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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: IRWIN TOOLS NIGHT RACE


August 23, 2014


Matt Kenseth

Brad Keselowski


BRISTOL, TENNESSEE

KERRY THARP:テつ Let's roll right into our post‑race for tonight's 54th‑annual Irwin Tools Night Race here at Bristol Motor Speedway.テつ Our race runner‑up is Brad Keselowski, and Brad drove the No.2 Wurth Ford tonight for Team Penske.テつ Brad, certainly a one‑two finish here for Team Penske tonight.テつ I know you were trying to track down your teammate, but as we spoke here just a minute ago, a big weekend for Ford Motor Company, Ford Racing, sweeping all three races here at Bristol Motor Speedway, and certainly your thoughts about your performance tonight and the strength shown by Team Penske.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ Sure.テつ It was hot.テつ It was a hard night.テつ I'll tell you, first off, this place, the race pace is really brutal and aggressive.テつ With the cars having all the extra downforce this year and tires improving and some of the new rules, compounded by grinding the track and the track's high lane having a lot of speed, I swear, this is the most grueling race of the year.テつ It feels good just to complete it and be able to kind of look myself in the eye and know I gave it all I had.テつ It just wasn't enough, but I didn't fall out of the seat, so I'm damned near as proud of not falling out of the seat as anything else.
Just a heck of a weekend for everyone at Team Penske, all three drivers winning races this weekend.テつ I think that's a testament to how bright the future is for Team Penske, and look for more big things to come in years to come, but certainly don't want to lose sight of tonight's accomplishments and the accomplishments to date.テつ I feel like Joey and I both have three wins.テつ We're entering the Chase strong in a lot of different ways, and I think we're both legitimate threats to win the championship this year, and I'm proud of that.
Along with the Nationwide car and the success they had last night and then winning the Truck Series, just a huge weekend, not just for me personally but for everyone at Team Penske, and hopefully we can keep that momentum rolling in weeks to come.
As far as tonight and the rest of it is concerned, running second is certainly something to be proud of.テつ I'd love to have that one more position, but it just wasn't there.テつ Every time I'd get close to Joey, I'd pick up a massive aero push up off the corner and couldn't do anything.テつ I lost too much speed to do anything.テつ I couldn't even get close enough to really do a bump and run.テつ Last lap I dive bombed it in there on a prayer hoping it would stick or he would slip.テつ Made it look good but it really wasn't close.テつ Still a good night for us.テつ I think our two cars were really, really equal and whoever got out front and got the clean air first was going to win the race and Joey was able to do that.

Q.テつ Brad, can you talk about that momentum from Penske Racing, rolling into the Chase here coming up, and then how much maybe information the 22 and the 2 teams actually share on a race weekend?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ Yeah, I mean, the momentum kind of speaks for itself when you're running well.テつ I don't really respectfully want to get into any of the other details about our teams and what they do.テつ That's kind of proprietary to our group and something that we're proud of and want to keep our cards close to our chests.テつ But like I said, I think the results speak for themselves, and we just need to keep rolling.テつ We've got two teams that are legitimate contenders by really every stretch of the imagination.テつ I'm very proud of that.

Q.テつ Kind of along the same lines, you guys obviously are working real close together, but when it comes down to this thing, you're going to have to battle Joey Logano for this championship.テつ At what point do you guys focus on keeping those cards close to your chest as the 2 team as opposed to Team Penske, and how are you going to approach that once you get into the Chase?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ Yeah, I think that's not really something I want to disclose to the media.テつ That's between Joey and I.テつ We've developed a pretty good friendship, and certainly we're both hungry to be winners, though, and there's a balancing act there.テつ Yeah, I mean, that's something that I'd like to just keep between Joey and us.

Q.テつ Brad, obviously you're both going into the Chase, obviously you've been qualifying great, got a lot of momentum, but as you look to the Chase, what do you think your strength is in the Chase, what do you think Joey's strength is in the Chase?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ You know, I think we ran really well at Loudon.テつ I think that's a track we're very much looking forward to going back to and hopefully able to continue that success, and Joey is really, really strong on the mile‑and‑a‑halfs.テつ I would expect him to be good at all those.テつ It's hard to say because going into Kentucky, I would have said that Joey's style would have been better than mine, and we ran so well there.テつ He certainly ran well, too, but it takes everything.テつ It takes the car setup, it takes the driver, it takes the pit crew, and the pieces that the guys back in the shop are doing.テつ It takes all those pieces to be a contender, and we're out of the same shop, but it's easy for one of those variables to be different, whether it's the car setup or pit crew, even if the actual car builds are the same.テつ Just small details make all the difference in the world.
It's hard to say that either one of us has an advantage, and I think we're heading into it pretty equal.
KERRY THARP:テつ Let's hear now from our third‑place finisher, and that's Matt Kenseth, and he drove the No.20 Dollar General Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.テつ You certainly gave it pretty much all you had out there tonight.テつ You looked like you were just really giving it.テつ Just talk about your run out there tonight.テつ I know you'd liked to have gotten the win but a real strong showing for you tonight trying to defend that race title here you got last summer.
MATT KENSETH:テつ Yeah, I felt like we finished a little bit better than we ran.テつ There were some runs where we were pretty competitive, especially at the end of the runs.テつ I wasn't very good at all in traffic.テつ It was really hard for me to negotiate traffic and do the things that we needed to do.
At the end there, I just figured we'd try to stretch it out a little bit and hopefully hold those guys on tires off, but they cleared everybody way too fast on that restart and did everything we could to hang on.テつ Overall it was a good night.テつ I didn't quite feel like we had the speed we needed to win the race tonight, but we tried our best to put ourselves in position to do it and ended up with a decent finish.

Q.テつ Brad, were you frustrated with Joey at all at one point?テつ There seemed to be a point where it looked like you were bumping him a little bit.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ Maybe Matt was.テつ I saw a couple instances where Matt might have been.テつ No.テつ I didn't have any moments.テつ We were just racing hard.テつ One time I rubbed into him a little bit accidentally, but it was just minor.テつ I didn't think there was anything there.

Q.テつ You talked some about how you felt, and it seemed like you were speaking in a physical way, how difficult this track was.テつ How mentally demanding was this race, and was this the most physically and mentally demanding race of the year?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ I mean, I think so.テつ I don't know, it's probably a better question for Matt.テつ He's the grizzled veteran over here.
MATT KENSETH:テつ Grizzled?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ I think it was as tough a race as I've ever been a part of.テつ The pace is just grueling, and you know, mentally the lapped traffic and the top and the bottom lane just keeps flying on you, and a lot of laps, too, 500 laps, just it's tough.テつ The mental side always comes into play in racing, but tonight probably to its most extreme.

Q.テつ Brad, do you think that the competition underestimates what Joey and the 22 team can do going into this Chase?テつ Do you think he has a legitimate shot to win this championship?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ I think he has a tremendous shot at winning the championship, and I know I don't underestimate him, but I don't want to speak for my competition, what they think.テつ I'll let them answer for themselves.

Q.テつ Brad, I know you pride yourself on being a thinker, and I'm wondering at this point, how much have you been thinking about the Chase and how to approach it versus the remaining regular‑season races?テつ Are you looking at strategy?テつ At this point it would seem like it's a Penske versus Hendrick kind of showdown.テつ Do you view it that way?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ No.テつ I mean, to date in the season I think it's been that way.テつ But I think we've all got our eyes on Matt's group and all the Gibbs cars, and I just don't see a whole season going by without them having a dominant race car, one section a time.テつ I think we're all fearful that that will happen at the Chase when it all counts the most.テつ Certainly I wouldn't say it's just Hendrick and Penske yet, but I'll let the chips fall where they may.

Q.テつ Matt, you said the other day that you don't believe you're in until you're in.テつ Did that at all go into your thinking to stay out?
MATT KENSETH:テつ No, not really.テつ I mean, it probably would have been a safer thing to pit, I guess.テつ I don't know.テつ You make split‑second decisions.テつ I feel like everything we do at JGR, all the teams, but I know me and Jason, we prepare every week to try to win, and I felt like at that split second, that was our only shot to win the race.
No matter what the points are or rewards are for winning, you always want to win.テつ That's why we all do this.テつ At the time I thought that was the best shot.テつ I didn't even give points or the Chase or anything even a passing thought to be honest with you.テつ I was just trying to figure out how we could go win the Bristol night race.

Q.テつ Matt, can you talk about your battle with Joey?テつ With it being kind of so tough to pass, do you almost expect to be kind of run up into the wall in that situation?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Yeah, I mean, he didn't do anything wrong.テつ He left me enough room, an extra 200,000th or so.テつ With Joey, I was leading and obviously he was faster.テつ I felt like I could do pretty good in 3 and 4, and the top of 1 and 2 got real choppy, the rubber started piling up and I wanted to be a little bit lower and I got high up in the corner up there and got in that choppy rubber and I slipped just a little bit, and I'm getting into 1, and I'm getting him alongside of me.テつ Once you're side by side off 2 you know you're pretty much going to get the shaft going into 3.テつ It would have been the same way if it was the other way around, so you pretty much know they're going to drive in until they're clear and then slide up as far as they can.テつ That's really the only way you can pass here right now.テつ So no, he didn't.テつ It was actually a really good move.テつ It was really calculated.テつ I did everything I could to make him not make it.テつ I drove in as hard as I could, too, but I couldn't get it in any farther without running over the fence, so we were both just doing everything we could to try to get up there for the win.

Q.テつ Earlier outside the infield care center Aric had mentioned that maybe Bristol should consider doing a grinding on the bottom like they had done on the top to even it out and maybe work the bottom back in.テつ Thoughts on that?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Sounds like a Brad question.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ Well, I just don't think they should have changed the track at all.テつ I think it was a mistake to do so, but it's not my decision to make.

Q.テつ But nothing on the bottom line, though?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:テつ No, they don't need to go grinding tracks.テつ Handed it to a bunch of engineers and told them to make the bottom lane the fastest lane and, lo and behold, they screwed it up and made the highest lane the fastest lane.テつ I'm shocked.

Q.テつ It seemed like Jamie McMurray was able to run a little bit lower groove even though the top groove was the main groove.テつ Did that surprise you that somebody was able to run like that, or did you have that type of‑‑ it seemed like it helped him part of the race at least.テつ Was that something a little different?テつ I think everybody was anticipating the top, you just had to be up at the top groove instead of maybe more of a middle groove.
MATT KENSETH:テつ The little bit I was behind him there for a while when he was leading, I never saw him really run what I would call the bottom.テつ You couldn't have put a car outside of him on corner entry in the center.テつ He would come off the corner real low.テつ He was turning pretty good so he down in the middle of the corner, but it looked like his car was too tight to finish a corner up top.テつ So you can move around there a little bit off the corner depending on what your car is doing, but he was still using up the whole racetrack.テつ It's not like he was running a lane where he could pass somebody if they were running on the top.
It seemed like the rubber to me changed the track a lot.テつ It would build up and pile up and then a caution would clean it off, and you really tried to find the edge of that for the grip, at least I had to with my car.

Q.テつ Matt, that pass, Logano, you're coming off Turn 4, he jumps right in front of you.テつ From a television standpoint, it looked like you had to hold your breath and maybe let off just a little bit to keep from hitting him.テつ What was that final corner like for you on that pass?
MATT KENSETH:テつ Well, a lot of things happened pretty fast.テつ Honestly I'd have to go back and watch it.テつ He passed me a couple times.テつ The first time we would have wrecked if I wouldn't have lifted and if that would have been the last pass for the lead, I wouldn't have lifted and we would've wrecked.テつ So it was the earlier pass, I believe.テつ Yeah, he didn't have enough room there and took the extra six or ten inches or whatever and I had to get out of the gas there a little bit.テつ But again, he had the faster car, and it's hard to‑‑ it's kind of hard to get alongside somebody.テつ When you get alongside them it's also impossible to clear them if the guy doesn't want to help you out a little bit, and obviously, when you're racing for a win, even with 100 to go, you're not going to roll over and let somebody go, because you don't know what's going to happen, even as much faster as they both looked than me when they passed me, we still ran them back down at the end of the run and was close to getting close enough to at least have a shot, almost got second back.テつ You don't know what's going to happen.テつ When you get inside your final fuel run it's hard at a place like this to give much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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