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March 22, 2015
THE MODERATOR:Â We're going to continue with our post race media availability.Â We've been joined by our race winning team, with driver Brad Keselowski.Â We're also joined by crew chief Paul Wolfe and team owner Roger Penske.
Brad, you only led one lap today, but it's safe to say you led the most important lap.Â You tweeted this morning you felt this could be the day you ended the curse that you've previously had here.Â Talk a little bit about your run and being able to take home the victory.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Yeah, it was really an up‑and‑down day, for sure.Â But as a team, Paul, the guys on pit road, just kept fighting.
At the end we caught some breaks, made the most of the breaks we caught.Â That was kind of the story of our race.
It looked like we were probably going to finish sixth or seventh.Â That yellow came out.Â We came in and pitted and drove up a little bit, then caught another yellow.Â Now what do we do?
So Paul made the call to come down pit road and put four tires on.Â When he said that, I said, This can either go really good or really bad.Â Didn't know which one it was going to be.Â Some guys stayed out, some guys took two tires, all different types of strategies on the restart.
We were able to find our way through the lanes and get to the front there, somehow end up in Victory Lane leading the last lap.Â Kind of a racecar driver's dream.Â This is one we're going to sit back and go 'wow' for a while.
THE MODERATOR:Â Paul, with this win, you've officially punched your ticket into the Chase.Â Talk a little bit about what that means for the team at this point in the season.
PAUL WOLFE:Â Obviously it was a big win for us today.Â I think as you look at the new format, how you win, you're into the Chase, that was partly on my mind when I made the call today.
To Brad's point, we were a sixth‑ or seventh‑place car, it seemed like there.Â We had runs where we were a little better, runs when we weren't.
When I heard guys were going for two tires, I told Brad over the radio, If we're going to win this thing, I think we're going to need four.Â I didn't feel we were going to be able to pass those guys on equal tires.Â At that point, it's like, Let's go for the win.
It's one thing to have the four tires and have the grip, but Brad did a great job of executing the passes, making the holes, and taking the opportunity to make use of the tires.
It's a great day.Â Means a lot to us.Â We've been off a little bit on speed this year.Â We know we need to be better.Â To get this win this early is huge for us.
Now it gives us a little opportunity to maybe do some things out of our comfort zone and see if we can find a little more speed, you know, be able to lead more laps and run up front like we want to do.
THE MODERATOR:Â Roger, five races into the season you now have both Brad and Joey locked into the Chase.Â Talk a little bit about the momentum that Team Penske has right now.
ROGER PENSKE:Â Well, to have both cars in the Chase is exceptional.Â I think last year we had that opportunity to get in early.Â It certainly paid off as we got through the season.Â We can do other things as we try to explore the outer boundaries.
Today was special for me.Â This was a track built back in '97 was the first time we had a race here.Â Haven't won a race here in NASCAR since 2002 with Rusty.Â It was in the 2 car.
The drive that Brad did was amazing.Â To see him, he was cool all day.Â We made some changes on the car.Â We were up, we were down, as Paul said.Â At the end of the day, as Paul said, I thought he was going to take the lead a little earlier.Â He had a short run speed car there that he could get around the 27.Â It was all over then.Â To me, Paul, it was a great call.
Great in the pits today, which you need to be because of competition.Â Still we're chasing the 4 car.Â As you know, he's been awful hot.Â To me, two cars in the Chase at this time, I think we're going in the right direction.
THE MODERATOR:Â We'll take questions.
Q.Â Brad, did you see the piece of debris on the lap 200 caution when it looked like Busch was a quarter of a lap from victory?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â I don't remember how the race finished let alone debris.Â There were a lot of things being thrown at me.Â I'm sorry.Â My short‑term memory is not that strong.
Which yellow?Â Lap 200?
Q.Â Lap 200.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Was that the rear bumper?
PAUL WOLFE:Â When we came down and took four.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â I can't remember those things.Â I'm sorry.Â I was focused on do we pit, not pit.Â Paul was saying engine temperatures, how to make the car turn.
When the yellow comes out in these races, as a driver, you can't sit and fret about what the yellow's for.Â You got to make a real‑time decision that's going to really dictate your fate to win or lose a race.Â So, I'm sorry, I don't waste brain space on trying to figure that out because it kind of is what it is.Â I honestly don't remember.
Q.Â Paul, did you hear anything about it?
PAUL WOLFE:Â We hear them talking about it on the radio.Â But I personally didn't see it.Â Don't know.
They call it on the scanners.Â We can hear guys looking for debris.Â I didn't see it.
Q.Â Brad, you've been doing this long enough to see how races can quickly change.Â Here you were with probably not a winning car late in the race, laps from the finish, one debris caution comes out, then the series of events happens, next thing you know you're right here.Â Do you ever shake your head, Man, I can't believe this?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â I kind of am right now.Â There's a lot going on, trying to put it all in perspective.
When you win today, you temper that with the knowledge you're going to lose one like this.Â You're going to have a dominant car one day, and there's going to come a sequence of fluke events that's going to cost you a win.Â You're going to look around and go, How did I lose?Â You're going to be really angry.
The only thing you can do is be really happy when you win like today to kind of offset that.Â That's how racing goes.
Q.Â Brad, I think you were 17th on that restart, lap 200.Â Are you going to look back and wonder how did you win this?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Absolutely.Â We went from 17th to sixth in one turn.Â When the yellow came out, the bumper, I was kind of mad because I felt like I had a big run and I felt like I could get up to maybe second or third.Â I really hadn't kind of reset.
Paul said it to me probably a lap later, No, this is actually really good, to grip you back up, maybe win the race.
I was like, Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
He kept me calm on that one.Â I knew we had a shot of a better day than what we were going to have when we cleared all those cars in one and two on the first restart.
So, you know, you don't know how these things are going to work out.Â Sometimes you can restart fifth or sixth with four tires, you know, get caught up behind someone who doesn't have tires, end up 10th.Â You just don't know.Â It's picking the right lane and hoping that it comes together.Â For us it did at the end.
Q.Â Paul, when Roger talked a minute ago about how the system works, you can do some things out of the box now that you know you're in the Chase, could you elaborate a little bit on how you strategize the rest of the season, how that can change by the flexibility that comes with winning a race.
PAUL WOLFE:Â Sure.Â As you look at history, we always keep a good log of different setups or things we've done in the past at different tracks.Â That's kind of how we base how we unload each weekend and work from there from a setup standpoint.
There's times when you feel like you may have tried something in practice that may be faster.Â But you know you need to have just a good, solid day.Â So you're afraid sometimes to maybe veer off from your comfort zone to try a setup or something like that that may be, you know, different for you.
So with that being said, there's less risk, I guess, with trying something like that from a setup standpoint.Â Then even from the engine side, I know Roush‑Yates is working very hard to continue to push to find us more power and things like that.
Obviously we don't want to have engine troubles or drop out of a race because of it.Â If that happens because we're trying to be better and make our stuff better so when it gets down to the Chase, where it really counts, we're willing to take that risk.
We'll continue to push.Â Like I said, getting this win early will allow us to do some of those things maybe we wouldn't have done if we didn't get that today.
Q.Â Brad, does it change anything about the way you approach your job knowing that you're in?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Yeah.Â I mean, I don't have to answer the questions from everybody about being nervous about making the Chase for the next few months.Â I think that puts you in a really great spot mentally to focus on the task at hand, which is still going out there and trying to win each and every week, even though you are locked in the Chase.
But I think it eliminates a lot of outside distractions, allows you to put your most aggressive foot forward.
Q.Â Paul, I think it's fair to say that maybe the key for Brad's win was the change of all four tires.Â How was the tire wear before you changed the tires?Â Can you maybe give some explanation, how long does a NASCAR Goodyear tire need to build up the perfect grip and temperature here?
PAUL WOLFE:Â I think to answer your question there, you know, the surface here I think was repaved in '97 or something is what I saw.Â So it's one of the oldest surfaces on the circuit right now.
Once you get one heat cycle on the tires, one lap, new tires are worth quite a bit.Â I knew at that point, had like 10 laps on the tires, which is quite a ways, a quarter of a way through a run here at this track.
The other part that goes into the decision to take four is just knowing how many lanes and how much of the racetrack you can use.Â It's one thing if it's a narrow track and there's not multiple lanes to move from 18th or wherever we were to sixth in one lap shows that.
All those things went into, you know, the decision that was made to do four, as well as not being afraid to do something different than what the rest of the field is.
Tires are worth a lot here.Â Once you've put one lap or one heat cycle on them, you're pretty much looking to put new tires on and pick up quite a bit of grip.
Q.Â There was so much happening in the last few laps.Â Put us in the car and tell us exactly what you saw and did.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â It's hard for me to really run you all through it.Â I almost need to see the replay because I feel like when you are in moments like the end of a race, as a racecar driver, and you have the goal so clearly in front of you, you become so focused, and I've said this before, that you turn kind of the memory function of your brain off, and you use every bit of brain power that you have to focus on the task ahead.
For me, that was knowing I had a car with newer tires that were stronger and faster, and if I picked the right lanes, if I read the cars in front of me just right, that I would pass them and win the race for our team.
So I think when you hit that spot mentally, you can't remember those things.Â I also don't remember the end of the race.Â I won't jog my mind until I watch it on replay because I was so focused on the task at hand, trying to win the race, knowing the car and the opportunity that I had in front of me, wanting to make the most of it.
Q.Â Roger, after Will winning the IndyCar championship last year, you have your two drivers in the Chase before the end of March, might we be seeing the greatest start to a Roger Penske season ever?
ROGER PENSKE:Â I think we have to look at what's ahead of us.Â Certainly the goals are to win races.Â I think we have a team and sponsors.Â The question was asked, How important is it to win early?Â I think for our sponsors, it's dynamic really when you think about the support that they get when we have success, and also what it does for the team.
To me, winning Daytona was a great kickoff for overall our Team Penske.Â Certainly as we start at St.Pete next week is going to be critical.
The fastest lap of the race was run by Brad on the last lap.Â So we had speed in the car, Paul.Â I saw how good he was on one of the restarts.Â I think at the end of the day this is a game of knowing how to use your clubs.Â There's no question that Brad knows how to do that.Â He's delivered for us before.Â We know the competition is tough.Â To think that we have this kind of a kickoff for the team is a tremendous opportunity.
But I don't know how many more races I got to go to, probably about 40, then we'll find out what the answer is (smiling).
Q.Â You've talked a lot about mentally, Brad, at the end of the race.Â Go back to the middle of the race, 80 or 90 to go, when you think you have a 10th place car.Â How do you keep yourself grinding along knowing this could happen at the end, not get down on yourself?Â Paul, do you have a role in keeping him in that mode?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â I think, first of all, this is a team that's done this before, won races.Â We've won a championship together.Â With that comes a lot of confidence and a lot of trust.Â You know these races are 400 miles, not 200 miles.Â You want to make the most of that.
That means you can't give up and you got to keep working on your car, you got to keep working on your day to make the most of it.
With that knowledge in mind, I think you can find a spot mentally to keep going and to keep working.Â You just hope for a little bit of a break along with that.Â We did both today.Â That's what got us to Victory Lane.
Q.Â Brad, you've had miserable luck here in the past.Â Did you ever wonder if you'd at least get a podium?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Didn't I tell you, Paul, we were due for some good luck here?Â We've had some really bad luck here and today we had some pretty good luck.Â It all equals out over time I guess.
The last two years here we've had great racecars and just everything kind of fell apart on us at the end.Â You're left looking around saying, How did that happen?
Today we're looking and saying, How did that happen?Â But in a good way.Â That's how it works sometimes.Â I'm not really sure I know why.Â Maybe there's a life lesson in there, why you stick to something, and you have to believe in everybody around you.
Q.Â Coming up next week we have short‑track racing.Â How do you feel about going from a superspeedway to a short track?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â How do I feel about it?Â I think the Sprint Cup Series, specifically NASCAR in general, competes on four different genres of tracks.Â You have your superspeedways, your short tracks, your mile‑and‑a‑half's and your road courses.Â Each one of them is a different challenge.
As I explain sometimes to our fans, it would be like if you were an NFL player and you said, Peyton Manning, you're a good quarterback, why don't you line up at tight end this play, then the next one, Why don't you line up as halfback.Â The skill set for each one of those tracks is so different.Â That's what makes our sport very unique from others, is that universal skill set that it requires to be an elite driver.Â If you're a great restrictor plate track driver, that's good, but that's not going to win you a championship.Â You've got to be good on all different types of tracks.
For me, personally I embrace the challenge.Â I embrace knowing next week we're going to have to go to a track that's almost as completely opposite as you can be from this race, and in a few more weeks we're going to go to another road course here in Sonoma in California that's going to be even different again, as far away as you can be different.
I embrace that challenge.Â It's good for the sport.Â It shows why these are the best teams and drivers for any sport really in the world, so I think it's a good thing.
THE MODERATOR:Â Roger, Brad, Paul, congratulations on your victory this afternoon and good luck next week in Martinsville.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports