BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger R/T) Finished 2nd YOU ALMOST HAD THE WIN. “Almost, just got a little contact there in the door getting through that wreck. I don’t know how we brought the Discount Tire Dodge home; there was a lot of swerving there to save it. If I just could have gotten through that without that little bit of contact.
I’m proud to be in a position to win a race and have cars capable of doing that. You know at some point, Daytona is a roll of the dice. I think we were running like eighth or 10th there when that all happened. We should be happy with a third (officially second), but I want to win this race at Daytona. I want to win a race during Speedweeks. Glad I got another shot tomorrow with the Miller Lite Dodge with the Cup side. I’m just proud of this Discount Tire team.”
HOW DID YOU SEE THINGS UNFOLD ON THAT LAST LAP? “Well, I didn’t see much. I was pushing Cole Whitt in the 88 car. I tried to let him go. I don’t know how he ended up in all that. I hope he’s alright there. They all started wadding up and somebody just got me right in the door and I spent about 300 yards in the death wobble down the short chute. James (Buescher) was able to get by me and bring home a win. That’s real exciting. I was hoping that the yellow came out a little bit earlier than it did ‘cause he got by me and right after he got by me, the yellow came out. You know that’s racing and I’m proud to have a great car, the Discount Tire Dodge team and we’ll just keep on going from here. A lot to be proud of and thanks everyone for coming out. Great day here in Daytona.”
HOW CLOSE DID YOU COME TO WINNING THIS RACE? “About a hundred yards, 200 yards, more than an inch, however you want to look at it, but just didn’t need to get as much contact on the right-side door. That’s the way it is.”
COMMENT ON YOUR DAY AND THIS CRAZY FINISH. “Yeah, crazy is an understatement (smiles). I was working with Cole Whitt there and they all wrecked. Just had that little bobble when I got that contact and Buescher was able to get by me and win the race. That’s a credit to him.”
DO YOU PREFER PACK RACING OR TANDEM RACING? “I like ‘em all, but none of ‘em are my favorite. What’s my favorite was when Daytona was a handling track, that’s my favorite. Big pack or tandem is about the same to me.” KESELOWSKI PRESS CONFERENCE
TAKE US THROUGH THE LAST FOUR LAPS OF THAT RACE. YOU HAD TO BE ON TOP OF YOUR GAME FOR SURE. “Yeah, I don’t know if I was necessarily on top of my game. I really haven’t figured this out. I feel like when I run good, I fall ass-backwards (laughs). I was fortunate enough to, obviously, the wreck was huge for us at the end, but there were several wrecks that we were fortunate enough to make it through. I don’t know if that’s skill or blind luck.
When it happens to you, then you say it’s just bad luck but when you make it through, it’s all skill (laughs). We made it through ‘em. We made it through the wrecks and got there. You know coming off of four, I saw ‘em all wrecking and got underneath it and I don’t know who got into my door and got me sideways.
Somehow I saved it, but that carried just enough momentum to get James by me. We’ll see if Elliott (Sadler) got by or not. I’m still waiting for the answer on that (smiles). But you know that’s just what the racing is here. Whether it’s good or bad, I don’t know, but that’s what it is. I feel like I won the lottery just to finish third (officially second) but I also feel like I was that close to winning at Daytona. I want to win a race at Speedweeks so bad. And when you’re running all three series, the pressure, I was telling someone the other day, is cumulative because Speedweeks is going through and you’re thinking to yourself ‘Well, I’ve only got one more race left after this one.’
You feel that, but I’m still proud to have the efforts that we’ve had this Speedweeks. I guess it’d be third in the Shootout, second or third or whatever it is today and not so good yesterday, but we’ll see how the Cup race goes tomorrow. Like I said, I feel like a lottery winner just to bring home a third-place finish (actually second) and still took the efforts of Penske Racing and appreciate that. I don’t know how to explain the racing any different than that ‘cause I don’t think anyone really can and I’d be lying to you.”
TWO CRAZY DAYS WITH WRECK-FILLED RACES WITH THE SHOOTOUT AND THE DUEL. HOW DOES THAT PLAY INTO YOUR MIND FOR THE 500? “You’ll definitely see less tandem, I think that’s for sure. You’ll see a lot more pack racing. The question is whether or not the field will single-file out. I’m pretty confident you won’t see a lot of tandem racing. I think the end will look very similar to what you saw today and we’ll see who wins the lottery (laughs).”
DO YOU THINK FOR THOSE DRIVERS WHO AREN’T RUNNING THE WHOLE NATIONWIDE SERIES, DO YOU THINK IT’S GOING TO HURT THEM? DOES THE CRAZY TWO-RACE WEEKEND SCHEDULE HURT MORE THAN IT HELPS? “I think every weekend is different and I think you can measure how it helps or hurts you in numerous ways. There are a lot of intangibles. Obviously it’s a higher workload, there’s no doubt. I think that’s what everybody sees, but there are other intangibles that you just can’t put a value to like having the Cup pit crew out here today for, I guess, a live dress rehearsal. How do you put a value on that? You don’t unless they have a bad day tomorrow and they didn’t do it. There are a lot of those characteristics that I think you’ll see. You’ve just got to really peel back the layers. So, I think it’s really hard to define that, to answer that.”
CAN YOU ARTICULATE THE RANDOM MADNESS OF THE RACING HERE? YOU CAN BE A GREAT DRIVER WITH A GREAT CAR AND AT END OF THE DAY, KABOOM, YOUR DAY IS OVER. “I think that the thing that sticks out in my mind is you know if you try to create a template of what it takes to win on most every racetrack, I think you could get a pretty consistent answer from the driver base, obviously from having a fast car and great pit stops to making right moves, taking care of your tires, whatever that is, on any particular track.
And I think if you asked them what the template was for success is here, you couldn’t get a consistent answer because the process that I think we all take or the approach that we all take to win here is the same one that could net you a 35th and you don’t do anything wrong. It’s the same approach and sometimes it can win the race and the next time it will run dead last you’ll be wrecked.
And I think that’s really frustrating. Obviously, but that’s just the way it is. I think if you compare that to the mile-and-a-halfs and so forth, the same approach will get you a range of first to 15th if you’re a really good driver. I think the same approach here could go anywhere from first to 43rd. There’s no guarantee of success here, no matter what you have, no matter how good your pit crew is, no matter how good your driver is, no matter how good your car is. Nothing guarantees your success. I think sometimes, for us drivers, it can be hard to stomach.
It’s obviously frustrating, but it also leads to a lot of parity within the field, a lot of first-time winners, all those things. Heck, I won my first race at Talladega under similar circumstances. You know it could be debated until the cows come home if that’s good or bad. I think that we’re all glad that there’s only four or five of these races a year (laughs) for that reason, but they are certainly different than what you’re going to see for the rest of the season.”
ON THE REPLAY IT LOOKED LIKE MAYBE IF THE CAUTION COMES OUT A LITTLE QUICKER, DEPENDING ON HOW THEY ENFORCE THE YELLOW LINE RULE, MAYBE YOU COULD HAVE WON. “I didn’t even think about the yellow line (laughs). That’s really smart. I never got that far. We’re going to have to go to the tape again. You know, I think that I walk a fine line with the comment there, obviously. I think there is no doubt to me the most dangerous aspect of our sport that’s left is the yellow flag situation in the closing laps of a race.
And I make those comments not in regard to the fact that if the yellow came out a little earlier I would have won the race, in no way do I make those comments in that regard. I make those comments in regards to the fact that if you’re running 25th, five or six seconds behind the pack when the wreck happened, the yellow didn’t come out for about six seconds from what I can estimate. And obviously there was a lot of attention on that area so I’m pretty sure it was seen. So the question is what is the appropriate amount of time? I think it’s very much a judgment call. With the wreck, I think it was in the Shootout, I think I would rather lean to the cautious side.
It’s tough for NASCAR, obviously, to wave the yellow early and then take all the criticism from fans that didn’t see their driver win if the yellow wouldn’t have come out that early. So I can see that side of it, but I think that when I look at the sport and I look at the most dangerous frontier, it’s not the head and neck system or anything like that. It’s getting hit from a car that is six or seven second behind a wreck, but has to keep going because the yellow is not out.
Eventually it will happen where they’ll hit a very, very slow car at a very high rate of speed and it will not be good. So I think that that’s an area that is still loosely defined and I’m not sure how to define it because I understand the difficulties that remain in that area to make those decisions. When I think of what I’m most nervous about, I’m most nervous about the last lap, being in the front pack, being wrecked and stopped in the middle of the field and some guy from 35th, knowing that the yellow is not going to come out for another six seconds, whales me going 180 when I’m going five or 10 or maybe stopped. That’s certainly an area that I think about for sure.”
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger R/T) Finished 20th CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE RACE UP TO LAP 113 WHEN THE MISHAP OCCURRED? “The car was really good. It felt like we went to the front of the field whenever we wanted. The Alliance Truck Parts Dodge felt good pushing and getting pushed.
We were just trying to get to the end without getting collected and then (the wreck) happened. We got down to the end there and I was trying to push the 6 car up front. He wanted to run a little bit higher and that allowed the 33 and 2 to get underneath us. We headed into Turn 3 three-wide and was going to duck out a little bit to keep the engine cool. The 27 thought that he could make it four-wide. I don’t know if he got tight and just got into me off the corner. He was getting pushed. It was just one of those deals. This is the kind of racing that we’re involved with on superspeedways. It’s just unfortunate that we lost that lap when we had to pit and change four tires. That cost us 10 positions.”
WAS THERE A SENSE OF SURVIVAL BEHIND THE WHEEL? “We weren’t close to any of the wrecks until we were down to seven laps to go and we were in it. I was happy with how the car was running and was just trying to watch the people around us and make good decisions. It gets down to those last eight laps and everybody wants to run hard. It wasn’t time to “go” yet. Guys that had the big opportunities to win the race got collected on the last lap, not the sixth or seventh lap. There was definitely time to wait. We didn’t have to make it four-wide when we wrecked.”