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July 9, 2016

Walter Czarnecki

Paul Wolfe

Sparta, Kentucky

THE MODERATOR: We're going to hear from our winning crew chief and then also our winning team. We have Walt Czarnecki, he's executive vice president at Team Penske. They racked up their 101st NASCAR Sprit Cup Series win here tonight. I believe last week was 100, two in a row. Brad Keselowski now clinches a spot in the Chase. He's got multiple wins. He's locked in a top 30 spot. He's the first driver to clinch a spot in the Chase.
Walt, I'll start with you. Obviously this organization is really coming together here at the midpoint of the season. Just talk about this win tonight and the significance of it here at Kentucky Speedway.
WALT CZARNECKI: Well, thank you, Kerry. Extremely significant, obviously, coming on the heels of our 100th Cup win last week at Daytona, which was huge, and then today our IndyCar team recorded our 500th pole, Simon Pagenaud at Iowa, so it's been a big day for Team Penske.
Looking back over the last six weeks, the job that Paul and Brad and Joey and Todd and Travis and Mike and all the people who are charged with running this program, it really brought the program together. We felt early on that our cars were good. Brad won the race at Las Vegas, but I think we all realized that maybe the team wasn't executing as best it possibly could, and it was clearly over the last six weeks that situation has changed.
I think we've established ourselves as a contender, but clearly there's a long way to go. We're pretty comfortable. I will say this: I think there's a few more wins left in this team prior to getting to Chicago.
THE MODERATOR: Paul, what a race we had here this weekend. Those cars looked like a handful. Down there towards the end your car obviously looked to be the class of the field, but certainly the fuel mileage was a big issue. Take us through those last few laps and how stressful was that, especially when he comes on the radio and says I believe I'm out?
PAUL WOLFE: Well, it's definitely an emotional roller coaster for sure the last few laps of that race. When we pitted I guess it was with about 70 to go, we knew everyone was a little bit short. I feel like we've been on the good side of the fuel mileage this year. All the guys at Roush Yates have worked hard to give us power and mileage, and that showed up again tonight. But with that being said, we were kind of expecting to see some cautions as we did early in the race, so it wasn't really a big concern, but as the race started getting with 20 to go, then it was time to start making decisions. As you saw some of the guys running fifth, sixth, I think peeled off with maybe 15, 16 to go, and then it was kind of decision time on what do we do because we knew we couldn't make it. We knew we were short. But as we got out there and got the lead in that final run, Brad started saving, and he's one of the best in the business at saving fuel.
So as we got down to 10 to go, it was kind of like, make the call what you want me to do. I kind of know what our strengths are, and that's definitely saving fuel, and I kind of went with that strategy and told him to go and be even to a 10 on a scale of a save mode, and everyone else, I think the 20 ran out and that kind of gave us a big cushion back to the 19. I think it was 10 or 12 seconds, so that really allowed us to start saving.
But it comes down to it, we were out. I mean, we were totally out at the start‑finish line, so it couldn't have timed out any better.
WALT CZARNECKI: If I might interject, I was sitting up there with Paul for that last segment, and this man to my right never lost his composure, stayed focused, never wavered one bit. When he made that decision, that was the decision, and it was really wonderful to watch.

Q. Paul, from your position as a crew chief, can you tell us what you saw, what impact if any the lower downforce package had on the race?
PAUL WOLFE: It had a big impact. There was a lot of factors this weekend with it being a repaved track, the first race on the track. It's always a challenge for Goodyear and NASCAR to figure out what tire combination to bring, and these repaved tracks tend to build a lot of heat in the tire so you've got to build something with some durability. It's always a challenge to get that balance. Sometimes that leads to the cars not driving as good as maybe some may like, but ultimately we got the best drivers in the business in this garage.
I think we saw some guys lose it tonight, but I think the cars are tough to drive and a challenge, and I think that's what separates the guys that can rise to the occasion and the ones that can't.

Q. Paul, he finishes out of gas, he wins by less than two tenths of a second. Can you kind of walk us through the last lap and when you were able to exhale?
PAUL WOLFE: Well, like I said, I felt good about it until the 19 closed up to us, and when he first said he felt like it stumbled, that was about with two to go. Typically we feel like you usually can get maybe a lap and a half when you feel it first stumble as much as he was saving. So I still felt pretty good about it, until he said with one to go, I'm out, I'm out again, and the 19 had closed up within two car lengths. We got into Turn 1, he said it picked up fuel again, he able to go, and I think he said it shut off a little bit down the back. As he got into the corner again it picked up, and then once we were coming off 4 I seen he was still under power, and I felt like we had it at that point.

Q. Walt, you guys have won all three races with the low downforce car. Can you talk about the diligence and the work of the guys back in the shop to pull this all together?
WALTER CZARNECKI: I really hadn't thought about that, but I think, again, it's a testimony to the adaptability and the talent of the people that work on these cars at Mooresville. They're prepared. One of the things I think the hallmark of our team has been for many years, not just this year, we want to come to the racetrack prepared with the best possible equipment. So I was at the shop on Wednesday and I was watching the work that was going on, for example, on the cars that we're going to be taking to New Hampshire next week. There's total focus, total concentration. My hats off to the people back there, Roy McCauley and the whole team that put these cars together.

Q. Is Joey all right? Have you guys talked to Joey? Is he physically okay, just battered and bruised?
WALT CZARNECKI: I haven't had a chance to talk to him. I didn't see him afterward, so I really can't answer your question, sorry. I hope he's okay.

Q. Paul, Carl Edwards after the deal said that‑‑ his comment was, yeah, I thought he was out of fuel and he wasn't. He played it perfectly, he let me get to him and then stood on it. Two laps before, even before he took the white, he was saying he was out of gas, Joey was laughing on the radio, and basically nursed it the final two laps. Can you comment on Edwards' comment, please?
PAUL WOLFE: Well, I don't‑‑ Brad did a great job saving. I don't know that there was any plan to just finish whatever it was, a car length in front of Carl. But when he said he was out, he was out. Like I said, typically the car will still pick up fuel for a lap and a half there. Honestly when Carl closed up to us going down the back, I thought he was going to go around us. I haven't heard for sure, but I'm assuming he was probably in the same situation as us where he was starting to stumble a little bit.
Like I said, when I made the call to go into full fuel save, it was really just the confidence I had in Brad through that whole 70‑lap run that he does such a good job with saving fuel when we need to that I had confidence enough that, you know what, I think we can pull it off this way. Our chances are pretty good, and kind of rolled with it. I knew it was going to be close, but that's what ultimately made it so exciting at the end.

Q. Paul, you had mentioned that it always seems like Brad, when it comes to races like this, manages to stretch the fuel out. Is that like a trade secret or does he just have an instinct for it, or what is it?
PAUL WOLFE: I'm not really sure if it's any secrets. I think everyone knows he's good at it now, but there's nothing‑‑ I don't know, he's just able to‑‑ the key to it is being able to keep speed and save fuel at the same time, and he's able to balance that out really well, not losing much lap time while saving fuel. Just the techniques and how he uses the brake and the gas, and he's just really been good at it. It kind of showed up more, I think, when we still had the carburetors and all that. It's harder to save as much with EFI now as what we could back when we first started. But it still works. I mean, he's still able to do it. It could just be his driving style in general works really well when you need to save fuel.
When it comes to thinking in the car, Brad is really good. He's really intelligent and thinks a lot about what's going on and is able to react and stay calm. I think that's key in situations like that is being able to stay calm and stay focused, and that's definitely one of Brad's strengths.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, gentlemen, on this win here tonight. Certainly you began the second half of the season in fine form, and good luck in New Hampshire.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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