Ford Performance NASCAR: Keselowski Gives Mustang 11th Cup Win of 2020
BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Western Star/Alliance Parts Ford Mustang -- VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW WHAT KIND OF STATEMENT WAS THAT TODAY? “We’ve had a lot of great races this year with the 2 car, but we just haven’t really went out and kind of dominated a race. Talking to Jeremy Bullins and like, ‘Man, what do we need to get to that next level? We’re right there. We need to go out and just dominate a race,’ and that’s what today was for us with the Western Star/Alliance Parts Ford Mustang. I’m really proud of my team and the effort that they gave today. A great race car and to all of Team Penske, thank you. Its so great to be racing back in front of fans again. It feels like forever, so welcome back, guys.”
WHY HAS IT WORKED SO WELL WITH JEREMY BULLINS THIS YEAR? “It’s been good. I’ve had a good career and I thought we needed a kick in the ass and Jeremy and this whole team has been a kick in the butt for me to make me a little bit better and push me to find another level and we’re doing that so far. I’m just really thankful. I’m in a great spot here and hungry for more wins. I think this is my fifth straight year with three wins, but I don’t want to stop here. I want us to keep going and I know this team can do it. I’m driven. I’ve just got to say there’s so much going on in the world right now. I’m glad to be able to be a race car driver and get to be here and do these things. I’ve got two special decals on my car with Maurice Petty and Mr. Bob Bahre, who passed away this week. I’m just thankful to those who made the sport possible, and to my friend Dave who lost his father this week to the coronavirus. We’re thinking about you, bud. There’s so much going on in the world. We’re just glad to be here and glad that maybe we can take a few peoples’ minds off of all the craziness. I hope you enjoyed the race.”
WHAT KIND OF STATEMENT WAS THIS TODAY? “This is the same tire and similar track to Phoenix and we know that’s what you’ve got to do to win this championship. You have to go win Phoenix and we put on a great showing today. I’m pumped, I really am. The playoffs are a long ways away and they’re gonna be tough, but this is certainly a good sign.”
MICHIGAN NEXT WEEK. THAT WOULD BE SWEET AS WELL. “It would. I’ve been so close to winning there and hopefully this is good mojo.”
HOW ABOUT THESE FANS? “We’re just so glad to have them all back. It feels so weird to be racing without fans, but we’re glad you’re here. I hope you stay safe and thank you for being here.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford Mustang -- “For us here at Loudon, for me, personally, this has been a challenging racetrack and to be able to kind of work through it and have a solid run, I feel good about that. We pitted when we probably shouldn’t have and then we fuel-only’d to get our track position back and then the run went long, so the fuel only made us loose and we had seven or eight laps more on our tires, which ended up costing us there on that long run. We needed a caution. Congratulations to Brad, Team Penske. That’s great. I want to win at my home track, but nice to have a solid run.”
POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCES
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford Mustang -- “It was an okay day. Paul put together a great car for me, something that was pretty competitive. I thought maybe it was something we could win with if we had the track position right. We scored a few stage points. It was a somewhat uneventful day. Our pit stall was very challenging. It’s just kind of how this works right now. If you have a bad race the race before, you get stuck with a really bad stall and stuck in between a couple cars and that cost us a little bit. And then there on one of those cautions there towards the end I heard Paul say, ‘Pit,’ and the part that I missed is where he said, ‘if they split, pit.’ So all I got was the pit part, so we pitted when there really wasn’t many cars or any cars that pitted. And then we kind of got lucky and got a caution five or six laps after that. We did fuel only, which just made us really loose the last run. It went green from there out, so we had a cycle on our tires and had 10 laps on them, more than the cars I was racing. I wish that went a little smoother because I just wish we could have had a shot at it a little bit and see what could have happened. I don’t know if I had anything for the 2, but I think we had something for the 11 and the 19, but that’s just the way the cards played. Like I said, in ways we were lucky and in ways it cost us, so I was really hoping for a caution there at the end to have a shot at it and do something, but, overall, it’s a solid day. It’s nice to have a solid day with the way our season has been going. It seems whatever can happen does happen and all the air stayed in the tires this time, so that’s a good day.”
MATT DIBENEDETTO, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang -- “We had some troubles and had a fast car from the start, we just had to tighten it up some. I was a little frustrated at times just because of how fast of a car we had and we were sort of stuck back in a little mess, had some big trouble on one pit stop and really set us back, so we were battling to try to get up where we belonged and then once we did we were pretty competitive. I thought we had a car that could have ran in the top two or three until that very last run we just got a little too tight on the last set of tires. We were tight and lost a little speed, so we ended up still having a solid day finishing sixth, which I’m happy about in the sense of our last two weeks were very rough as far as luck. We’ve had fast race cars, but the takeaway I take from it is we’ve really been in a good groove for the last many weeks I can remember. For the last sevenish weeks we’ve had cars that can run up in the top five and top 10 no problem, so I’m real encouraged about that moving forward. I think we’ll stay in a good rhythm. Other than that, not too crazy of a day. I’m glad we came out with a solid run that the team deserves when we’re obviously fighting for points.”
YOU’RE 40 POINTS UP ON THE BUBBLE. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR POSITION? “I feel okay, but not as good as I’d like just because of these last two weeks -- Kansas and then what was right before that. The last two races really, really hurt and you want as much cushion as you can, but we’ve had a lot of speed, so I feel great about that part of it. The thing that I worry about the most is I want as much cushion as humanly possible going to Daytona because that’s just a real crap shoot, so the more cushion we can have going to Daytona the better.”
JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED -- ANY FUEL CONCERNS AT THE END? AND WHEN YOU CHANGE CREW CHIEFS DO YOU CHANGE ANY OF YOUR LINGO AS FAR AS SAVING FUEL? “We talk about it a lot. The bottom line is to be diligent. You can’t assume that he knows. I worked with Todd for so long that he knew what I can and can’t do. He knew by the tone of my voice the severity of the car because we worked with each other for a long time. That’s natural. It’s like your wife sometimes. You can just look at her and know. You know what’s going on without asking. It’s essentially the same thing and we just have to get to that point, and over time we will get there. Today, we worked through one of those issues -- when to key up. There’s a delay in our radio system. For one, we need to fix that. Two, we need to be able to handle that better. It’s something we’ve been fighting throughout the year, so we need to make that part. The lingo doesn’t change. You are just very clear about what exactly you need to do because there are times I could say something about the car that’s not a big deal and he’ll try to fix that, instead of something else. Those are the things that we can continue to work on. That all happened earlier. I feel like we’re making progress on that, which is natural. It’s just kind of part of what you would expect.”
SHOULD WE READ ANYTHING INTO YOU WIN PHOENIX, A ONE-MILE TRACK AND COME TO NHMS WITH THE SAME TIRE AND A ONE-MILE TRACK. A TOP-FIVE FINISH FOR YOU. IS THERE ANY CORRELATION OR ARE WE PUTTING TOO MUCH INTO THIS ONE-MILE FLAT TRACK WITH THE SAME TIRE. “No, I think you can definitely read into that. Phoenix and Loudon are the two tracks that are probably the closest to each other. That being said, there are still plenty of differences, but it’s the same kind of nuts and bolts of putting together a setup. Paul just does a great job with short track setups. If there’s one thing I have figured out at this point is his short track package is spectacular. That is definitely the strength of this race team, and I think with the 550s we’re starting to make some progress. We just had to change some direction on some things. I like where we’re headed. I like that we’ve been competitive the last few weeks. We’ve been in the hunt at Kansas and Kentucky and Texas. We were in the hunt of all those races. Now, like I said, something has happened in all of them, but I like that we can run in the top five with just a normal day, and that’s a little bit of progress. The wins come right after that. We kind of fine-tune the rest of it, so we’re in the ballpark.”
MORE THAN HALF THE RACES LEFT ARE WITH THE 750 PACKAGE? WHEN MIGHT WE SEE A CHANGE IN WHO IS STRONG AND WHO ISN’T WITH THIS BECOMING A BIGGER ROLE? “The 750 package is a lot of fun. There’s a lot more that the crew chief and the driver can really add to everything. It’s not a chaos restart at the end and something crazy happens that is unexpected. You’re not gonna get that at 750. The good drivers and good race teams are gonna win. That’s the bottom line. They’re challenging to drive. You’ve got to use both feet. You go to Kansas and all you’ve got to use is the right foot, so it gives a driver more tools to work with. You’ve got to think things through more. It’s not balls to the wall all day long, pushing as hard as you can on the repave and not paying a penalty. You come to these short tracks and there’s a penalty for riding the brake. There’s a penalty for pushing too hard on a short run compared to a long run. You’ve got to think more. Strategy comes into play more. Boy, we’ve seen a lot of crazy strategy today with all those cautions one stacked onto another. What are tires worth? That’s what, to me, made this race very interesting. Yes, the best car won the race no matter any way you look at it, and it was obviously a long run there towards the end where it probably wasn’t very eventful, but the fact is as a driver I’m in there pedaling the heck out of it coming off the corner. You’ve got to change your line. You’ve got to move places and search for grip. Matt was behind me for the last few laps of that thing and we’re both searching different lines. Something works for 10 laps and then you’ve got to move again. You’ve got to keep doing that and it’s something that I think is fun and it’s nice to have the 750s with the low downforce and the short tracks.”
MATT DIBENEDETTO CONTINUED -- HOW DOES THIS 750 PACKAGE PLAY FOR YOU? “Joey’s laughed at how strongly I feel about how much I love the 750 package and the low downforce versus the other. It is just so much more fun to drive. No knock on the other, it’s just as a driver it’s an absolute blast and kind of plays into our hands a little bit more and it’s more fun and you’re doing stuff like, I was behind Joey for the entire last run at the end. I could see he was battling a little free, I’m battling a little tight. I’m changing my line multiple times and you feel like a dirt track racer moving around everywhere trying to find grip and run them down. It’s so much fun, so, to answer your question, I’m looking forward to that a whole bunch with the schedule remaining -- the schedule for the season I think we can make these playoffs for sure. We’re really strong and then at those places I’m extremely partial to the 750 tracks and races for the fact that you’ve got to drive the car more at those places, to be quite honest. It’s a lot of fun just slip sliding around and it really shows the strength of the teams on who is good, so it’s a lot of fun and I couldn’t look forward to the rest of the season anymore, especially since we’ve really kind of hit our stride as a race team and had super-good speed for quite a while now. We’ve had ourselves around that top five area a ton, so I’m excited.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI GIVES MUSTANG 11TH WIN OF 2020 CUP SEASON
Brad Keselowski won his third race of the season today.
The win is the 33rd of his Cup Series career and 24th with Ford.
Those 24 wins make him the all-time Team Penske leader for Cup wins with Ford, passing Rusty Wallace (23) and teammate Joey Logano (23).
The win is Mustang’s 11th of the season, bettering its win total from last season.
Today’s win is Ford’s 697th all-time in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
Of Team Penske’s 77 MENCS wins with Ford, 50 have come since rejoining Ford in 2013.
Ford Finishing Results:
1st -- Brad Keselowski
4th -- Joey Logano
5th -- Kevin Harvick
6th -- Matt DiBenedetto
7th -- Aric Almirola
8th -- Cole Custer
18th -- Clint Bowyer
19th -- Michael McDowell
20th -- Ryan Blaney
21st -- Ryan Newman
25th -- Chris Buescher
29th -- JJ Yeley
34th -- Joey Gase
35th -- Corey LaJoie
36th -- John Hunter Nemechek
RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.