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November 16, 2017

Kyle Busch

Kevin Harvick

Brad Keselowski

Kelli Stavast

Martin Truex, Jr.

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to Championship 4 media day. To our core media, thank you for your tireless efforts and coverage all season long. Your long days at track and hard work have resulted in great coverage and content for our fans, and the fans win with that. Cannot thank you enough for that.
2017 has been a thrilling, exciting and importantly historic season for NASCAR, and we'll be getting into that and discussing the detail with our Championship 4 drivers in just a bit, but before we get into that, I'd like to cover a few housekeeping details before we start rolling here.
Sirius XM NASCAR radio, Facebook Live, and NASCAR.com/presspass will be covering this event live in its entirety. In addition, a number of television and radio outlets will be recording this, as well, for airing on tonight's primetime shows. We ask that you please keep that in mind and please silence your cell phones during this event. The format for today's event is going to be a question‑and‑answer period. Direct your question to the individual or group of individuals as you see fit, and as always, please identify yourself and your outlet when asking the question.
And now, before we start the program, let's take a look back at some of the intense action we've seen during the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Now let's begin the process of bringing the real talent up here on the stage.
KELLI STAVAST: Welcome to the Championship 4 media day here at the beautiful Loew's Miami Beach hotel. It's been a fascinating historic season capped off by an emotional and intense 10‑race playoff. Soon we'll hear from those who battled all the way to the finale and will take center stage on Sunday in opens of capturing the biggest prize in Motorsports, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy.
But before we do that, I'd like to welcome the many fans listening in on Sirius XM NASCAR radio or watching on NASCAR.com and Facebook Live. We thank you so much for your passion. We hope you enjoy today's press conference. And to my fellow media members, on behalf of NASCAR, thank you so much for your coverage today and your dedication all season long.
Now, I know some in this room are covering the sport for the first time, and we certainly welcome you and hope that you enjoy your NASCAR experience this weekend. So this is it; a grueling season featuring the best drivers in the world will end on Sunday at Homestead‑Miami Speedway, where only one can be crowned the 2017 Monster Energy Cup series champion. With that, let's bring out the four competitors who will vie for their place in NASCAR history on Sunday.
First up, with the patience of a champion, he grabbed the final spot in the Phoenix dessert: The 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion and the driver of the No.2 Miller Lite Ford for Team Penske, Brad Keselowski.
His Monster Energy series high seven victories helped him clinch an early spot in the Championship 4, the driver of the No.78 Furniture Row Bass Pro Shops Toyota for Furniture Row racing, Martin Truex Jr.
A brilliant three‑win playoff performance put him on the doorstep of a second championship, driver of the No.18 M&M's Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch.
And finally, the 2014 champion, he completed a stirring late‑race pass for the win at Texas to land himself a spot in the Championship 4 for the third time: The driver of the No.4 Busch Beer Jimmy John's Ford for Stewart‑Haas Racing, Kevin Harvick.
Brad, Martin, Kyle, Kevin, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this championship weekend, so with that, we're going to open it up to some questions.

Q. You guys have raced all year under a format that awards stage points; with that not being the case for you all on Sunday, do you approach the race any differently as far as game planning, put stops and things like that?
KEVIN HARVICK: Depends when the caution falls. I think going into the race obviously you have that in mind, but I think the stage points have been so important throughout the year, and if you come to a spot where you're deciding between points and tires, that can be a tough decision. I think everybody knows you're going to put four tires on this week for the most part, unless there's extreme circumstances, and the stages, you're just trying to position yourself as far forward as you can because they don't matter, so if it comes out two laps before, everybody is probably going to pit anyway.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, I think that obviously we're not racing for the stage points, but Kevin brings up a good point where the stages are still going to happen. So you've got to position yourselves and make sure that you're doing the right thing in order to be in the right position for either the rest of that stage or when you know those stages are going to end, those caution periods, how they're going to fall, and then getting yourself set up for the end of the race.

Q. Brad and Kyle, we've seen rivalries pop up in NASCAR, then they quickly disappear, but it seems like the one that you have for whatever reason, the animosity, has continued over the years. Why do you think the dislike between you two has gone on for so long?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Was it for me or Kyle? Well, I don't know, I haven't really thought about it. You know, I think looking for this weekend, there's four of us up here on the stage, and for probably both of us, it's not enough to beat each other, we've got to beat everyone to win a championship. It would be, at least from my perspective, a little bit foolish to get caught up on any one person.
But I do think that both of us are fortunate to have great cars, great teams, and when you run up at the front a lot, things are going to happen when you're going fast. You know, I feel like where we're at in the sport right now, we're both going to be here for a long time to come, as are the other two, for as long as they want to, as well‑‑
KEVIN HARVICK: Calling me old?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: So I think it's one of those things where when you race at the front and you're racing for championships, it's a great position to be in, and just the way it has unfolded.
I think probably if you look across the field, everyone has had some run‑ins with each other. I think probably all four of us have probably ran into each other over the course of our careers, but that's part of the fun of the sport, as well.
KYLE BUSCH: Sometimes you just don't like a guy. Fact of the matter. I never ran into Matt Kenseth. I don't think Matt Kenseth ever ran into me. There is a respect factor out there on the racetrack, and you can certainly do a better job sometimes when you're around some of those guys that you may or may not necessarily like, but as once a wise man told me, I think it was Chase Elliott, I race those how they race me. (Laughter.)

Q. We've seen the playoffs, the intensity has increased and guys are willing to do just about anything to win a race or to move on. I'm asking you, what is the line Sunday when the championship is on the line?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I mean, I'm willing to try to go win the race. I think everybody here is. It's hard to really say what's going to happen. I think you've got all these different things going on out in these races that you look week to week, there seems to be so many different scenarios. I don't think anyone could have predicted what happened last year with the restarts and the chaos and all that. I don't know how you can really make a prediction when you don't know how the race is going to unfold and fall out. But it's a great opportunity to win a championship with this format, with it being kind of set back at zero. If it wasn't set back at zero, we'd probably all be congratulating Martin right now with the season he's had.
But it is, so everyone has an opportunity. It's just about the finishing position and not the stages, so when it comes down to the end of the race, I don't think anyone really knows that answer until it's right in front of them.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I'll wreck any damn one of these three. That's what you want to hear, right?
I mean, I'm going to race these guys just like I do every single week. I have not thought about any desperation moves. I don't plan on being in that position. I think a perfect scenario is to go out there and race them heads up and beat them fair and square. That's how I approach racing. That's how I plan on doing it Sunday.

Q. All four of you are XFINITY Series champions; we wanted to get your picks on who will join your club on Saturday.
KYLE BUSCH: William Byron.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: William looks really good, but I think that's a great crop of drivers. Any one of them could be a champion in my mind. I think Justin has ran really well. Daniel Hemric, he has put himself in a position, but William has set the bar really high for rookies and winning the races he has. He's probably a safe pick.
KEVIN HARVICK: I like Sadler. Sadler drove for me and I know how close they came in 2011. It's for the old guys, right? I didn't know I was going to be the guy to get bashed for being old up here. I do feel old compared to at least two of you.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I'm looking forward to watching the race to be honest. You've got Sadler who's the veteran. I won't call him old‑‑
KEVIN HARVICK: That's a better word.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Good guy, known him a long time and I know he's been real close. But the other guys, Allgaier has been impressive, been around a while, and kind of trying to get his first championship, so that will be good to see, and then you've got William and Daniel, who are obviously going to be around a long time, as well, a couple young guys coming up that are really, really talented and do a nice job representing the sport. I think either one of them would make a great champion, and it's definitely going to be an awesome race to watch.

Q. Martin, could you very briefly tell us late in the '13 season, did you maybe think your career was over?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: There was a night where I sat on the porch and thought there was a chance I may never race in the Cup Series again, at least competitively. It was late in the season, found out I wasn't going to have a sponsor, obviously, for the next year. I didn't know of any rides available. I didn't know anything‑‑ I didn't know of any opportunities at that point in time, so I knew it was definitely going to be a tough road. But got fortunate that Barney Visser called and we were able to put that deal together.
It was just a matter of luck and timing to be honest that it all came together. Obviously the rest is history. Very fortunate.

Q. Martin hit on it a while ago, you'll risk any of the three, but where do the mind games begin and where do they stop? Everyone is wondering what's going to happen when you get on the track and put Kevin or Martin or any of y'all talking trash to each other about how you focus on the race itself and not what's going on off the track.
KEVIN HARVICK: I think for me, it's really about me and my team and how can I put them in the best position to have the calmest weekend possible. I don't want Rodney answering questions, I don't want to have to answer questions because for us, I feel confident in where we are as a team. I feel like we're here to win this championship with the momentum and the things that we've done over the last few weeks, especially on the mile‑and‑a‑half racetracks. Our cars have run well. We won Texas and are doing what we have to do.
We came here with no intention other than to win this championship, and there's really no reason to‑‑ it's not boxing. This is a car race, and there's a lot of things that are involved in it. It's not my mind against his mind. It's my team and everybody that has to show up and navigate the weekend because this weekend is not like any other weekend that we've been to. It's not like any other week that you've been to. There's a lot that goes into navigating the weekend, and when you pull into the garage, just when you walk into the garage this weekend, it's not like it's going to be the same garage. You're going to have people everywhere, you're going to have sponsors everywhere, you're going to have people that you haven't seen all year. There's just a lot more to navigate. But from a performance side of things, I feel good about where we are as a team, and I don't feel like screwing that up.
If you had to punt and you were kind of on the outside looking in hoping for a prayer, you might need to do things differently, but that's how I feel.

Q. If you had to describe this season with one word, what would that be?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I only get one word? I was never good with rules. I think anybody in the media here would probably go with Kevin's answer, and I would say long.
KELLI STAVAST: With that we're going to end this short press conference. Thank you, everyone, for coming. We hope you enjoy your Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead‑Miami Speedway, which culminates with the crowning of one of these drivers as the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion live on NBC, MRN, and Sirius XM NASCAR radio. Each of our four title contenders will be available for breakout sessions this afternoon in the back of the room, and enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you, guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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