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Brad Keselowski Wins at Nashville – Notes and Quotes

Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski
 
 
Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 88 Navy Accelerate Your Life Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, scored his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win in Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 300 at Nashville Superspeedway. The win was a first for the JR Motorsports No. 88 team and the first-ever NASCAR win for the U.S. Navy.

Keselowski’s win in the Navy Chevrolet came in his 49th series start, and snapped Toyota’s eight-race win streak in the Nationwide Series. His mom [Kay Keselowski], dad [Bob Keselowski] and brother [Brian Keselowski] all joined the new winner in Victory Lane at Nashville.

BRAD KESELOWSKI, DRIVER OF THE NO. 88 NAVY ACCELERATE YOUR LIFE CHEVROLET ON HIS FIRST WIN IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES:

Q: TELL US ABOUT YOUR RUN…

BRAD KESELOWSKI – “We had a strong car. There was no doubt about that. It came down to strategy and track position. We pitted with 40 laps to go or something like that. Everyone else had about 30 laps on their tires and we were going to have to dig hard to get by them and we did. We were digging and we were passing them one at a time and it seemed like it was taking forever, but it was working. I’d just caught up to Clint [Bowyer] and the yellow came out with about 12 laps to go. That’s just what we needed to catch up to the 99. It jumbled the field up. I really thought I was going to be able to get by Clint, but I thought David [Reutimann] was going to drive away, but for some reason David didn’t go. I got behind him, took the air off of him and the next thing I knew we were by David and I knew I could take down Clint. It was just history from there. We had a great car and made the right moves on pit road and on the track and that’s what it takes to win in this series and in this sport.”

Q: IF THE RACE HAD STAYED GREEN, DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE HAD ENOUGH TIME TO CATCH DAVID?

KESELOWSKI – “Not a chance. We were catching him, but we would have needed 30-40 laps. I could see him up there. As a driver you put up marks of I’m here and he’s there, and you’re watching the closure rate and kind of calculate it in your head and there was no way unless he made a mistake. I’ve been on the other side of that. I’ve been in that situation where you’re running up front and driving away and the yellow comes out and you’re just like ‘AAHHHH.’ The shoe was on the other foot today.”

Q: WHAT ARE THE EMOTIONS OF FINALLY WINNING AND THE CELEBRATION? WHAT’S IT FEEL LIKE TO FINALLY GET THE MONKEY OFF YOUR BACK?

KESELOWSKI – “I don’t know if it’s a monkey off my back. I don’t know that I’ve been here that long. It’s not like I came into this sport winning. I feel like I paid some dues. I did some stuff with lower level teams. When you’re doing that with lower level teams and you’re breaking down every week and you’re blowing up or whatever it is that happens, you always question yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ and then when you catch that break like I did to drive for Dale [Earnhardt ] Jr. and the U.S. Navy Chevrolet and that kind of validates or vindicates you. Then I’ve got a team that keeps getting better every week and I keep getting better every week to go with it. I felt like this was just a matter of time.”

Q: WHAT KIND OF COMMUNICATOR IS TONY EURY SR.? HOW DO YOU GUYS WORK TOGETHER?

KESELOWSKI – “When you’re a young driver in the sport, you need all the help you can get. You need veteran leadership and that’s what Pops brings for us and brings to me. When you’re a younger driver, you need a stronger crew chief, you need somebody who can whip you into shape and that’s what Pops is for me. Sometimes as you get better it turns into the exact opposite, but he’s what I need for where I am in my career right now.”

Q: ARE YOU GOING TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY THE GUITAR SO YOU CAN PLAY YOUR NEW TROPHY?

KESELOWSKI – “I’m terrible at Guitar Hero I’ll say that right now. I guess I’m going to have to learn how to play. I can’t really have a guitar and not know how to play. That’d be wrong. I’ve got some learning to do I guess.”

Q: THIS RACE WAS YOUR LAST WITH KEITH COLEMAN LAST SEASON. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE IRONY OF THAT?

KESELOWSKI – “Wow. There’s a lot of irony there. Yes, this was my last race with the team I was with before I got with Dale [Earnhardt Jr.] and it was about as bad as it could get. We brought a road course car here. It broke down about five times. I was afraid I was going to knock the wall down and get myself hurt it was so bad. That was one of those low points where you ask yourself ‘Why am I doing this? I need to get out of here before I get myself hurt.’ The team folded up right after that and I was left without a job. The rest was kind of history of how I got with Dale [Earnhardt Jr.]. There’s a lot of irony with that.”

Q: WHEN DO YOU THINK DALE EARNHARDT JR. WILL CALL TO CONGRATULATE YOU?

KESELOWSKI – “I don’t know. I haven’t heard from him yet. I heard his satellite went out with 10 to go, so I’m sure he’s crying pretty good right now. I’m really happy for him. He’s paid a lot of dues in this deal as an owner. He doesn’t need to be an owner. He’s plenty popular enough not being an owner. I’ve said that a million times and I’ll continue to say that. He’s here to win. He’s gone through some low points himself as an owner. To be able to win for him and to be able to prove that we can do it – that makes you feels pretty good. To be able to prove that he picked the right guy with me, I’m pretty happy with that.”

Q: THEY SAY THE FIRST ONE IS THE HARDEST TO GET. NOW THAT YOU’VE GOTTEN OVER THAT HURDLE, DO YOU THINK THEY’LL START COMING IN BUNCHES?

KESELOWSKI – “You hate to be cocky and say that, but you’d like to think so. I feel like we’ve had a shot at winning a lot of races, but we haven’t caught any breaks. There’ve been some races where we were fast enough and we didn’t execute – we made a mistake, and there have been races were we haven’t been fast enough, but ran a perfect race. This was one of those races where we made zero mistakes, had a relatively fast car, maybe not fast enough to beat the No. 20, but mistake free. That’s what’s it takes to win races – being mistake free.”

Q: DO YOU THINK YOU’VE FINALLY GAINED THE CONFIDENCE THAT IT TAKES IN THIS SPORT TO NOT WORRY ABOUT WHO’S DRIVING WHAT, BUT JUST TO GO OUT AND DO YOUR BEST?

KESELOWSKI – “I feel like the confidence has been here since the start of the year. The merger with the Hendrick Nationwide team meant a lot to me as a driver. It was a big vote of confidence. In knowing that we were going to have equipment that could win this year. When you feel like you have equipment that you can win with, you forget about the rest, or at least I do anyway. You forget about who you’re competing against and know that on any given day if you run the car right, you have a shot at winning. That’s where the confidence comes from.”

TONY EURY SR., CREW CHIEF OF THE NO. 88 NAVY ACCELERATE YOUR LIFE CHEVROLET FOR JR MOTORSPORTS ON KESELOWSKI’S FIRST WIN:

Q: WHY DON’T YOU TELL US HOW THINGS WENT TONIGHT FOR YOUR DRIVER’S FIRST WIN?

TONY EURY SR. (CREW CHIEF) – “Well we started the night off. We were pretty happy with our car last night in practice When the race started we were a little tighter than we wanted to be. That was something we weren’t expecting. We were expecting to be loose. When you start the race tight it’s usually pretty hard to free cars up. We worked on it every stop. We just kept adjusting on it until we got it free in. He said it was tight off, but he was getting free in and he said didn’t want us to do anything else to it We made a couple adjustments there for in and off and on that last stop it worked out.”

Q: DESCRIBE WHAT HAPPENED WHEN BRAD DIDN’T COME TO PIT ROAD WHEN YOU CALLED HIM IN ON LAP 79?

EURY SR. – “I was going to stop for fuel only if those guys stopped. That was our plan. I really didn’t want to pit at all. I was kind of hoping that everybody else would stay out. It’s kind of hard for them to hear you in the car when you’re talking to them anyway and it was a last minute deal to try to get him on pit road for fuel. It was only 13 laps on the tires. At some race tracks it would have killed us, but the way the cautions came out tonight it didn’t hurt us at all. We actually saved a set of tires there at one time. That made those guys do it later on just because they knew other people had tires on pit road. I don’t think it would have hurt us that bad, but when everybody else starts pitting and whenever you’ve got fuel and they stop, you’ve got to stop with them. I think our team car, the No. 5 car, stayed out there too long that first time and he got lapped he stayed out there so long. You’ve got to watch out for that. I don’t really think it hurt us that bad.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR., CO-OWNER OF JR MOTORSPORTS ON THE NAVY TEAM’S WIN AT NASHVILLE:

Q: HOW EXCITED ARE YOU ABOUT BRAD’S WIN LAST NIGHT?

EARNHARDT JR. – “Very excited. We’ve been waiting for this for a long, long time, and I knew it would happen with Brad and Tony (Eury) Sr. Putting them together, I knew they were going to give us the opportunity to win sooner or later. Bringing Rick Hendrick’s deal over to JR Motorsports was a big part of it. It has made our program better. Having Tony Sr. is a big part of it. He has made the team better this year, and Brad is one of the reasons, too. It’s a big deal for Brad and his family. His mom was there. I’m glad for him, and I’m really happy for Tony Sr. It’s a pretty big deal.”

Q: IT SEEMS LIKE YOUR TEAM HAS BEEN KNOCKING ON THE DOOR THE LAST SEVERAL WEEKS…

EARNHARDT JR. -- “Yeah, we’ve been really working hard to make it happen for the Navy, for Brad, and everybody at JR Motorsports. Everyone there deserves it. They truly deserve it.”

Q: WHAT DOES THE WIN SAY ABOUT YOUR PROGRAM? DOES IT FURTHER LEGITIMIZE IT?

EARNHARDT JR. -- “Absolutely I think it does. It makes us a legitimate contender for the championship this year. There are a lot of different things that will change for our program and help our program. I think it really gives us a stronger footing in the series, our ability to be there and compete a few more years.”

Q: MARK MARTIN HAD GOTTEN JR MOTORSPORTS A WIN (MARCH 1 IN THE SAM’S TOWN 300 AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY), BUT WAS IT NICE TO GET ONE WITH ONE OF THE GUYS YOU BROUGHT UP?

EARNHARDT JR. -- “Yeah, it’s nice to win with Brad because he’s a full-time Nationwide driver, and even more so because we built the team from the ground up. It’s gratifying because we started it from scratch. That’s pretty cool.”

Q: FOR YOU PERSONALLY, IS THE WITH FOR THE NO. 88 TEAM MORE SPECIAL THAT THE ONE MARK GOT YOU?

EARNHARDT JR. -- “The win with Mark was different because of his history and statistics, and what he means to this sport. It was a pretty big deal to have a win with him. Obviously that 5 car means a lot to Rick. The partnership with me and Rick is more evident within the 5 team. The 88 team we started on our own, but his influence in that team and his ability to make our whole program better is pretty evident. I don’t know if it happens this soon without his help this year. The two wins were definitely different but equally as important for the company.”

Q: WHERE WERE YOU WATCHING IT? WERE YOU WATCHING IT ON DIRECTTV WHEN IT BLACKED OUT?

EARNHARDT JR. -- “Yeah, the TV went out with about 10 to go.”

Q: WAS THAT FRUSTRATING?

EARNHARDT JR. -- “Yeah, pretty frustrating.”

Q: SO, WHAT DID YOU DO?

EARNHARDT JR. -- “I was on the internet, and a buddy of mine was telling me what was going on. He was watching it on cable, and gave me the play-by-play.”

Q: DO YOU WISH YOU COULD’VE BEEN THERE?

EARNHARDT JR. – “Yeah, I wish I could’ve been there.”


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