March 7, 2021
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
An Interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We're going to get started here with Brad Keselowski. We'll go straight to questions.
Q. What more do you feel you needed to be able to go up there and compete with Larson? We saw you run across the ball field to congratulate him. What do you think it does for him, for the sport, to see him be able to come back and win as quickly as he has?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: It's tough for me to speak to what it means to the sport. But I think it's a good thing. I think everybody loves a good redemption story. He's fought really hard for his opportunity to come back and making the most of it. I'm happy for him. I think I told him that, just happy for him.
I wanted to win. I told him I wanted to win the damn race. But if I couldn't, I'm glad he did. We've all been kind of pulling for him.
In order to be better than him, he just had a little more speed than we had today. I could wrangle the top and make something happen, wrangle the bottom a little bit make something happen on restarts. He could run as fast as we could down the straightaways and a little bit faster in some corners.
Q. I want to say after one of the stages you said something like, I've seen that before. I think you were referring to Larson. Can you elaborate on that? Was it something technical you can't talk about?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Honestly, I don't remember. That's the honest truth. I'm not even going to give you a no. I'm just going to tell you my memory sucks. Did I say that?
Q. I want to say you did. Maybe I was listening to a different person.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Okay.
Q. Was there ever any thought in your mind that Larson was not going to be able to come in and have an impact right away?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: No, no. He got in a great car, he's a great driver. He's going to make something happen because that's what he does. He's a wheel man.
Q. You were up front all day running with the Hendrick cars. Are you seeing anything out of them than maybe a year ago when they didn't have as much speed?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, you know, motorsports by nature is very cyclical. I think there's no secret that the Chevys have had a number of down years. With that comes adjustments. The Chevy camp made some big adjustments. I think last year or maybe the year before last with the body on the car, they got better. Made a big adjustment this year with the engines, probably took a step up. Across the board they look pretty strong. Those are some significant upgrades, and they're making the most of them.
Q. When this race has been even earlier in the season, you said too small of a sample size to make any big judgments. This is the fourth race, is it fair to start wondering if teams that aren't performing up to the Hendrick, Gibbs, Penske level are in trouble? The 14, for instance, wasn't even on the lead lap today. Stewart-Haas seems to be off. Should we be reading anything into that at this point?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: It's such a strange year. I think every company is a little different. Inside every company, the teams are a little different. I think there's a fair amount of companies that have probably punted to NextGen, which is sensible. Then there's some companies that have really doubled down on this year's car, their team and lineup, which makes sense, too.
To each their own. It's hard to tell in the first three races who's done what. I felt like all along Vegas was the clearest indicator of what we're going to see for a lot of the season. Both of these races, Vegas and next week in Phoenix, I think they represent what it's going to take to win the championship, being good on tracks of these two types.
We can tell the most from these races.
As far as teams that might be ahead or behind others, it's still pretty early. Certainly cause for concern if you weren't towards the front today.
Q. Certainly this is a track where Team Penske typically excels. A performance like you had today, performance like your teammates, is there much you get out of it? Is this like this is what today was supposed to be out or is there a little concern that you didn't get what you normally got in the past?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I think there is certainly an expectation when we come to Vegas that we'll run really well. I try not to take anything for granted there. For whatever reason, we've just always been really good here at Team Penske. This year was no exception.
Q. It's kind of funny to hear you use the term 'strange year' just four races into the season. Is that because it's four different winners? Has that changed the dynamic or is it seeing the teams that are up there, that are not up there?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I think definitely we've seen over the last four weeks different teams in different places than I think pre-season predictions would have said.
Still early. Got a lot of running left to do. But very interesting and a provocative year.
Q. This seemed like one of the more competitive races at Vegas with the 550 package. Did it feel like that behind the wheel? Did it feel competitive and fun?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, yeah, the restarts are crazy. Then I felt like after about 15 laps we saw the race settle into its typical self. It's always fun to be a race car driver. It's just really about chocolate or vanilla ice cream. I like both of them. But to each their own on their tastes.
THE MODERATOR: Brad, thanks for joining us tonight. Safe travels home. We'll see you next week in Phoenix.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Appreciate it. Good turnout. 77 media on here. Way to go, guys. Appreciate your support of our sport. Be safe, whether you're driving home or at home. We'll see you around the bend.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports