Tag:Brad Keselowski
Posted on: September 21, 2011 11:37 am
 

Brad Keselowski 3rd Quarter Driver of Year winner

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Brad Keselowski's winning ways, overcoming a broken ankle and other injuries, helped him win the voting as the third quarter Driver of the Year 2011. In the last seven NASCAR Sprint Cup races, in the quarter ending at Richmond International Raceway, he recorded two wins, four top-fives and seven top-12 finishes. And those two wins were earned within days of recovering from a broken ankle at a test session. Adding those victories to a previous one and an 11th place overall finish in NASCAR's regular season Keselowski earned a wild card spot for his first Chase for the Sprint Cup. In the voting Keselowski took ten first-place ballots and totaled 117 points according to the Driver of the year points system. Will Power, a Penske Racing teammate in the IndyCar series, had five first place votes and garnered 108 points. This was the first time that the same team owner (Roger Penske) had two drivers from different series finishing one-two. Kyle Busch the first quarter 2011 Driver of the Year took two first place votes and was third with a total of 67 points. Greg Anderson, the 2003 Driver of the Year from the NHRA, and Kevin Harvick, from NASCAR, also received first-place votes. A total of 18 drivers scored points in the third quarter voting.

 
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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: September 16, 2011 4:23 pm
 

Momentum in Brad Keselowski's favor

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

Over the last five races, no driver has been better than Brad Keselowski with his average finish of 4.2 just edging Jeff Gordon at 5.3. Can he keep up the pace in the Chase?

While he's not ready to proclaim that he's the driver to beat, he's confident that the team is getting stronger and will remain a factor for the championship.

Press conference transcript:


CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS WEEKEND AT CHICAGOLAND?


“Well, obviously the first race and wanted to get the Chase started off very well and looks like we’ve got a great opportunity of doing that. The last few races on the mile-and-a-halfs have been very good for our team on the Cup side and feel really good heading into this one accordingly. Just try to keep the momentum we’ve had as the season has been progressing and carry it through the Chase.”

HAVE YOU HEARD ANY VOICES LATELY? HAS JIMMIE JOHNSON PUT ANY TAPES IN YOUR HEAD?

“Still no voices, man. I’m a hard sleeper. Maybe I’m just not listening. No voices, feeling really good.”

YOUR SEASON IS PROBABLY IN THE OVERACHIEVE CATEGORY. ARE YOU ENTERING THE CHASE PLAYING WITH HOUSE MONEY A LITTLE BIT OR ARE YOU GUYS TAKING THIS AN EQUAL SHOT TO WIN? WE KIND OF EXPECTED THE OTHER 11 GUYS TO BE HERE. HOW ARE YOU APPROACHING IT KNOWING THAT YOU GUYS HAVE HAD AN AWESOME SEASON SO FAR?

“Well, hell I expected us to be here. I can’t speak for everyone out there but as a team we expected to have a shot at this and it’s good to finally make it happen in our second year together and we don’t feel like we’re a fluke. You know for us entering the Chase I feel like we’re entering it in somewhat a very low key, low pressure feeling of ‘Hey, we’ve made it this far. Let’s keep it going’ and I don’t see why we can’t. You look at other things people try to compare it to like the NCAA basketball and ‘Oh this team has had a big run and they’re coming through’ but I don’t think it’s the same way because in racing we’ve been racing against the same guys as the last few weeks and we’ve been running with ‘em and or beating ‘em and I feel like we can just continue that. I don’t see where anything has changed and I feel like if anything as a team we’re getting stronger so that’s good.”

THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF TALK THIS WEEK ABOUT WHO THE GUYS ARE THAT ARE FAVORITES GOING INTO THE CHASE AND WHO ARE THE DARK HORSES. DO YOU PAY ANY ATTENTION TO THAT AND WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELVES LINING UP AS THE CHASE GETS READY TO START?

“Like where do I rank myself, is that what you’re saying?”

YES.

“Those are difficult questions to ask because, quite frankly, I don’t spend a lot of time computing them. I feel like every second you sit and worry about how many points I’ve got to score or what average finish I’ve got to have or who’s the guy I’ve got to beat, that’s another second you don’t use to focus on what really matters and that’s how I can go faster and make better moves on the racetrack. And that’s what I spend my time focusing on, not looking at, you know, who’s eighth in points but maybe will make a run. I don’t look at that stuff. I don’t think that’s the right way to approach it.

“Yeah, I do feel like everybody’s even. I know there is those, what is it, 12 points from first to 12th spread? I just don’t see, I mean, heck, you can win the race and what’s that, that’s over five or six of those. Even if that guy finishes second, which what are the odds of that, you just go out there and do your business you’ll erase those very quickly.”

THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT TEAMMATES, WHAT THE ROLES ARE, HOW THEY’VE DONE THINGS TO HELP EACH OTHER, WHERE THAT LINE IS. LOOKING BACK AT LAST YEAR, SINCE YOU WEREN’T A CHASE PLAYER, DID YOU SEE THINGS ON THE TRACK THAT MADE YOU THINK THIS IS WHY THIS GUY IS DOING IT TO HELP A CHASE COMPETITOR?

“You know every once in a while you see something that’s very blatant, everywhere, every once in a while.”

WHAT’S BLATANT?

“What’s blatant? You know, that’s a guy like who comes off of pit road, he’s having a miserable day, he’s three laps down and the leaders catch ‘em and maybe you’re running second and his teammate’s running third and he just doesn’t let you go. That’s fairly blatant. I think those are probably more of what I can see as well and the other things; quite honestly, I’m too focused on my own race to know.

“Well, every once in a while you see ‘em but, I mean, mostly you spend your time focused on your own race and you can’t catch those things because you’re not looking for ‘em. You have to be looking for ‘em sometimes.

“Well I think the line, since it’s not defined by the sport, is defined by the people that participate in it. And for me, there’s certainly a line of what I’d be willing to do to help Kurt [Busch, teammate]. I will do what I can to help ‘em if the situation arises where things are bleak for myself and it’s advantageous to help Kurt. But there’s certainly a line and a code that each and every driver walks that, you know quite frankly, might be different between each and every driver. And that’s a tough question to answer for everybody else.”

COMMENT ON HAVING BOTH OF THE PENSKE DODGES IN THE CHASE. IS IT AN ADVANTAGE? IS IT A DISADVANTAGE? ARE THE GUYS WHO MAYBE HAVE TEAMMATES OUTSIDE THE CHASE HAVE A LITTLE BIT MORE THAN MAYBE WHAT YOU GUYS DO?

“Well I definitely think it’s a huge advantage to have both the Penske Dodges in the Chase from the standpoint of what it means for team morale and what it means for the manufacturing process within at Penske Racing. I think last year was a prime example. We’re always building new cars but we built new cars in the Chase for Kurt and we allowed ourselves to become somewhat complacent and just build those cars for Kurt only because he was in the Chase. And I think that put him on a little bit of an island so to speak. I mean, he would probably agree with that where he didn’t have any help from the other two teams. It was, I don’t want to say the motivating for the company and for the processes but it was all focused on one guy and some people would say that’s an advantage but I would argue that goes right against the whole theory and premise of a multi-car team when you just take all your resources and put it on one guy. Now that we have two cars, both cars at Penske Racing in the Chase, it allows us to rally the troops within at Penske Racing, have good reason to spend a lot of money building new cars that are the same, getting ‘em done early, etc. And I just think the process goes a lot smoother as far as what it takes to get the company going and get the teams going. I definitely think you want to have all your cars in the Chase. I really do believe that that’s a supreme advantage if for no other reason than what it means to the company and the morale within.”

AS WE START THIS CHASE, WHO, IN YOUR OPINION, IS THE FAVORITE? WHO ARE YOU GUYS ALL CHASING?

“Well, you know, there’s a lot of favorites, which is kind of weird. I feel bad for Jimmie [Johnson]. Every year he comes into this deal, at least that I can recall, as the previous winner and he doesn’t get labeled the first favorite, which is kind of strange. You would think the guy that’s won it the last few years would be labeled as the favorite. But we all look at different things as drivers to label favorite and right now it’s hard to not label, you know, Jeff [Gordon] as the favorite. You know he’s done a lot over the last few weeks, won races and been in position to win many more. So that’s very impressive. His cars have a lot of speed and there’s a lot of potential out of that camp. Doesn’t mean they’ll realize it but there is certainly a lot of potential there. They have the highest potential and I think a lot of people would label him as the favorite, his team as the favorite accordingly.”

YOU SPOKE TUESDAY ABOUT THE STRESSES OF THIS VERSUS THE STRESSES WHEN YOU FIRST BROKE INTO THE NATIONWIDE SERIES. HOW HAS THE EVOLUTION OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH DALE JR. BEEN NOW THAT YOU’RE BASICALLY EVEN FOOTING FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP WITH A GUY WHO USED TO BE YOUR BOSS?

“I don’t think it’s changed, heck I don’t know. I still enjoy him as a friend and racing against ‘em and so forth. I don’t know, we’ll find out [laughs]. Right now I think he’s just as focused on the other 10 Chase drivers as he is me. Certainly at Richmond it would have been an interesting moment had something happened where I bumped him out but it didn’t come to fruition. So far so good [laughs].”

MIKE HELTON WAS EXPLAINING THAT TEAMS ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE THE DRIVER, SPOTTER, CREW CHIEF ON ANALOG CHANNELS BUT THAT THE TEAMS ARE ALSO ALLOWED TO HAVE DIGITAL CHANNELS ON WHICH THEIR TEAM MEMBERS CAN COMMUNICATE. DOES PENSKE USE THOSE OR HAVE YOU HEARD OF OTHER TEAMS THAT MIGHT DO THAT?

“Well as I understand the rule, the only one who is required to use an analog radio is the driver. Everyone else can use whatever they want to use. Obviously if the driver has an analog radio and you’re trying to communicate with him, on another style radio you’re not going to get through so the team has to have another radio just to call the race, or an analog radio. I’m pretty sure almost everyone in the garage is using all of the above so I guess that would be yes.”

SO THERE IS A WAY TO HAVE COMMUNICATIONS THAT AREN’T WITH THE DRIVER?

“Absolutely.”

WHEN YOU SPOKE EARLIER ABOUT THINGS THAT YOU WOULD DO TO HELP KURT, DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE LINE IS THERE OR DOES IT DEPEND ON THE SITUATION?

“I think it’s situational. It’s hard to say that there’s a concrete line because there’s so many different opportunities it’s just not that simple. I think when you do something that hurts your name or your reputation that that would most likely be the line.”

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: September 14, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 5:39 pm
 

Chase for the Cup predictions

Should Jimmie Johnson start making room for a sixth championship trophy? (US Presswire)


CBSSports.com NASCAR reporter Pete Pistone and NASCAR producer Brian De Los Santos take their best guess as to how the final Chase standings will shake out.

Pete Pistone
After a regular season that produced 15 different winners including five drivers taking their first-career Sprint Cup Series checkered flags, NASCAR is ready for the 2011 edition of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

This year's 12-driver field accounted for 21 wins in the season's first 26 races and includes five former series champions.

Jimmie Johnson is set to take aim at an unprecedented sixth straight championship, but in a season that has produced as much unpredictability as this one has, the Hendrick Motorsports driver could be ripe for finally being unseated. Johnson only has one win to his credit entering the playoff run, the fewest of any of his previous seven Chase appearances, providing some of his competitors with a glimmer of hope the dominance may be fading.

It starts at Chicagoland Speedway and wraps up with Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, so let the Chase begin:

1. Jimmie Johnson: It's good to be the king, and for anyone else to ascend to the throne they have to rise up and take the crown. There hasn't been a driver able to do that in the last five seasons and it won't happen this year either. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus know how to play the Chase game better than anyone. They put together a solid if not dominating regular season that may have been down on victories from previous years, but was not short on the key factor in winning NASCAR titles -- consistency. His feud with Kurt Busch may make this one a little more interesting, but at the end of the 10-week Chase, the story will be a six-pack for Johnson.

2. Jeff Gordon: The resurgence of Gordon this season has been one of the year's pleasant surprises. While great attention was given to team owner Rick Hendrick's decision to pair Steve Letarte with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the organization's massive realignment at the end of last season, Gordon and new head wrench Alan Gustafson have been remarkable. After winning the second race of the year at Phoenix, Gordon did cool off during the middle stretch of the schedule. After dropping as far back as 17th in the standings, he roared back and may have the most momentum of any driver heading into the Chase.

3. Kevin Harvick: He came down to the wire last season and just short of ending Johnson's title run. So Harvick feels there's some unfinished business to take care of in 2011. He was very strong in the opening segment of the season, rattling off three wins in short order by pouncing on late opportunities. But there were some stumbles in the regular season and Harvick endured a summer of some discontent especially with his pit crew's performance. Things seem to have been righted and the No. 29 team is a cohesive bunch once again. RCR having only one car in the Chase may also prove to be beneficial to Harvick's effort with the organizations complete resources at his disposal.

4. Kyle Busch: The No. 1 seed in the Chase by virtue of his four wins and place in the point standings, Busch has his best shot ever to win a Sprint Cup championship. His biggest hurdle will again be himself and overcoming the emotion that still gets the best of him at times. However, while there have been outbursts in his Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series efforts, Busch has been relatively quiet in that department on the Cup side. The nagging issues of Joe Gibbs Racing's engine department are another challenge Busch will need to conquer, but there's no reason to believe he won't be right in the thick of the championship hunt.

5. Carl Edwards: The preseason pick by many (including me) to win the title, Edwards has had a strange year that was overshadowed by his contract situation with Roush Fenway Racing and his future career plans. Now that he has settled into a long-term deal at RFR, Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne have no outside distractions and obstacles to get in the way of a full assault on the crown. Edwards has been very good in the weeks leading up to the Chase including a solid second-place outing at the regular-season finale in Richmond and will look to ride that momentum to a hot start in the playoffs.

6. Matt Kenseth: The quintessential sleeper is back in the Chase and has put together a typically consistent year to punch his ticket to the playoffs. Kenseth's 14 top-10 finishes, seven top 5's and two victories were one of his strongest regular-season performances in recent years. He'll have to get past a few tracks inside the Chase -- such as Martinsville -- that have been challenges during his Cup career to make a serious charge for a second title.

7. Kurt Busch: Busch was the only driver to stay inside the top 10 of the point standings all through the regular season. But the bad news is he fell from the lead to eighth place after enduring a summer stretch filled with struggles, bad luck and high emotion that helped rekindle a feud with Jimmie Johnson. Busch ended the regular campaign with a pair of good runs in Atlanta and Richmond but the question of his ability to keep emotions in check while also dealing with the Johnson rivalry put the Penske Racing driver's championship hopes seriously in doubt.

8. Brad Keselowski: The other Penske driver comes into his first Chase as a bona fide underdog but one many feel can pull off the impossible and make a serious challenge for the title. Keselowski's performance since early June has been nothing short of spectacular and there may not be another team in the garage area that has as much confidence or believes in its driver more than the Blue Deuce bunch. Keselowski won over a lot of fans in the last three months and is looking to prove a lot of his previous detractors wrong.

9. Tony Stewart: Not the season Stewart had hoped for by any means, but the two-time champion was still good enough when it counted to make it back to the Chase. Things appeared to be headed back in the right direction as the regular season came to a close, but Stewart's team doesn't have the look of a championship contender and won't be a serious challenger unless it can eliminate the roller coaster ride results that have dominated the 2011 season.

10. Denny Hamlin: He pushed Johnson to the brink of the championship last season but has suffered through a disappointing follow-up season punctuated by engine problems and other issues that forced Hamlin to use a wild card spot to make it back to the Chase. The switch to TRD engines should be a plus for Hamlin, but a return to the form he displayed last year-- a combo platter of consistency and winning -- in short order is imperative for the JGR No. 11 team to have any shot at somehow challenging for the title.

11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Earnhardt's somewhat surprising start to the year began to fade away as the season wore on and by the end of the regular campaign he was barely hanging on to a spot in the Chase. He made it after a very nervous night in Richmond and perhaps the fresh start will be what the Hendrick Motorsports driver needs. Crew chief Steve Letarte promised to change his conservative approach of just trying to make the Chase to a winning formula once the playoffs began so it will be interesting to see if there is any difference in the team's strategy over the next 10 races. Of any one of the dozen Chasers, Earnhardt needs to get off to a good start and not dig himself into a hole.

12. Ryan Newman: The other half of the Stewart-Haas Racing duo made the Chase for the fourth time in his career and put together a nice and consistent regular season. However despite his one win and 13 top 10 finishes, Newman had only a pair of consecutive top fives in the season's first 26 races. He's not particularly strong on 1.5-mile tracks, and with the likes of Chicagoland, Kansas, Charlotte, Texas and Homestead on the Chase schedule, it doesn't bode well for the driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet.


Brian De Los Santos
Ho hum, I'm picking Jimmie Johnson to win it all. I gave up picking against Johnson a couple of years ago. It's a lesson in futility.

What GOOD reason is there to pick against him? If you're counting on the law of averages, that law clearly doesn't apply to the 48 team.

Except for Chicagoland, the Chase tracks are the same as they ever were. The same tracks he has shown time and time again the ability to dominate. And, quite frankly, he's not too shabby at Chicagoland, with seven top 10s in nine visits.

It's inevitable that he's going to fall short one of these years (isn't it?). He's not going to win titles until the day he retires (will he?). It's just not possible (is it?). But with five straight titles and another strong regular season in the books, I don't see how I can predict that Johnson's rein is over.

1. Jimmie Johnson: What indication has the 48 team given that they won't be competitive during the Chase? Sure he has just one win, but he did finish second in the final regular-season points. As we've learned over the past five years, Johnson and the 48 team are built for the Chase. The only thing I could see spoiling the party is if Kurt Busch makes it his purpose to keep Johnson from capturing a sixth straight title by any means necessary. However, Busch did say they've worked it out and will cool the antics during the Chase. I'm not quite buying it.

2. Jeff Gordon: In terms of wins, he's already having his best season since winning six times in 2007. The 24 team appears to be on top of their game heading into the Chase, with three consecutive top fives and six finishes of sixth or better in the past seven races.

3. Carl Edwards: He looks primed for a run at the title. With 10 races to go, he already has third most top fives (12) for a season in his career. He takes three straight top 10s and two consecutive top fives into the Chase.

4. Matt Kenseth: It's so easy to undervalue Kenseth. You'd hardly know that he won twice and finished sixth in the final regular-season standings. He's not flashy. He doesn't have a personality that screams for attention. His strength is consistency. The two tracks he won at were Dover and Texas, both of which will be revisited down the stretch.

5. Brad Keselowski: He has come a long way. He was 25th in the standings at the end of May, and over the course of the second half of the season he staged a furious rally, just missing out on finishing the regular season in the top 10. He was especially hot over the past two months, pulling out two wins, four top fives and six top 10s the past seven races. I don't think it was a fluke and expect him to remain competitive throughout the final 10 races.

6. Kyle Busch: This isn't the first time Busch has been a regular-season wonder boy, but for all his talent, he's never been able to carry it out through the Chase, with his best points finish (5th) coming in 2007. This very well could be the year he puts it together, but I just have this feeling that at the first sign of trouble the downward spiral will begin.

7. Kevin Harvick: I don't know what to make of Harvick. He's tied for the season lead with four wins, including a dominant effort in the regular-season finale at Richmond, but his 13 top 10s ranks seventh. For much of the summer the 29 car was a non-factor. In fact, Richmond was the first race he had even led a lap in since Daytona at the beginning of July, a span of nine races. The win was one of only two top five finishes Harvick had in the last 13 races.

8. Kurt Busch: It has been a wildly inconsistent season for the No. 2 team and Busch has flown off the handle a number of times. Like his brother Kyle, the question is whether he can keep his cool in times of distress. He has run well the past couple of weeks with back-to-back top fives, but that comes off the heels of three straight finish of 17th or worse.

9. Ryan Newman: Did you know Newman has the fifth-most top fives (8) this season? That's more than Harvick, Kenseth or Kurt Busch. He's also one of only two Chase drivers -- Edwards is the other -- without a DNF. Still, his avg. finish of 13.1 is just eighth best.

10. Tony Stewart: I thought this season might be somewhat of a struggle for the 14 team, and despite the Chase berth, it has been. He's without a win and has just three top fives (his career low is nine) and 11 top 10s (his career low is 16). If there's any good news, it's that he does have three top 10s in the past four races. Maybe the team is putting things together at the right time.

11. Denny Hamlin: Prior to the season, if there was one driver people thought might unseat Johnson as champion this season, it was Hamlin. But he hasn't come close to living up to expectations, needing a wild-card to make the Chase. There's been signs of life in recent weeks with three consecutive top 10s for the first time this season.

12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: He hung on to a Chase berth by the skin of his teeth. The first half of the season saw Earnhardt in position to challenge for the points lead with seven top 10 finishes. But over the past 13 races he has managed just two top 10s. Maybe the team was just trying to play it safe to ensure a Chase berth, but even if they were holding back a bit, I don't see him as a championship contender.



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Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:56 pm
 

Chase clinch scenarios for Richmond


With only one race remaining until the 12-driver lineup for Chase is set, nine drivers have clinched their bids -- Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski.

Here are the clinch scenarios for the final three Chase spots.
             
Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt is currently 25 points ahead of 11th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, Earnhardt will clinch if he finishes:
-- 20th or better
-- 21st or better and leads at least one lap
-- 22nd or better and leads the most laps
 
Tony Stewart
Stewart is currently 23 points ahead of 11th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, Stewart will clinch if he finishes:
-- 18th or better
-- 19th or better and leads at least one lap
-- 20th or better and leads the most laps
 
A number of different finishes affect the wild card:
 
Denny Hamlin

-- With a victory, Hamlin will earn at least a wild card spot. He can still mathematically finish top 10 in points.

Paul Menard

-- With a victory, Menard would earn a wild card spot.

Marcos Ambrose and David Ragan

-- With a victory AND entry into the top 20, Ambrose or Ragan would earn a wild-card spot. Both drivers are currently outside the top 20. Ambrose is seven points outside the top 20; Ragan is 20 points outside the top 20.
 
All drivers through 23rd place in the series standings remain eligible for a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Aside from the scenarios listed above, those without an already-clinched Chase spot need a win, a top 20 spot and various finishes from other drivers to earn a Chase spot.

Source: NASCAR

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Posted on: September 2, 2011 8:14 pm
 

Keselowski leads Atlanta practice

By Pete Pistone

Brad Keselowski continued his hot streak Friday leading the first practice session for Sunday's AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Mark Martin rounded out the Top 5.

Sprint Cup teams have one more practice scheduled for Saturday with qualifying set late Saturday afternoon.

ADVOCARE 500 PRACTICE ONE

 
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Posted on: August 28, 2011 11:43 am
 

Brad Keselowski, Paul Wolfe post Bristol

Posted by Pete Pistone

THE MODERATOR:  Let's roll into our post-race winning team for tonight's 51st annual Irwin Tools Night Race here at Bristol Motor Speedway.  And our race winner is Brad Keselowski.  He drives the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing.  This is Brad's third win in 2011, his first win here at Bristol.  He moves up to 11th in points.  I believe it was six weeks ago maybe, five, six weeks ago, he was 23rd, 24th in points and nobody was talking about Brad back then.           

But talk about the win here tonight at Bristol.  I'm sure this has got to be a real, real feather in your cap, winning at a track that is considered to be certainly one of the most cherished on the circuit.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Absolutely.  What an honor to win at Bristol and really just to have a great car all night long.  We were strong, man, that first run, I knew we had something for them.  And it kind of fell off a little bit after that first restart when Matt and I kind of got together, and I was really concerned from then on.  I thought I had done some damage to my car and hurt it.           

But we did some more adjustments to it and got it back right, and by the end of the race, we got up to the lead and the sky was the limit.           

Proud of the effort and everybody just kept digging all day long.  Last pit stop was good, the adjustments were good, I was driving my butt off, and next thing you know, we find ourselves in victory lane at Bristol.  Just amazing.           

THE MODERATOR:  Brad, obviously you had already qualified for the Sprint Summer Showdown, so tonight's win certainly reinforced that, but you'll be paired up with two fans now.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Does that mean I only have to finish second?           

THE MODERATOR:  No, if you win the fans will --           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I'm saying I should get something for winning two of the races, like a handicap.           

THE MODERATOR:  Talk about the Sprint Summer Showdown because that's a pretty cool deal that you're going to be going for next week in Atlanta.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, it was always nice to run some special things, and thanks to Sprint for putting that on.  Obviously would like to win a million dollars for charity, that would be pretty cool and a million dollars for the fan -- that's even a better question.  Is it $2 million now?           

THE MODERATOR:  No, it's a million dollars, Brad, just a million dollars.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  We've got to do some better negotiating.  Get Roger in here.  Roger could get it to two.  I'm serious, he could.  But that's great.  We're going to have fun with it either way.           

THE MODERATOR:  Paul Wolfe, crew chief, you've certainly been an important part of that run for the 2 team and arguably this team is the hottest team in NASCAR.           

PAUL WOLFE:  Yeah, we've definitely kind of got things going for us right now, and it's weird because it's not really doing anything different.  It's been a lot of small things over the past couple months just starting to add up.  And we've got fast race cars, the driver is doing his part, the pit crew is doing their part, and we're making good calls on pit road and adjustments.           

The biggest thing for me that I've noticed being in the Cup Series is these races are a lot longer obviously than the Nationwide races I'm used to, and you've got to be able to adjust on your car as the track changes.  And as the race goes on, everybody seems to get better.           

I feel like as a team we've done a good job adjusting on our cars and making them so they have adjustability in them.  And we continue to bring good race cars to the racetrack every week and something that Brad can go out there and do his part.            

Q.  For Paul, during the race, especially there at the last pit stop, Brad was able to really get on the gas once the jack dropped and pass at least one car if not two on pit road.  Was that based on -- did you make the decision on where that pit stall was based on the timing line so he could do that or was that just a benefit of how the pit stalls kind of fell out when it came to your decision?           

PAUL WOLFE:  Well, every week everybody chooses their pit stall off of how they qualify, and you try to pick the stalls that you think will work out for you.  It's all part of the race.           

I feel like we've been doing a good job at putting together a whole weekend.  It's not always about just having a fast race car.  It's about the guys having good stops.  They had a fast stop there at the end when it counted, and that was able to get us towards the front row, and then we had a shot at it.            

Q.  You're only 21 points out of 10th.  Is it important to get to 10th considering if you are in the top 10, you get the bonus points when you start the Chase; if you're not in the top 10 you don't get the bonus points?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Who's 10th, is it Tony?  Tony is pretty good.  He's pretty good at Atlanta and Richmond.  Richmond we really struggled at in the spring, so I'm really not sure what to expect going back.  21 points is still a lot of points.  That means you've got to beat the guy by over 10 positions over the course of two races.  Beating Tony Stewart by an average of 10 positions over two races, that's going to be pretty tough to be honest.          

I'm just happy with what we've done here tonight, and I hate to look too far ahead, but yes, having those points for three wins would be huge in the Chase.  But I don't think we've seen a Chase yet where that's mattered.           

So maybe this one will be different and maybe we'll be kicking ourselves if we don't get in the top 10 and it comes down to Homestead and we lose whatever points those are.  But there's no point in sitting and pouting about it.  We've got to look forward and continue to do the best we can.           

Q.  Brad, since the great coincidental ankle, your average finish is 1.75 and you've picked up 12 positions in points.  So while you say you're going to be hampered by that ankle until the season's end, it appears you've picked up a direct deal of upward mobility.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yes.  Is that a question?            

Q.  It was a feeble attempt at one.  But what I'm getting at is with three wins and one position out, you have -- there's a lot of people who are trying to figure out whether to go for consistency or wins.  You have more freedom than anybody in there.  You're in no matter what.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Well, hell, why not just go for both?  I'd like to consistently win.  That's what the sport is all about, right?  You know, it's been good.  This sport in its simplest form is just about winning.  Why make it any more complicated than that?  If you've got cars to win, go out there and win.  If you don't, get the best finish you can.           

I look at Jimmie, and the years of success he's had for winning championships.  He wins races in the Chase and you've got to be able to do that.  I'm sure we could look at this all different kinds of ways and coast into it or however you want to look at it or just take all those stupid risks to win races, but you just do the best you can on any given week.  You try to be smart at it and smart about it and try not to overthink it.           

And you'll have great weeks like we're having here if you've got a great team.  We've got a great team.  I don't think we're overthinking it.            

Q.  Brad, you said that there was never a real moment when the lightbulb went on.  But that being said, since the two of you have worked together, you've won a championship together.  So it's not like you guys didn't know each other, even though there was a crew chief change.  What has been the biggest change over the last four weeks or before the four weeks?  Is it mechanical?  Have you made any changes to the pit crew?  What exactly would you attribute your recent success?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  What, are you looking for like a part?  I'm not sure -- I don't think anything is different.  I don't know.  I really don't think anything is different.  Paul could answer better than I can.  Maybe he changed something I don't know about.           

Are you changing things I don't know about, Paul?            

Q.  Anything that you found on the car perhaps, any changes to the pit crew, anything you can point to, Paul?           

PAUL WOLFE:  No, I think it's a lot of things.  I've kind of answered this question a lot over the last month, of course.  We've continued to make our race cars better, all the guys back at the shop, from our aero to our chassis shop to the guys building the engines.  I think everybody has just been working hard.           

And then for myself, it definitely took me a few races to kind of understand what I needed to do.  Obviously there's a lot of things that are similar to the Nationwide car, but there's so many things that are different.  You know, it took me some time to get my feet on the ground, and then I feel as we've started to go back to tracks for a second time, that's where we've started to shine.           

Obviously this is our third track I guess we've been back to for a second time.  Each track we've gone back to for a second time, our results look to be pretty good.           

Just a lot of little things, and like I said, we've still got more to come and feel like we still have a lot of room to grow to be able to compete for a championship that we know is going to be a tough task.  But it's something I feel like everybody on this team is capable of.            

Q.  Brad, did you temporarily forget about the ankle when you jumped off the roof of the car?  It looked like you got reminded a little bit when you hit the ground.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, stupid is as stupid does (Laughter).           

I don't know, it's worth it to win the race.            

Q.  You mentioned the great Tony Stewart.  You made up 27 points on him tonight, so 21 is not impossible.  When you look at the streak you've been on, could you have imagined anything like this?  Is this a championship caliber team now?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I think we have the potential.  We have some pieces that I personally would like to see us improve, and I think that's probably a better question for Paul.           

PAUL WOLFE:  Yeah, like I said, we've obviously made gains.  We've got more to go.  We know where some of those areas are we need to work.  But overall we're not going to change what we've been doing or how we approach things.           

Like Brad said, the simplest thing is just to go out there and try to win the race each and every week.  And we feel like we have speed in our cars to do that now, and we'll continue to try to make them better each and every week.           

Just really proud of what we've been able to accomplish our first year together.  We'll work as hard as we can as we get into this Chase and can't be disappointed in however it does work out.  I'm just real proud of what everybody has done so far this year.            

Q.  Brad, obviously you guys have stepped it up the last couple weeks, but you look at some of the other guys you're in this wildcard card contest with and nobody seems to want to make up any ground.  Tonight guys two laps down, three laps down.  That's a function of Bristol I'm sure, but are you waiting for a challenge from some of these guys and wondering when it's going to come?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Oh, it'll come.  This sport works in cycles.  I've been at the bottom of the cycle since I've come in and we're just now getting back to the top.  And you've got to capitalize when you're at the top.  You've got to find a way to win, got to find a way to get good finishes.  And I know we'll cycle back to the bottom, it's just a matter of time.  Every team does.  You hope your cycle is at a time when it doesn't mean anything.           

I think you look at teams like -- Denny is the best example.  He's cycled both ways, and as a team and as a driver you can just hope when you're at the top of the cycle you capitalize on it.  And when you're at the bottom of the cycle, you find a way to persevere through it.           

Tony Stewart is not going to run wherever he finished today forever.  This is by no means the end of his career.  So he's definitely going to cycle back up.  Does he cycle up tomorrow or does he cycle up four weeks from now or more?  I don't know.  But you certainly can't count on him to not get back to his winning forms.            

Q.  While you were celebrating in victory lane, Mike Davis tweeted something and said that, "I was just thinking about the day Brad K. Was sitting trying to convince Dale, Jr., to give him a shot, and now look at him," or something to that effect.  So much has happened in your career in a relatively short period of time.  What do you think about -- you almost sounded a little bit speechless in victory lane tonight.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I think about what an honor it is to have this opportunity.  There's so many talented race car drivers out there.  They're everywhere, and some of them get the opportunity and things happen outside of their control, or sometimes they just screw it up.  A lot of them don't.           

I feel lucky to have gotten the opportunity and to not have screwed it up.  There were several times where I felt like I had, so just very, very fortunate to be where I'm at right now.  When you're running those last few laps, you're thinking to yourself, I just can't believe this.  I didn't even think I'd ever have the opportunity to run this race, let alone to be leading it with five to go or whatever.           

I can remember talking to my brother right before he got the chance to start the Daytona 500.  I asked him, What do you think, how you're going to do in the race?           

He said, I don't care, I can't believe I'm in the Daytona 500, I'm going to get to run it.  No matter what happens this is the best day of my life.           

And I try to keep that in perspective, how lucky I was just to even be running this race and how fortunate I am to be a part of this sport, let alone to be leading it at the end and to win it.  It's just a huge honor.            

Q.  For Paul, Brad recently told a story about when you met with him in a motor home at Michigan when he was trying to convince you to be the crew chief, and he said that the way he recalled you were real quiet and sat and listened to him.  And when he was done, you looked him straight in the face and said, "No, I don't think so," and walked out.           

How tough was that to make that decision when you walked out the door, and did you kind of second-guess yourself or wonder where your path might have led or surprised how it has led?           

PAUL WOLFE:  Well, I don't know --           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Paul, what were you thinking that day (laughing)?           

PAUL WOLFE:  At the time I was committed to the team I was with.  It was exciting to have Brad give me the call and want to talk about it.  It's always an honor to be wanted, I guess.  I had worked really hard to get where I was at, and like I said, I'm pretty dedicated and loyal to people that have helped me out.  And the situation I was in, I felt like that was where I wanted to be and I had made a commitment to those guys and I was going to live up to it.           

So I'm not sure if that was the response Brad was expecting or thought he was going to get out of me.  And then as the season winded down, the opportunity came about when that team didn't have sponsorship, so at that point, we started to talk again.            

Q.  Brad, a couple for you.  No. 1, driving the 'Blue Deuce,' with all the success of Kurt -- I know you're a big fan of the sport and respect the history of the sport.  Talk a little bit about that first.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Well, yeah.  I mean, first off, the Miller partners or distributors or what have you, the group in this area is so supportive of the race program.  Like Paul said, it's an honor to be where you're wanted and where you're supported.  He was talking about it in some other context, but it's the same thing as it talks about the sponsors.  Miller loves Bristol.           

It's always an honor.  I was so thrilled to drive by that banner pulling in here to the racetrack and just feel like I lived up to the commitment they've made to me by being able to win and be successful.  And I wasn't sure we were going to be able to do that.           

Obviously you try really hard.  Miller is a marquee sponsor of this sport and one that's been around for quite some time.  It's an icon with obviously the 'Blue Deuce.'  More people know the 'Blue Deuce' than know me for sure, so I feel very lucky to get to drive that car.  And I just hope I can pay it back by having strong runs like we had today.            

Q.  I wanted to ask you about the rides of course you're giving to the veterans tomorrow and what all that means to you.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Sure, yeah.  Spending the night here at the racetrack and having an event with my foundation here tomorrow, I was hoping I'd get a few more of you media guys to come out and maybe I could give you a ride and scare you all to hell, but nobody volunteered; imagine that.  Who knows, maybe somebody will now.           

We're going to have a lot of fun with it.  My foundation, the Checkered Flag Foundation, we do some cool things with the track, and we also are partnering with Miller to do it, so I have some cool things going on, and it's going to be a blast.           

It's always nice to kind of pay it back to the people that make it possible for us to get to drive race cars in a circle and hoot and holler and make a lot of noise in victory lane.  The veterans and those that have made sacrifices, and specifically the ones in my foundation that have made sacrifices to life and limb, it's always an honor to be a part of that with them and give back to them.            

Q.  Brad, kind of following up on that, you went in the diametrically opposite direction from last year with your pre-race driver introduction tonight.  What's the story on the two veterans you introduced and are they going to be ride-along tonight?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  The two guys that were out there, yeah, they will definitely be part of the ride-alongs tomorrow, and I'll be glad to have them for sure.  Are you coming, Nate?            

Q.  Debatable.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  That means no.            

Q.  Before the obvious jump off your car in victory lane, what was your pain level tonight in the car?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Last 100 laps I was certainly starting to feel it.  But you know, I don't think anybody wants to hear me whine.  Every once in a while I do and they tell me just to shut up anyway, and it hasn't been very productive.  It obviously has felt better.  I wish I wouldn't have jumped off the damned car.            

Q.  I know you don't want to look into the future, so I'll ask you to look in the future.  Can you keep this up for 12 more weeks, and do things change as far as how the racing goes once the Chase starts?  We've seen a lot of guys make surges into the Chase and once they get in, things seem to change for them.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Well, I haven't heard any voices in my head yet, so it should be all right.  I'll have to ask Jimmie.  But I'm going to have fun with it.  It's an honor just to be in the Chase.  At the start of the year it was certainly one of our goals.  And to come in on a high note is just great.  Past success does not guarantee future success, and I'm a big believer in that, but it sure as hell doesn't hurt.  That's why we run the races.           

We could run the races on paper and in our head all day long and say that such-and-such is going to win, but you just never know.  So we'll just have to see.  But we're on the right path.            

Q.  For Paul, assuming you're in the Chase, it would be easy to say that with everything that's transpired so far this year that just being in the Chase, whatever happened, would just kind of be gravy.  But given the opportunity to be in it and how well you've been running lately, do you then instantly become kind of more focused on now how do we win this since we're in it?           

PAUL WOLFE:  Well, you know, it's hard to say.  Obviously this will be my first Chase if we do make it, and as of right now I don't see myself doing anything different than what I've done to this point.  You know, there's a lot of pressure to perform in this sport.  That's what it's based on, and I feel like every day when I go to work I have to prove myself again, and that's what I continue to do every weekend is continue to work hard.           

Now that we've won three races it doesn't mean that we're just going to put it on cruise control because we've accomplished a lot this year already.  The better you run, it's like the expectations just continue to get higher and higher.           

Looking back at the beginning of the season, if we could just run top 15 we, thought that was going to be good.  That was a big accomplishment, looking at how we ran at Vegas and California, and we've far exceeded the top 15 now.  So the better you run, the expectations just continue to get higher and higher.           

So to go back to running 15th really isn't acceptable.  I guess what I'm getting at is I'll continue to work hard and do the same things that I've done to get to this point, and that's what I'll continue to do if we get in the Chase.            

Q.  Brad, there were a lot of people, me included, that thought it was a really stupid move to get out of the Hendrick pipeline and jump over to Penske to get into a Cup ride when you did, and I'll admit I was obviously wrong about that.  Does it feel extra good -- obviously winning feels good, but does it feel extra good when you outrun the Hendrick guys to do it?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Oh, man.  Well, there's no doubt that that was a very difficult decision -- hey, it's Chad.  Hey, Chad.  I'd better wait until he leaves the room to answer that.           

Sometimes in life you have to step back and look at the complete picture and be able to see the complete picture and know that you have to let go to get what you want, let go of what you have, leave your comfort zone to make it to the next level.  And I'm sure, although I did not have a spot at Hendrick for the 2010 season, I'm sure Rick and his team would have figured something out.           

But I wasn't sure what that was going to be.  And I had an incredible opportunity that Roger gave me.  I knew that if I made the most of it, that he would reward me.  I knew how loyal he was from talking to him and kind of checking out the sources and felt like I was being afforded an opportunity to create something.           

And if I had gone to Hendrick or waited it out, there was a long list of bad things that could have happened and a very short list of positive things that could have happened.  And I didn't see that at Penske.  I only saw a list of things that were good that could have happened, and the biggest negative that could happen was everybody telling me I was an idiot.  Well, people tell me I'm an idiot every day, so I'm pretty much immune to that.           

But I felt like by having an opportunity to create a Nationwide program from the ground up, to create it with perhaps the vision that I had with having a guy like Paul to crew chief it and having some of the people behind the scenes inside of it -- and Paul put a lot of that together.  He deserves an amazing part of the credit.  I felt like that would perhaps offset the Cup stuff.           

And I'll be honest, last year in Cup, I was miserable.  There were a lot of people that told me, "you should have waited, you should have waited.       

But there just wasn't an opportunity, and it's such a tough question to answer because no one here can sit here knowing all the pieces to the puzzle.  Quite honestly, I can't tell you all of them, and have all the information that I had, and with all the information I had, I believe in my heart that this was the right decision.           

And I'm glad we're able to perform now and prove to everyone that it was.  I think the performance at the end of the day is always the proof.           

I'm really proud of this whole group to be able to prove that this was the right call.  It certainly wasn't the easy call, but this was the right call.  And I think Paul would tell you, too, that he had other opportunities besides Penske that certainly were easier calls to make.  But at the end, this means more.  This means more, it really does.           

It's been since 2005 since two cars from Penske Racing have made the Chase, and I think that was the only year.  And I don't think there's really ever been a year where both cars have been competitive and really winning races like there is now.  I'd like to think that Paul and I are both a large part of that, and essentially we've taken what was the 12 team, turned it into the 2 team, created two amazing groups with great sponsors like Shell and Miller that can really do this and do it right, and everyone is being rewarded.          

Not the easy call, for sure, but it's looking real good right now.
 

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Posted on: August 23, 2011 11:34 am
 

Parker Kligerman in for Brad Keselowski in NWS

By Pete Pistone

Brad Keselowski will get more time to rest his injured leg and ankle this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway when Parker Kligerman subs for the Penske Racing driver in Friday night's Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Keselowski will be ready for Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Race Night Sprint Cup race but team management decided the best course of action was to sideline the driver for Friday's preliminary.

"Parker Kligerman will drive the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge this weekend in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway," said Penske racing's Tim Cindric in a statement released Tuesday morning.  "Brad Keselowski  is still healing from an ankle fracture and strained back suffered in his testing accident at Road Atlanta earlier this month.   Brad's condition will continue to be monitored on a race-by-race basis."

 
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Posted on: August 15, 2011 3:36 pm
 

Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch post Glen comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Second and third place finishers in Sunday's Heluva! Good Sour Cream Dips at The Glen Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch met the media Monday after the race at Watkins Glen International Raceway:

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, I guess I was happy with the car from the start and was able to drive up there and make some moves and knew we had a strong car right before the beginning with our Miller Lite Dodge Charger.  Got up to the lead there, I guess at the end of the second segment, felt pretty good about it, and felt like we were one of the cars to beat.           

But I just wasn't quite good enough to pull it off there and made a couple small mistakes at the end and lost the lead to Kyle and got back by him and then lost the lead to Marcos.           

Some great racing at the end.  I hope everybody enjoyed it.  I think that's about as good as the racing gets right there, and just proud to be a part of it.             

Q.  Just talk about how much the ankle played in.  Did it get easier, more difficult as the race went on?            

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I wouldn't say it got any easier, but when your car is fast you can put a lot of that stuff behind you and make it work.  You know, we were able to do that today and make it work.  I was happy to have a fast car, and that's what it's all about is having fast race cars.  Just life is good when you have fast race cars.           

Sorry, I'm watching a fight up here.  I don't know if you guys are watching this, either.  Is this live?             

Q.  Yes.            

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Oh, wow.  This is the story.           

Okay, what was I talking about?  (Laughter.)  This is a lot more fun to watch.  Fighting is racing, too, I guess.           

But all good.  We made it work.  How about that?            

Q.  Brad, was this a tougher day than last week at Pocono physically, and when you got past Kyle and he went wide in Turn 1 on that final restart, did your eyes get big and did you start thinking about No. 3 at that point?

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Absolutely they got big.  I don't know about tougher.  It wasn't no easier, that's for damn sure.  But we had a shot at it and that's all you can ask for as a driver, great long run speed, and were able to get to the front.           

I look back at this one and wish that I had been in better condition and wish that I had more experience or was able to run the Nationwide race the day before and maybe I could have made the most of my car because quite frankly I think I had one of the cars to beat.  But that's just the way it goes.  It kind of is what it is.           

But proud of the day, proud of a good finish.  I think we're on great standing now.  At least we moved up a bunch in the points, which is good.  Got to make the most of that wild card stuff that we were able to build up.  Was kind of wishing Denny wouldn't have had trouble there so wouldn't have to worry so much about him.  But still in good shape.             

Q.  Can you just talk about Marcos' talent on road courses?  I think it's pretty obvious, but you were up there battling with him there at the end.  Can you just talk about how he's just kind of like a cut above?            

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Well, he's smooth, he's smart, and he's experienced.  You know, we only do this two times a year.  I counted on my finger the amount of times I've raced at road courses in my life.  You know, fingers and toes.  I guess it was 12 career road course starts between Nationwide and Cup, and he's got to have ten times that at least, maybe more.           

So he's got experience.  He's a good driver with experience with a competitive car, where the rest of us are probably okay drivers, and he just -- he's a cut above right now, and I would expect him to stay that way with his experience level for quite some while.             

Q.  Could you take us over those last couple laps, particularly when you guys were trying to get into Turn 1?            

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Well, we got into Turn 1, it looked like Kyle had a little bit of right front lock-up and slid up out of the groove, which gave me a great opportunity to get underneath him.  Marcos filled the gap, and next thing you know we were three wide for the lead going into Turn 2, and I don't know about you guys but I don't think racing gets any better than that on a road course, two passes for the lead and the last two laps -- I wish I would have been the last pass for the lead, taking it instead of losing it.           

But you know, it was still pretty awesome to watch, and it was cool to be a part of.  I felt like I might have had a shot at Marcos again.  I was able to close the bumper on him through the inner loop when that last yellow came and just wasn't meant to be.  But it was a hell of a race, just a hell of a race, and Turn 1 it was exciting.  It just doesn't get any better than that.           

THE MODERATOR:  Brad, thank you very much for your time this afternoon.           

At this time we welcome Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota, who finished third in today's 26th annual Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dip.  Talk about those last few laps.           

KYLE BUSCH:  Well, you're just preparing for the restart and trying to make sure you get your tires warmed up, your brakes warmed up.  But there's only one corner you've got to make, and as soon as you make it through that corner and can keep everything behind you it'll be smooth sailing from there, and didn't do it.  Screwed up first chance I got.  Just got down into Turn 1, didn't stop the way I needed to, and the wheel didn't turn the way I expected it to and over-slid the corner, got too far out to the outside and by then everybody was just on my inside.           

So screwed up, and gave one away.  Gave another one away.  And can't say enough about the guys, though.  They've done a phenomenal job for me and gave me a great race car today.  It was fun to run up front like that, and the last eight, ten laps there where Marcos got by and was catching us, and it seemed like any time I made a mistake, he'd really gain on me a lot, and any time he might make a mistake or slip a little bit I could kind of squeeze away from him.  Last couple laps getting away from him; last thing I wanted to see was a caution.  I just hate it for everybody and all my guys.             

Q.  Was there any contact coming out of 1, though?  Did anybody get into you or did you just lose it on your own?            

KYLE BUSCH:  I got that far out on my own, first of all, but then when I came back, certainly those guys didn't care to give me any room.  I bounced off I don't know if it was the -- I think it was the 9 and had to still run through the dirt a little bit.  And fortunately stayed on the outside of the 42 through Turn 2 and he had to give way through Turn 3 and I was able to keep third.             

Q.  You were one of the teams using a two-pit strategy.  Talk about the strategy and the day you were having with it, and towards the end how worried were you about your gas?            

KYLE BUSCH:  You know, we tried working through practice and everything, seeing if we could do a two-stop strategy.  The more we tried to save fuel, the slower I went.  We weren't too sure that it was going to work for us.           

But we made some changes to the car to try to make sure that we could stay on that two-stop strategy knowing that that would help us win the race.  Essentially it didn't.  I guess the guy that won was on a three-stop strategy.  But gave us the track position all day; we didn't have to fight anybody too hard, and seemed like our car was out in clean air much of the day.           

Whether the three-stop strategy would have been any different, I'm not sure, but guys did a great job making sure we could do it on two, and I had to do what I could under yellows to try to save a little bit of fuel.  We weren't too worried there at the end.  We ended up getting better fuel mileage than we expected to just because when I got out and had an eight-second lead or whatever, I could kind of run my own pace and shift early and stuff like that to try to save a little bit more.             

Q.  Going down let's say the last 15 laps and it was you and Marcos, were you holding back playing any possum or were you kind of driving it full out?            

KYLE BUSCH:  No, that was full bore.  That was all there was.  Any time you try to get a little bit more out of it and you try and squeeze just that much harder, you slip, and any time you slip, you give up a lot of time.  So that's where Marcos was getting me, so I just kind of concentrated then on hitting my marks and making sure I was consistent and maybe under-driving the car just a little bit.  Instead of going 100 or 101 percent just maybe give it 97 and make sure that you stay under it and run consistent times.  And when I started doing that he didn't catch me anymore; I actually started getting back away from him the last two laps before that caution.  It seemed to be working a little bit.

 

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