NSCS Ford Performance NASCAR: Chase Media Day with Team Penske

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR

Ford Performance NSCS Notes and Quotes
Chase Eliminator Media Day – NASCAR Hall of Fame
Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski participated in Chase Eliminator Media Day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in advance of this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway.  Here is a transcript of their group interviews.

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO TALLADEGA?  “I was glad to get through it and on to the next round.  That was my reaction.”

WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE IF YOU WERE IN HARVICK’S POSITION?  “I don’t know.  You don’t know until you’re in that spot.  There’s no way to answer that until you’re in that spot.  It’s one of those situations in life or at least this sport.”

DOES THE CHASE PUT DRIVERS IN SPOTS WHERE THEY DO THINGS THEY NORMALLY WOULDN’T DO?  “When you get to these elimination races you’ve got essentially your whole season on the line.  It certainly is gonna stretch what you’re willing to do, but that’s not a bad thing that’s a good thing.  That’s what NASCAR wants.  That’s why they created this format.”

AFTER THE RACE MATT KENSETH SAID HE THOUGHT NASCAR HAD LOST CONTROL.  DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE?  “It seems like a question of perspective.  My perspective is maybe not quite as well defined as what seems like his was.  I guess this sport in a lot of ways isn’t meant to be under control.  That’s part of the fun of it, but it does need some control.  As to whether it’s the appropriate amount that we’ve seen lately, who am I to judge?”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU PERSONALLY CAN RACE MORE AGGRESSIVELY WITHOUT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT A PENALTY OF NASCAR INTERFERENCE IN THE CHASE?  “Before Loudon I might have said, yes, but no I don’t feel that way after Loudon.”

HOW DOES THIS ROUND SET UP FOR YOU?  “I think this bracket, knock on wood over here, I think it’s gonna be our best bracket yet.  I look at the short tracks of Martinsville and Phoenix.  Phoenix obviously is a one-mile flat track, very similar to short tracks.  We tested there and had a great test.  We’ve run well on the short tracks this year, finished second at Martinsville in the spring and at Phoenix finished fourth or fifth the last two or three times we’ve been there.  And then we tested and had a great test and found a little more speed, so I’m thrilled to be going back to those tracks.  I think we’re gonna have great cars for those races.  I look at Texas as being a track, a mile-and-a-half, where we haven’t been where we want to be with the 2 car, but my teammate, Joey Logano, has been really fast, so we know we have the potential, we just have to find it and we’re gonna to that by going to work.  I’m really excited about the challenge at hand.  It feels like the season has started over.  I feel literally coming into Martinsville like I’m going to Daytona for the 500 because nothing else that’s happened before now really matters, and, to me, there is no momentum.  It is what you make out of these next three or four races.”

IS THERE A FAVORITE?  “No, I feel like it’s the start of the season.  You can write one down on paper, but the reality is we all have essentially the same points.  I don’t feel that there is one, no.”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE A SINGLE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKER RULE AT DAYTONA IN FEBRUARY?  “NFL and some other sports have an overtime, but that’s only if the score is tied.  I don’t consider a yellow flag in the closing stages of the race to be a tie.  I consider it to be a stoppage of play.  In that sense, when the cars go the scheduled race distance, to me, the race is over.  Yeah, does it stink when it happens under yellow?  Absolutely, but those things happen and that’s why you’ve got to make a pass before you run out of time.”

ARE YOU SURPRISED JOEY IS DOING SO WELL?  “No, I’m not surprised Joey is doing so well.  That’s why I wanted him to be my teammate.  I always felt like he had the potential to run like he is right now and he’s certainly showcasing that.”

WAS THERE ANYTHING YOU LEARNED ABOUT JOEY AFTER HE JOINED TEAM PENSKE?  “No, I still see someone who is young with a lot of raw potential and talent.  I think he’s refined his game, which you would expect with age, experience, maturity and all those things, but I think at the core of who he is he’s the same person that I thought he was all along and I think that’s a good thing.  He’s a good person.”

WHAT’S IMPORTANT ABOUT TITLE #2 FOR YOU?  “We’re in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Title number two gives you this.  That’s big.  You look at anyone who has won a second championship in their career, they’re almost an automatic entry into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  That comes with a whole other connotation to your name, your career, your life.  I feel like that’s something that’s really attractive to me, but, beyond that, it’s important for me in anything I do in life to make the most of my opportunities and I have a great opportunity right now with Team Penske and I want to make the most of it.”

IS THIS FORMAT HARDER OR EASIER THAN DOING IT IN 2012?  “This format is definitely different than older Chase formats, but I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse.  It’s just different and it’s a new challenge.”

WHAT’S IT LIKE HAVING YOUR TEAMMATE AS MAYBE THE GUY TO BEAT?  “It’s a great situation to be in is to have your teammate as the guy to beat.  I think that means you have great cars.  Your team, company, whatever you want to call it is in an incredible position.  It’s not anything that I take anything negative from.”

DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE TO WIN A RACE OR TWO TO ADVANCE AND WIN THE TITLE?  “I think, for us, we need to win a race before the year is out to win the championship.  I feel pretty strongly about that, but I also feel like we’re gonna do just that.”

IS THERE SOME POINT WHERE TEAMMATES GO THEIR DIFFERENT WAYS AND THE NOTEBOOKS CLOSE UP DURING THE CHASE?  “No, I don’t think we have any plans to close our book at Team Penske between each other.  We got to where we’re at by working together and I imagine we’ll keep doing so.”

YOU SOUND REFRESHED.  “It is.  It’s very rejuvenating.  I feel very refreshed.  Have we had the season we want to date?  No, we haven’t won as many races as we’d like to have won, but it doesn’t matter.  It just doesn’t matter.  It matters what we can do from here on out.  Last year we won the most races throughout the year, but at this point specifically we’d won the most races of anyone and we went to Martinsville and had a parts failure and we were sitting last in the points.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done to date.  It matters what you do from here.”

DO YOU FEEL MORE PRESSURE AS YOU GET CLOSER TO HOMESTEAD?  “I feel the opportunity.  I feel like we’re going to at least two great tracks for us and if we can find a little more speed at Texas, three great tracks for us.  I feel like we’re really in the driver’s seat in a lot of ways.”

WHY SHOULD NASCAR NOT PENALIZE HARVICK FOR SUNDAY?  “From my perspective, I felt like NASCAR got that call right in the sense that you need to have a pretty high burden of proof to make a call like that.  By the same token, I felt like they got my call wrong at Loudon because they didn’t have that same burden of proof.  So in that sense, I guess maybe I always lean a little bit too much towards forgiveness and sympathy, but I think if you can avoid penalizing someone and giving them the benefit of the doubt, then in the long run that will pay off.”

WHY MUST THE BURDEN OF PROOF BE SO HIGH?  “For no other reason than why it’s so high in the judicial system – so that innocent people don’t get caught up in things.  At this point, there’s a level of doubt in my mind that what happened at Talladega with Kevin was intentional.  That means the burden of proof hasn’t been met, at least for me, so that makes me feel like they got it right.  Innocent people shouldn’t go to jail, whether that be in NASCAR or otherwise.  Maybe NASCAR jail is less harsh, but it’s still a form of jail.  I guess I’m more on the forgiving side.”

DOES THAT CHANGE HOW YOU WILL VIEW THINGS OR HOW YOU MIGHT REACT IN THE FUTURE?  “Part of the fun is gonna be figuring that out for ourselves.  Certainly the situation will repeat itself.  Something will happen that will be in similar terms.  It’s not gonna be identical, but it’ll be similar terms.”

JUST A DIFFERENT NAME OVER THE DOOR?  “Yes.  And that will be the real question of how it’s handled then.”

ARE YOU RUNNING YOUR OWN RACE WITH THIS FORMAT?  “I think you have to run your own race.”

SOME FEEL LIKE WITH THIS FORMAT YOU’RE RACING YOUR COMPETITION?  “I can understand that, but you can control your own destiny by winning and being successful.  If you’re counting cars that you have to beat or don’t want to beat, I think it’s very easy to get distracted.”

IS JOEY READY TO WIN A TITLE?  “Joey is more than ready to win a championship.  He’s in prime position.”

WHAT MAKES TEXAS UNIQUE TO OTHER MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACKS?  “Texas is unique compared to the other mile-and-a-halves because the asphalt is a little bit rougher.  The surface has a few more big bumps in it and, of course, it’s in the fall months and the temperatures are way down.”

JOEY LOGANO – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – WOULD YOU RATHER BE THE CHASER OR THE CHASEE?  “I’m just glad to be in the Chase.  I don’t really care if we’re the Chaser or the Chasee.  I think I’d rather be the guy that’s ahead, but the fact of it right now is no one is ahead.  We’re all at zero right now going into this.  We’re all tied.  The advantage we do have that no one else has is that we have confidence, we have momentum and we know the recipe to win.  That’s more than anyone can say at least in the last three races, but there is still a lot of very good race teams in this obviously that are very fast and that we’ll be competing against all the way to the end.”

EVEN THOUGH YOU’VE WON THREE STRAIGHT, THE OTHER SEVEN HAVE SOMETHING TO CLING TO RIGHT?  “Of course.  Everyone can claim something.  ‘We’re one of the final eight teams at the end of the year.’  This is the best eight teams in NASCAR right now.  That’s the way this format works.  That’s the way it is, so everyone has something they can cling to and say, ‘Hey, we’re in the final eight.  That’s good.’  To me, that’s not good enough, but that’s maybe something some guys can look to as a positive thing for them.”

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO SEE YOUR LEAD WIPED OUT?  “It sucks.  I don’t think I can say it any other way.  It’s a bummer to see your point lead and knowing what your point lead would be if it was a couple years ago.  We had this same conversation last year is that we would have won the championship if it was the year before and we’re in a good position if it was like that again, that we’d be in a good position to do it again, but the fact of the matter is it doesn’t matter.  It’s not part of it.  It is wiped back out and that’s the rules, that’s the game we play and we know that.  It is nice to hear.  I guess it’s a confidence-builder, a momentum-builder knowing that we have consistency along with our wins because a lot of times just a win is good enough in this new format, but it’s nice to have both and it’s nice to know we have both.”

THOUGHTS ON THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKER RESTART?  “I don’t really know how it works, but I guess we all learned.  I don’t think any of us really talked about what is considered an attempt.  We’ve never seen a caution come out that quick before, at least that I’ve ever seen.  I don’t know if you guys have, but not in my career.  My thought of an attempts was green flag came out, OK, and then caution comes out.  Well, that must have been an attempt, but apparently the rule is you have to get to the start-finish line.  That’s good to know.  That’s a new thing for all of us to know, and I guess we’ll live by that now that we know, which is as good as having it in the rulebook or a lot better because you guys have memories like elephants, so I guess we know what to do there and we’ll move forward.  It worked out good for us either way.  I was frustrated the first part of it because I thought, ‘Man, we just won the race,’ and now it’s not considered an attempt.  I’m like, ‘Why?  What happened?’  When you’re in the race car you just want to argue that, but, at the same time, you have to remember the race is still going apparently and what do we have to do to try to win this race still.  When something like that happens it’s a good opportunity to blow up internally and give up the race win, and to be able to get it after that meant just as much.”

HAS ANYONE IN AN 88 T-SHIRT TRIED TO RUN YOU OFF THE ROAD OR SEND YOU HATE MAIL?  “I’ve gotten hate mail.  Believe me, I got that part.  I don’t know why.  It’s OK.  I somewhat enjoy it and I somewhat take it as a compliment because if you look at it when I was getting beer cans thrown at me, thank goodness I was in a race car because it probably would have hurt, I was sitting there driving and thinking about it.  I was like, ‘Man, this is actually really cool.’  It’s the ultimate compliment in motorsports, which is a weird way to look at it because you say, ‘Man, people are throwing things at me and it’s not very nice.’  It’s really bad when you hear someone got hurt in the stands because whoever is throwing them should be ashamed of doing that because putting someone else in danger for doing that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.  Don’t even get me started on it, but I looked at it while we were driving and I was watching beer cans explode off my windshield and I thought, ‘This is so cool,’ because I remember when I was, I don’t know, 9-10-11-12, I saw Jeff Gordon win at Talladega and the same exact thing happened.  That was ’07?  OK, I was older than I thought, but I watched it happen and I didn’t quite grasp it then and I didn’t understand why they were doing it.  I was a Jeff Gordon fan.  I’m like, ‘Why does everyone hate Jeff Gordon?  What did he ever do to anyone?’  I thought he was a good role model, a good guy, he just wins a lot.  I thought the same thing.  I was like, ‘This is kind of cool.’  His career turned out pretty good, it seems like.  He won quite a few races and a few championships, so I thought it was the ultimate compliment to see that happen.  I’m not saying it’s a good thing and people should do that because it’s really stupid to be throwing things onto a race track, and it’s very disrespectful not only to the winner of the race, but to the sport.”

HOW DOES THE STRATEGY CHANGE IN THIS ROUND?  “It doesn’t change at all and that’s been our motto all year is to do what we do.  What we’ve done since Daytona to this point has not changed and it’s been working, so we don’t want to change it.”

WHY DO YOU THINK YOU’RE HEARING SO MUCH STUFF FROM FANS.  HAVE YOU RILED THEM UP SOMEHOW OR IS IT BECAUSE YOU’RE WINNING SO MUCH?  “I don’t care.  I don’t know.  I don’t really care.  I know there are a lot of 22 t-shirts out there and I really enjoy seeing that and I really appreciate the support that the 22 team gets, and if you don’t like me, I don’t care.”

DOESN’T EVERYBODY WANT TO BE LIKED?  “All I know is the people that know me and know how I am and know the person I am are the ones I care about.  Those are the ones that I care about the most and want them to like me.  You guys have the same thing in your life.  The people you love and care about the most are the people you care about whether they like you or not.  The rest of it is just kind of people just taking guesses of what you’re like and finding a reason why they don’t like you and they don’t really know you.  So that being said, I don’t care to those type of people.”

DID YOU GET HATE MAIL THIS WEEK?  “I got plenty.  What’s funny is my phone blows up.  I get a kick out of it.  If I post a picture on Instagram and then all the comments come up on my phone after I post something, the same thing on Twitter, but when the comments come up and it’s like, ‘You’re a jerk.’  And there a lot of things I can’t say right now, but I smile every time because I think it’s kind of funny because some of them are pretty creative.  I’m like, ‘You put a lot of thought into that one.  That’s a new one.’  I like the new ones.  Those are good.”

WERE THEY 88 FANS?  “Everyone is kind of different.  What I do like about our sport is our fans are passionate about their driver.  They pick their team.  They pick their driver and they say, ‘This is my guy and he’s right no matter what and everyone else is wrong no matter what,’ and that’s cool.  That’s kind of neat to see that passion in people.  A lot of times it’s hard to find your passion in life and it’s hard to find what you’re passionate about.  We have a lot of passionate fans.  It’s very good for the growth of our sport.  It’s very good to have them.  I don’t think it’s a bad thing when people say certain things about other drivers, but the fact of the matter is, like I said before too, is they don’t know the whole situation a lot of the times, but I do like the passion they have for the driver they choose to root for.”

ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT YOUR COMPETITORS LIKING YOU THESE NEXT FOUR RACES?  YOU HAVE GOTTEN UNDER MATT KENSETH’S SKIN, SO DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THAT?  “It’s something I don’t put a whole bunch of thought into, to be honest with you, because I can’t really control it.  I’m not Matt Kenseth.  I don’t know what goes through his mind and the way he thinks.  The way he thinks is totally up to him and I respect it, but the only thing I can really control is the speed in my race car and working with my race team.  As long as we do that, that’s all we can do and whatever happens happens.  We’ll be able to move forward and stick together as a team.  I know one thing, none of this will break our team apart.  We’re that strong of a team that I feel like we can recover from about anything.  I feel that confident in everything we’re doing right now, so the main thing is don’t let stuff like that be a distraction because that can tear apart a team.  You have to stay focused in on the ultimate goal, which is hoisting the trophy in Homestead.  That’s the ultimate goal and what we’re here to do.  That’s the ultimate goal of everyone that’s here to do, and we just need to stay focused in on doing what we do and getting there.”

MATT SEEMED UPSET ON SUNDAY THAT YOU CUT HIM OFF ON PIT ROAD.  WERE YOU AWARE OF WHAT HAPPENED THERE?  “I actually didn’t know until after the race, but that was a situation I was stuck on the outside lane and I was supposed to pit with my teammates two laps ago and I couldn’t get down.  You’re to the point where you’re like, ‘Hey, I’m about to run out of gas, so I have to pit or else we’re in trouble.’  So I had to pit.  I had to figure out how to get down.  I saw that the inside lane, all of them were going down to pit, so I was like, ‘OK, this is a good opportunity.  I’m not cutting across cars that are still going wide-open and gonna continue another lap.’  So I was able to kind of merge down with them with a car inside of me.  I was trying to get out of the way enough in case there was someone on the outside, so I kept trying to come down to get out of harm’s way of the cars going still at speed.  You’re slowing down at such a quick rate that the closing rate is very quick when that happens.  It’s always a dangerous part.  Looking back at it, yeah, I pulled in front of him when I was doing that.  I didn’t notice it and didn’t know I did it.  I got a boot from behind and no harm, no foul.”

HAVE YOU WATCHED WHAT HAPPENED WITH HARVICK AT THE END OF THE RACE?  “Doesn’t concern me.  I don’t care.  Whatever it is, it is.  It doesn’t concern what we do as a team and what happened during the race and after the race is something we’re not involved in.”

IN A WAY IT SHOULD CONCERN YOU BECAUSE IF I WERE YOU I’D RATHER GO AGAINST NEWMAN THAN HARVICK IN THE CHASE.  “I know one thing, when we get to Homestead we need to win the race no matter what – no matter who is in the Chase, no matter how many hitters are still in or we consider hitters or someone that would be easier to beat.  That doesn’t matter, so who gets knocked out at any point doesn’t affect what we have to do when we get to the final race.  So to the point of I don’t really care, and it doesn’t really concern me on how that all went down because it just doesn’t.  It doesn’t change what we have to do.”

A DRIVER MENTIONED EARLIER THAT IF JEFF GORDON GOT THE FINAL FOUR THAT HE COULDN’T WIN IT.  DO YOU AGREE?  “I’m not gonna play head games.  I’ll tell you that right now.  That stuff always backfires in my face, so I’m just gonna worry about my race car.  That’s a bunch of interesting things to say.  I would be worried about something like that coming back to bite me.  I look at it as there are seven drivers out there besides us and seven teams that are very, very good.  These are the elite eight guys that are still racing for a championship in stock cars top division and it would be pretty dumb to not look at any of them as threats to win a championship.”

DOES KNOWING YOU CAN WIN HELP IF THERE’S A BAD FINISH IN THE NEXT RACE OR TWO?  “It’s been nice the last few races to be relaxed and be able to sleep at night and be able to feel good about where we are after we won Charlotte, but does it change the way we race?  No, it doesn’t.  It doesn’t really change the way we look at a race and what we have to do.  Our goal has been since the beginning of the year is to win every race that we go to.  If there’s a trophy there, we want to take it home with us.  That’s the ultimate goal for this 22 team as it should be, and I don’t want to change that no matter what our situation is.  I think we proved that this last round.  There’s really no reason why you have to win after you’ve won one, but the fact of it is there’s a trophy there and there’s a race and all of us get paid to win races.  That’s what our sponsors expect out of us is to go out there and win.  I don’t think the fans would really appreciate a driver saying, ‘OK, I’m in the next round and I’m gonna take the next two weeks off.’  That’s not what we’re doing.”

I MEANT WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A WIN YET IN A SEGMENT?  “Winning is harder than it seems.  It’s hard to bank on winning.  Our goal is to win and yes we’re on a heckuva string right now, and something I’ve never been a part of, but I do remember that it took me about three years to win one of these things as well.  I know how hard it is to win a race, so you can’t bank on winning any of them.  I think the attitude you go in with is to get the best finish you possibly can.  If that’s a win, great.  If it’s fifth, great.  If it’s 10th and that’s what you have to do, that’s what it is.  If you get crashed out and you’ve got to limp around and finish 30th, get the best one you possibly can because points will definitely matter when you get to Phoenix.”

HOW HAS THIS CHANGED YOUR LIFE?  “It hasn’t changed my life.  It’s changed my life, obviously, because we’re out there racing for wins.  But when I look at my life I don’t just say my life is racing.  Racing is here today, gone tomorrow.  If I was just a racer, I’d be pretty lonely some day when I don’t have racing.  I look at the rest of my life as something that I want to invest into a lot larger way than what we do in racing.  To the point of the foundation, to the point of getting married and building relationships with the people you work with, that stuff is more valuable than anything because that’s all you’ve got.  When you’re all said and done with this and I’m laying in my death bed someday, I don’t want just trophies around me.  That’s pretty lonely.  They don’t talk back (laughing).”

HAS IT SUNK IN YOU WON THREE IN A ROW?  “It has, but the bummer part about all this, and it’s not a bummer, but you win these races and you want to enjoy it and take it all in and have a great time, but you can’t help but still look out the windshield and say, ‘This is just a steppingstone to winning the championship.’  That’s all that race is – just another step to getting to the final goal and maybe at the end of the season we can take a step back and say, ‘Man, winning the amount of races we did, the amount of top-fives, and the speed we had, that’s something to be proud of.’  But right now at this point, we can’t stop.  We’ve got to keep looking forward because we have not reached our goal yet.”