MODERATOR: We are now joined by the winner of tonight's Digital Ally
400, driver of the No. 2 Wurth Ford, Brad Keselowski, and crew chief
Paul Wolfe. If you have a question, please raise your hand.
Q. Brad, I think
at some point this season you said that Kansas would kind of determine
on where this package would fit. How would you -- how happy are you
with the package, and where do you think it will go for the rest of the
Well, it's hard to say. I think it's hard to say where it'll go. But I
feel like the season breaks down into thirds, and maybe I'm repeating
myself to some of the people in the room. But you have your first
third, your second third and of course the final part with the playoffs.
With that in mind,
Kansas is kind of like to me a break point between the end of the first
third of the season and the beginning of the middle stretch. I think we
really see kind of things settle out by then. You have the West Coast
Swing at the start of the season; there's a lot that comes and goes and
trying to understand the rules and the new -- and all the engineering
behind it is a little bit tough.
But when we get to
this part of the season, I think you really have to shine because this
is what you've got. So it's nice to be able to win right here today,
and of course it's always nice to win, but in light of those thoughts or
beliefs, I guess, it's a good sign for us for sure.
Q. I'm just kind
of curious where you came from because you started fourth but then you
guys dropped back and you were like in attack mode over those last 26
laps. Was the car set up -- I guess Paul, was the car set up for
night? And can you talk about that restart where you got like seven
spots in five laps?
Yeah, that was pretty cool. But no, I think Paul and the team, they
made some great adjustments to the car. I was struggling a little
before that, but about 100 laps to go roughly the car really started to
come together. Before that I felt like I was kind of hanging on in that
10th to 15th place range and we just worked on the car, or the team
worked on the car; I sat in the driver's seat and watched. But they got
it dialed in where it needed to be, and then I was able to be aggressive
and make moves. So kudos to them.
Q. Can you talk
about the setup, Paul?
PAUL WOLFE: It was
a tough night. I mean, we were off quite a bit to start the race, and I
think to Brad's point, we're far enough along in the season now where it
seems like a lot of guys are starting to figure out where they want to
be. We won some races early in the season, and I think the mile-and-a-halfs
early in the year we were pretty strong. I think all the Penske cars
were. But now you look and the Stewart-Haas cars and the Hendrick cars
are really strong.
It's a lot -- none
of these races are easy to win by any means, but it's tough right now.
Tonight was a tough night, and you weren't going to get away with a car
that was off a little bit, and that's where we were at the start of the
race. Our balance wasn't right. We couldn't keep the throttle down,
and we worked hard. It took a while. The car wasn't responding early
on, and like Brad said, I think after the second stage or for the final
100 laps we finally got it tight enough where we were able to put some
good laps together, and then it's just working the draft and all those
other things on the restarts, which we were able to do really well at
Q. I know there
was some craziness that kind of jumbled the lineup, but there were seven
Chevys in the top 10. Do you view them as having improved at all, and
do you see them as maybe more of a factor as far as teams to beat?
Yeah, the 88 the last two weeks has looked very, very strong. He
looked -- when I was behind him here today, very, very strong. I think
they're definitely starting to hit their stride for sure, and we can't
let our guard down.
Q. When you're
chasing Bowman down like that, is it any different with this package
than it would be in like a more traditional package? Like is the
mentality the same, or are you having to try to force him into a mistake
more? How does that go?
Yeah, it feels different in some ways, and it feels the same in others.
You know, I think I ran the last 20 or 30 laps wide open, and in a lot
of ways that's frustrating because it felt like before at least when you
were lifting like there was something you could maybe do different, but
when you're running wide open behind somebody and you can't make the
pass, you're like (growls), so it's frustrating. But on the other side,
it actually is just a touch easier to pass in some ways, too, because
the draft helps pull you back to somebody and all those things. It's
just different. I don't know if there's a right or a wrong.
I felt like going
into this race that this would be a good -- especially with it being a
night race and being cool temps, this would be a strong showing for
these rules and for the ability to pass and do those things, and
obviously I'm a little biased because I won the race, but I felt like it
was. I feel like you saw the cars run closer than they probably ever
have here and saw some pretty good battles throughout the day. And
that's definitely because the rules package. It has its strengths and
weaknesses, and if there's going to be a strength, it's going to be
races like this, and I feel like it delivered.
Q. Given the
racing that happened over the last 40 laps after the restarts, it sure
feels like at some point at the end of the season -- before the end of
the season is over, someone is going to get wrecked throwing a block
near the front of the field. Has the conversation surrounding blocks
changed, in terms of how you view blocking someone on the racetrack, and
is that going to be simply how it is going forward?
Well, I think that the word "block" gets maybe used sometimes fairly,
sometimes unfairly. I always feel like a block is when you move down in
front of somebody that has a run that's fast enough to pass you. I
don't think of blocking when you're switching lanes in front of a car
that's slightly faster in order to get the draft off him because you can
get a draft being in front of someone just like you can get a draft
being behind someone.
But it's hard
because, much like in your passenger car, you're making those judgments
in split seconds, and you're using a mirror to do it, which naturally
doesn't give you great vision, distorts your vision, and so when you
make those moves, you don't always know if you're making it as a draft
or if you're making it as a block. But you have to make it. If you
don't, you're just going to easily get passed.
Yeah, you're going
to see some wrecks like that. That's just part and parcel with these
kinds of rules and another added challenge.
Q. This being your
third win on the season, is this where you thought you'd be, where you
expected to be as far as in the rankings so far?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I
don't really probably put it that way. I'm happy to have three wins at
this point in the season. I'd be happier to have four. (Chuckles.) I
just want to make the most out of each and every weekend, each and every
opportunity, and the chips will fall where they fall from there.
Q. When you're on
the track like that, as easy as it was from your position behind the
wheel, what was going through your head in those closing laps? Like you
said, you passed Bowman --
Just trying to create an opportunity and capitalize on it. I had a
little run on Alex entering Turn 1, and he moved down to cover it, and
when he did so, he was just slightly out of balance, and I was able to
pounce. You know, it feels a little bit like watching a football game
and watching somebody, a corner versus a wide receiver and watch them
kind of work each other. It felt a lot like that to me, at least in my
mind, and you're just trying to get him off balance and cut and go the
other direction and get away from him. And that's what we were able to
Q. This is one of
those races that really the intensity was like tangible through the TV.
Do you feel that as a driver, and was this race any different?
Yeah, oh, absolutely. I felt like in practice it was much more intense
than a normal practice here. The cars undoubtedly are easier to drive
by themselves than they used to be, but the demands of being able to run
in the pack are very, very high, very strenuous. Your peripheral vision
gets tested, all those things, your proprioception, to know where you're
at in space and be able to make all the right moves, it really
challenges you both mentally and physically in a different way than
Physically I felt
like especially last week, this has been way more challenging physically
because the cars are going so fast through the corner. I got out of the
car last week and I felt like I was three inches shorter, just from all
the G-forces. I went and tested at Chicago and I thought it was just me
and then Ryan Newman came up to me and explained the same thing, and I
was like, You too? Yeah, me too. Saw about three or four other drivers
and they all said the same thing; Man, I have never, ever felt that deep
in the race car before. And this was a more physically challenging race
than I can remember here, just because of those increased loads. But
that's part of the game.
Q. This question
is for both of you. I think you are now fourth in the points standings,
obviously tied for the series lead in wins. You divide the season by
thirds. What does this middle third look like in terms of balancing,
maximizing playoff points and getting ready to be really, really good in
the final third?
Why don't you take that one, Paul? I've been hogging them.
PAUL WOLFE: Well,
I think as we look at the start of the season, we're just trying to
understand the rules package, and I think we're at a place now where to
be where we want to be when the playoffs start, we need to do some
things different and explore a little bit with our cars and try to
understand, because with this new rules, there's a lot more options I
feel like, when we talk about where we want to be on downforce or drag,
and I think we saw a different spread of that, as you look at
qualifying. With the impound qualifying you kind of have what you're
going to race and you can see the different speed in cars, and how that
races in the pack is different, as well.
We're trying to
figure out where we want to be. I mean, we were strong to start the
season, but like I said earlier, you saw some teams that have really
stepped up over the last few weeks and kind of figured out where they
want to go in a direction, and I think we've got to continue to explore
a little bit to maximize everything we can and put ourselves in a spot.
Having three wins
is nice, and that gives us that opportunity to continue to try some new
things and see if we can find a direction that has a little more speed.
Yeah, the season is dynamic and teams are going to learn things and get
better. We certainly can't rest on our laurels, and I don't expect we
Q. Going into this
race, what were kind of your expectations? Did you feel like we were
going to see single file with this package, or did you expect what we
were going to see tonight with the --
No, with the cool temps I expected it to be side by side. I don't know
if I expected our performance to be as strong as it was at the end, but
I'm happy for it. You know, I think the way the race played out, the
way the weekend played out, with it just being a really cold weekend --
I think I told somebody today that it used to be we wanted daytime races
because it fit the rules. Now it's the opposite. Nighttime is the new
daytime for NASCAR as far as the racing being better I think during the
night because it gives you the grip to be able to take advantage of what
this car or rules setup is designed for.
With it being cool
temperatures and being a night race, I think that's exactly what we saw,
and that's part of why the cars were double file a lot of times in a
race where normally they wouldn't be.
Q. Erik Jones said
you jumped the restart. Did you take off a little early?
No, I was right at the line. The first line. (Smiles.)
Q. At 35, I hate
to -- I'm not calling you old, but you had a couple of 20-something kids
behind you. Can you speak about them, maybe even Bowman? Bowman has
finished second three weeks in a row --
Has he really? I didn't even know that.
Q. He's trying to
close, and like you said, there was a little bobble, you took advantage
of it. It seems like experience won out tonight.
Yeah. When you finish second three weeks in a row, you're going to win
a race. He's got a lot to be proud of and he's doing all the right
things. You know, they have the speed and all those things. So that's
But you know, there
were some opportunities there, and I just took advantage of them. You
know, it's not probably really even his fault, just part of how the
Q. What do you
think about even his talent, though?
Well, I think if you finish second three weeks in a row in the Cup
Series, you're definitely earning your position and showing your talent