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November 12, 2017

Kyle Busch

Brad Keselowski

Martin Truex, Jr.

Avondale, Arizona

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the remaining three Championship 4 contenders who will race for the title in Miami next week. We have Brad Keselowski, driver of the No.2 Miller Lite Ford; Kyle Busch, driver of the No.18 M&M's Caramel Toyota, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No.78 Auto Owners Insurance Toyota. Brad, we'll start with you; talk about what it means to race for the championship next week in Miami.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: All right, yeah, just feel glad to make it through today, you know, and have a shot next week. You never know how these things are going to play out. Certainly would be a stretch by any means by how we ran today to say we're the favorite, but we are glad to be there, and you never know how those races are going to shake out. On to next week.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, today was not the prettiest of efforts on behalf of the 18 M&M's Caramel team, but overall we fought through it and did a good job of being able to get back in the pack, come back up through and salvage a decent day. Unfortunately for last week, we didn't have luck on our side, we had two flat tires while under caution, and that set us behind, and of course today we just kind of weren't all that great, so we were kind of behind today, as well, too.
But these two don't necessarily matter. Since we won at Martinsville we've had an opportunity to kind of focus forward, if you will, so hopefully that will go well for us and we can get some solace out of these two weeks next week.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, definitely excited about the position we're in, to go to Homestead. Feel like we've got a lot of momentum, we've got a lot of consistency in our team, and doing all the right things right now. Excited for Homestead, and hopefully go down there and get our first championship. Ready to go.

Q. With all you guys being so young, you can't understand what it must be like for Matt not leaving on his own terms; what do you think today getting the win and not just going out with a whimper means to him?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I think it's really cool to see. I was really excited for him when he got the checkered flag. Like I was kind of cheering for him a little bit because I couldn't catch him, so I'm like, I'll go get‑‑ I was hoping he'd get the 24.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: You think you were cheering?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I know Brad was cheering a lot, but he's such a good guy and he's done so much for the sport, and he's an awesome guy to be around, and just I know this year has been really tough on him. You can just see it, and you can tell when you talk to him. To see him win that race was amazing. To see him on his roof out there excited, I mean, you could see the excitement.
Definitely well deserved. He's worked hard this year, had a lot of crappy luck, and definitely good to see.
KYLE BUSCH: I echo everything Martin said. Being his teammate for the last few years and having the respect for him and everything that we've had out on the racetrack for as long as we've raced together, we've been able to never put a door to each other, so it's been awesome to have that and as him as a teammate to work together the last few years, like Martin said, he's been really down and frustrated and trying to figure out this season and what it's all about, to try to go out there and try to win in his final season, not‑on‑his‑own‑terms final season. I just think that was a huge opportunity for him.
I think it shows that there's no reason why he couldn't have gotten a job anywhere else. It's just I guess the industry didn't see Matt Kenseth as their driver, and that's really, really unfortunate because I love the guy and have raced with respect for him for a long, long time and will forever respect him for what he's done for the sport.

Q. Brad, I asked Paul Wolfe if he felt lucky, and he said he believes in karma and he felt like things were taken away from you guys at Martinsville and kind of got the result today. Do you feel the same?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know. I'm a big subscriber that it takes speed, execution and luck to win, and I think we probably had some really solid execution last week in Texas, great speed at Martinsville and luck today. You know, if you put all three of them together on any given day, you can win, and we haven't done that in this round, but we had one of each in all three races, and that put us in position to be here.
You know, I don't know. I mean, the karma word sure does seem to get thrown around a lot, and I'm not sure what the hell it means, but the reality is that this year we made it through this round, and I'm thankful for that, and hopeful that we can make it count next weekend.

Q. Brad, what was going through your head? You joked about pulling for Matt, but really what was going through your head when Chase was leading and you were out there knowing that that was your shot to make it to Homestead?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, this is such an aero track, I didn't think anybody would be able to run him down. Chase was pretty fast, and the track itself was kind of one groove. I think a couple times it moved up on super long runs, but it wasn't a super long run there at the end. There was only 25, 30 laps. I thought quite honestly that the race was over and that Chase was going to win. I still don't know what happened that Matt passed him. I was pretty busy with my own race. But I kind of thought it was over and that the 24 was going to win.

Q. Brad, your teammate has been in the Championship 4 this elimination style at Homestead a couple times. Do you feel like it's a disadvantage that you haven't been in this style of format at Homestead yet, or do you feel like you know‑‑
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know. I hadn't really thought about that. I'm still hot and sweaty from Phoenix. I think I'm just glad to be in it, and we'll have a great opportunity. I'm thankful for that. I'd like to be in it and probably have come off a couple races where we were the fastest car. That sure would make you feel good.
But where we're at and the way these formats go and single race like this, you just don't know what's going to happen. I mean, it's one race to determine a championship, and anything can happen. Shoot, anything happened today, not that there wasn't as much on the line, but it certainly wasn't the championship. You have no idea what's going to happen next week, and I think it's easy to read too much into it. It's easy to read not enough into it, and at the end of the day, I'm just going to get in the race car and drive it.

Q. After you won Talladega you said Martinsville you pretty much had to win because you were down on speed. Then after Martinsville you said that was pretty much our chance maybe. You come in here and maybe don't have the best weekend, it's not looking good, and then you make it. Are you in some disbelief right now or are you stunned at all?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, absolutely. Just sometimes things happen that you just don't understand why for good and for bad. You know, this year for us‑‑ obviously it wasn't for Denny or for Chase, it was good for us. I don't know. I don't know why things opened up this way. I don't know why in the past two or three years the doors have closed in strange ways where two of the last‑‑ really the last three years we've broken parts that should never break and been eliminated out of this whole format with much faster cars than we've had this year.
Who's to say? It's just part of the ebbs and flows and how racing smiles on you and frowns on you at times.

Q. Kyle, what have the last two races been like knowing that you're in? Has it been stressful at all, and was it strange?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, if we play it as though we weren't already in with the win, yeah, it was stressful. But thankfully you can kind of just throw that out with the opportunity that we had because we won at Martinsville with looking at our last two races and seeing that we had speed. Unfortunately we had a flat before we even took off in Texas and we started the race essentially two laps down, and then we were able to finally come back, but the damage to our car was too much to overcome there with restarting in the pack and with the field and with the fast guys. We just didn't have the speed to keep up with them. But we were fast by ourselves all alone.
And then this week we just missed it for some reason. I thought we were really good in practice, and then in the race today we weren't even close. I'm not sure what happened, but overall it was nice to not have to worry about it too much. Like today I was thinking to myself, I'm like, man, we are falling back, falling back, falling back. Like if we were in position to win, we were certainly not doing a good job of executing today, and then we were able to come back and get a seventh. You know, it really didn't matter because we were through, so where the points would have been if we would have finished second at Martinsville, who knows.

Q. Martin, your other three competitors for Homestead all have championships behind their name. You don't‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: That means it's my turn.

Q. That's what I was going to ask. How are you going to handle that pressure?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don't think it's any extra pressure at all. I mean, I think it's‑‑ I have a lot of respect for all three of these guys. Two of them were in the Final Four when I made it in 2015. Definitely have a little bit of experience in this position, but you know, honestly just excited about the opportunity. I feel like we're in a whole lot better spot as a team than we were the first time we had a shot at it, and we're going to go out there and just do the best job we can do.
I've got a lot of confidence in our team right now and what we're doing, and I think today was a perfect example of that for us, so just keep doing what we're doing, go down to Miami and just have fun and do what we know how to do. Do the best job we possibly can and hopefully come out on top.

Q. Have you talked to Barney recently‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I talked to him a few times this week.

Q. How is he doing, and is it possible he might get a reprieve for next Sunday?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: He's doing good. He said he was not going to come to Homestead. I guess he already knows that‑‑ I don't know if they don't want him to travel or‑‑ obviously he has to get on a plane to go to Homestead. It's a long way. But he's doing‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: He could start driving now, I guess. But no, he's doing really well. I've talked to him a few times. He actually got to go home Friday, so he is at home relaxing, and I'm sure I'll hear from him after the race here I'll probably talk to him and see how he's doing. But he's in good spirits, and he said he's got very strong veins and a lot of determination and said he'll be back soon. He's excited about what we're doing, and he's glad the doctors found what was going on, and I think he'll be feeling a whole lot better going forward, which is always great.

Q. Can you imagine your life without him in it? I don't mean that in the bad sense, I mean with the opportunity that he gave you and where you're at now, fighting for a championship next weekend?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I mean, it would certainly be a lot different, I'm sure, the story for me and my career would be a lot different if it wasn't for him and his team and what he's built. Just so proud of what he's done and so proud to be a part of his team, and I feel like we've come so far together in just four years. It's really amazing. Just thankful and glad he's healthy and healing up, and he's going to be able to join us again at the racetrack pretty soon.

Q. Martin, is it a bummer that Barney has got this opportunity and he can't be there next week?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It's definitely a bummer. He thinks sometimes‑‑ for a long time he thought he was bad luck because we only won when he was not here. So if we do win it next weekend and he's not there, he may never show up again.
In all honesty, we definitely wish he was there, but he'll be there in spirit. He's a huge part of this team, and everybody has got him on their mind as the weekend goes on, as we're doing our jobs, and we know we wouldn't be here without him. He means a ton to us, and we're going to try to go get this one for him.

Q. Harvick was in here before you guys, and he said all the pressure is on you because you've been the best car‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: That sounds like Harvick.

Q. Is he just trying to stir it up‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don't know, but it doesn't work on me. If I'm the favorite, perfect, I like that. I think it's a better position to be in. I was the underdog before and I finished fourth, so yeah, bring it on.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations. We'll see you next week in Miami.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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