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November 8, 2015
Fort Worth, Texas
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our post‑race press conference. We're joined by Brad Keselowski, finishing runner‑up in today's race.
You led 312 laps, Brad. You're now sixth in the Chase. Talk about the last laps as Jimmie made that move up to the front.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, it was a good race at the end. We led a lot of laps. A lot to be proud of. Came up one spot short, which is unfortunate. But still we had a great day. Just one step short of having the awesome day we needed to have.
But we know if we keep running like we have the last two weeks, you know, we'll win races. We need to win the next two. I understand that. But I think we have a great opportunity to do it, as well.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Brad.
Q. You looked strong up until the very final pit stop. Did you all make any major changes at that final pit stop?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: You know, I'm not sure. I have to ask my crew chief on that.
Yeah, we had a great day. I thought we were definitely the fastest till that run for sure.
Q. Obviously there's clear disappointment. Do you think you could have done anything different to hold off Jimmie or was he too fast?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I'm sure we could have done something different. I don't know if I could have, but we could have. We'll have to go to work and try to figure it out.
Q. The way the points are situated now for you and Joey, it's pretty much one or the other at Phoenix. Is that going to make it tougher? Does this make this hard to swallow?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I don't know. I haven't really had enough time to look at that to digest it.
Certainly we'd like to get both cars in at Phoenix. I don't think that's impossible, but it doesn't look favorable. We'll go there and do our best to make it happen.
Q. Considering what's happened over the last three weeks, what was your philosophy as far as how much contact you can have with people in those last few laps?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't think I changed any concerning the last few weeks. It was pretty clear before and remains clear, that you can race hard for a win, make contact that's reasonable, kind of prudent for the situation.
I don't feel like that's changed.
Q. You were so dominant most of today. If you are able to advance to Homestead, do you feel confident about that?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, exactly. As strong as we ran today, if we carry that over to Homestead, good Lord, watch out. We know we need to win the next two to win the championship. The good news is we have that opportunity. That's the way I look at it.
Q. You and the 78 barely touched there when you were racing late. Did that have any impact on the rest of the race for you?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know. It certainly is never helpful when you make contact with another car, your own car or theirs. As far as whether it hurt my car or not, I couldn't answer that.
Q. Do you feel like you've kind of lost this one, that you let it slip away?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I'm not sure exactly how to feel about it at the moment.
The 48 car had so much speed them last 10 laps. As I sit right now, maybe I'll change my mind. I don't know what I would have done differently or could have done differently.
Q. Does that change your level of disappointment?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Certainly, yeah. I mean, there's always something you can do better. But not knowing what that might be at this moment makes it a little bit easier to digest.
Q. When your teammate Joey Logano had his tire problem early in the race, were you maybe getting nervous or afraid similar things could happen to you?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Sure.
Q. Did you also speak to your colleagues from the 22 car?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: The second question I would defer to Paul because I didn't speak to anyone on the 22 team about it. I haven't had an opportunity.
The first one, certainly, when you see your teammate have an issue, not just my teammate, sounded like there were three or four other cars that had an issue, you know the faster you go the higher the odds are you're going to have that problem as well.
It certainly was on our mind all day.
Q. It looked like you had a pretty clean race as far as no tire issues. Pit stops were pretty clean with the exception of the last one. Talk about how proud you are of your crew. Got you almost to the end.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, we had damn near a flawless day. Great pit stops, fast car in qualifying. Never ran a lap in race trim, and the car was just flying in the race.
My team I feel like did an excellent job all day long and has a ton to be proud of.
THE MODERATOR: Brad, thank you very much.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Thanks, guys.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Kyle Busch, finishing fourth in tonight's race.
You're second in the Chase standings. Talk about your run, momentum heading towards Phoenix.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it was a really good day for us. Obviously just being able to run our own race and to perform the way we did, I felt like it was pretty good. I wish we had a little bit faster car on the short runs for sure. I think that was kind of where we lost most of our time here today.
Once things got single filed out, spread out, our car was a little better on the long runs. At least we did have some speed in our car on one side of the run where we could make up some ground and maintain our position on the racetrack.
Can't say enough on Adam Stevens, everyone on the team did a great job. Our Toyota Camry was awesome. TRD did a great job with the engines. Look forward to Phoenix next week, maintaining our position. If we can go out there and win, sure, we'd love to win.
Right now it's not a must‑win situation for us like it is some other guys. We might see some fireworks, who knows. All in all, couldn't be more pleased with the position we got right now.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Kyle.
Q. From a mental standpoint, did you kind of cheer when Jimmie Johnson was able to take the lead, and that definitely hurt Keselowski and his run?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, there's no denying that certainly us as the 18 car cheering for the 48 helps our situation. It makes those guys that are in dire need of a win to have to work hard for it. Sometimes you can't put yourself in that situation.
It may or may not have been his own doing last week at Martinsville. It's unfortunate for Brad. I've been in that situation before, maybe never to that magnitude of losing a race quite like that. I've lost plenty of them that way for sure, and probably even a couple of them to Superman.
It's frustrating I'm sure for Brad. For what we got going, to focus on the 18 car, it was a good thing for us today.
Q. With the points situation entering Phoenix with Jimmie winning, that opens up another position at Homestead. Harvick has been so dominant at Phoenix recently, how do you and other guys in that points window look at this? Is it a winnable race still?
KYLE BUSCH: I do not think it's a winnable race until Kevin Harvick gets beat. He's shown that he's certainly go the stranglehold on the Phoenix racetrack. Ever since the repave, the Joe Gibbs cars, we haven't been the same as we were quite before it. It's kind of hurt us a little bit.
For Harvick, whatever he's figured out there, with RCR he won a couple times, now with Stewart Haas, he's got the stranglehold on that track.
We look at the points situation and guarantee Harvick winning that race. Then you have to figure out who you're racing after that to know what you have to do in order to point your way through.
If we can go out there and win the race, then we will. As far as we're concerned, that's how we look at it.
Q. Do you feel the Gibbs cars are better than you were?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it was a bit of a struggle last fall there. I think Kenseth ran 20th. That's what eliminated him out of the Chase. Denny ran 10th or whatever. He had a good enough position that he was able to finish good and transfer through to Homestead.
So Kenseth tested for us out there a few weeks back. I'm looking forward to what he's worked out for us, getting there and making some laps and hopefully having a good racecar.
Q. How bad was your tire when you came in before the green flag cycle came in?
KYLE BUSCH: I'm not sure exactly how bad it was. Just from it rolling across the front of my car, looking at it, it looked like it had about eight spirals. So the inside half of the tire looked like it was starting to spiral out. So it wasn't good (smiling).
Q. Any concerns about any points from the splitter issue this morning?
KYLE BUSCH: No, I don't think so. I mean, we've seen splitter issues change before. The Penske cars had theirs changed once. I think a Hendrick car or something like that earlier this year. I don't foresee there being any penalties from NASCAR on that. But anything's possible. I could be wrong. I have no idea what the infraction was or what they were upset about.
But we changed it and apparently met their expectations after we changed it and were able to go out there and race today.
Q. Looking at your position in the Chase, you're in second place, a pretty comfortable position, how much will that go into your strategy next week in Phoenix?
KYLE BUSCH: It will go into our strategy a little bit. If we're running 5th to 10th, that's what we need to do, that's what we need to do. If we're running 15th, there's a guy behind us that if he passes us he's going to knock himself in and us out, you're going to have a heck of a lot harder race on your hands.
We just don't need to run like that. We need to go out there and perform, do what we've done that round, and that's to finish top five each race. If we can top five it next week, that's going to help our situation and roll us right on to Homestead.
In a perfect world, we'll sit on the pole, win the race, and take a win on into Homestead with some good momentum and look like a real contender.
Q. Talk about Erik Jones' day today. Did you coach him through anything? He ran well all day, finished 12th.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I never really got a chance to talk to him a whole lot about the triple. I felt like he obviously has got a good head on his shoulders, knew what he needed, felt like he knew what he needed. He didn't really ask a whole lot of questions.
He hasn't been racing for a long time, but yet he's pretty mature behind the wheel, for sure. He did a really good job this weekend. Winning the Truck Series race, that was really good for us, KBM, his chances for a championship. Yesterday he ran top five, had a solid effort there in the XFINITY race.
I never saw him today. I saw him a couple times restarting right next to me, but after that I never saw him. He was behind us a little bit. But finishing 12th, that's pretty good.
Q. You've been real good in the third race of each of the previous two rounds. Does that add anything to your mindset going into Phoenix, knowing you've been able to answer the bell?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, maybe it does. But I think the Phoenix situation is going to be entirely different than Dover. The racetrack is entirely different. Talladega, the racetrack is entirely different.
We just go out there, like I said before. We just got to do what we know how to do, and that's to run top five. If we unload with a good piece, have a solid day, end up there, then that's all we need to do. We'll take it.
Q. We're two races away from the end of Jeff Gordon's career. Do you remember the first time you raced against him? What's your favorite memory?
KYLE BUSCH: First time I raced against him was my rookie year, Daytona 500 obviously. I think if I remember right I started right behind him in the Daytona 500. I think he won that one. That was one that he won.
He's been a huge icon to this sport. Obviously he's done a lot of good things to this sport and brought it to the notoriety that it is today. Without him, we certainly would be in a different position.
But it's disappointing to see him go. It's almost heartbreaking, I guess, for some. Others, you know, there's a bright light on the other side of the door with Chase Elliott. We'll see how Homestead goes for him. If he can pull off a championship, really go out with a Cinderella story.
Q. Do you have a favorite memory?
KYLE BUSCH: It's a long story. I do. I've got a few. It's a long story. I don't have all day. Let's go. I got to go home (smiling).
Q. Considering how you started the season, would you express how it feels to be sitting where you are right now?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, a lot of adversity for myself in the beginning of the year, my family, my wife especially. Things have certainly turned on for the better. We've been doing some really good things. Mid‑summer being able to win three races in a row, four out of five races, that turned our season around right there. We were able to perform and get ourselves Chase eligible. To NASCAR's rules, we did everything we needed to do. We're in the position we're in because of that, because of this different Chase format.
We barely made it in. Kind of last guy in. We were the last guy through the first round. We were the last guy through the second round. Doesn't matter if we're the last guy through the third round. As long as you're a guy through, you're fine, you got that opportunity to go race Homestead and race for a championship.
I'm thankful for everything that has happened, although some of it was pretty bad. It certainly has put us in a good spot right now. Couldn't be more pleased with Joe Gibbs Racing, my team, everyone, Joe, all my supporters there at the company, and of course Adam Stevens there, too. The year he had to start off with, with no driver, I'm sure was hard on him. He's really pulled through, kept the team together. Everyone has been really pulling in the right direction to make sure we've had a strong fight this year and we'll continue to do so next weekend and Homestead.
Q. How gratifying is it for you knowing what you've overcome this season to be one race away from the championship four?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, it's certainly a dream come true. I never would have expected we'd be in this position, let alone when this first accident happened, I was thinking to myself, Man, I'm done. Literally, the thing that flashed through my mind is, Man, I'm going to have to go lay decals again. That's what I did before I raced.
Fortunately things worked out. I had a great medical staff, therapist, wife, who just kept digging on me and making sure that I did all I needed to do to get going.
I've said it before, I'll say it again. The script's written. I think there's two scripts written, it's just which one's going to come true. Jeff Gordon certainly has one. I feel like we have one, as well, too, with this 18 car.
Hopefully it's our Cinderella story that can end the season on the 18.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, thanks very much. Congratulations.
KYLE BUSCH: Thank you. You got it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports