Thursday, 08 December 2022

Keselowski seeks hometown victory at MIS, addresses his remarks on Jeff Gordon

Posted On Thursday, 09 June 2016 20:00 Written by
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BROOKLYN, MIch. -- As is the case every time he heads to Brooklyn, Brad Keselowski of Rochester Hills hopes to be in Victory Lane at MIS on Sunday. The Michigan native, who has never won at his home track in the Cup series, attempts to become the eighth active driver to do so.

The seven active drivers with wins in their home states are: Jimmie Johnson (7 victories), Denny Hamlin (7), Tony Stewart (2), Aric Almirola (1), Kyle Busch (1), Kevin Harvick (1) and Ryan Newman (1).


Keselowski's best finish at the two-mile track was a runner-up showing in August of 2012. Overall, he has three top fives, six top 10s 
and a 16.5 average finish in 13 Michigan starts. He does have two NASCAR XFINITY Series wins at Michigan, in 2009 and 2010.

 

"I get really mad when we don’t win this race and we haven’t won it yet," he said Friday at MIS. "Maybe that means the day I win it, if we win it, I will be ecstatic. It is really a key race for me personally and for the sport. I am glad we get to come here twice a year.”


Also on Friday, Keselowski touched on the recent controversy over his comments about NASCAR announcer and former driver Jeff Gordon.

"My big thing is that I don’t want somebody that is invested in another team talking about my race car in a derogatory form or a perceived derogatory form. I don’t think that is right and I am going to defend my team in those situations no matter who it is," Keselowski said Friday.

 

 

Here's the full transcript from Keselowski's media appearance:

Q: WHAT IS YOUR INITIAL FEEDBACK ON YOUR CAR IN PRACTICE AND WHAT THE WEEKEND LOOKS LIKE? 

“Before I get started I think I want to say something about Gordie Howe. Being in Detroit it is a huge deal if you are from this area, his passing. I know there are a lot of local media here and I want to give my thoughts to that. I know he lived really close to me when I was growing up and it is a big deal for all my friends and family and probably isn’t as big a deal for all of you here but that is a guy that left a tremendous legacy on his sport. I am thinking about him and his family.”

“Talking about this race weekend here, I think the rules package is what is on everyone’s mind and the biggest piece of the equation with respect to the new, new lower downforce package being debuted this weekend. Speeds are blazing fast down the straightaway but quite a bit slower in the corner and that has been interesting. It is a nice change of pace. We are all kind of learning together how that will affect the racing. I don’t think anyone will have an answer until they drop the green on Sunday. That seems to normally be the case here where races are different than practice and qualifying. I feel really good about it. It is fun to drive. You enter the corner almost 220 mph and you turn left and the front goes and the back doesn’t always go with it. That is quite a feeling for sure. It is a unique challenge that I think will bring out some of the best racing we have seen in quite some time. I am really optimistic about it and hoping that we can turn this opportunity into a victory here at Michigan. We have been really close with a handful of second and third place finishes over the last few years here. I feel confident that we can find that last little piece to make it a win here because we are on quite a streak with our team. We have had a lot of strong runs over the last few weeks and that has added up to a win at Talladega four or five weeks ago and a steady moving up in the points. We have moved up from sixth or seventh to third and are not too far off of being able to have a shot at taking over the points lead in normal points and taking over the points lead in the Chase standings if we can get a win here this weekend. That is our focus. We want to make that happen and I think we are off to a good start.”

Q: HOW MUCH HOCKEY DID YOU WATCH GROWING UP HERE IN THE DETROIT AREA AND CAN YOU EXPOUND ON THE IMPACT GORDIE HOWE MADE ON THE COMMUNITY?

“He retired before I had a chance to really be a hockey fan but just being a Detroit person in general I don’t think you can grow up in this area and not be a hockey fan of the Red Wings. Looking at that, I think he had more than just the respect of just his community, he had the respect of his entire sport which is hard to do for anyone. He had such admiration from the fan base and it has been almost 40 years since he retired. That really says something about someone. In the community, he was someone that remained a pillar after he finished his career. There is so much you can say about a guy like that. It is hard to put it into words but certainly left a tremendous legacy for his sport and a huge loss.”

Q: WILL THE BRAKES BE A FACTOR HERE NOW?

“We used to talk about brakes and the conversation before was how little we could get away with. Now it will be about how much more we need to put on. It is certainly a different conversation with that delta, the difference between the fastest and slowest speeds on the track and how that will all come together. We are going to learn together. That is really the thing I would say. My intuition says the track will get really wide in the corners because you will get crazy sideways loose and use up a lot of real estate. That will make for some fun racing, back to the old Michigan. All those things are really interesting. I might be completely wrong. I don’t think anyone knows the real answer. We will all find out. It is certainly a much different challenge than what we have had in the past here at Michigan and I don’t think that is a bad thing, I think it is a good thing.”

Q: YOU MET WITH JEFF GORDON FOR AN INTERVIEW, DID YOU GUYS HUG IT OUT?

“There were no hugs. I can confirm there were no hugs. There were some handshakes. I don’t know what other physical contact I should talk about.”

Q: DID YOU TALK MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU SAID AND DID HE SAY ANYTHING TO YOU?

“Yeah, we talked at length. I think there are certainly some different opinions. I don’t necessarily know if that is going to change but it is nice to be able to have those conversations in a one-on-one format. Of course there was a camera there so I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Probably a little bit of both. I feel like it is good and hopefully we can move on. My big thing is that I don’t want somebody that is invested in another team talking about my race car in a derogatory form or a perceived derogatory form. I don’t think that is right and I am going to defend my team in those situations no matter who it is. It doesn’t have to be one particular person. Beyond that, I think he has a position that requires his insight but there are some limitations to what insight I think is fair play for that position when you are still invested in the sport. I feel like that was over the line. Not just that particular example but other examples on other broadcasts. I just want to make sure that if anyone wants to criticize me and how I drive the race car that is one thing, but not my team and not things that could be perceived as self-serving.”

Q: WHAT WAS THE REACTION FROM YOUR TEAM SPEAKING UP AND DEFENDING THEM? DID THEY RALLY AROUND THAT? ALSO, THERE IS THIS BACK AND FORTH OF PEOPLE LIKE DRIVERS TO TALK BUT THEN MAD WHEN THEY DO.

“People like opinions as long as they agree. I think some people want to hear what I have to say and there are a lot of people who don’t and that is okay. There are so many lines to walk. To answer your first question, I hope so and I think I see that it meant a lot to them. I think they know that I am going to have their back and it goes both ways and I think they felt pretty slighted over not just this past weekend but other events in the past in this particular category. I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t just walk away from the situation and say it was their problem. It is all of our problem because that is what a team is. I think it means something to them. It is a question for them perhaps, for the individual guys and not myself to get the best answer on that. But to answer your question that is kind of how I feel. As far as being opinionated, it is tough. It would be a lot easier if I didn’t have a lot to say and if I didn’t chime in from time to time and I think I have tried to be a little bit less forthcoming than I have in the past because it can be perceived whether real or not as a distraction. I think for the most part I have been doing a little better job of that than in years past, as I have gotten older. That doesn’t mean I won’t speak out when I feel like something needs to be said. One of the things that is great is that there are more forums now than ever before to make the sport better. Whether it is driver councils or RTA’s or all these things that are going on. The need to be outspoken or opinionated is still there but it is a lot less prevalent in this forum than maybe what it was before. I think that has been very helpful as well and maybe why I am a little less. Still, when someone makes an attack or what I perceive to be an attack I am going to stand up.”

Q: DID YOU SAY THAT GUYS IN THE TV BOOTH SHOULDN’T BE STILL INVOLVED IN THE SPORT?

“I said, and I am paraphrasing here, that if you are invested in the sport you shouldn’t be in a position to be in the booth. I did make that comment. I would probably rephrase that with time. I feel like if you are in the booth or in a position such as that, not just the booth, and you are invested in the sport then I think you should probably bow out from conversations that are a conflict of interest. It is okay to be up there in the booth if you can respect the limitations that are almost self-implied to being a journalist. People have asked me what it is like being in the booth for the XFINITY races because I have the relationship obviously with Team Penske and they compete in that series even when I am not driving. I would say that in those situations where something comes up about that team or car or whoever it might be, it is my belief that I shouldn’t say anything. There is more than one person in the booth. That is how I have treated that situation. I feel like that is probably a more reasonable guiding light to go forward. It is not my right to enforce that by any means but that is what I think is fair.”

Q: YEAH, BECAUSE THEY HAVE HAD SEVERAL DRIVERS IN THE BOOTH WHERE THAT ISN’T THEIR FULL TIME JOB.

“At the XFINITY level, yeah, but not at the Cup level. The Cup level is obviously the granddaddy and what makes everyone go around. It is a tough balancing act. There have been numerous positions in those situations that have had investments in the sport. I just feel like when you are in those situations that if you have investment in the sport you need to bow away from topics that could be self-serving.”

Q: AS FOR THE RACING THIS WEEKEND. WHEN WILL YOU GUYS ACTUALLY BE RUNNING IN SOMETHING CLOSE TO RESEBLING A PACK SO YOU WILL KNOW WHAT YOUR CARS WILL DO?

“That is a really good question for Paul Wolfe, my crew chief. Maybe Friday morning. The racetrack here at Michigan always changes between race and practice. We have that Friday, it feels like 7 am practice, and the track will be nowhere near what it will be like in the race. Even if we do it at that time it will be a poor indicator. I don’t have a great answer for you Kenny. I think the track will change dramatically in the race. Not just because of the temperature difference but probably more so as the track widens out when the cars drive up the track and that will really change the game. I just don’t know.”

Q: A LOT OF DRIVERS ARE TAKING THE OFF-WEEKEND NEXT WEEK OFF BUT YOU ARE HEADING TO IOWA TO DRIVE IN THE XFINITY RACE. ANY MEANING BEHIND THAT WITH IT BEING FATHERS DAY?

“Yeah, there were a lot of factors. One, I really like the race track at Iowa and I have been fortunate enough to win a handful of races there before. We kind of balance that XFINITY Series schedule between three drivers with myself, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. Last year I skipped those races to be with my daughter. She ended up being born a week or two before that and I wanted to be with her. I kind felt like I had a good opportunity to win the race and I skipped out on them last year and kind of owed it to the team to run it this year. I don’t expect that to be every year but this year it felt like the right thing to do for those guys and the sponsors.”

Q: WHAT HAS IT MEANT FOR YOU TO BE A VALUABLE ASSET FOR NASCAR COMING BACK HERE TO DETROIT?

“It is a key market for us. I am not sure that there is anything greater than our fans to the impact of what we do to our sport and to its health. If there is a close second, it would definitely be the OEM’s. At this point the OEM’s are so important to almost everything we do and two of the three are based right here locally in the Detroit region. I would say that to be in their backyard – if Dale Junior is the most popular driver and has one of the biggest fan bases, for the car side this is the most popular track. We will get the most CEO’s and executives here from the car side. So I look at that and say it is a huge weekend for us in that respect. Both weekends are. I know there will be a strong Ford contingent here I am sure. The same can be said for General Motors. We need to showcase our sport in the most positive light in front of those guys and show what we are capable of and the audience and quality of racing and technology and innovation. It is a key weekend for us as a whole. For that I am thankful that I am from that same town as well. For me it puts a lot of pressure coming to this race. Both races really. I have had to be really careful to try to take a step back because I get really mad when we don’t win this race and we haven’t won it yet. Maybe that means the day I win it, if we win it, I will be ecstatic. It is really a key race for me personally and for the sport. I am glad we get to come here twice a year.”

Q: HOW DIFFICULT OR UNNERVING IS A MID-SEASON RULES PACKAGE CHANGE?

“A mid-season rules change to me isn’t very unnerving and I think it is a benefit to having the Chase format the way it is. Michigan obviously isn’t in the Chase but it could open up a race win for someone to get locked in. With it being positioned where it is, I don’t think a rules change in the middle of the year is as big a deal as it would have been 10-15 years ago. For us it is opportunity. I think it is excitement and opportunity to develop the sport, push it forward and to really kind of go all out for a new package and not have to worry so much about the sever penalty of having a bad race. I kind of look at it in more of a positive light than anything else.”

Q: IS IT HARDER ON THE ENGINEERS?

“Oh yeah, for sure. They earn their money on weeks like this for sure. That is why I think you are seeing so much of that influence effect our sport. It adds for the critical need of really smart people in those sectors. I think the engineers are a lot smarter than what race car drivers will ever be. I think over time when the rules stay the same year over year I have the best technology out there called my ass. It tells me what to do to the race car and I kind of win out over the engineers when there are not any rules changes. When there are rules changes they bring out all these fancy technologies they have that, believe it or not, work better than my butt and they win out. It is kind of a balance between the two.

Q: THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN A FUEL MILEAGE TRACK. HOW DO THE NEW RULES AFFECT THIS?

“I think the likelihood of the race being one of the better races here at the track is very high with this rules package. Will it be a fuel mileage race? I doubt it. I wouldn’t say never. There are a lot of factors that can come into play there. With the smaller spoiler the cars get a little better fuel mileage which seems counter intuitive with the speeds so high. I think that lends itself to – the fewer times you have to pit in a race the less likely it is that it will be a fuel mileage race. There are just less opportunities. We will pit less than we have or be able to go longer on fuel than we have before. That will be a factor that I think leads me to believe there is less opportunity for a fuel mileage race. You would assume with cars going as fast as they are going down the straightaway and as slow as they are in the corner that it will be harder on the tire. There will be more tire wear. Tires will be more important than fuel. You will see comers and goers throughout the race. Cars that are fast at the start, cars that are fast at the end of a run. That makes for great racing. There are a lot of factors adding up.”

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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