Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010
Dodge Motorsports PR
NASCAR Nationwide Series
BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger) 2010 NNS Champion
“It’s been a long ride to get here. It’s been a good ride, a lot of fun. It’s pretty amazing. From just a few years back to not having a job in this sport and really thinking that I’d have to get a “real” job to being out here and winning the championship and establishing yourself. Hopefully, we can carry this success to the Cup side.”
Q. Congratulations, gentlemen. Brad, you actually clinched the championship last weekend. So what was it like coming to this race as the champion? Is it a precursor to what you’ll experience next year going to each race as the champion?
“It feels really good. Obviously, for us that meant we could come here and just take a gamble to win, and we did that. We took a pretty large gamble to win there towards the end. It didn’t quite pay off, but it felt good that we knew at the end of the day we didn’t leave anything on the table, and for that I’m very proud.
“Throughout the year I think if you look at the way we’ve raced, we haven’t raced in a championship mode for the most part. We’ve raced in a let’s go for wins mode. We took gambles at tracks like Atlanta and so forth. Those were gambles to win the race.
“Probably lost some spots because of that, but we’re all about doing what we can to win races. We kept that up and got even more aggressive with it here tonight.”
Q. What has Paul brought to the table for you?
KESELOWSKI: “What does Paul bring? I think he said it himself. The focus on just building fast race cars. So much of this sport revolves around speed. You’re crippled as a driver when you don’t have fast race cars.
“When you look through the sport’s history, fast race cars always set the precedent over so many other things. Even reliability and pit road and all of that. If you have a fast race car you can just overcome so many issues.
“And that’s what Paul brings to the table is the knowledge and guts to work hard and build those cars and not accept anything less than that. I think that’s what Paul brings to the table.
“Obviously, our relationship has developed throughout the year to where we have a lot of confidence in each other and that gives a little more clarity and allows us all to be very focused as well.”
Q. Brad, your experience this season in running for a championship, the consistency, the Top 5 record and all that, what do you take from this side of the equation that you think will make you a better Sprint Cup driver?
KESELOWSKI: “There are so many things you take on any given weekend. You can kind of magnify the picture and look at whether it’s one lap and one groove or one pit stop and how to get into pit road better. You can magnify it or you can expand it and look back as far as building a brand and a legacy of being able to win and what that does for your team and for your name for guys like Roger to continue to drive greater and bigger sponsors and so forth, or for guys on the pit crew or on the road, just to keep their spirits up or even to continue to bring new talent in and build depth throughout the company.
“I think there are multiple ways you can look at it. For me I look at it and try to keep that in mind and feel that that’s why this series is so valuable to me.
“It’s not just valuable to me, it’s valuable to us all. If I win, Roger wins, and if Roger wins, I win. So you try to keep that in perspective. That’s kind of how I feel about it and hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to run next year for the championship.
“Like Roger said, we made commitments to sponsors and that to do it, and I feel good about those commitments and surely intend on honoring them. Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity from a rules perspective to do just that.”
ROGER PENSKE (Chairman, Penske Corporation) “It’s amazing to think that we’ve raced so many times here and won races wheel, but to come back here and this be the site for the championship is unbelievable. When you think just a year ago when we decided to put this team together and Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) agreed to come on board and Brad and we talked to him and we said let’s build something from the ground, a whole new team. That’s what’s we’ve done this year. When you think about what Dodge went through, bankruptcy and said, “Stay with us, don’t leave us,’ and you can see today when you see Detroit and what’s happened. We’re so proud of representing that mark through the season. Seven wins in this series and a number of poles. Of course for Brad, a Michigan guy, I think that we brought this whole thing back to Michigan. That’s pretty important to us and the state. For me, it’s a real thrill. This goes down in something that I’ve tried so hard with on the Cup side and certainly this will be a preamble to what’s going to come in the future.
“I just thank everybody in the media and all our sponsors. More important is my name might be on the door, but it’s all those people that are behind that door, some 350 people, that make Penske Racing successful day in and day out. I just want to thank them for what they’ve done for me personally. Also thank my wife who has put up with me for 38 years coming to these races. So it’s been pretty special for me.
PAUL WOLFE (crew chief, No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger) “It’s pretty special time for all of us. It’s a first championship for a lot of us on this team and a lot of people at Penske Racing. I’m just grateful for the opportunity that Roger and Brad gave me to come onboard and start up this 22 team. It means a lot to me. All my guys have worked so hard this year. Starting up a new team, I don’t think we had any guys on our team going into December. To be able to come out here less than a year ago and win the first championship for Penske Racing just says a lot about all the guys that we put on this team. With all the help from great sponsors like Discount Tire, Ruby Tuesday’s; it was great to celebrate in victory lane with both of those guys this year. Every day I get more emotions thinking about it. I’m kind of a quiet guy. I don’t say a whole lot. It definitely means a lot and I’m just grateful for the opportunity for the two guys next to me. I think this is just a little bit of what we’ve got to look forward to in the future.”
Was there a point during the season where you said, you know, we’ve got a shot at this? You put together this brand new team and all of a sudden you’re in that position. Then, Brad, what is it that Paul brings to the table that makes you guys a championship team this year?
WOLFE: “Well, to be honest with you, obviously, as we put this team together over the winter, the expectations and goals everybody wants to win a championship. For me, personally, it was like, all right, I need to get in there and build some fast race cars and figure out how we’re going to win races. That was my number one goal.
“Didn’t really have a championship on my mind. It was building fast race cars and winning races. As we got into the season and had the back to back wins at Talladega and Richmond, and kind of seeing how the points were shaking out. That’s probably around that time I was like well, you know, I think we have a shot at this championship.
“As Brad touched on a little earlier, I can’t say that we approached any weekend different as we found ourselves in the points lead there. I don’t remember what race we had the points lead. But we didn’t really approach the weekend different from the way we called the race, from the way we set up the race cars.
“I’m not going to say Brad might not have been driving smart or careful, not putting himself in bad situations which he does a really good job of not doing that. But we went out to win races and to win six races is a pretty good stat.
“You look at the 18 and you might think well, they won 12, so six doesn’t seem like a lot. So they set the bar high. So I feel like for a first year team to come out here and win six of them is pretty big. So just like I said, proud of the effort and it’s kind of my take on it.”
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 26 Alliance Parts Dodge Charger) Finished 21st “We didn’t have a very good car most of the night. We were way too tight, but somehow we managed to make a solid run to the end. We got caught on old tires late in the race and lost some spots to finish 21st. We ran inside the top 15, the top 10 parts of the night. We just didn’t have anything to run with the leaders at the end of the race.”
JUSTIN ALLGAIER (No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge Charger) Finished 11th
“A bit of a frustrating night. I was trying to come up through the field after we got some early damage that set us back. We made some pit calls that I thought were really good and I guess the 88 decided he couldn’t’ leave well enough alone from last week and wanted to get some more. It’s a shame. We got put in the fence early in the day and had to come back from it. I felt that we did a good job in the pits and out on the race track making spots up. We may have pitted too early there at the end. It’s such a tough call and we knew that we needed to take tires and we pitted. Sure enough, it got us to the front, but it wasn’t enough at the end. It was a solid 11th-place finish. I’ve got to thank all the Verizon Wireless Dodge guys at the track and at the shop. It’s been an awesome few years at Penske Racing and I’m very thankful for the opportunity to race for them.”
PARKER KLIGERMAN (No. 42 GetMoreVacations.com/Bandit Chippers Dodge) Finished 13th “Our No. 42 Bandit Chippers Dodge Charger was really good tonight. This was the first Nationwide race that I’ve started up front, ran top 10 the whole race and had awesome pit stops up until the second to last stop where we dropped a lug nut. That dropped us back. For a small team like this to run with the big dogs is great. We know that we’re fighting above our weight. They (the crew) did a great job all night long.”