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November 2, 2014
FORT WORTH, TEXAS
THE MODERATOR:Â We're joined by our top‑finishing rookie, Kyle Larson.
Talk about your run.Â Talk about the emotions out there and the chaos that ensued in the last couple laps.
KYLE LARSON:Â What (laughter)?
I'm sure nobody has any questions for me, but it was not a very fun race for me.Â I was a lot worse than I thought we were going to be.Â I thought we practiced really well.Â When the race fired off, we weren't very good.Â I thought we'd get better, but we didn't.Â We got worse and worse and worse.Â We had a lot of late‑race restarts to get up there to get a better finish.
Disappointing day, but okay to finish seventh where we did.Â Hopefully we can get some better runs in the last races.
THE MODERATOR:Â Questions for Kyle.
Q.Â When you look at the kind of frantic deal that's going on every week, what comes into your head in terms of the new format?
KYLE LARSON:Â It's obviously really intense.Â Those guys that are in this Eliminator Round, you're trying to get the best finish you can.Â I don't know what happened with the 2 and the 24.Â Obviously it pissed Jeff off.
We saw all the stuff going on at Charlotte and now here.Â It just shows how intense this new format is.
Definitely exciting for me, not being in the Chase, being able to watch it.Â I know the fans got to be loving it.
THE MODERATOR:Â We're joined by tonight's second‑place finisher, Kevin Harvick.
Kevin, talk about the last couple laps, the chaos that ensued.
KEVIN HARVICK:Â I mean, obviously everybody was racing for everything they can.Â I thought it was going to work out for us.Â We had a couple cautions there at the end and weren't able to make it work out.
Yeah, the 2 just bulldozed the 24.Â The 24 wrecked.Â The 48 and the 2 were racing hard.Â At that point there was just no rules so you just stood on the gas and hoped for the best.Â After the race it all broke loose.
I just told Brad he needed to get in there and fight his own fight.
We had a solid night, got ourselves back in the championship running for what we needed to do on the weekend.Â Next week's going to be pretty crazy.Â I'm looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR:Â We'll continue with questions.
Q.Â Kevin, do you feel for Jeff, what happened to him this week, considering what happened to you last week?
KEVIN HARVICK:Â Yeah, we kind of had the same thing happen last week.Â Everything is just so intense right now.Â Everybody is just kind of throwing caution to the wind to do all they can for their team.Â Everybody is racing as hard as they can.Â Just glad to be in the mix.
Q.Â Kevin, switch positions.Â If you would have been in the 2 car's position, would your attempt have been any different to try to get the win?
KEVIN HARVICK:Â Yeah, I couldn't run over the 24 or the 48 like that.
Q.Â Kevin, is the 2 out of control?Â Is he driving over his head and doing stuff he shouldn't be doing?
KEVIN HARVICK:Â No, I don't think so.Â I think he's just racing as hard as he can for his team.Â He's trying to get all he can.
But when it gets down to that type of racing, those things are going to happen exactly like they happened after the race tonight, so...Â But I don't think there's anything wrong with it as long as you're ready to roll.
Q.Â Kevin, obviously there was a lot of talk about you possibly retaliating on Kenseth this race.Â Talk about your mindset, how you handled it throughout the race.
KEVIN HARVICK:Â I just raced.Â I thought my car was fast enough to win the race and be in contention.Â Doing something crazy at that point in the race, then I never saw him towards the end of the race, so it wasn't really our game plan to get into that situation any further than we needed to.
It's like I said before the race.Â I know he didn't do it on purpose, but in the end we still lost 33 points to the leader.Â We got to race as hard as we can to try to get that back.
Q.Â Kyle, did you simply get better with what you had to finish how you finished or did the team finally figure out what it was that was holding you back?
KYLE LARSON:Â I don't know.Â We were off pretty much the whole race.Â We got off really farther the midpoint of the race, lost a lap.Â Was able to get the Lucky Dog.Â Still wasn't good after that for a few‑‑ 75 to 100 laps.Â We still weren't that good at the end.
I think we had a little bit fresher tires on than some of the guys in front of us.Â Everybody leaves the top open.Â Just go up there, be in clean air, get momentum.
Yeah, I mean, there at the end I would have liked to have lined up on the outside.Â We did a decent job on the bottom and was able to get a couple spots and get to seventh.
Like I said, it was a little disappointing of a race because I thought we were going to have a really good car after practice, but it just didn't shake out that way.
Q.Â How much does strategy change going from 129 laps of green flag all the way to the next 12 for the rest of the race?
KEVIN HARVICK:Â You just hoped you were good on restarts and you could hold your own.Â Everybody was digging for everything they could.Â Obviously got to be nighttime, as well.
As it gets closer to the end, the intensity ratchets up.Â At this point of the year, everybody's just going for broke trying to win a race, get the best finish they can to end the season on a good note.Â It's hard racing.Â It's fun.
Q.Â You obviously felt like Keselowski should go and man up at the end?
KEVIN HARVICK:Â If you're going to race like that, you're going to have to man up at some point.Â I mean, he's done it several times.Â Can't just turn around and let everybody fight all the time without you in there.Â Have to stand up for your actions at some point yourself.
Q.Â I assume you're not worried about a penalty for getting in the middle of it?
KEVIN HARVICK:Â I didn't get in the middle of anything.Â I just turned him around and told him to go fight his own fight.
THE MODERATOR:Â Gentlemen, thank you.
We are now joined by our third‑place finisher is Brad Keselowski.
Brad, certainly a gritty performance out there by the No. 2 team.Â You knew what you had to do to get back in this championship hunt.Â You're about five points on the other side.Â So congratulations on your performance today.Â Just talk about it.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Yeah, we just weren't as fast as we wanted to be pretty much all weekend.Â It was a scratch and claw fest.Â We needed some breaks to get back in it.Â Every time I thought we were going to catch one, it would kind of fall short.
We came in, put tires on, drove all the way up to fifth.Â Really needed to get to fourth so we could be in one of the front two lanes.Â The yellow came out.Â That jammed us.Â Then another yellow came out.Â That jammed us up.Â Another yellow came out.Â One consecutive loop of yellow after yellow after yellow.Â We couldn't get any momentum, weren't quite as fast as we wanted to be.
Paul Wolfe and the guys did a great job of never giving up, adjusting.Â Had pretty good strategy at the end.Â Almost made a win out of it despite that.
In the end, Jimmie was just stronger than we were, even with a little bit older tires.Â I didn't have the turn I needed to run with him.Â He did a great job in holding us off.Â It was kind of the story of the night.
Then the stuff afterwards, which I'm sure you guys will ask your own questions about, but I'm doing everything I can to win this championship, racing at 100%.Â That's something I'm not going to be ashamed for.Â If I was out there wrecking guys to do it, that would be one thing.Â But I think a little bit of rubbing was probably how this sport was created, probably how it should move forward.
I don't mind getting raced that way.Â I don't mind racing that way.Â I got a little rub there, too, at the end from the 4 car.Â That's just good racing.
Proud of our effort.Â I just wish I would have been able to make two more spots out of it.Â But very, very close.Â We'll keep fighting the good fight.
THE MODERATOR:Â Questions for Brad.
Q.Â You alluded to it, but you're making a lot of enemies in the garage because of your aggressive racing.Â You seem to be fine with that because it is what it is.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Yeah, I mean, the sport, specifically the driving corps, is stuck in the year 1999, 2000.Â With the testing bans, the COT cars, all these different things that have happened, the only way for a guy like me to break through is to drive the way I've drove over the last four or five years.
I think last year I got away from being as aggressive as I was in 2012 and this year.Â I didn't make the Chase.Â Won one race.Â That's not acceptable to me.Â I'm here to win races for Roger Penske and for my team.Â That means when there's a gap, I have to take it.Â If it requires a tiny bit of rubbing, that's okay.Â It's not anything I don't expect on the other side.Â Plenty of times where I got rubbed.Â It will go both ways.Â That's okay by me.
I'm not asking anyone to take ‑‑ I'm not trying to dish out something that I couldn't take myself.Â But these guys have their own code, and they race differently than that.Â That's their right.
We'll go through these battles.Â I've gone through them before and come out stronger.Â I'll go through them again and come out stronger, a better racecar driver.
But what I'm not going to do is back down. Â I'm not going to get in the spot where I was in 2013 where, you know, I tried to be exactly what they all wanted me to be, because what they want me to be is a loser, and I'm not here to lose, I'm here to win.Â That means I'm going to have to drive my car, harder, stronger, faster than everybody out there.Â That's what I feel like I did today.
With a 10th‑ to 15th‑place car, we almost won today.Â That happened because of that attitude and that fight.Â That's going to make some people mad because they don't race that way.Â I understand that.
Like I said, I'm not trying to dish something out I couldn't take.Â The way I raced today is what I would define as great racing that defined this sport and I hope it will continue to define it for years to come.
If a guy like me caves, whether it's Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, list out the drivers that I've had run‑ins with, whenever they try to push back on me, if I cave, that will end that run in this sport, and that will be a shame.Â That would be a shame for everybody.Â It would be a shame for the history of this sport.Â It would be a shame for the fans that come here to see us race 100%.Â That's what I did today.Â For that I'm not going to be ashamed.
Would I be disappointed if I just dumped somebody to win the race?Â Yeah.Â I think you look through my history of racing, and that's never been the case.Â That's not the way I race.Â I don't wreck people to win.Â I've been in incidents at the end of the race, but I could say with a clear mind and heart that they weren't intentional, that they were all out going for the win and some things happen.
Today something happened.Â There was a gap.Â It closed up.Â By the time it closed up, I was committed, and I stayed in it.Â That almost won me the race.Â It hurt somebody else's day.Â That's a shame.Â But the reality is there was a gap.
You know, I'm not Dale Earnhardt or Senna.Â I read how they raced, how great they were for this sport.Â They would sit here and tell you they would go for that same gap.Â I'm not them, but I'm inspired by that, and I'm going to race that way.
Q.Â A couple weeks ago when we were asking about retaliation, you said it wouldn't really benefit anybody to get in some sort of long‑term back and forth because you're going to be here for years, they're going to be here for years.Â I heard what you just said and everything, but how does that impact your chances of winning a championship, especially in a format where everybody is going to be even?Â Now you have guys possibly gunning for you.Â Do you worry about that?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â It doesn't help.Â I'm not trying to sit here and sugarcoat it and try to be the intimidator, say they better not race, ta‑da, ta‑da, ta‑da.Â That's not what I'm trying to say.
My expectation is if there's a gap, they'll go for it.Â If there's a gap, I'll go for it.Â If it closes up, there's contact, then that's racing.Â And that's what happened today.
Intentional wrecking and whatnot, no, I don't support that.Â I never have.Â I make it a point to try not to do it.Â I'm not always innocent of not doing it.Â I had the run‑in at Charlotte and so forth after the race.Â I could have intentionally during that race if I wanted to, it was frustrating not to do so, but didn't.
Will those guys race me hard or harder than others?Â Absolutely, I'm certain they will.Â But that's just part of it.Â I can't fault them for that.Â I just feel like I have to go for the gap if it's there and I have to race the way I race or I won't even be in NASCAR.Â I'd rather have enemies in NASCAR than have friends and be sitting at home.
Q.Â (No microphone.)
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â The rhetoric gets pretty thick, you know.Â I'm sure that all plays into the intimidation factor or the attempt to intimidate.Â But going back to what I said earlier, you know, I've already gone much further than I thought I'd ever go in this sport with the mentality that I have.Â I'm not going to give up on it because there's some resistance now.Â That would be a shame.Â That would be a tragedy.
I'm going to continue to push forward with what I'm doing.Â It served me in the past and I believe it will serve me in the future.
Q.Â Brad, do you relish being the villain?Â A lot of fans booed you.Â Do you enjoy that role?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Well, you know, I don't necessarily enjoy being disliked.Â But it beats the alternative of not being known at all by a long ways.
From my perspective, I think I've come to the reality that there's a lot worse things in this world than me.Â If I'm a villain, the people that think I'm a villain have a pretty good life and should be proud of that.Â All this stuff that's going on in the world, if your villain is me racing 100%, you've got it pretty good and I don't feel too bad for you.
Q.Â Did you actually get hit?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Yeah, I couldn't even tell you what happened.Â Just a melee of people.Â I couldn't tell you what happened after the race.Â That's why there's cameras.
Q.Â Do you have any qualms with Harvick getting himself in there and telling you to go fight your own fight?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â I came here to race, not fight.Â If I wanted to be a fighter, I would have joined the UFC or have a management team like he does.Â I came here to race, 100%.Â That's what I did today.
The only thing I wouldn't be proud of is if I went and started fights or jumped in fights.Â I wouldn't be proud of that.Â I came here to race 100%.Â The people that want to see fights are not true race fans.Â They need to watch UFC and (indiscernible).Â Because that's not true racing.
I know in my heart that I raced 100% and I did what should be done to be a professional racecar driver.
Q.Â Brad, early in the race, lap 70 or 65, it was mentioned that you had problems with vibrations.Â Can you get into more details.Â Did you expect at that time you maybe would finish third?Â In the end you had unbelievable speed.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Yeah, every other run we'd have a vibration.Â It didn't really add up.Â I don't know the answer to your question.Â But it seemed to be intermittent.Â Could have been tires.Â Could have been wheels.Â Could have been a number of things.Â But I'm not sure at this time to answer your question fairly.
Q.Â Seventh in points heading to Phoenix next week.Â Do you approach the race as you did today, even though what happened at the conclusion of the race?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Yeah, I think most likely we're going to have to win Phoenix, just like I felt we were going to have to win here today.Â I'm sure there's going to be some contact along the way, across the board.Â Everybody is very desperate.Â The points are very, very, very close.Â Anybody can have a bad day and be out of it.Â And that's just the reality.
Q.Â Brad, the subject of Phoenix, can you compartmentalize now and forget about this, not get overall emotional, take a cold, clinical approach to Phoenix?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â If you can tell right now, I'm not too emotional about it.Â I've come to the reality of where I am in this sport, the fight it's going to take for me to be a winner and a champion for years to come.
Like I said, there's going to be moments like this.Â I've been through them in the past.Â I'll go through them in the future.Â I'll come back each and every time as hard if not harder.Â That's who I am, that's what I'll do.Â That's what I plan to do next week and every week in my future.
Q.Â Brad, obviously it's not the first time you've had a situation like this.Â The last time after Charlotte, you went to Martinsville later that week and tested.Â You personally were able to kind of put everything that had happened in the background and focus on what you wanted to do.Â How does your team react to this?Â It's going to be talked about for an entire week.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â A lot of my strength personally comes from my team, whether that's the guys how work on the team or my boss, Roger Penske.Â If Roger Penske came up to me tomorrow and said, Brad, you drove that race wrong, you shouldn't have done what you did, it would affect me.
But the management team at Penske tells me to drive the way I did and tells me there's nothing to be ashamed of and continues to support me.Â And they're my boss.Â My boss isn't the other drivers in the field.Â My boss is them.
As long as they're on my side, I feel strong and I feel proud and encouraged to continue.
Q.Â Would your team be able to focus?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â My team's pretty strong, yeah.Â They'll probably get a couple good laughs out of it and be even more hungry.
Q.Â Do you worry about with two races left if a driver that you've pissed off can't win makes sure he dumps you?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Well, I think Jeff Gluck was alluding to that earlier.Â I'm going to be in this sport for a while.Â Got the safest cars in the world.Â Can take some pretty hard hits.Â I've taken them before.
I'll be back next week and they'll have to face it.Â That's not in their interest, just like it's not in mine.Â If what I did was so wrong to those individuals, then they should race me back that same way.Â They have that ability and I wouldn't be mad at them if they did.
I didn't go out there and intentionally wreck anybody or do any of that other hoopla.Â So as far as I'm concerned, it's not the biggest concern in the world.Â Can it happen?Â Yes, absolutely.Â If it does happen, I'll take it in stride and race 'em back the same way.Â That will be it.
THE MODERATOR:Â Brad, congratulations on a heck of a performance here today.Â Good luck in Phoenix.
BRAD KESELOWSKI:Â Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports