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June 15, 2014

Brad Keselowski

Kyle Larson


KERRY THARP:  Next up is our top‑finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender.  Finishing eighth today and overcoming certainly several setbacks as the race unfolded, but he battled his way back, and that is Kyle Larson, and he's the driver of the No.42 Target Chevrolet.  Kyle, just talk about certainly you had some bad things happen early, then I believe you had a pit road speeding penalty, but you had to admire the fortitude and the persistent effort of the 42 team today.
KYLE LARSON:  Yeah, man, we had to fight really hard today.  I hate it for whoever got collected in my spin in the beginning.  I'm sure Martin Truex was in it because he was racing me really hard all day and he was beat up, so I feel bad for him.  We fought our way back to the top 5 and pretty much stayed there for most of the race, and then with under 50 laps to go I sped on pit road.  I was really bummed about that because I knew we would have a shot to win.  Then I fought really hard after that to finish eighth, and I think Shy made great pit calls all day long, and I screwed up.  I hate it, but still somewhat happy to get a top 10, just disappointed I let my team down.

Q.  It seemed like you were faster.  A lot of drivers were saying it appeared you had more downforce after the bumper cover came off.  Were you surprised by it?  Tony seemed like he was displeased by something.  Did you understand what was going on there?
KYLE LARSON:  Yes, that's Tony being Tony.  Yeah, with the Tony issue, I was pretty tight on whoever was inside of me on the restart, and I was looking in my mirror and saw him juke to the right so I juked to the right and he hit me, and I don't know, he was just trying to teach me a lesson I'm guessing.  Oh, well, that's two weeks in a row.
You know, the rear bumper, yeah, I've never had that happen before, and it happened so early in the race that I don't know how it would have handled had I had a rear bumper.  Either way I think we would have had a really good car because we were good in practice, but it probably did help a little bit.
KERRY THARP:  Our third place finisher has also joined us, and that's Brad Keselowski, he drives the No.2 Miller Lite Ford for Team Penske.  Today was a race that involved speed, power, strategy, pit road performance.  Just talk about how the No.2 team fared today.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, we just didn't have the speed really all weekend to be a front runner in the sense of contending to win based on speed.  But the guys did a great job with execution.  I thought we executed really well.  We had a lot of good restarts, pretty decent on pit road today.  Solid strategy, just‑‑ I told somebody before, Joey Logano told us, we were talking before the race started, we needed a good blue collar today, and that's of what today was for us.  We kind of trudged through it and came away with another top three effort, which is good but not great.  We want the wins, especially here at Michigan.  That would mean a lot.  And just need a little bit more speed to be able to get there.
I thought Kevin was probably the car to beat there, and the yellow sequences, kind of strange how that kind of played out and cost him a shot at it.  We were probably going to end up third to fifth no matter what.

Q.  Brad, if we assume that Hendrick right now is the team to beat, how do you assess the other contenders, like Menard had a nice run today, Harvick has been strong but came up short.  Who do you think is the next to kind of challenge them?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I don't really think there is anybody in the wings.  I think the way this year's package has kind of come together, where we are right now is where we're going to be for the remainder of the year.  You might see some small gains from some teams but I don't see anything significant coming.  I think right now the Penske cars are probably the best when it comes to balanced track to track.  The Hendrick cars are probably the best where it takes power to run.  These tracks are certainly one of those, and Kevin Harvick, his team is probably the fastest week in and week out.
I don't really see that changing for the duration of the season.  I think what you're going to find in the development cycle has been kind of found by this time in the year, and maybe there's a little bit more left on the table, but not enough to take a team that's not there to be there.  That's just kind of my experience.
But we all have got a little bit of work to do because it's pretty obvious that the Hendrick engines are way ahead of everyone else.
Usually that's not something you catch up with in one season.  As far ahead as they are right now, they're probably a full season ahead of everyone.  We've got work to do to get there.  Thankfully we've got‑‑ I can't remember, 12, 13 weeks until the Chase starts, and I know we've got some stuff coming up for that, but I think we've got at Penske, I think we're right there, kind of just maybe a half a nose behind the Hendrick cars or Hendrick‑powered cars, whatever you want to call them.  But we need just a little bit more, and if we can do that, I really feel like we can kind of have a strong march over the fall and have a shot at running for the championship.
I guess to kind of finish that question or finish the answer to the question up, I think what you're seeing right now is probably the top 5 or 10 is what it's going to be when it comes down to money time in the Chase.

Q.  Brad, based on today, I don't think you've been sharing too much information with the Roush guys.  I think they finished way down.  Were you surprised at their performance?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  You know, I know there's a lot of stuff going on over there.  It's not really fair for me to really judge anything there because I know just enough to sound like a fool.  Their stuff is‑‑ I know they would probably tell you they're not where they want to be, but I would always assume that they have something over there that we don't.  I think the 99 team has been one of the strongest on pit road, and that's where we've probably been‑‑ that's probably our weak spot as a team.  There's probably something to learn there, so there's always something when you share information, and I know it's really important to Ford, and I'm sure we'll continue to do so, whether they're contending for wins or not.

Q.  To Kyle, the track and tires out there today, how did you find the race line, and how did the tires wear?
KYLE LARSON:  I was surprised how wide the racing actually got.  We were all the way up into the third, fourth groove probably there at the end of the race and running up in the gray, which I was really surprised by, just because in my past Michigan experiences, it normally just gets‑‑ the groove gets lower, and today it got lower, then worked its way up.
And as far as tire wear, I don't think there was any issues, at least I don't think there was in my camp.  I don't know about the other teams.  But we usually don't see much tire wear on a newly repaved track.

Q.  Kyle, in light of Friday's news, your big news, how important is it to you or what does it mean to you to have another strong run on Father's Day and how close do you feel you are to a win?
KYLE LARSON:  Yeah, it would have been cool to get a win today.  I don't know, I guess it'll mean more next year.
I didn't get to see my dad today.  I texted him.  They've been in Indiana watching Midget Week for the USAC series and I'll actually go there after this to go watch.  Yeah, I texted him, asked him if he was even coming, and he said I'll probably get there right before the race starts and go sit in the stands.  I told him to make sure he came to victory lane if I won.  Oh, well, we didn't get it done, but it was still a good day, and I'm sure he was happy to see me get a top 10 after all I had to deal with.

Q.  At the end of this race, it turned out to be a strategy race, and Kevin, Joey and Matt Kenseth were like the first three teams that elected to stay out and go out of sequence.  By some reason was that likely to occur at some point at the end of the race by somebody, whether it was those three or somebody else, because it seemed like a similar ending as the Pocono race?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, I sympathize for the crew chiefs here.  This is such a tough race to call strategy‑wise, and you're really at the mercy of the yellows at the end and where they fall.  I think Kevin was probably the guy to beat today and probably he feels that way, too I would imagine, and the way that yellow fell, it kind of completely killed him.  But that's just the way it is.

Q.  Brad, obviously you want to win, but top three finish at Michigan, Michigan native, how nice is that?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, it's always good to run well here.  We didn't run as well as we wanted to, but we certainly didn't run poorly.  Like I said, it was a good day, not a great day.  Third is nothing to hang your hat on.  We have consistency, which is good.  Unfortunately it doesn't mean much right now at this time of the year in the sense of points.  But it does mean a lot to us in the sense of overall morale and our ability to really make a push as the fall comes for the Chase.  That's important to us, even if it might not show a tangible result in the short‑term.  I'm happy for that, but to be really happy I'd want to win here today, especially on Father's Day.  It would be really special for me and my family here at my home track in Michigan.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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