansas Speedway as a turning point to his season)

The clock may have struck Midnight on Brad Keselowski’s championship Cinderella story but there’s still time for his breakout season to continue. 

While Keselowski might be out of the Sprint Cup title fight, the possibility of finishing as high as third in the standings as well as adding to his win title keeps the Penske Racing driver motivated. 

After scoring his first win of the season in June at Kansas Speedway, Keselowski went on a tear to race his way into the Chase field as a wild card entrant and in the process earn the respect of his fellow drivers as well as the hearts of thousands of fans.

His old school mentality, which quite frankly got him into trouble early in his NASCAR career when by his own admission Keselowski was a bit out of control, has taken many inside the sport as a breath of fresh air. 

"He races a lot different now than what he used to,” said Denny Hamlin. “He thought he was right back then, but he wasn't right. He's learning. It's winning him races now, and he's gaining lots of respect among the guys." 

Keselowski’s team has become one of the most unified and cohesive in the Sprint Cup Series garage and part of that chemistry stems from the relationship he has with the entire team from top to bottom.

“Obviously, when the drivers put the helmets on, it seems like they get a different mindset,” said Keselowski’s crew chief Paul Wolfe. “I think Brad’s come a long way and to handle some of those situations like he did was just amazing. “If Brad did something I thought was way out of line, I’d be the first one to tell him — I think he would hope that I would do that.” 

Although Keselowski recognizes there is a difference in perhaps his approach, preparation and interaction with his team, he doesn’t believe a great deal has changed for him behind the wheel. 

Keselowski believes it’s more about success earning respect than it is of a changing driving style. 

"I don't really feel like I'm doing anything differently," Keselowski said. "I'm slowly becoming more competitive, and as you become more competitive you get more respect from your competitors, and things just get easier." 

Keselowski at least made things look easy during the hot streak that drove him into the Chase when he took three wins from the regular season as his ticket to the playoffs. 

He hung around the top of the standings for a while until the train came off the rails about midway through the Chase schedule to take him from title contention. 

Although that’s been a disappointing development, Keselowski is still proud of the accomplishment to just be one of the premier dozen drivers in the series.

“I'd hoped, to be quite honest, the last five races, we unveiled a new car at Penske Racing, and I'd hoped that we would gain speed with that car,” Keselowski explained.  “It appears that we gained a little, but not on the field.  It appears the field gained a little more than we did.

“Other than that, it's everything I hoped for and everything I thought we were going to see in the Chase.  I feel very lucky to have four top fives so far and then we've had four bad finishes, four finishes of 16th or worse.  That's been tough, but that's part of the deal.  I'm very proud to have a seat at the dance.  It's been good.” 

Keselowski looks back at the way his season started when he makes his assessment of how far the team has come in 2011. The new year got off on a bad foot for the Blue Deuce squad and the team could have easily thrown in the towel early with an eye toward the future rather than to try and get back into contention. 

Keselowski remembers how tough the atmosphere was around the team when things went astray coming out of the gate.

“Yeah, I would say there were some dark days, yes,” he recalled.  “Certainly after Richmond, that was a miserable, miserable day in the spring.  That was about as low as it got.  We were able to climb our way out of it.  I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by good enough people that I didn't let it get us down, or they didn't let me get down.  I really can't complain about the lows.”

Which in short order turned into highs punctuated by strong runs in May and the punctuated with his Kansas win come June.

That success propelled him to a Chase spot and although the effort won’t end with a Sprint Cup title, the whole experience has given Keselowski both a sense of confidence and a feeling of pride. 

“It just says how far we've come as a race team over not just the last year but really six months,” Keselowski said.  “It's been very good.  I'm very proud of our efforts.  I think we can still be better.  I think we have room to grow in a lot of ways.  I'm committed to doing that.

“I'm very proud of what we've done to date and I hope we can go out there and keep racing like this for years to come.”

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: October 29, 2011 2:15 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 3:07 pm
 

Brad Keselowski says NASCAR lacking ethics

By Pete Pistone


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(Keselowski believes some ethics and sportsmanship are missing in NASCAR of late)

Last week's wide range of controversies got the attention of Brad Keselowski who questioned some of the ethical standards around NASCAR racing.

Between team orders, alliances broken, cheating allegations and penalties being assessed, Keselowski said this weekend at Martinsville Speedway the last few days have not been NASCAR's most stellar.

"You know for me, I think every person, every driver, every team, car owner, whatever it might be, has (their own code of honor). It’s certainly something I place very, very high; that’s why I’m driving for Roger Penske," said Keselowski. "I think you can look at things like that and you can see who a driver picks to drive for and you can kind of get a mindset, so to speak, of how they feel about it. Roger, I think, is at the top of the list in my opinion. There have been times where I’ve had conversations with Roger and ask him why are certain things not done on the car and he’s told me point-blank, ‘Hey, this is something that is a little grey and I don’t live in the grey area, it’s not how I run my race teams, it’s not how I’m going to run my race teams. And if I lose races because I’m not in the grey area, I’ll accept that so that I don’t have to answer for the races that I’ve won and been yelled at, or discredited, or had the asterisk put next to me for some sort of violation’. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that."

Keselowski said he understands the pressure that's asociated with competing at NASCAR's highest levels but that it shouldn't come with the price of losing sportsmanship or respect for the sport.

"It’s easy to fall into temptation of sorts to push it a little bit harder. I think we all come back to it sometime, whatever individual code we have, and mine is a reflection of who I drive for. That can be tough. It can certainly be tough. As far as where my line is at, it’s not an easy answer to give. I want to win as bad as anyone else, sometimes more. I don’t want that win to be discredited in any way shape or form. If that means I have to lose a few to make sure that the wins I have are credited the right way, then I’ll do that.

"I guess it’s tough because one of my defining moments in my career was my first win at Talladega. I think some people may have questioned the integrity of that win and how far I was willing to go. But I see that completely different than what we’ve seen as of late. You know, there’s a question of integrity when you maybe stop on the race track to cause a yellow. There’s a question of integrity when you maybe have something illegal with your car that you know about and so forth and things of that nature. Those are certainly huge questions of integrity. I’m not going to say that I’m always innocent, but I’m trying to make sure that I win without those things. Those are different, in my opinion at least, than what I went through there at Talladega because they’re further reaching."

Keslowski questioned how some of the most recent controversies will impact how NASCAR is viewed from those both sinide and outside the sport.

"When you look at the sport, the perception is, and it always has been, that stock car racing is about drivers," he said. "That’s why drivers get the most pay and sponsors go with the drivers. It’s not supposed to be about who has the best cars. It never has been. It does always kind of morph its way into that. I guess what I’m trying to say about that is that it’s important to the honor and credibility of the sport that a driver wins the race.

"If you win the race by a bump-and-run, that to me is ethical. Man, that’s great. That’s where I stand. If you win a race because you have a cheated-up part that nobody else had and your car is faster, I think that kind of goes against the integrity of the sport and what has made NASCAR so successful to date. So I think that there are two distinct lines so to speak. I guess that’s a tough question to answer, I guess that what I’m trying to say." 

Asked to speak to which of the recent issues most got his attention Keselowski added one in that was a bit surprising.

"Wow, there are so many of them, I can’t list them all," Keselowski said. "This was a rough week. To be honest, some people would point at what I just said about Waltrip’s cars, but I didn’t really make that much of that one to be honest. I thought that was just racing, so forth. You know, whatever happened with Jimmie (Johnson), we’ll never know on that car. So, I don’t see how you can really point your finger at that deal. We’ll never know; I don’t have answers on it. So, it just kind of is what it is. I thought it was remarkable, kind of, the truck race to be honest was remarkable to me the things the 3 truck got away with. That would probably be the big one. I thought that was remarkable." 

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: October 14, 2011 5:51 pm
 

Brad Keselowski leads second Charlotte practice

By Pete Pistone

BANK OF AMERICA 500 PRACTICE TWO

Brad Keselowski put the Penske Racing Blue Deuce on top of the speed charts in Friday's practice session at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Keselowski, who will start 26th in Saturday night's Bank of America 500, turned a lap of 187.435 mph in his Dodge Charger.

Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Keselowski's teammate Kurt Busch and pole sitter Tony Stewart tounded out the first five.

Sprint Cup Series drivers will have one more practice later Friday afternoon prior to Saturday's race.

 
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Posted on: October 9, 2011 6:36 pm
 

Kahne, Keselowski, Edwards post Kansas comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

KASEY KAHNE:  Yeah, it was a good race.  We had a good Red Bull car, came in third that first stop and the jack broke, so we had to get a new jack and came out dead last and just kind of battled our way back up through there the rest of the race and made the right adjustments.  At times we were really loose and then a little bit too tight.  We were pretty good there at the end.  We got on the right, we took four tires, started 12th, got to second there, and then on that restart Brad gave me a nice push -- coming on the restart Brad gave me a good push, and I had a shot at Jimmie, I just couldn't really get to him.  I thought maybe getting to 3 I would go high, and he kind of entered into the middle and then just creeped his way to the top and just really didn't have a shot there at him.

But I think we had a good Red Bull car.  The guys did a nice job today.

THE MODERATOR:  Brad, we'll start with you again.  Talk about your third-place finish today.  You also are now fourth in points, 11 points behind leader Carl Edwards.  Talk about the Chase thus far.

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Sure.  Another solid day for us thus far.  Makes you kick yourself that last week at Dover we had troubles we did because we've had top 5 cars each and every week, we're executing very well as a group and as a team.  Just the things that we can control we're doing very well.  So I'm proud of everything and proud of our efforts.

We were about a third- or fifth-place car today and brought home a third, so proud of that effort.  Kasey looked really good there at the end, and I told Roger Penske to check the 22 car from yesterday because I'm pretty sure Jimmie stole the car and put new decals on it because he was gone.  He was fast.

Just proud of the effort and proud that we were able to get a solid run out of it again.  Just wish I could have beaten Jimmie, but he just had a little more in the tank than we did, and we gave it our best effort.

THE MODERATOR:  Carl, talk about being the new points leader, one point over Kevin Harvick.  How do you feel heading into Charlotte next week?

CARL EDWARDS:  I feel grateful.  That was very, very bad at the beginning of that race, and I cannot thank my guys enough for sticking with it and working hard the whole day.  I cannot believe we finished fifth.  It feels like a win.  That's the best we've done with the worst -- the most we've done with a car that wasn't capable of winning ever, so I'm really proud of my guys who made good adjustments.  Just I cannot believe from the way the day started, to finish like that is spectacular. 

Q.  Carl, what was the trouble with the car?  I mean, you're running 20th most of the race, and what adjustments did you take particularly late in the race to allow you to surge up?

CARL EDWARDS:  Well, there's two things that happened.  We had the wrong front suspension settings in the car.  Bob and I together in practice, we prepared the wrong setup, and they dropped the green and I realized we were in deep trouble.  So Bob made adjustments to the setup, made some bigger adjustments than we would normally make, and then we were very fortunate with the late race caution and being able to get two tires and have a shot to run up there through the traffic.  We were very, very fortunate, and I'm extremely grateful.  I do not deserve to be sitting up here.  We should have finished 15th or 20th, so it all worked out in our favor. 

Q.  Carl, last week the momentum swing was a little bit self-inflicted, not so much the car, but just purely looking at the car, can you remember in your career a change in momentum so fast for you?

CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, that was pretty bad.  I thought we were going to run a lot better.  But it's not the car.  I mean, we made the decisions to put the setup in it that we did.  Matt was very fast, Greg was fast.  It's our fault as a group.  It's just that usually for us when we make those bad decisions we can't recover like we did today.  That's what I'm really grateful for.  That was amazing. 

Q.  For any or all of you, before Landon Cassill's spin it looked like it was going to be another fuel race.  I was wondering how you guys felt when there was an opportunity for a win in Kasey's situation, or to move up in points, does that put you in a new gear or something when that spin came out and gave you a chance to go for the win?

CARL EDWARDS:  Was there a fuel mileage issue?

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I think everyone was good on fuel at that point, at least as far as I know.

KASEY KAHNE:  We were probably the worst on fuel as far as mileage goes, and we were even all right today.  So I think everybody else -- I would imagine everybody was if we were good.

CARL EDWARDS:  We probably would have run out of fuel just the way ours was going.

KASEY KAHNE:  Carl probably would have ran out first and I would have ran out second.  Brad probably would have won. 

Q.  Two questions for Kasey:  First of all, you guys seem to be running better and building consistency as your time with this team gets closer to the end.  Is there anything bittersweet about that?

KASEY KAHNE:  The biggest thing to me would be to leave on a good note.  There's a lot of people there working really hard and unsure about maybe their future and where they're going to work next year, and they're still putting everything they have into our race cars each week.  That's pretty awesome on their part.  Kenny Francis is doing -- just always is looking, him and Keith Rodman, they're always looking to make the car just a little bit better, how can I do this, how can I do that, so we're always working together trying to do that.  I'm fortunate to go with him next year, so we're working on things for next year as well as just trying to finish strong this year.

Q.  To follow that up, you've been through so much change over the last 13 months or so.  Do you ever wonder what you might be capable of in a situation that's stable for a couple years with the same people around you like you're going to be going into?

KASEY KAHNE:  I don't know.  I feel like at times when things are going smoothly and we're making the right decisions as a -- communicating the right way between our group, we're capable of winning races.  Hopefully we have more of that as the future goes on.  I think I've learned a lot over the years, so hopefully next year and the next few years after that we'll be in a better spot than I've been. 

Q.  Brad, you seem to own this track.  You won yesterday and you won in June, third today.  Are you going to be sorry to see them tear this track up?

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, I think everybody is going to be.  I talked to some of the guys from the track last night, and sometimes they have to tear them up because of the weather.  All these tracks in the Midwest, whether it's Michigan, Kentucky or Kansas that go through all that frost cycling or whatever they call it, I'm sure there's some technical term for it, I don't know, but they all go through that with the winters and the springs and so forth where they frost and dethaw and frost and dethaw and it just kills this track.  There's big potholes that I guess they're having trouble keeping down, and nobody wants to see us have another incident like we did at Daytona.

You know, it is tough.  It's unfortunate when tracks have to do that.  I hope that the technology is developed, or maybe it does exist, to build tracks that can hold up a little bit longer so we can use these tracks further and further and further because I think we see better racing as the tracks get older, and I think this track in particular has become very racy.  I think there's as much side-by-side racing as you're going to see in this style of race car here at Kansas.  I think it's bittersweet not just for me but for everyone in the sport.

Hopefully when they do go through that process they'll be able to get the track to cure very quickly to where it opens up and we can run those multiple lanes and put on a great show. 

Q.  What is it you like about this place?

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  You know, I think it's like anywhere else.  You go to tracks, and some tracks you just pick them up real quick and you get a feel for them, and some tracks you get a good car and you learn and define what you need to run well there, and I've been very fortunate over the last few years to have very good cars here and picked up on this place. 

Q.  For Carl, you talked about knowing you had the wrong setup.  What was the moment early in the race? Was there one moment when you knew this thing is not set up right?

CARL EDWARDS:  I had a hint of it the first corner, drove down in the first corner, and I was like, Man, this is not good.  I thought, well, maybe it'll be better next lap, and then it wasn't.  I'd say the second lap I realized that we were in a little bit of trouble.  That's the worst the car has felt in a race for a long time. 

Q.  Do you need a little luck to win the Chase, and do you think that maybe -- if you somehow pull this out you'll look back on today and think, Wow, we got really lucky today, that was the key moment in us winning a championship?

CARL EDWARDS:  I feel like we've had two weeks with very lucky breaks, this week and last week, to be able to come back from a bad position on the racetrack.  But there is still so much racing left.  It feels -- we've run four races, it feels like we've run 400.  There's a lot that can happen in the next six races.  You know, I have a feeling there will be more moments that define this championship.  All the way up until the last lap at Homestead I think you have to be on your game. 

Q.  Carl, when you were back a lap down, did you start scoreboard watching at all to see where the guys in the Chase were, and then at the end can you talk about how important was it just to get by Harvick considering that was the guy you were tied with at the beginning of the day?

CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, they need to put that scoreboard somewhere where it's easier to see.  It's so hard. You're about to run into a fence trying to look at that thing off of turn 2.  So I watched as best I could.

Yeah, you can't really focus too much on that.  You've got to run your own race as painful as it is.  But that last pass of Kevin, that meant a lot.  We both knew it, too.  We both knew since we were tied whoever finished first would be ahead one point.  That was good that we were able to do that.  It'll be nice this week for the guys and everybody at the shop to be leading the points, even though it doesn't mean much.  We just talked about Brad being 11 points back.  That can change in a heartbeat. 

Q.  The prevailing logic going into the Chase is that you're a newcomer, you would undoubtedly botch things, that the pressure would get to you down the stretch, but yet the kind of stunt that Carl pulled today, throughout the Chase, you've managed usually to be at your best near the end and to get yourself to the highest position and put yourself in position to be up front.  Is this more because you've got nothing to lose, because you and Paul think clearly?  You certainly -- it doesn't appear as though the pressure has had any effect on your performance or lack of experience.

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, I'm not sure exactly what the question is there.

Q.  What is the reason why -- why, is it because you don't have anything to lose?  Is it because you think clearly?  What is the reason you've been able to do so well near the end of the races?

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I was just going to take that whole thing as a compliment.

You know, there's a lot of different reasons, and I think it all comes back to just having a good team.  Good teams have good cars; they're best at their end and fastest at their end.  They use good pit strategy and stay strong through adversity, and I feel like I just have a really good team, and I guess it's hard to define what makes a good team and a bad team do those things.

You know, last year we weren't a good team.  We were always our worst at the end, and that's not what it takes.  And I don't know why that was, but that's just the way it kind of works out sometimes.  This year it seems like as a group we're just clicking.  It really hurts after last week because I felt like this is the only week we've had that was a bad finish, and something happened that was outside of their control.

Sometimes that's the way it goes, and we're doing a good job of maximizing our day and taking care of everything that's in our control, and I'm really proud of our team for doing that.

Q.  For both Brad and Carl, I know you guys don't count him out, but there was a lot of talk about Jimmie Johnson two races ago being 10th in points.  He wins today on the mile and a half track, there's more mile and a halfs coming up.  He was so dominant today.  Can you both of you guys talk about does it just sort of reaffirm that this guy is going to be there all the way to the end going for a sixth title?

CARL EDWARDS:  I think he should just pack it up.  It's over.  He's too far back.  (Laughter.)

KASEY KAHNE:  I don't know.  He's going to be tough, I think.

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, certainly he's going to be tough.  The real question is we've got two big wild card races with Phoenix and Talladega, and I don't think you can rule anyone in or out until those two races are over and we get to Homestead. 

Q.  For Carl, considering how bad you guys were at the start of the race and the fact that you came back, do you have any concerns going into Charlotte next week, another intermediate track, and if so, did you learn something in those closing laps that will help you next Saturday?

CARL EDWARDS:  That's the first thing Bob and I talked about when he got over the car is making sure we did not make the same type of mistake at Charlotte.  That place has been a little bit difficult for us.  We've been very hit and miss there, but I do feel like our run in the All-Star Race and the 600 earlier this year will be something we can build on.  We've got a baseline strategy with the setup, and we'll go use that, and hopefully it'll work out better than today's setup.

Q.  Will you be testing with Hendrick during the fuel injection test, and if so, will Kenny Francis be your crew chief for that test?

KASEY KAHNE:  Yeah, I'm driving the 5 at the fuel injection test on Monday after Charlotte but it's with the 5 team.  It's with the team that I have now.

Q.  You touched on this a little bit, but even though you guys struggled, what do you think it says about your team as a whole that you were able to come back from a 15th or 20th place car and finish in the top 5?

CARL EDWARDS:  Well, first we're lucky because we had to have luck go our way.  We had two cautions that were timed perfectly, so that was a big deal.  But we've messed up enough in the past that I'm pretty proud of our ability to just kind of take our bad days and just keep plugging along.  You know, we've messed up some races and some points races in the past, and I believe we've learned from that.  So it's kind of a little test when you go through something like this to see if somebody melts down or if you can kind of keep going through it, and I'm glad it worked out today, but there was a lot of luck involved, as well.

Q.  Just put us in your seat for that last green-white checkered.  What did you see with Jimmie?  Did you really think you could get him?

KASEY KAHNE:  Yeah, I thought if I could get a good restart I'd have a shot because my tires were a little fresher than his.  Jimmie was the car to beat all day that I could tell, so I knew he was going to be fast once we got going, and he actually just jumped -- like he took off before I expected him to, so I just was thinking it was going to be a little bit later, and when he took off I kind of jumped it and hit the throttle maybe a little too aggressively, spun the tires and then got them back and was accelerating, and Brad had a good start behind me and was pushing me at the same time because we weren't to the line yet, so he pushed me, and it ended up working out all right as far as being in the second place, but I didn't have a shot at all when I got to turn 1.  He had a car length on me.  So at that point I just tried to build a couple corners, and I got to him getting to 3 on the final corner, and that's when he just kind of went across and I just never really got it to turn.

  

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Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:38 pm
 

Brad Keselowski feeling no pressure

By Pete Pistone

Brad Keselowski continues to impress with his breakout Sprint Cup Series season still going strong. But the Penske Racing driver said during his media availability Friday morning at Dover International Speedway, he's enjoying proving some of the non-believers around and doesn't feel much pressure despite being right in the middle of the championship picture:

IS EVERYTHING THAT YOU DO FROM HERE ON IN GRAVY? 

“Absolutely.  Right now, I have expectation of our team to run like we have.  If something bad happens, it’s not going to be a disappointment.  It’s not going to be a disappointment from an expectation standpoint if it’s out of our control.  The only way that I’ll be disappointed is if we make a mistake that’s within our control, that’s uncharacteristic of us. I feel fortunate to be where we’re at and I know that at any time, that can be taken away from you.  If we just keep doing what we’re doing, we won’t have to worry about any of those things.”

DOES IT GIVE YOU AN ADVANTGE?

“I think there is something to be said for it.  There’s something to be said for a team that just comes in, does their work and doesn’t think about it and doesn’t have to worry about it.  I’m just glad to be a part of one of those teams.”
 

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Posted on: September 25, 2011 7:54 pm
 

Keselowski, Biffle post New Hampshire comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, it's funny because 10 races ago, we left Loudon 23rd in points.  Whoever thought we would be third in 10 weeks.           

I'd like to see some kind of stat for that, that's for sure.  But it's been a good road here to travel down the last few weeks.  Today was no exception.  We weren't the fastest car.  I'd be lying if I tried to tell you we were.  But we made good adjustments to our car.  Got to where it was a solid top-10 car.  Drove up to fourth or fifth there about 100 to go, 80 to go, whatever that was, right in that range.           

That's what you need to do.  You need to make good adjustments on your car.  We were clicking on that, Paul and I, working really hard on this.  Still got a long ways to go on a lot of different things.  But proud of the finish we were able to get today and proud of the effort, for sure.           

We did get a little bit of help from the fuel mileage.  But, hell, we were going to have a fourth or fifth place today.  Instead we had a second place day.  All in all, I felt we were in the majority of our good fortune.           

Decent day.  Exactly what we need to do in this Chase, plugging away with finishes like this.     

KERRY THARP:  Greg Biffle, I heard you on the interview after the race, you said for once you had a finish as well as you ran throughout the day.  Congratulations on that.           

GREG BIFFLE:  Thanks.  It was a great day for us.  We've had a lot of good days this season, just not a lot of good finishes.          

It felt good to finish where we'd run all day.  I think the worst we'd been on the racetrack was seventh or eighth, maybe sixth, probably the worst it was ever lined up.  We ran from second to sixth all day.  Just stayed there.        

Wish it wasn't a fuel mileage race.  Think we had a fast enough car to catch the 33 and 14 possibly and race with them.  But real excited about the top-three finish.         

KERRY THARP:  We'll take questions.         

Q.  Obviously both of you were helped somewhat by the fuel mileage.  Do y'all think this was a fuel mileage race that sort of shouldn't have turned out that way in that the 24 car might have had everybody so covered?  Did that car look like it was the dominant car to either of you before they had their foul-up on their last green-flag stop?         

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I'll let Greg answer because I never saw the 24 all day.          

GREG BIFFLE:  I don't know.  We were catching the 24 about a 10th and a half, 2/10ths a lap.  I don't know if he was saving fuel at that point.  The 33 and 14 were out there.  We were running them down.  I got within probably 15 car lengths of him and he just like plug checked it, put it in neutral, moved over, just started saving gas all of a sudden.  It was pretty apparent when he did.           

So he did have a good car.  I don't know if the 33 and 14 could have ran with him.  I think all of us in the right position, the top three or four of us, were probably pretty dang equal.          

But I'd say the 24 was fast at the beginning and middle part of the race.  I don't know about at the end.  Like I said, that last run, I was catching him, then he just pulled over and started saving massive amounts of gas.            

Q.  Greg, can you talk a little bit about, you're out there to win, it's going to take whatever it takes to do that, and secondly Tony Stewart is the first guy since you won the first two races in the Chase in 2008, can you talk about what kind of momentum builder that is for him?            

GREG BIFFLE:  It's certainly a helluva momentum builder to win the first two races of the Chase.  Like you said, we were able to do it a few years back.  It just means so much to your team, gives you so much confidence going into all the races, the next races.            

It was great for us.  I'm sure it's good for that team.  They'll continue to probably put down some good races.           

Q.  Yesterday in the final practice session everybody was working on fuel mileage stuff.  Has this fuel mileage and track position evolved into being something that's kind of gotten I don't want to say out of hand but it's become too prominent, too important all of a sudden?          

GREG BIFFLE:  Yeah, it's funny how every race kind of comes down to it.  But if you just take a little snapshot of our season, people think that a fuel mileage race is the last run of the day.  It sets up, you're going to be three or four laps short.  For us, we've had the new engine, we've struggled a little bit with fuel mileage as a group this year.          

What happens to us is on that green run, anytime you have a green flag pit stop cycle, no matter what racetrack you're at, that turns into a fuel mileage run 'cause we have to stop three or four laps short of the field and then the caution comes out and you're a lap down.        

So that happened to us I don't know how many times this year.  We were running second at Michigan, pit, came out, were a lap down, took a wave-around with 35 laps to go.  Just killed us.  We had to start 25th, got back to like 15th.        

Fuel mileage for us has been a big hurdle this year.  We've gotten really good here at the end of the season.  But really truly every race is a fuel mileage race if it has a green flag pit stop in it because who can go the furthest and if the caution comes out at that particular moment, it can trap certain guys.          

Look at the scoreboard, David Ragan is second.  It shuffles the deck when that happens.         

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I just think every race has its own personality.  With this particular car and the way it's designed, it's going to lean towards this personality a little bit more.         

I don't know.  It doesn't bother me.  I don't think it's bad racing personally.  I know there's people that do.  I think for the most part the fastest car still ends up winning the race, not always, but for the most part.  I think if you looked at the odds on how many fuel mileage races there's been, I would say over 50% the fastest car still wins the race.         

Both Tony and Jeff were fast.  Tony ended up winning it.  Probably could have made a case for either one of those two being the best car.  But that's just not the way it played out.           

I don't know.  I try not to read too much into it.  I know there's been a lot of people talking about fuel mileage racing dominating the sport or being bad for it.  I still think there's been a lot of races that haven't been decided on fuel mileage.  I guess it just doesn't seem like too big of a deal to me.             

Q.  You both have won fuel mileage races.  I know this sounds silly, but do you treat any of those wins any less than the wins when you're able to blow people away?          

GREG BIFFLE:  Well, I mean, sometimes you can chalk it up to a fuel mileage win and sometimes you're leading and it comes to stretching it and you just make it, kind of like sort of what the 14 did today.         

Now, there's been true fuel mileage races where a guy is runs at the back of the pack, ducks in the pits with one to go, fills it up, that guy wins.  That's a fuel mileage win, when you're a 20-place car and you win.  When you're a top three or four car and you win, really isn't any different.         

So like I won at Daytona, which could have been a fuel mileage run, but really wasn't 'cause there was about 15 cars on the same pit cycle we were.  So we were set up.  Kansas, I was leading the thing.  I had I don't know how many second lead, 10-second lead, when a caution came out and it was too dark to go back green again.          

Just all depends on where you're running.           

Q.  You're not going to give any of your trophies back?            

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  No.  I only got one and I'm not giving it back (laughter).            

Q.  Brad, over these next eight races, you're third in points, could you kind of assess what you think the rest of the season would look like based on whether you think a lot of it is strategy or fastest car wins, either case?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Well, coming into this race, I guess this morning I would have said I was really, really nervous about this one, knowing that we've struggled at the Richmonds and so forth, the other short tracks of this nature.  You could say we won Bristol, but I would say it's a lot different short track than a Loudon or Richmond or whatever.  It's a style of track we've really, really struggled on.  So I was really nervous about this race.            

But I feel like our best races in the Chase are going to be our last five or six races, to be quite honest, maybe with the exception of Texas.  We'll have to see how that one goes.           

So to me if we get through these first four or five, I think we've got a really good shot at it.  To get through Chicago with a fifth and here a second today, it's a huge boost of morale for my team and momentum for Penske Racing.  I just hope we can continue to capitalize.          

I think we've been able to capitalize with good execution on pit road, good adjustments on our car, not getting caught up in somebody else's mess.  That stuff can go the other way just as it's gone the right way for us over the last few weeks.          

I'm still very proud of what we've done.  We still have a long ways to go, a really long ways.  There's eight big races left.  Then, of course, you can throw in Talladega.  I don't think anybody can tell you what's going to happen there, so...            

KERRY THARP:  15 different leaders today, ties a track record originally set July 14, 1996.          

Back to questions.            

Q.  Greg, a follow-up on how you look at the Chase, what your role is as a non-Chase driver.  And can you talk about your relationship with your new crew chief and how that's evolved.          

GREG BIFFLE:  My role being a non-Chase guy is to try to win the last eight that are left.  As far as Matt and I, Matt and I get along really, really well.  I think he does a great job getting the cars prepared.  Makes really, really smart calls.  He's calm.  He knows what he wants to do.  He's got a decision made when the time comes.  He's going to be a really good crew chief and we're going to win a lot of races together.  Pretty confident.        

Q.  Brad, kind of the irony the last time you were at this track and where you are now.  The turnaround, people thinking you're a sleeper.  You said you made some adjustments at this track.  What kind of things did you tweak there?            

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Well, yeah, like you said, it's been a great turnaround.  We're 20 positions better in points than we were 10 weeks ago when we left.  So that's pretty cool, I think.  But it's been a turnaround because of hard work and focus.  I'm very appreciative for my team for that.          

This particular weekend compared to the last time we were here is no different.  We focused on what I needed to do better.  I thought that I could do a lot better job, hit on some things.  I felt like the car could be a lot better.  We might have got a little bit better, we certainly made some adjustments in the race that made us a lot better.           

It takes all those things to get better and get a result like what we got today.  As a team, that's what it means to be performing at a high level, it's to hit those things.  My team's doing that.


 
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