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MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES: AUTO CLUB 400


March 18, 2018


Brad Keselowski

Kyle Larson


Fontana, California

March 18, 2018




An interview with:

KYLE LARSON
BRAD KESELOWSKI

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our second‑ and fourth‑place finishers in the 22nd Annual Auto Club 400. We have Kyle Larson, driver of the No.42 DC Solar Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford.
Gentlemen, tough, grueling race out there today, a lot of tire falloff. Talk about the race today.
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it was a pretty tough race from the start. Fell back a little bit, was able to get past a few cars. Obviously Kevin and I had our issue there down the backstretch, just racing hard, side drafting each other for a few laps. I think he came down to maybe side draft down me, got in my right rear, it spun him pretty quick.
From then on we had to repair a little damage, come from the back. Was able to get to sixth or so into the first stage in a short amount of time, which was good.
Then there late, we had an issue with the left front on one of our pit stops, then had to come from the back again maybe that whole last run there.
It was good to get all the way to second. Would have liked to be one spot better, but we couldn't even see Martin. Got to be a little bit better.
All in all, a good day. We fought hard. That's all you can ask for.
THE MODERATOR: Brad, talk about your day a little bit.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, sure. I'm not really sure why I'm here. I finished fourth (smiling).
But, yeah, kind of got the most we had out of it today. We had some decent short run speed that could run and keep those guys honest. But after about five laps, we were just kind of holding on, running it out, trying to hope for a late race yellow or something to have something for them.
All in all, a decent weekend. We unloaded really not very good at all. Looked like it was going to be a really long weekend. Made some good improvements through practice and qualifying and all those things, got to where we were good enough to run here back half of the top five. Just have a solid day. That's what today was.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions.

Q. Kyle, you were around Kevin obviously quite a bit there in the early going. Do you think he would have had anything for Truex at the end?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it's so hard to tell early in the race, but just the little bit I was around Kevin, I felt like he still had the best car. Who's to say, though? Didn't get to really race a whole lot. The little bit I was around him, his car seemed to get through one and two really good. I could be fairly even with him in three and four. One and two, he was really fast. I'm sure he would have made it better throughout the race.
But, yeah, I don't know. He'll be good every weekend.

Q. Kyle, what do you think it is that you've been able to find driving the new Chevy that the other teams can't figure out yet?
KYLE LARSON: It's nothing I've found. I don't know, our race team has a lot of smart people within our organization. Any time we had a rules change over the last three or four years, the one‑off weekends like Darlington or Michigan, our team would do a good job, we'd be fast those weekends.
I think they just did a lot of homework on this new car. For whatever reason, we seem to be a little bit better than the other Chevy teams, which we were kind of last year, too.
But, yeah, I've been happy to see how we've started so far. But we still have a little ways to go to win.

Q. Brad, with Ford and what they've done this year obviously with Kevin winning three races, are you optimistic on how the Fords will do this year, or are you anticipating getting the new body next year?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, I think Kevin has been off to a great start. The rest of us maybe just kind of so‑so. We haven't really competed, I don't feel like, for a win anywhere. We've been right in that 5th to 10th range I think over the last four or five weeks.
Maybe you could argue we're capable of a lot more. We were capable of winning at Daytona. That turned into what it was.
It's still pretty early, but Kevin is making it look pretty easy when things go his way. The rest of us are just kind of 5th to 10th.

Q. Kyle, when you were racing with Harvick, were you surprised you were racing as hard as you were? Did you think one of you was going to let the other person go?
KYLE LARSON: No, I wasn't surprised that we were racing that hard, or he was racing me as hard as he was to try to hold me off. He had pitted a lap before me, so I had a lap fresher tires than him, was better than him at that point, in that little run we got in.
I think he knew he was better than I was overall, so he was just trying to hold me off, race me hard to maybe burn my stuff up, then he could stay in front of me, not have to worry about me 10, 15 laps later when he would be better than me.
I was actually having a lot of fun racing like that because this place is really cool, you can just kind of go wherever. I was a lot better than him in three and four. One and two, he was a little bit better than me in those few laps. Yeah, just got to battling really, really hard.

Q. Kyle, the radio chatter was fairly animated after that accident. Were you upset at all? Was there any damage that you felt impacted the ability of your car the rest of the race?
KYLE LARSON: No, I don't really feel like any damage impacted us because we were able to drive to the front right after that.
Yeah, I mean, I was pretty amped up on the radio there right after just because I felt like at the time maybe he let his frustration build and kind of just ran into me down the backstretch, wrecked himself. I thought he would be mad at me or something like that, which I knew I didn't do anything wrong at the time.
A couple minutes later, they let me know he was taking the blame for it on the radio, which was nice. I was able to chill out some.
Yeah, I mean, I respect Kevin a lot. I think he respects me a lot, too. You never want to see anything like that happen.

Q. The issue they had to fix, was that something that broke or a mistake?
KYLE LARSON: I haven't exactly seen what broke. Sounded like brake duct or something fell in between the wheel. Yeah, I don't know if that was something the pit crew guys hit and broke or whatever. I'm just glad I could feel it under that caution and was able to pit. That would have ruined our day, had I not.

Q. Brad, what is the impact of Harvick not winning now after he won three? Does everybody feel better?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know. Do you feel better (laughter)?

Q. Doesn't matter to me. But if he won another, it's four in a row, momentum continues to build. Does that take some of the edge off that or not?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know. I still think the 4 car is probably the best car in the field right now. Things didn't come together for him today. There will probably be a race in the future where he's not the fastest and it does come together. That's how things work.
I don't think anything changes with the 4 car being the fastest car in the field right now. I can't speak for the internals of their team. I could speak for mine in that I would move on a little disappointed and still be pretty happy to be the fastest car.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, appreciate it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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