blank 10/13/14 08:30AM Brad Keselowski, Charlotte Nationwide, NASCAR, Race Results

Brad Keselowski Victory in Charlotte Nationwide Race
Highlights Four Mustangs in Top 10


2014 Charlotte Nationwide Race Results

Ford Finishing Results:

1st – Brad Keselowski

4th – Ryan Blaney

6th – Chris Buescher

7th – Trevor Bayne

15th – Ryan Reed

19th – Dakoda Armstrong

24th – Corey LaJoie

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW – WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS WHEN YOU HAD THE TIRE ISSUE EARLY?  “It was gonna be fun.  I told Jeremy over the radio that I thought we were playing prevent defense early in the race.  Everybody was waiting to see who was gonna blow the next tire.  You didn’t want to run slow and get further back in traffic before you could make passes, but you could just see that everybody that ran hard kept having tire problems and we had some on the first run.  Thankfully, we got better and made some adjustments on the car and, man, I don’t know, it was looking like a long night, but the 22 Discount Tire team did an awesome job with this Ford Mustang and got it tuned in there for the end when it mattered.”  WHAT MAKES THIS GROUP SPECIAL?  “The people.  Whenever you have a successful team it’s always the people.  We have great sponsors in Discount Tire and Roger Penske as a car owner and Jeremy Bullins has done a tremendous job with this program on year three.  He’s really earned it and I’m glad I get to drive with him.”

RYAN BLANEY – No. 12 Western Star Ford Mustang – “It was a great night for us.  This just being a one-off deal team with Greg Erwin and getting a bunch of guys together at the race shop to come to the race track it’s pretty neat to see the hard work they put in pay off.  Thanks to them for working their butts off these last couple of days to get us here.  It was a pretty decent run for us.”  WERE YOU HOPING TO HOLD THEM OFF?  “Yeah, the first couple of laps it was really good.  I thought, ‘If it stays, we can do this,’ because they weren’t really gaining on us.  And then about lap seven of that run I was starting to get a little tight again, like I was every run, and I was just two tires so that was making it get tighter and tighter.  I knew it was gonna be tough to hold Brad off, but it was fun racing with Larson there at the end.  That was pretty neat.”  WAS IT STRANGE TO BE RACING AGAINST A CAR YOU’VE BEEN IN AND THAT IS COMPETING FOR AN OWNER’S CHAMPIONSHIP?  “Yeah.  Mr. Penske came on the radio before that last restart and said, ‘Remember, big picture,’ and not to do anything foolish, but it was fun.  I wish we had a little bit more, but two tires was the right call and it got us in the right position.”

CHRIS BUESCHER – No. 60 RFRShop.com Ford MustangPRESS CONFERENCE – “It was quite a fight tonight.  I’m pretty proud of my 60 guys.  We did not have a really good car at the beginning of the race and we had to work hard on this thing.  We made huge swings throughout the night and finally got to the end there and actually had a pretty good piece, so we just finally got that track position and were able to race around these guys a little bit.  We were just really loose early on and had to get tightened up, so we chased that pretty much all night, but, like I said, I’m proud of them for making a comeback and getting us back up to sixth.  That’s not quite a top-five, but not a terrible night for us.”  HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO REBOUND TONIGHT AFTER LAST WEEK?  “This was definitely big for us.  Obviously, the finish was a disappointment but the run was not.  That’s the most speed we’ve had at a mile-and-a-half all year.  We’ve got some pretty decent momentum these last couple of weeks.  We’ve been able to be fast in practice and race a lot better.  We’re making progress over here.  We obviously got caught up in someone else’s mess there and there’s only so much you can do in a situation like that.  Not that it’s anyone’s fault, it’s just some bad luck.  It was nice to come back tonight and rebound and get a sixth-place finish.  Like I said, it wasn’t an easy start running around 15th.  We made some huge swings to be able to get closer to the end and I think we got a lot closer to where we have been the last several weeks so that was big.  I’m looking forward to getting to the next one.  I know we’ve got a couple weeks off, but we’ll try and keep this momentum rolling.”  HOW IS IT TO RACE AND GET EXPERIENCE AGAINST GUYS LIKE THE CUP VETERANS?  “I think the whole race every week we’re trying to learn as much as possible.  I have a pretty limited amount of seat time on the mile-and-a-half stuff and that seems to be where we’re trying to make the most progress.  It’s gonna be a lot tougher going into next year without any testing as well, so that’s also been something we haven’t had much of this year, so we’re trying to learn as much as we can in these races and try to get our cars better at the same time to where we can get up there and run with these guys.  The more we can do it, the more we can learn and the faster we can get and the better improvements we can make.”

RYAN REED – No. 16 ADA Drive to Stop Diabetes Ford Mustang – “I thought the weekend was one of our better efforts from the time we unloaded.  We all worked together well and we learned a lot.  The race didn’t play out according to plan.  We lost a clutch early on and we’re trying to figure out if that’s what caused us to go two laps down.  The 9 got off-sequence there and we needed it to cycle through and we wouldn’t have gotten trapped two laps down.  When we did get two laps down it put us behind and we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to work on it after that.  I hate it because I felt like we were only a couple of adjustments away from being a top-10 car, but all in all we’ll learn from it and I still think there’s some momentum there to be built on.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI PRESS CONFERENCE

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – “It was a night of adversity to start.  We didn’t quite qualify the way we wanted to, but we thought for sure we’d race really well.  That first run in the race it wasn’t looking like that was gonna happen and we all got really nervous.  Then we lost a tire and hit the wall and thought this was gonna be a real downward spiral.  Jeremy and the crew hat’s off to them because they got us back in it with good strategy and a can-do attitude and we got back on sequence, got our laps back and got in a position where we were even on tires at the end with the right adjustments in the car and a fast pit stop and from there it was just in my hands to execute the restarts and execute a few key passes and we were able to make that happen and that’s how we got to victory lane today.”

JEREMY BULLINS, Crew Chief – No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – “It’s always special.  I’ve got my parents here.  I told Brad before the race that two-and-a-half years ago I won my first race with this team and my parents were here and they’re here tonight, so that’s always cool.  It certainly was not an easy night, but those are the ones that you remember when you have to earn them.  Like Brad said, we had a tire come apart on us early there and it didn’t look so good, but we managed to fight through it.  Our pit crew did a really great job tonight.  Those guys have really stepped up the last couple weeks and they’re coming together here at the end of the year.  The timing is good for that, so everybody put their heads together, put a plan together, made good adjustments and got it back up front when we needed to and Brad did his part.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – ON A SCALE FROM 1-10 HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT TIRES TOMORROW NIGHT?  “I’m not gonna pretend to play expert tonight.  Nationwide cars are different than Cup cars, but generally Cup cars are worse than Nationwide cars, so I don’t know.  Jeremy said the tires we had issue with were built from a different time than the ones we didn’t have issues with or the Cup cars, so it’s hard to know.  Looking back at Kansas, we didn’t have many issues in practice and then we did in the race, and kind of similar to tonight at Kansas we had probably the least aggressive setup you could put in the car just because of anticipating it would be an issue and still had a problem.  Tonight, we made it a point to have again one of the least aggressive setups we could have in the car and still had the problem, so I don’t know what’s causing them so I don’t know how to tell you if it is or is not gonna be a problem.  It seems very random, so I don’t know what that means.  I can’t give you a great answer.  I wish I could.  If I could give you an answer we’d all work around it.  I think that’s the problem is nobody has an answer and it just seems to come out of nowhere.”

JEREMY BULLINS CONTINUED – HOW CAN YOU HELP THE CUP TEAM NOT HAVE THE SAME ISSUE YOU DID TONIGHT WITH THE TIRES?  “I don’t know how much we can do other than obviously we’re an open book as far as the information of where we were at tonight and what we saw and give those guys something to compare to.  I think one of the things we’ve noticed this year is maybe the Cup cars because of the speed they run seem to put rubber down a little better than a Nationwide car does, so hopefully that helps for tomorrow night.  The tires early on that we had an issue with, usually with the Nationwide stuff you might have two different sets of date codes and the ones that we were having issues with were a little bit older.  I’m sure all the Cup stuff is new, so hopefully that alleviates some of the problem, but I’m sure it will be on everybody’s mind until they get through the first green-flag run.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – WERE YOU CONFIDENT WITH THE TIRES AT THE END YOU WOULD GET BY RYAN?  “I was confident when the yellow was out I’d be able to get by him, and then he took off those first five laps and I went, ‘Uh oh.’  I wasn’t holding back and he was driving away.  And then the pendulum swung and his car seemed to fall off and whether that was the two tires or just the nature of his car I don’t know, but it came back to us.  When the yellow was out I would have definitely said I was very confident, but I wasn’t the first five laps and then it swung back to us.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT RYAN AS A DRIVER?  “He did a helluva job tonight.  It’s always tough for a driver to come into this series when you don’t run it full-time – any series – and run well.  That’s always a very strong accomplishment, but then add that to the 12 team along with that, that doesn’t run full-time, you have two really big hurdles to climb and I think saying that, both of those groups, whether it’s the driver or the team, did a really good job putting themselves in position to win the race at the end.  They both have my respect, but to get to your question about Ryan he’s doing a great job.  He’s controlling what he can control.  He’s earning every opportunity he’s got and if he continues to do that he’ll find himself in a really good position here very shortly.”

HOW CHALLENGING IS THIS SERIES FOR YOU?  “I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say thank you or feel bad about that (laughing).  The thing about winning races at any level, especially the NASCAR level, is it’s a big deal.  Winning a Nationwide race to me, the novelty of being in victory lane and being able to say we were the best on that day, hasn’t worn off – at least for me – and it still takes some time for me afterwards to really reflect and think about what it means just like it did the first time I won a race and I wasn’t a Cup driver.  So I don’t take these wins for granted.  I don’t take these opportunities for granted.  To put together a team and a car the way the 22 has been put together over the last five seasons, keep in mind this team is only five years old, and it’s had three crew chiefs and if you look at the other positions on the team every position has changed probably three or four times over.  I’ve got to drive a good part of it, but there are other drivers that have drove, whether it was Carpentier this year, Logano, Blaney or last year we had Allmendinger, the year before that we had Kligerman and Jacque, so a lot of different drivers and a lot of different situations, but to be a part of creating this team from the start in 2010 and seeing it be so successful it means a lot to me and it’s very personally rewarding.  I think it’s a part of what’s helped take Penske from being a good team, a good company, to an elite race team in Sprint Cup right now.  So when people say things to me with regards to I should focus on the Cup level and not run these races or that we’re stepping down and kind of taking candy, I think about that.  I think about how five years ago this team didn’t exist and how I wasn’t a Cup driver and together we were able to put this group together and all the people that have come through this program, and I think of how unfair it is to say that to them because they’ve gotten some great opportunities and made the most of it as well.  Without being in this car, without starting this team, it would have never existed so the wins and all the success that comes with it means a lot to me on so many different levels, whether it’s the people or the accomplishments or seeing almost like a child a team grow into what it has from nothing, and going back to those conversations with Roger on Day 1 about starting this team.  That means a lot to me and hasn’t worn off and I think about that every time we’re in victory lane.  It’s still something that I enjoy.”

JEREMY BULLINS CONTINUED – HOW DID TRACK TEMPERATURE AND AMBIENT TEMPERATURE AFFECT YOUR ADJUSTMENTS?  “I think tomorrow if I was looking back on this race I would probably tell you that maybe it didn’t free up as much as it normally does in this race.  A lot of times we anticipate the track getting looser and during the course of this race as the temperature cools off, so it didn’t quite swing as much as normal would probably be the biggest thing.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR TOMORROW NIGHT IN REGARDS TO THE TIRE SITUATION?  “The only thing I know to prevent the tire issues is to slow down and that doesn’t seem like a very good plan.  That’s very frustrating and makes you feel like you’re backed in a corner.  Nobody likes to play prevent defense.  We’re all racers.  We want to go as fast as we can.  We want to challenge each other for the lead.  We want to push the pace and push ourselves to the limits.  Essentially the limits of the cars, team, the limits of the drivers, are below the threshold of the tire and that’s not a good feeling.”

WILL IT BE AN EASIER IN THAT EVERYBODY WILL HAVE THAT ON THEIR MIND?  “The margins are so small that anything could trip it off to cause a whole sequence of issues.  The margins are too small.  That’s just the reality of it.”

IS THIS RACE MORE OF A WILD CARD NOW BECAUSE OF THE TIRE QUESTIONS?  “No.  I don’t know.  I feel like before tonight I would have told you that I didn’t think we’d have any issues and then we had the incidents tonight and I’m not sure.  Of the three races, Charlotte still remains in my eyes at the Cup level your best opportunity to control your destiny, so performance here for this bracket is very, very critical.  So I don’t know.  It’s definitely still the best of the three, but it’s not looking to be as strong as what it did before today.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS CHEMISTRY TO YOU AS A DRIVER KNOWING EVERYONE IN YOUR ORGANIZATION IS WORKING WELL TOGETHER?  “It feels good.  It’s certainly a confidence and morale booster that makes you feel like you have a little bit more control over how things are gonna go, but you still have the task at end.  We all still have to execute and just because we have great cars and we’ve had a great season to date, that doesn’t mean anything once they drop that green flag.  You’ve got to go out there and prove yourself.  You’ve got to go out there and drive your butt off and have great pit stops, and everybody on the team has to execute the race strategy and pit calls to keep up with the track as it’s changing and to keep the speed in it essentially.  It’s great.  We’re very proud of what we’ve done in the last few years with winning championships at the Cup level and Nationwide level, but we can’t get caught up in our own press clippings as my boss would say, Roger Penske.  We’ve got to keep pushing forward.”

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