September 5, 2014
THE MODERATOR:Â Our Coors Light pole winner for tomorrow night\'s 57th annual Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway is Brad Keselowski.Â He\'s the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford for Team Penske.Â And this is Brad\'s 7th career pole, it\'s his fourth pole in 2014.Â Career high.Â Congratulations on that.Â Your first pole here at Richmond.Â But just talk about now one race to go before we set The Chase grid tomorrow night.Â The competitor that you are, I know that you\'re going to go after that fourth win and get that No. 1 seed coming out of Richmond.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Yeah, that\'s exactly what we\'re thinking.Â First off, it\'s been a great day so far.Â I don\'t know how many races I ran at Richmond here on the Cup level.Â Probably eight or nine.Â This is by far the best car I\'ve had.Â I feel like we have a really strong shot of winning this weekend.Â So very, very excited about that.Â Everybody says they\'re excited, but when you sit on the pole and you\'re fast at practice, you got a real reason to be excited.
But, like you said, I would like to get that fourth win.Â We got three wins, that\'s a great start to the season, that\'s something we can definitely hang our hat on heading into The Chase, but there\'s five guys right now all tied for first and I think that we\'re all kind of about the same right now.Â It would be nice to put up another win and be kind of the lead dog, so to speak, so I think we certainly have a shot at that.Â A lot left to go.Â Just practice and qualifying here today and we\'re happy with our results, but still very, very hungry and looking forward to tonight or tomorrow night, I should say and keeping our eye on the prize in front of us, but then also as the next few weeks on a develop and unfold, a shot at another championship.
THE MODERATOR:Â Take questions for Brad.
Q.Â You\'ve been asked about the new qualifying format a lot, because obviously you\'re excelling in it, you have four poles this year and you only had three poles in your entire career and you keep saying it\'s fast cars and your team, so I\'ll try to ask it a different way, I guess.Â How many poles do you think you could have gotten this year with your fast cars on your team under the old format?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Probably one or two.Â No matter what format, you still have to be fast, but I think this format certainly putts more strategy into play.Â But the root of all success at the NASCAR level is always having a great team and fast cars.Â That\'s always the root of all success at this level.Â You can have the best pit stops, you can have the most horse power, the best driver, it doesn\'t really matter, those things on the on their own by themselves don\'t win races consistently.Â And don\'t win poles and achieve great success.Â So you have to have great cars.
I think this year Penske has really caught on, we hope that that will be the case for years to come.Â I think the Ford relationship Jeff has really developed and that\'s a big piece of why we\'re excelling to levels that we have never seen before.Â And so, I think there\'s a lot of things happening all at once that you could probably point at each and everyone of them in some way having a factor into our success.Â But the fast cars, that\'s always the root of all success in NASCAR.
Q.Â The start of tomorrow\'s race will probably be close to the weather that you practiced with all day, but the end will be different.Â So what will your team have to do to be able to keep you in competition throughout the entire race?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â I think that trying to understand this tire is just such a huge challenge for all of us and that\'s hard to explain to our fans and to the media, because it\'s such a feel thing.
The tires are literally where the rubber meets the road and where we take 850 to 900 horsepower and try to make it go forward and then try to make it stop and change direction.
So, that\'s a big, big challenge.Â I don\'t know if it really gets truly appreciated what we ask out of a race tire and with that said, small, small changes have significant differences in feel for all of us as drivers.Â And each driver seems to have a specific feel that they excel at, at least the top drivers do.Â And you can have a racetrack that\'s your best track and with a very simple tire change eliminates the potential for your style of driving and thus eliminates your potential for success.Â I think I look at this car and specific to this tire, this tire for us at least using just one weekend as an example, is something that we hit on right away and that fits my style.Â So, trying to keep up with that tire, because the style will probably change again, as the track transitions into night tomorrow.Â Trying to keep up with that will be the biggest challenge and that\'s what we\'ll have to keep working on.
Q.Â First pit stall is significant for any Cup race.Â But tomorrow is a huge race.Â Does it play any more significance tomorrow night?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â I think that the short tracks, the first pit stall is probably bigger than anywhere else.Â The way they lay out, the importance of tires, say you\'re going to pit more here at these type of tracks than any other type of tracks and then the really slow pit road speeds help to make that a bigger difference again.Â So it\'s pretty significant.Â This race almost every year comes down to a 30 or 40 lap sprint at the end, which usually entails pit stops beforehand.Â If you can get that little bit of track position in that pit cycle, that could be the difference between winning and finishing second, third or fourth.
Q.Â Can you talk a little bit about the Roush Yates and how they have played a part in your qualifying this season?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Yeah, I think that our engines have been a rock for us this year.Â I\'m always hesitant to speak about engines at least our own, because it\'s just kind of a one of those things you don\'t talk about or it seems like something happens.Â I don\'t know what you call that.Â Nate probably has a better word for it.Â But it seems like whenever you talk about them, that\'s when something bad happens.Â But so far this year we have had a great year on the engine side and Doug Yates and his team everybody at Roush Yates has done a great job we\'re hoping that continues and there\'s never a guarantee of that, there\'s some areas that we have still to work on, we\'re at a, we\'re where we want to be to have a shot at winning a championship on that front, but we would like to be one step better to be the best out there and certainly from a power standpoint at least we feel like we\'re a step behind the Hendrick engine, but those guys are working on it really hard and I think that they have a lot of strengths that we\'re very proud of and hope to showcase in The Chase here in the next 10 races and even tomorrow night.
Q.Â This kind of goes back to Jeff\'s question.Â Do you find it kind of strange or unusual that two guys who really have never been great qualifiers in their career this season have, are far and above leading the way with poles, you and Kevin or is it sort of not unexpected, given the fact that if you asked most people, they would probably say the two of you rang among the fastest cars each week this year.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Well, it\'s certainly notable.Â There\'s no doubt it\'s notable.
I feel like Kevin would probably tell you the same as I would, that my cars are significantly faster this year in qualifying trim than what they ever have been.
When you combine that with this format, perhaps suiting our style a little bit better, it\'s kind of a double whammy.
I would say Kevin and I are probably not known before this season or were not known before this season as having a large qualifying prowess.Â But this year that hasn\'t been the case and we\'re certainly thankful for that.
But I think it\'s more than just the format.Â I think it\'s two things happening at once.Â The format is certainly helpful.Â It certainly feels more representative of what it takes to be successful in a race week on the race track and in a race pace than what it was in the past, where it seemed to be more of a, hey, just go out there and banzai it and if the car is good, it\'s good and it sticks and if it is not, you don\'t.Â I think with this format you have to be much more calculated, you have to think ahead a lot more and you\'re rewarded for that.
Q.Â Will you look at the lineup and see where guys who need a win are starting and will you pay more attention to them throughout the race, just because of what\'s on the line for them?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â No, I mean, I appreciate what they\'re going through.Â We were in that situation last year, so I can respect it.Â But I think you just got to run your own race at the end of the day and treat them respectfully as you hope they would to you.
I mean, there could always be a situation at the end of the race where one of those guys is behind you and it doesn\'t turn out well and you just know that if that\'s the case, that it will work itself back out later down the road.
So, they know that, too.
Q.Â On your first qualifying run you took a lap, you liked the time, you backed down on your speed and waited for the next round.
At what point do you ‑‑ what\'s your break point, so to speak where you realize, hey, this is good enough to back off?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Yeah, I let Paul and those guys figure that stuff out.Â They certainly have.Â And each weekend is different.Â Especially with different tires.Â This particular tire loses pace significantly on different tracks.Â This particular track in qualifying format takes shade at the end and picks up speed.
So those variables are very difficult to navigate.Â I don\'t feel like I\'m smart enough to navigate all of that while driving the race car at the same time.Â Which is why we have crew chiefs to make those calls and my crew chief does a good job of that.
THE MODERATOR:Â Brad, congratulations on another Coors Light pole and certainly good luck here tomorrow night at Richmond.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports