Confident Brad Keselowski Ready For Martinsville Elimination Race

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Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Dent Wizard Ford Mustang, goes into this weekend’s Round of 8 elimination race at Martinsville Speedway six points behind the final Championship 4 transfer spot.  He spoke about his situation earlier this afternoon during a Q&A session with members of the media.

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Dent Wizard Ford Mustang — YOU HAVE TWO RACES LEFT WITH TEAM PENSKE.  HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT THAT AND ANY REFLECTIONS?  “I think there was probably a lot of reflecting over the last half a dozen weeks, but now with the task at hand to try and win the championship there’s not a lot of time to reflect.  There’s too much coming at me through the front windshield to be looking out the rearview mirror, but my head is down.  I’m trying to win this weekend at Martinsville and then hopefully if we’re able to achieve that and/or just transfer into the next round, then do the same at Phoenix.  That has consumed a majority of my bandwidth to be quite honest and I really haven’t had a chance to reflect.”

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM ROGER THAT YOU CAN APPLY AS FAR AS BEING AN OWNER?  “A lot.  It’s hard to say in one setting and give it the due justice it probably deserves, but I’ll give it my best shot.  I think Roger has always had a level of professionalism that is somewhat contagious and inspiring.  His attention to detail is incredible.  Clearly, he’s got a great business acumen to be where he’s at and done the things he’s done.  I think even more so than all that he is really in my mind known for his contagious work ethic.  You’re not gonna outwork Roger Penske and I respect that so much about him.”

WILL YOU BE THAT KIND OF OWNER?  “I certainly hope.  I’ve got some things that are going for me, which are great having competed at this level now for just over 10 years and a pretty good understanding of the players and the landscape, etc.  My goal is to take everything I’ve learned from him and be stronger accordingly and apply it with my own personal experiences and put together a great team, a great company that can endure and win championships for years and decades to come.”

WOULD THERE BE ANY MORE SENSE OF PRIDE IF YOU MADE THE CHAMPIONSHIP 4 IN YOUR LAST YEAR WITH PENSKE?  “Absolutely, yeah.  I have allowed my head to go into that space a couple times.  It’s a dangerous spot to get in because it distracts from the focus of putting it all together, so I tried to shut my brain off of that as soon as it goes in that spot, but clearly it would mean the world to me to be able to do that for him and do it for our team in our last year together.”

BUT WHAT ABOUT FOR YOU?  HAVE YOU FELT ANY SORT OF DISCONNECT OVER THE FACT YOU WON’T BE THERE AFTER THE NEXT TWO WEEKS?  “That feeling hasn’t been one that I’ve really settled into or allowed myself to settle into.  I think this is as natural a transition as there is with the new car coming in because it’s such a technology shift, a resource shift that there really was no reason to hold anything back this year, so I haven’t felt that much of a change at least from my end.”

HOW MUCH DO THINGS CHANGE OVER THE COURSE OF A YEAR AT A PLACE LIKE PHOENIX?  “Normally, I would say it changes a lot, but with the development freeze and all those things I don’t think it changes that much.  I think that there’s a lot that will apply between the spring race and the fall race, and I expect the two races to be very similar to each other, so not expecting a big difference and we’ll certainly apply all of the notes and thoughts we have from the spring.”

HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE TO YOU HAVE GOING TO MARTINSVILLE WITH THE TRACK RECORD YOU HAVE THERE?  “Martinsville, I made my first-ever NASCAR start there in the Truck Series.  It didn’t go very well and I learned so much from it and it’s been a great track for me ever since then.  I’ve had some tough breaks.  One year we blew a tire and this past year we lost power-steering and had a mechanical failure and then got caught up in a wreck because I didn’t have any steering, so that was not a good run, but outside of that, I feel like we’ve ran 15 maybe 20 races there that have gone really, really well.  It’s been a great track for us.  I always get excited about going there.  The Team Penske group has worked very hard to bring great cars for that track over the last half-dozen years and I think it shows.  We’ve put up some great numbers, so I’m excited about it and feel like we’ve got a great opportunity.”

HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIS BUESCHER AND HOW MUCH ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO WORKING WITH HIM IN 2022?  “Chris and I haven’t really had a chance to work together yet.  Clearly, that’s coming soon.  My overall impression is that he’s one of the most underrated drivers in the garage.  It was only about a week after I signed my deal where the question came up about Chris and where the company should go and my immediate reaction was ‘sign him right away.’  I think given the right equipment he can win races and contend for a championship, so I’m excited about having him as a teammate.  He’s put up some really strong races in situations where the effort elsewise was probably not in a position to deliver those results and I think given the right supporting cast he can really move the needle.  I’m excited about him and looking forward to working with him.  I’ll never forget the first time I actually got to see him and a fair evaluation.  It was at a Ford event probably four or five years ago that he was at and we were driving Mustangs at this road course in South Carolina, and he was hands-down the fastest guy there and I was blown away.  I quite honestly had not given him the respect that he deserved until then, so I feel really good about him.”

HOW DO YOU VIEW YOUR JOURNEY AS A DRIVER TO THIS POINT?  “I don’t really view it that much.  I just try to do my own thing and try to do the best I can at trying not to allow myself to get caught up in press clippings for good or bad and all those things.  I’m trying to do the things I need to do to feel good about myself and the stats being what they are at the end of the day.  That said, it is easy to get caught up in those things.  Every once in a while someone will read a stat to me that makes me feel really good and blows my head up, and then it doesn’t take long for somebody to read one back to me that makes me feel like absolute crap, so I learned a long time ago to not let those things get into your psyche, so that’s what I try to do.  I’m really proud of the career I’ve had. I’m nowhere near ready to be done and have a lot left to do, and look forward to these two weeks hopefully leaving some great marks on board.”

WOULD YOU FEEL ANY SATISFACTION IF YOU MADE THE CHAMPIONSHIP 4 CONSIDERING SOME PEOPLE HAVE OVERLOOKED YOU AND YOUR TEAM BY CALLING IT A LAME DUCK SEASON?  “Absolutely.  I think it would be a huge testament to the team, not just myself, but the entire team to our resolve and overall mental toughness.  It certainly would be a point of pride if we were able to pull that off.  We’ve got a great opportunity.  We’re six points back.  We have control of our destiny if we win the race.  Even if we don’t win the race realistically if we put up a lot of stage points and do all those things, we’ve got a great shot, so I feel pretty good about this weekend.”

HOW MUCH WILL YOUR POINT DEFICIT AFFECT HOW YOU RACE THIS WEEKEND?  “I think, for me, it doesn’t affect my mentality.  If you compare it to last year, we had a great race at Martinsville.  We scored stage points, a lot of stage points, ended the race I think fourth or fifth and under that scenario I don’t know how many points we scored, but it was probably upper forties.  That would probably be enough for this weekend, so if we can just repeat that, we’d be in a good spot.”

Campbell Marketing & Communications for Ford Performance

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