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June 28, 2014

Brad Keselowski

Paul Wolfe


KERRY THARP:テつ Brad Keselowski has joined us.テつ He's our race winner tonight for the 4th annual Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts here at Kentucky Speedway.テつ This is Brad's second win of the season, so he's going to be competing for a championship again in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and congratulations on that, Brad, congratulations to your crew chief Paul Wolfe and all the people over at Team Penske.テつ Second time in three years that you've won here at Kentucky Speedway, and like I told you here a little while ago, you always try to make a good story for us, so congratulations, maybe talk about the win out there tonight.テつ Certainly as soon as you got the No.2 car out on the track yesterday and through qualifying and so forth, it was apparent that you were likely the car to beat.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ Yeah, what a really fast car.テつ Things just kind of came together for us.テつ Really across the weekend, from qualifying to race practice and then in the race, and it looked like they were going to come unraveled there at the end with that yellow right in the middle of pit sequence, which was really scary but kind of part of the deal.
It came down to restarting sixth there with was it 51, 52 to go, and I knew it was going to be a dogfight to get back to Kyle and race him.テつ But we got there with a really fast car, and I hit the perfect run on him there with traffic, and next thing I knew we were there.
It feels really good, obviously, to get that second win.テつ I think we've been so close and kind of haven't put it together there at the end with Richmond comes to mind, Texas comes to mind, and then Pocono.テつ Kind of had some heartbreakers there.テつ It starts to wonder in your head, is this ever going to work out, but it did, and I think it showcased the strength of our team.
We have got a really good stretch run going here over the summer, so it's very exciting for me personally, very rewarding, and I feel like we're in such a strong spot.テつ A lot of momentum, and this was really a big night for us in so many ways.
KERRY THARP:テつ Paul Wolfe, just talk about what it's like knowing once you get the car off the truck and get a few laps under your belt, knowing that you have a really, really strong race car and a driver certainly that can bring it home.
PAUL WOLFE:テつ Yeah, well, it always makes the weekend a little bit easier once you unload and you have speed in your race car.テつ Obviously that's the first thing we look for is to have speed.テつ We showed we had that on the first lap on the track, and we worked through a lot of things in practice and continued to show speed in both sessions and carried that over into qualifying.
Sometimes when you're that good in practice, you question how much you need to change for the race and making the right calls there to be good in the race, and obviously tonight we were able to put all that together.
As hard as we work every week to try to have performances like we did tonight, sometimes they're few and far between.テつ But we'll continue to work hard to put together cars like this every weekend, and this is the type of performance we're going to need to be able to compete for another championship.テつ Proud of all the work that's gone on so far.テつ We're about halfway through the season now, and with the new rules package, I feel like Team Penske has done a great job at responding to the rule changes.テつ But there's still a lot to be learned or gained with this package, so it's important for us to continue to work hard and keep building off of this momentum as we get ready to run for another championship.

Q.テつ Brad, you immediately said right after you won that it feels like championship form again, and I guess in victory lane you really emphasized that.テつ I didn't see it.テつ But what about Kentucky makes you feel that this is the vaulting point, I guess?テつ You did it two years ago.テつ Why is it so important?テつ What does this track show that makes you feel that?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ Well, I think there are a lot of mile‑and‑a‑halfs in the Chase, Chicago, Texas, Kansas, and then obviously the final race in Homestead.テつ I'm missing Charlotte‑‑ what else am I missing?テつ Charlotte, I'm sure there's somewhere else.テつ But a lot of mile‑and‑a‑half tracks, and this is kind of‑‑ fits all between them.テつ It doesn't have the banking of Charlotte, but it's a little bit rough and Charlotte is a little bit rough.テつ It doesn't have the smooth surface of Kansas, but it has a very similar layout.
The things it takes to go fast here aren't too far off from those other tracks, and I think when you hit this mark in the season, some cars might show a little bit more development but not a lot.テつ I think you pretty much get to where everyone has almost what they're going to have to finish off the year around this time.テつ And when you can run well at this point in time in the year, it bodes well for the final half of the season.
Certainly we're not content.テつ We had a great night tonight, led a lot of laps and won the race, but the reality is that Hendrick cars had won, I think, three or four of the last five, and they're going to continue to be the cars to beat.テつ So we have to keep pushing, as well.
This is certainly a good night, and it harkens back some memories of 2012, which I'm very fond of.テつ Last year was a very humbling year for us, so I think I probably appreciate it even more.テつ I appreciate the opportunity to have races like this and opportunities to run for a championship.

Q.テつ Two‑part question, Brad, and then for Paul.テつ What was your attitude tonight?テつ You consistently lost positions on pit road.テつ Was it like, okay, we've got a great car, I'm going to drive it back to the front?テつ And Paul, as you guys try to round into championship form, how concerned are you that you're not always going to have a car that can make up these positions?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ Yeah, it's not fun, but I think those are internal discussions that we have to have to get better.テつ It doesn't really help out talking about that here.テつ But I'm proud that we had the car that we have, and I still feel like we've made progress on pit road from where we've been in years past and even races past, but we still have work to do.
PAUL WOLFE:テつ Yeah, I think to touch on what Brad said there, I think we look at our program as a whole and look at areas where we can be stronger, where we need to improve, and whether it's with our aero department or our chassis or the guys working on the cars, the pit crews, we look at it all.テつ To be able to win another championship, we'll have to be very good in all those areas, and we'll continue to evaluate and do what we need to do to be able to be good in all those areas.

Q.テつ What was more treacherous, the front stretch bumps or victory lane?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ The front stretch bumps are a concussion, and victory lane is bleeding of the hand.テつ I guess I don't have enough to lose upstairs to worry about the first one, so the champaign.テつ I should have stuck with beer.テつ (Laughter.)

Q.テつ Kind of going back to when you stepped out of the car and talked about how you really wanted that second championship, you said it a couple times pretty forcefully, obviously that's always the goal, but what was behind that statement, kind of the urgency you said it with?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ I don't know, I turned 30 and I'm going through a bit of a midlife crisis.テつ I want to win another championship.テつ I don't want to just win one.テつ I think I have the team to do it, with Paul and the guys.テつ I have the owner to do it with Roger Penske, and the urgency is now.テつ I don't want to win one championship and that be it for my career.テつ I'm not going to be happy with that.テつ And I want to win another championship, but I don't want it to be five or ten years from now.テつ I don't want to be a guy that contends for a championship every three or four years, I want to do it each and every year, and I know that opportunity is here, and it's present, and I want to make the most of it, and I'm not afraid to communicate that.
I think when it comes to goals, when it comes to dreams and visions, you have to share them if you want them to become a reality.テつ I think my team has that same goal and that same vision.
But I think we want to stay on that same page, and I want them to know that I care and that I'm focused on it.

Q.テつ You touched on this a minute ago when you talked about you think the people who pretty much have what they're going to have for the rest of the season, I asked Joey a similar question about the qualifying, but are you surprised that more people haven't kind of caught up at this point in time for either of you?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ You mean for qualifying?

Q.テつ No, just in wins and so forth.テつ But even in qualifying it seems the people that have been good are good, the people who have struggled have struggled.テつ Same thing on race day.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ Yeah, I don't really know the reason for that, the qualifying part.テつ I haven't really focused on that personally.テつ I don't know.テつ Maybe you have, Paul.テつ But that one I'm not really sure how to give a good answer on that.テつ But the racing stuff, at this point in the year I think a lot of guys will work on their cars and come up with something a few months from now, usually around Charlotte, everybody kind of brings out their next wave of cars.テつ But usually from there, everything kind of hits a standstill and just trying to finish out the year, whether that's financially or just because the summer stretch is so tough you dedicate all your resources to just getting to the track and executing, and it's hard to develop.
So I'm not really sure how to answer that question.テつ Like I said, I don't feel like we're the dominant cars.テつ We were tonight, and I feel like we're good cars with a really good team, but we have to keep pushing because, like I said, the Hendrick cars won three or four of the last five.テつ You know the stat better than I do.テつ It's something like that.テつ And that's what it's going to take to win the championship.テつ You're going to have to get on a streak in those 10 races, and that's where we need to be.テつ So that's where I want to push.
PAUL WOLFE:テつ Yeah, I think any time there's a new rule change you'll see maybe certain teams that kind of stand out until guys get caught up.テつ Yeah, it seems like maybe there's a little more separation in the field right now, but I think over time that will continue to close up.テつ I think that's kind of been the trend over the years any time there's big rule changes.
As far as qualifying, it's interesting, I've gotten this question before, and I can't say that our approach to the whole qualifying is much different than what we've done in the past.テつ I don't feel like there's any tricks or things that we're doing.テつ I think we continue to try to have fast race cars and communicate well between sessions.テつ I think that's the biggest thing and understanding how we need to tune on our race cars from one to the other.テつ But I don't think there's any magic there.

Q.テつ Paul, this is to you:テつ How much less stressful does a driver the quality of Brad Keselowski make your job, because even though you have a problem on pit road tonight, he goes out there and he still pushes hard to win the race.テつ How much does it keep life less stressful for you?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ How much less stressful do I make your life, Paul?
PAUL WOLFE:テつ Less stressful, yeah (laughter.)テつ I think it's just the opposite.テつ I think it's just the opposite.テつ When you know you have the tools and resources and then you have a driver the caliber of Brad, I think it just puts more pressure on you, knowing that you have to perform well.
To say that it's less pressure, I don't necessarily look at that as the case for sure.

Q.テつ Can you tell us what your first thought was when the bottle exploded and you looked down and you saw blood, and will you be tweeting a picture of the injury kind of like your ankle?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ Sorry, I didn't have my phone on me.テつ I'm trying to be less dependent on my phone.

Q.テつ Why?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ I don't know, I've just been on it a lot.テつ I didn't have my phone on me, so sorry.テつ And what was my thought?テつ You know, I did the typical guy thing.テつ It's not that bad, it's not that bad, and I shook it a couple times and there was blood flying everywhere.テつ I thought, this is pretty bad.テつ And then I started kind of walking through my mind, is this for real.テつ There really wasn't a much more intelligent thought than that.
KERRY THARP:テつ The real thing going around on Twitter right now is trying to figure out when the last time a NASCAR race winner ended up in the care center after victory lane.テつ Trying to figure that one out.

Q.テつ Brad, fifth on Thursday, second last night, first tonight.テつ Can you put the whole weekend as a whole, collectively your thoughts on Kentucky?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ Sounds like a good investment, running the Nationwide and truck race.テつ It's not.テつ I can tell you that.テつ It's not good on the bottom line.テつ But at the end of the day, we're here to win Cup races, and that's where my main focus is.テつ I don't know, but I don't think there's anyone that can say I shortcut the big race to be better in the preliminaries, and that's probably a good thing.

Q.テつ When is your next truck race?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ I don't know.テつ I'd have to look at the schedule.

Q.テつ This is on behalf of Pockrass who's watching at home on the camera.テつ He wants to do did the bottle break in your hand and didn't hit anything?テつ And do you anticipate any problems holding the steering wheel?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ No, I hit it on something.テつ I think I hit it on the corner of the podium and then it broke.テつ I don't know, I was trying to get the top off and shaking it at the same time, and people were spraying me and I couldn't really see all that well.テつ It was just one of them deals.
And do I anticipate it‑‑ no, no.テつ The last time I had stitches it was seven days or so, and we're going to Daytona, which is probably the easiest track you could ask for.テつ No, I didn't break any bones or any of that stuff.テつ I just put a big gash, so I don't think it'll be an issue.

Q.テつ It got very pronounced this weekend, the difference in the Ford camp between you guys and Roush Fenway and then their satellite team, Richard Petty Motorsports.テつ It was dramatic in qualifying, dramatic in the race.テつ How big a difference is there between those two operations right now, and what do you think the difference is that you guys are so much better in the Ford camp than anything Roush is putting out or Richard Petty?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ I don't know.テつ It's not fair for us to really comment on the other Ford teams.

Q.テつ Are you surprised there's that big a difference?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ Quite honestly we don't know enough about their stuff.テつ We do what we can to make the Fords the best we can and share as we can, but it's not fair for us to pile on, and I feel like any comments to that effect would just pile on.

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