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August 12, 2018

Brad Keselowski

Brooklyn, Michigan

THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by our second‑place finisher, Brad Keselowski, driver of the No.2 Discount Tire Ford. We will go ahead and open it up to questions for Brad.

Q. Brad, it was a top‑5 finish for the Penske cars. You and Blaney got those. What were you encouraged by during this run, and what do you feel like you need to improve on to challenge the big three as we said into these final regular season races?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, the last few week's we've had some pretty big struggles, finishing out races with breakdowns and letdowns and all of the above. It's nice to just be able to have a clean race, or mostly clean. We did have one loose wheel. But mostly clean race, and to be able to kind of get the finish we deserve, that's important. It's important to get what you have out of your car, and although we might not have race‑winning speed, you still need to execute.
So with that in mind, that's good for everybody's morale at Team Penske and on the 2 team, as well, but of course we want to break through and win, as well, and kind of like you indicated, we're not where we need to be to just win on pure speed against those guys week in and week out. We've just got to find it. As a team, we have to find that little bit of performance. It's not a lot, it's just enough to keep us out of Victory Lane. It's enough for us to run up front like we did today, finish up front when we do everything right, but not enough to win.
We know it's possible, and it's up to us to make it happen.

Q. As you were saying, you didn't have the speed of Harvick; if you finish three seconds behind him all the way until Homestead, when do you have to feel like you're right with him to feel like you have a shot come Homestead?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know if there's a great answer to that. I could throw you something out there, but it would just be a lob, right? With the way the points format obviously is, to your point, Homestead is‑‑ but you have to get to Homestead. You have to make it through those playoff rounds. To that end, I don't think you can guarantee on being able to point your way through. You can really only point your way through to the third round. You really can't count on pointing your way through to the fourth round, unless you have all the bonus points, which we don't.
With that in mind, we're going to have to deliver and make results and win races, and I think that's what the sport is about at the end of the day. It's easy to say, harder to do, but I think, again, having a day like today where we were solid, we executed, it allows us to move forward as a team and as a company with all four cars, or three and a half cars, to get there.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I think there's a little bit of both. I think there's positives and negatives from today, and so you've got to try to make the most of the positives and learn from the negatives.

Q. Brad, when you said we didn't have enough race speed, do your engineers know in which areas you can improve the car, maybe with the aero package?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I think maybe they might have some ideas, but I'm not really in the loop on what they might be, so I don't really have a great answer for that.

Q. With the Ford Mustang coming out next year, I know that's months after, but is that something that gives you encouragement to think that you might have new dynamics to play with to go ahead and spring you forward?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, the Ford Mustang is going to be great. It's going to be great not just for the Ford drivers, but it's going to be great for the sport of NASCAR to have a performance vehicle in the sport across all the lineups of the series. With that in mind, we've got to win now. I don't want to win just in 2019, I want to win right now. I'm in the prime of my career, prime of my life, and I'm hungry to win right here, right now.

Q. Question about the so‑called big three. Is it motivating to try to catch up to them, or is it discouraging because they're clearly so much more successful than everybody else?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I don't know if I've really put a lot of thought into that. I go to each weekend as a reset point thinking and feeling as though this could be the weekend where we have the speed to win that way or could execute that way, and I think you have to‑‑ and then when you start to get through the weekend, you have to get the most out of what you have. We've had some races where I feel like we've been equal to or better than those guys where we haven't put it all together, mostly the plate tracks I would say. So that's kind of on us to get a result.
But on these types of tracks, the mile‑and‑a‑half, intermediate, whatever you want to call them, two‑mile tracks, we haven't had that yet, but we've been closer some places than others.

Q. Following up on that, knowing that this track is an indicator for those mile‑and‑a‑half tracks, Austin Dillon finished fourth today with a new chassis. How much do you think teams were showing their hand today for what they're going to have when the playoffs begin?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I was really impressed with how well Austin and Ryan Newman ran this weekend. Yeah, you'd be foolish to keep something great in your pocket. It's time to bring it out and make sure it's ready to go.

Q. Being at your home track in front of the fans and friends and family, whatnot, does finishing second again sting at all, or is it more encouraging because you weren't second most of the day?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: It's just going to make me appreciate when we do win here. I know it's coming, and I've got to believe if we keep knocking on the door, eventually it's going to fall in. I don't know any better way to knock on the door than finishing second. Last year here we led a bunch of laps, won the stages, sat on the pole. We have done everything we can do here but win, at least at the Cup level. So we have that opportunity. We'll see if it can develop into something. It hasn't so far, but I know in my heart that if we keep running this like, it will happen.

Q. Also Michigan is a little test of the mile‑and‑a‑halfs and just kind of indicating how much improvement you guys need to make, but when you hear the big three title, does it sort of make you say, hey, man, we're in this still? Team Penske has still got the three of us that can make this happen?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Not really because I don't think about it that much. I'm kind of more focused on my team than those teams. It's kind of‑‑ it's great fodder for this room, but for us as a team, I don't think we really think about it because I feel as though if you focus at any one point in time of beating one car or in this case three, you forget to execute on your end and to beat the other 35‑some cars that you need to beat.

Q. To what degree are you guys absolutely sick and tired of hearing about the big three?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, I kind of feel like it's the same question. Yeah, I guess, like I said, I don't really think about it that much. It's more‑‑ are you tired of hearing about it?

Q. I figured you guys are.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: No, I don't sit and listen that much to the fodder. We're doing all we can to be as good as we can, and I don't think we can get caught up in those guys.

Q. Earlier Al Unser Jr. was here and I asked him a question about parity and whether or not it's good for the sport in terms of the template, both in IndyCar and NASCAR, and he said he's a traditionalist, he kind of likes the run what you brung. What's your take on it? If you had the ability to rule NASCAR‑‑
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, I don't, for first things.

Q. And is there a Smokey Yunick hiding in Stewart‑Haas Racing in the No.4 team somewhere?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, there's some smart people. There's some great decisions made at the executive level. That's really the difference maker right now in this sport. At the executive level making the right decision to garner the right resources and human capital and equipment is a big difference maker. And you have to give credit to those guys; they've done a great job. All three of those teams that you're discussing have made some really smart decisions at the highest levels, and they're reaping the benefits of that.
You know, no team or no company is made of one player. You're from Cleveland. You know about LeBron James. He's great, but he still has to play with four other people, right? It's the same thing here. I might get a lot of the credit, but at the end of the day, there's almost 500‑some employees at Team Penske that are building race cars day in and day out, and I can't drive without them. I can't race without them, let alone be the best.
With that in mind, it takes all those people coming together with the right way with the right tools and the right teamwork to be successful, and you have to give credit to the guys that have put up the most wins this year. They've built some of the best teams.

Q. You had the loose wheel, still wind up second. So when it's all said and done, was the loose wheel not even a factor? Or if it was, tell us how you worked back.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, it wasn't good. It definitely cost us a bunch of stage points which we'd like to have and possibly an opportunity to restart a little further up, which would have been nice to see play out. But it's hard to give a perfect answer on whether it would have been a difference if we could have won or not today. I think based on what I saw at the end, the 4 car was legitimately faster, and we would have needed a mistake from him, either way.

Q. Brad, I know you want to win now, and obviously you guys are showing speed that you can win now. For you, are you willing to show aggression to get back to Victory Lane? Are you willing to lay the bumper, or do you just want it to come naturally?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, it's hard to really show any aggression when the guy that won the race was three and a half seconds ahead of you.

Q. We're going to Bristol.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't have that long of a reach, my Go‑Go Gadget arms.

Q. We're going to Bristol next week.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: That's great, and if we're in sight at Bristol, I'm sure we'll do the best we can to find a way. What that means, you never know until the heat of the moment. You can talk about it all day long, but what happens in the heat of the moment is oftentimes much different than it is in a setting like this. With that in mind, that's why you've got to watch.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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