Keselowski comments on Las Vegas track condition

Dodge Motorsports press release

Keselowski comments on Las Vegas track condition

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T)

Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Dodge
Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Dodge

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

COMMENT ON COMING TO LAS VEGAS. “Absolutley. Great facilities, and I was just amazed last night being downtown and seeing all the fans here. Certainly looks like we’re going to have a great turnout for the weekend just based on what we saw. Enjoy coming here. I wish I had a little more success on the track at the Cup level. But it’s an important weekend for all of us, for all the teams to prove, kind of, our mile-and-a-half prowess. For us, I think I’m as interested as anyone else to see how we’re going to start off 2012 on the mile-and-a-halfs. I’m optimistic about it. There are some areas that we’re going to need to improve, but I think after last week we have a pretty good chunk of momentum from a strong run in Phoenix. We’ll just see how it comes, but you know this is a pretty good indicator of what teams are going to have, at least for the short term, on the mile-and-a-halfs. I think you look at Vegas and the performances that you see here, and it seems like whoever runs well here seems to run well at Charlotte and some of those other key places, you know it’s a pretty good indicator of strength.”

YOU KEEP GOING TO THESE TRACKS WHERE YOU HAVEN’T HAD A LOT OF SUCCESS IN THE PAST AND ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU RUN IN THE TOP FIVE, LIKE PHOENIX. SO WHEN YOU COME TO A PLACE WHERE YOU HAVEN’T RUN WELL, DO YOU THROW OUT YOUR NOTES? HOW DO YOU TURN AROUND YOUR PERFORMANCE? “I just think that if you look back at a lot of things that I’ve done, you can go back to the Nationwide side and kind of look at the template I had over there where what I’ve done in the past I’ve been able to build off of it. And it was funny, I saw Dale Jarrett and we might have been gambling (smiles), and we were talking about the same exact topic. His career was very similar, where he improved every time he went back somewhere and each year, you kind of build on things. You know, that’s where I certainly feel like I’m at. I think last week was a big hurdle for me to get over. It was a track where I haven’t had any success. I’ve had okay runs, but you know, haven’t been able to put the numbers on the board. You know, I just think you keep building and you keep adding ingredients until you bake the right cake. It’s going well for us. We’re starting to get somewhere.”

YOU MENTIONED GAMBLING. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT GAMBLING ON NASCAR? ALL THE CASINOS NOW HAVE IT. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT? DO YOU PUT TEN BUCKS ON YOURSELF? “No, not this weekend (laughs). You guys haven’t read my stats here (laughter). You know I did, I posted something on Twitter about it ‘cause in the hotel I was staying in, they had the odds posted out. Andrea Ross who runs my foundation was asking me about it and she said ‘Well should I put money on this or should I put money on that?’ I wouldn’t put money on any of it. I think they’re terrible odds for everyone. I don’t know how they figure that out. NASCAR is not a good sport to gamble on (smiles). In fact it’s pretty terrible. It is interesting to see it. It’s almost more flattering for me to see the sport lined up next to the NBA or NFL and so forth. I don’t know, I guess it’s just kind of a validation of status more than anything else. The pure numbers or you know odds of, no, they’re not very good. I don’t recommend it (laughs).”

WHAT HAS BEEN THE TEAM REACTION TO CHANGING MANUFACTURERS? “I didn’t go back to really spend any time with my team between Phoenix and Vegas. I was trying to save a little money, but I’ll certainly go back and talk to ‘em this week. You know, it’s my general impression that I think there’s a lot of optimism and I think that if you look at the company, I think that there is a large reason for optimism. I said this in Phoenix and I guess I’ll reiterate it, the most important part of the manufacturer piece was being able to add a long-term contract that gave stability. That all boils down to what the main focus is and that’s making sure that everybody at Penske Racing knows that they’ve got a funded team, funded car owner, driver, crew chief, sponsor, all of those things for years to come. So, I really feel like they should be excited about it and I hope they are. Again, I haven’t seen ‘em face to face, but you know, basically, this is like walking in saying hey, everybody here is guaranteed a job for the next five years. I’ve got a pretty good feeling how that would go over here and it’s just as well over there. I think anytime you can guarantee a group of people a job for what I consider a substantial amount of time, five years, I think that’s a good deal. Then, it’s just up to you to perform to continue to earn it. That’s whether it’s me or anyone else on the team. I would assume that’s the general reaction. That’s certainly my reaction. I hope that everyone else at Penske Racing feels the same way. Like you said, there are some mixed emotions to it. I still do thoroughly enjoy the time I’ve spent with Dodge. Hopefully, we can finish it off by getting ‘em a modern-era Cup championship this year. We’ll have to see how that all works out. You know it is what it is; life’s about change.”

YOU SAID NASCAR WASN’T A GOOD SPORT TO GAMBLE ON. WHAT ABOUT GAMBLING ON THE RACE TRACK WHEN YOUR CREW CHIEF TAKES A GAMBLE AND HOW MUCH YOU SUPPORT THAT AND LIKE THOSE KIND OF DECISIONS? “See, that’s the thing, a friend of mine tells me this all the time: ‘You guys gamble all the time on pit strategy.’ And I watched Jimmy Spencer last year and he said the same thing: ‘You guys are always gambling.’ Well, I don’t like to gamble and so any move we’re doing, there’s certainly a risk percentage pre-calculated. I’d like to think that Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) is very sharp on those things. And when you have a strategy, it’s like counting cards. When you have a strategy, you’re not really gambling. You know, I think for the most part, Paul and the engineers and everyone on the Miller Lite team, they have a pretty good strategy going into it.”

YOU HAVE VOICED SOME CONCERNS IN THE PAST ABOUT EFI. THE ISSUES THAT HAVE COME UP IN THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS, ARE THEY ONES YOU ENVISIONED AT THAT TIME OR ARE THEY THINGS THAT YOU THINK ARE UNEXPECTED? “Well I think you can expect the unexpected whenever you involve electronics because you just don’t know. Obviously the environment inside of a race car, it’s not a pleasant one. It’s quite miserable. You’re looking at 140 degree temperatures, large vibration. Set that aside from toxic fumes, and that’s what the inside of a race car is. It’s not a pleasant place to be. It’s not a place you want to be for four hours. Whether that’s a human being or anything of that nature or electronics, it’s not going to go over so well. There has to be a lot of durability in all those parts. I don’t know if we’ve seen all the issues that there’s going to be. I think that when the races get hotter, there’s a lot of potential for failure, but I don’t think anyone can really quantify what those potentials are or put any odds on it because we are seeing things that I don’t think we even predicted we would see. Who knows? Maybe we’re going to see some other things that are good. I certainly have learned a lot about it over the last few months and it’s somewhat mind-boggling. There are some things I like about it. You know, for the first time to be able to have driver telemetry in NASCAR, that’s unique. I like that. I think it was time for that to happen. You know there are some good sides, certainly, but as a sport, I think we’re all very curious to see what direction this is going to take us, especially over the summer when it gets really, really hot and we get longer races. We’ve got Texas coming up; it’s an extremely long race, on a rough racetrack. It can be hot there. You’ve got obviously Indy, which to me is one of the hottest races of the year. Kansas last year was a scorcher and then the 600 in Charlotte. To me, those races are almost going to be a throwback to the races of the 60s, 70s and early 80s where reliability might be just as important is anything else. So that will be interesting to watch, definitely a change for the sport if it continues down the path that we’ve seen so far.”

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF ONE-AND-AHALF MILE RACETRACKS THAT YOU GUYS RACE ON. SOME ARE 400-MILE RACES AND SOME ARE 500 MILES. DO ONE OF THOSE RACES IN YOUR OPINION PROMOTE BETTER RACING OR BETTER OPPORTUNITIES TO PUT ON A GOOD SHOW OR IS IT ALL TRACK RELATED? “Well, you know, I’ve thought about that question because we were talking about Pocono shortening its races and I know there was a lot of excitement for that in the garage area and within the sport itself. To me, it wasn’t a big deal. I’ve ran four Pocono races I think and to me they weren’t the longest races of the year. There were other races I thought were much longer. So it doesn’t bother me. If we raced a thousand miles, I’d race it. If we race 300, I’d race it. Certainly, last weekend felt like a short race and it was kind of nice, but you know at the end of the day, I’ll run what we’ve got to run and I’ll be happy. You know it’s not supposed to be easy. It’s not supposed to be short. That’s not the point of this sport. That’s not the point of the top level Sprint Cup racing. The point of it is to see one, who is talented enough to do it, to win a race and who can last that long, who can manage their equipment, who can make good decisions over three or four hours. I like long races. I’m a fan. I’m probably in the one percent in this garage that is on that side, but the 600 to me is one of my favorite races. It’s a challenge to me personally to be able to look out at other athletes in the sport and say ‘Well I held on for six hours in a 140 degree environment with toxic fumes - ha ha, not an athlete my ass - so I like ‘em.”

DANICA PATRICK HAD A MISERABLE SPEEDWEEKS AND THEN LAST WEEK TIED HER PERFORMANCE FROM THE YEAR BEFORE. FROM A DRIVER’S PERSPECTIVE, CAN YOU RELATE TO WHAT HER FRUSTRATION LEVEL IS TRYING TO GET UP TO SPEED WHEN YOU’VE HAD SUCCESS IN THE PAST? “She has a long road in front of her and I think she understands that. I hope she does at least. But you know, that’s a tough deal for anyone on the Nationwide side to be successful with the testing ban in place. I think you look at drivers, you’ve got Sam Hornish and guys like that, who have come from similar backgrounds. I would say that you could quite easily argue who were more successful. It hasn’t been easy for them. I think you could talk to Sam and he would tell you this has not been easy for him and now, he’s over on the Nationwide side, too. You know, I think the biggest challenge she has is finding a way around that testing ban and getting experience. Everyone will tell you that race experience is the best experience. It is and it isn’t because you don’t really get a chance to learn on what you need to do to get more speed. You can learn on what you need to do to survive the race, that’s great, but that’s only 50 percent of it. You’ve got to be fast and talented as well. And so she’s obviously behind before the weekend ever starts, as is every Nationwide rookie and there’s challenges ahead for her. You know, I guess at the end of the day, if she can overcome those challenges and find a way to be successful, then she will have really earned a spot in this sport. But the odds are very much stacked against her.”

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