Ford MIchigan Friday (Bayne and Keselowski)

Ford Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes:
Quicken Loans 400 Advance (Michigan International Speedway)
Friday, June 14, 2013

Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 Clean Tech Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and No. 21 Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, is coming off Ford Racing’s 200th NNS victory last weekend at Iowa Speedway.  He spoke to the media about that victory before practice.

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 6 Clean Tech Ford Mustang/No. 21 Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford Fusion – WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET GOING INTO THE WEEKEND.  “We’re excited to be here in Michigan.  I got to test here a couple of weeks ago in a Cup car and I think that was really good and beneficial for our whole program – the Cup car and for Nationwide – just getting more seat time here on the track.  I have not raced here in a Nationwide car since the repave, but I did get to come here a couple times with the old pavement and the seams, where you slipped and slid around.  I’ve always enjoyed this place, like Regan said, you can get big runs at people and use up a little bit of draft and make sure you can get inside all the way before the corner because this is a very aero-sensitive race track.  You have to give each other a lot of room, a little bit more than I gave Regan last week on that restart, but this is a fun race track and we’re looking forward to it.  The last three weeks have been really solid for us and I feel like we’re starting to gel together as a team and starting to get the results that we’ve been looking for all season long.  We’ve had the speed.  We’ve had the right people.  We just had to put it all together and finish races and not have crazy things happen, whether it’s grass on the grille or we had a rear gear at Daytona – just different things that have happened this season.  We can’t put our finger on one thing that has cost us as many points as we lost early on, but these last three weeks I feel like it’s what we need to do.”

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COMPARE LAST WEEK’S WIN WITH YOUR WIN IN THE DAYTONA 500.  “Last week’s victory – on track obviously the Daytona 500 is gonna be bigger, but the whole weekend itself – getting married is bigger than winning any race because it’s a lifetime commitment and I got to marry a girl that I’ve dated for a long time and is my best friend and now she’s my wife.  To have her there in Victory Lane, that was the first time that she’s ever got to do that and just on the racing side I think that win was huge for us – probably bigger than my Texas win because it’s been a couple years.  We needed that momentum this season while we’re running for a championship. In 2011 the Texas win was big because it was my first Nationwide win, but this one solidifies us and it shows the team that we can do it.  It’s not something where we can’t figure it, so I think my guys did a good job staying motivated and staying pumped up all season long while we were struggling.   After coming off of two championships it would be easy to get down if you had a couple bad races, but they stayed motivated and didn’t let that snowball and a lot of that is because of Mike Kelley’s leadership and the guys on the team want to win races, so fighting back after a few bad weeks – finishing sixth, fourth and getting a win – that win just capped it off and showed them that we can do it together and we’ll hopefully have some more success like that down the road.”

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO BE THE ONE TO WIN FORD’S 1000TH NASCAR RACE?  “They told me when we were getting off the plane this weekend we were going for the 1000th win and for some reason we love getting those milestone victories.  I feel kind of bad because those guys worked hard to get 599 and I came in and got the 600th, and then I did get to contribute to another one of the 199 before last weekend, but it’s so cool to be a part of Ford.  Yesterday we got to come up here and drive a lot of their new products, whether it’s full energy cars or hybrids.  They had some Ford Raptors up there that were a ton of fun to drive, but Ford is such a huge backbone of our team.  Not only do they give us manufacturer support, but they were actually on our race car last weekend at Iowa with the Ford EcoBoost Mustang, so we could not do it without them.  Jamie Allison and all the guys there that come into our meetings every week and give us so much support – anything we need, whether it’s engineering or simulation or pictures, they do it all for us, so to get their 1000th win for them would be a really big deal.  I think they made a banner up for Sunday in case we do get it for 1001.  They’re being pretty optimistic here at Michigan since it is their home track.”

HOW DID LAST WEEK’S IOWA RACE, WHERE THERE WERE NO CUP GUYS IN THE FIELD, CHANGE THE FEEL OF THE EVENT?  “Going into it we knew that only one Cup guy would be there – Joey Logano – and obviously you want to capitalize on those stand-alone races for victories.  Anytime Kyle Busch isn’t gonna be there, you know you’ve got to make the most of it and try to go win the thing.  Not to say that we don’t do that every weekend, but when those Cup guys are there you know it’s gonna be harder.  If you do get a win, then it’s that much sweeter, but I love racing against him every weekend.  I feel like it makes me better as a driver and makes our team work a little bit harder, but at the end of the day we’re racing against a lot of good teams this season.  There are probably 10-15 guys that could win any given day, and when the Cup guys aren’t there – like I said – you just really have to capitalize on it and know that you’re racing against the 3 and the 7 and Brian Vickers and a lot of those guys.  That’s who you’ve got to beat.”

WHERE DO YOU THINK THE 54 IS BEATING YOU?  “We’re not just racing a driver there and everybody focuses in on Kyle Busch, but the way I see it the 54 car didn’t win a race beside Kurt last year and now he’s back at Joe Gibbs Racing.  That team has been strong for a number of years.  Joey Logano was dominant in that car last year and I’m not taking anything away from Kyle because he’s doing an awesome job this year and getting the most out of it every single race, but we’re racing against that team, which is another Nationwide Series team that has the same ability that we do.  We just have to figure out where they’re beating us like you’re asking us and, to me, the biggest thing is you’ve got to get through the corner.  Anytime you can get through the corner makes your engine look that much better.  You carry speed through the center.  You go to the gas sooner and you make the straightaway longer, so it would be easy for us to sit up here and say it looks like horsepower, but honestly I don’t feel like it is horsepower.  To me, whether it’s aero of the body or mechanical grip, which seems to me to be our biggest issue.  I think we just have to figure out the tires better.  As they change the tires, we have to be able to keep up with it and get the front ends to work better, so we can carry that speed.  You don’t have to crutch the car with the rear end by freeing it up all the time.  You can tighten up the rear end, get forward drive and then you can make that straightaway longer.”

Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion, is in his home state of Michigan for this weekend’s Quicken Loans 400.  He spoke about a variety of topics on Friday in the MIS infield media center.

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET FOR THIS WEEKEND?  “I want to win.  That’s my mindset going into the race.  This is, to me, one of my personal biggest races of the year.  I think for any driver, when they go to their home race track, it’s kind of the equivalent to them of going to Daytona or going to the Brickyard or any of those other really large races, and that’s certainly the case for me.  Coming back home to Michigan a win here would mean the world to me, and we’ve been close.  We had a second-place finish here in August, which was good and bad.  You’re just close enough to where you know you can do it, but feel so far away.  I would like to figure out that last spot, but I think we’ve got a good shot at that.  We had a really strong run last week at Pocono and kind of got foiled there at the end, but I think we’re slowly getting back into it speedwise and found some things to get us there.  Hopefully, that will carry over to this weekend and we can bring home our first home of 2013 and here at my home track.  That would be really optimal for me.”

YOU GOT TO DRIVE ACROSS THE MACKINAC BRIDGE A COUPLE WEEKS AGO.  HOW WAS THAT?  “That’s one of the great things about being a race car driver from Michigan is there’s not many of them, so when you have any success it’s a big deal.  This being the car town that it is, I think we all know how important Detroit is to automobile racing and the support of this sport, to be able to do a first in a car is something rare.  To be the first to drive a race car across the Mackinac Bridge and kind of what that means to the state in support of the speedway was certainly an honor as well.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED — CAN YOU ELABORATE ON YOUR COMMENTS FROM YESTERDAY ABOUT TEAMS HIRING PERSONNEL FROM OTHER TEAMS?  “We were just talking about Ford and specifically the relationship between Penske and Roush, and how strong it was, and I just commented on there will always be limitations to our relationships company to company because of those transactions.”

WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF JASON LEFFLER?  “Obviously it was a really rough night when all of that went down this week.  Just kind of rewinding through how it all played out, at least for me, I’m still kind of in shock about it all.  It’s hard to believe the next time I go to a race track I won’t see Jason.  I don’t think that’s really sunk in for me and I don’t know that it’s really sunk in for anyone because that’s the kind of racer he is.  He’s a racer that you could see him at any track, whether it was here for the Cup race or last week for the Cup race at Pocono or some Late Model race or Sprint Car show on the other end of the country that you just show up to watch.  He could be there.  The experience I’ve had with him is just that, that he was a pure racer who cared enough for this sport that even when there was a race that he perhaps wasn’t gonna make a lot of money off of or make a strong living from he raced it because that’s what he does, that’s who he is – or who he was I should say.  That’s a real racer.  Jason may not have had the most amount of success at the Cup level, but at the end of the day he has the respect of the garage.  He had the respect of the garage.  I can’t even put it in past tense because that’s how it is still in my mind, but he had the respect of the garage because he was a racer, because he would do those things.  That’s hard to come by in this garage.  It’s hard to earn some respect and Jason had it because of his commitment to this sport in that sense.  Obviously, he was still a very talented racer who won at a lot of levels, which gives him a lot of respect as well, but he was just a pure racer and those are tough to see lost.  They’re hard to come by, especially these days, and it’s tough to see that kind of loss because I think most all of us at this level can really relate to that.”

WHEN JUNIOR WON HERE LAST YEAR A LOT OF PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WOULD START A BIG WIN STREAK FOR HIM BUT IT HASN’T.  DO YOU HAVE ANY REASON WHY HE HASN’T?  “I don’t know that I really have enough information to say why Dale Jr. hasn’t won more races.  He probably could answer that better than I can, but any given driver, any given team – and I’ve said this before – past success is not a guarantee of future success.  It’s certainly a stat and something that we can all look at and try to look for trends, but it’s never a guarantee.  I look at that and say that you still have to put the work in it, whether you’re the reigning winner of a race or the reigning champion.  When it comes to the next year, the next race, the next whatever it might be, that guarantees you nothing in this sport.  You still have to go out there and earn it on that given day, that given weekend, that given season, and that’s part of what I really love about this sport.  That’s what gives everyone an opportunity to succeed, and that’s part of my own challenge for this year so in a lot of ways I can relate to him in that sense.”

IN A SINGLE WORD DESCRIBE A LAP AT THIS TRACK AND FOLLOW THAT UP WITH THE DEFINITION OF HOW YOU GET TO THAT WORD?  “Fast.  It’s fast.  This, to me, is the fastest track we have and it might be in speed, but it definitely is in feel.  The Indy cars when they ran around here I think they used to go about 240 give or take a couple miles per hour.  I can’t remember if it was Juan Montoya, but someone who drove those cars in that era – it had to be Juan because he was the one that drove those cars in that era and is in stock cars right now – and he was talking to me, I think we were at the tire test here last year, and he said, ‘This stock car feels faster.’  I think that has a lot to do with how these cars drive, how on edge they are because even though we might set record speeds here and the track has a lot of grip, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to do.  Sometimes it is, but this particular surface, this whatever asphalt they laid down where it’s got the really tight aggregate, I think you see it barely wears out and it doesn’t even seem to really brighten up with the sun, it’s so slick and so hard to get a hold of, especially when in concert with the Goodyear tire that is used on that asphalt, that at any given second you feel like you’re gonna bust your butt.  Sometimes even down the straightaway when you go to make a pass and try to pull down and make an aggressive move you can feel the car slide around a lot and go, ‘whoa’.  So that makes this type of race track feel faster than it even is and it’s still the fastest track we have on the circuit.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY TREPIDATION GOING TO ELDORA WITHOUT SAFER BARRIERS OR RUNNING ON DIRT WITH YOUR TRUCK TEAMS AFTER WHAT HAPPENED TO JASON?  “If trepidation means hesitation, I don’t run those races for a reason.  There are a handful of drivers that run at the local level.  I don’t very often.  I’m not gonna say I never have, but I don’t very often because they don’t have SAFER barriers and they don’t have the safety standards that we have here in NASCAR.  That said, that’s not to say that all tracks in NASCAR have it right either.  There are quite a few, and I think Jeff Gordon so eloquently pointed that out a couple weeks back, that could use some serious upgrades and facelifts, but it’s even 100 times worse at the local level.  It’s funny because I talked to my dad about it, who raced local short tracks and every once in a while will talk about some track that he went to with my brother or whatever situation, and I’ll ask him how it was, and he’ll tell me, ‘Well, it hasn’t changed since 1975 when I was last there.’  I’m pretty sure safety has taken some pretty big leaps forward since 1970-sometihng, and I think that’s the issue facing safety at most local tracks.  Obviously, it’s not a simple issue.  They have funding limitations that kind of plague that level, but I’m nervous for anyone that races at those levels because I know what happens if something goes wrong and those safety standards aren’t there.  That said, I don’t know what happened to Jason and maybe it was completely unrelated.  I don’t want that to be confused, but, still, the safety standards at local short tracks are out of control, they’re dismal.  But we still go on and we keep racing because that’s what we do as racers and we’ll race here today and we’ll race at the next short track on a Friday or Saturday night that doesn’t have those things – someone will – because that’s the love and passion that we have for this sport, and what makes it what it is.  It’s a shame that our industry is reactive and I wish it wasn’t.  That’s a much bigger piece than NASCAR – that’s the whole industry of racing.  We have a tendency to wait until something bad happens before we fix things and we need to stop that.  That’s how you prevent things like this from happening, but that’s just not in our culture.  Unfortunately for the five-year-old little boy that lost his dad, that’s our sport.”

WHAT KIND OF DRIVER ARE YOU TODAY WITH A TITLE UNDER YOUR BELT COMPARED TO WHEN YOU RACED AT DIXIE OR AUTO CITY WHEN YOU WERE 16?  “That’s been a long time ago.  I’d like to think I’m a lot smarter.  Sometimes that’s not always the case.  Every once in a while I’ll go back and watch a tape from when I was racing at that age and kind of heckle myself and say, ‘What did you do that for?  You should have made this move or that move.’  I think with anyone who has had the benefit of experience that you become a little smarter, a little wiser and hopefully a little better.  Other than that, I’d like to think I haven’t changed that much.  I still have the same desire, the same passion and drive to prove myself on any given weekend.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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