NASCAR Nationwide Series: Ford EcoBoost 300
Topics: Ford EcoBoost 300
November 16, 2013
KERRY THARP: We have our race winner, Brad Keselowski. He has Paul Wolfe up here with him.
Brad, congratulations on this victory. Certainly Homestead‑Miami is a special place for you as you celebrated your Sprint Cup championship here last year. It's got to be a big deal to finish up this season with a win.
Also I might note this victory here tonight gives Ford the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series Manufacturers Championship as they made a come‑from‑behind victory here tonight. Congratulations to Brad Keselowski, Paul Wolfe, Ford Motor Company.
Brad, talk about the win tonight.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Obviously any time you win it's a great night. To put those other things together, I'm sure you heard it on the TV, we came here with four goals. Win the Driver's Championship with Sam Hornish, Owner's Championship with the 22, win the race, and help Ford to secure the Manufacturer's title.
We accomplished three out of four, which I guess ain't bad. I want to make the remark that I'm really proud of Sam. Even though he came up a bit short, he put up a great effort tonight and this year. Proud of him.
Happy to win the race. Happy for Ford. It's a big deal for them to win the Manufacturer's Championship on Ford Championship Weekend. That's something that can't be understated.
For the 22 team, we came up a bit short on the Owner's Championship. That was something that was kind of left open on the RP bucket list. It was nice to check that off for him and get him another leather jacket. Proud of that and proud of the effort not just tonight, but all year long for everybody and from everybody at Penske Racing.
KERRY THARP: Paul Wolfe, congratulations on this win here tonight. Talk about this victory here tonight.
PAUL WOLFE: Yeah, obviously it was pretty special. For me, I just filled in. This Nationwide program at Penske Racing is obviously very phenomenal. These guys do a great job. They have great racecars.
For me, they just asked me to come fill in, call the race. From my side of it, it was pretty easy. I was glad I could be part of it and help out.
But real proud of what we have going on there with this program. It develops a lot of great guys. It can continue to move up the ladder and put them in spots in our Cup program, which is important as we continue to build things at Penske.
Like I said, I was a small part of what went on tonight. I was willing to help out. Brought back a few memories of a few years back. It was really neat to be in Victory Lane again with Discount Tire as we got the program started back in 2010.
Can't say enough about all the guys at Penske and this whole program.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations goes out to Roger Penske for winning the Owner's Championship. You have your driver over there Joey Logano. For this championship here tonight, just talk about what it means to win the Nationwide Series Owner's crown.
ROGER PENSKE: First, I want to congratulate obviously Joey and Brad. What Paul did tonight, the Manufacturer's Championship was on the line, we had the car Owner's, and also the Driver's Championship. There was a lot of pressure.
When you think about it, as Brad came to me two or three years ago, said, We're going to build a team. Part of it was through the Nationwide. Three or four drivers helped us get to this championship, it's really something. Tonight's win was something we didn't know until the last couple laps. That's the way this NASCAR business is.
Certainly for us we didn't get the Owner's Championship back a couple years ago. As I said to Brad, this kind of finishes it off.
Without Joey and without Brad, without Sam, when you think about 14 wins in a season, in any series, is outstanding. Really a credit to the entire team. Everyone back at the shop, we talk about the engine builder, Ford, Discount Tire, Hertz, AAA, those that have helped us, are committed to us going forward.
I felt very sorry for Sam. I have to say I've never seen a race that was so important that you wait 15 or 16 laps before you have five laps to go. To me that was very disappointing from the standpoint of the fans. Certainly we as competitors, we came out fine. But when I think about it, it could have gone any way.
KERRY THARP: And Joey, talk about winning this Owner's Championship for Roger Penske.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, for my rookie season with Penske Racing, we wanted to win this championship. To win it for Roger, it means a lot to me and the whole 22 team. They deserve it, 12 wins with a dominant racecar. Coming down to the last race, last lap with the 54 team was insane.
We were sitting there, I think we were 12th in the last restart with five to go. You really don't have an option at that point, you got to go. We had a set of tires on the thing. Like I said, coming down to the last lap, just crazy.
Like I said, Jeremy, all the guys on that 22 team, Hertz, Discount Tire, Ryan Blaney, AJ, all the guys that ran this car, we all won a race in this car, shows how lucky we are to drive this car. I have a lot of fun doing it.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now.
Q. Brad, when you reflect on this year, all the phenomenal success you've had in this series, some of the ups and downs you've had, will you look back at this and say this is one of the strangest years of your life?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: There's a lot of different ways you can look at it, as an optimist or pessimist are the two that stick out. For us, certainly not the year we wanted on the Cup side. We're not going to hide or run from that. We did achieve some success in different forms this year. We did achieve success in different forms this year.
This Owner's Championship is a reflection of that. I think if you look at how we got to success with the Cup side, a lot of it, the guy sitting next to me, Paul, was sitting up here three years ago as a champion on the Nationwide side as a crew chief.
There's probably guys working on this car today, whether it was Joey's 22 or the 48 I drove or even Sam's 12 that will be a part of our next effort moving forward and will help us rebuild to come out next year and the years after stronger.
You look at where we've been, last year was incredible to win a Sprint Cup championship in your third season. That's very, very difficult to do. We've gone through a lot of different changes, a lot of different transitions. That's not making any excuses, but we're going to grow and become stronger. This program is a reflection, this Nationwide program, of how bright our future is, at the Cup level as well.
Q. Paul, how much debate was there to come and get tires or to not get tires towards the end of the race?
PAUL WOLFE: It really started back a couple stops before that when we stayed out. We had the option at the end.
Obviously we didn't want to see all those caution laps at the end winding down. Weren't really sure if we were going to be able to take advantage of them.
Obviously a little different game on the Nationwide side than what you get used to on the Cup side, where tomorrow night you're going to see every time a caution comes out, it will be a no‑brainer for everybody to come down, put tires on, work on their car. Definitely a little bit different deal here.
It surely was a lot of fun to be part of it tonight, to watch Brad drive to the front at the end.
Q. Brad, can you describe your charge at the end on the restart, your efforts heading to the front.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: A few people asked me about that already. I have to see the replay because I don't even know what happened. I know I was on the gas, pointing forward.
JOEY LOGANO: Roger said you shut your eyes and hoped for the best (laughter).
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I think he's right. I don't even remember what happened. I just knew if we were going to win the race, I was going to bring back the steering wheel. With five laps to go, that's the only attitude that can win the race. Hoping to get the restart with 20 laps to go, then I wouldn't have had to have that mentality.
Sometimes you make it through, sometimes you don't. Today we did. A lot of aggressive moves. It almost felt like a video game passing 10 or 12 cars in two or three laps. That's part of it. That's what you've got to be able to do to win at this level.
Q. Brad, this was the first race since Richmond where the stakes were so high. You had teammates who were involved, owner points, driver points. You asked at one point if you were clear to race. How did you try to balance what you should do with the new rules that still haven't been tested yet?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't know. I don't have a great answer for that. I knew the best thing we could do is win the race, not have to answer that. At the end of the day, I don't know how to go any more 100% than winning the race. If there's another 100%, I don't know where it's at. Definitely pulled that out at the end.
It's difficult. It's funny, while you guys were talking, while Roger was talking, I was reading some comments. Half the comments you get are, Why didn't you let Sam go at the end and he would have won, things like that.
You can't win either way. I think everybody sees it with whatever colored glasses they wear on that day. For me at the end it was running 100% and winning the race.
Q. Roger, did NASCAR give you an explanation as to why they didn't throw the red flag on the last caution? Do you think that cost Sam the championship?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, it was hard for me, as I said earlier, to believe that we'd sit there for 15 or 16 laps with so much at stake, not only for Sam, but for Dillon, for Ford, Toyota, Chevrolet. It was hard for me to believe.
But I didn't get into it.
Q. Brad, what you guys do is intense and hectic anyway. When it comes to not having the pressure of a championship or having the pressure of a championship, talk a little bit about that. Does it go away? How do you deal with it?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Deal with what? The pressure?
Q. Yeah, the pressure.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: You don't have a choice (laughter). I mean, it's win or go home. That's how this sport works. You find a way to win or you get replaced by somebody else that will.
Does it worry you? Well, only if you're not capable of winning. But at the end of the day the only answer I have is to give 100%, put everything I have into it, and the cards fall where they may. There's no point worrying about it further than that.
Q. Roger, all season long you've been saying how badly you wanted the Owner's Championship. After having Driver's Championships, Indy championships, why was specifically the Owner's Championship so important to you?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think to me, as we set out at the beginning of this season, it was one that we had such a great group of drivers. The expectations within the team and the sponsors was to win this championship.
I wanted to see if we could rise to the occasion to beat Gibbs. J.D. and Joe are world‑class guys. We respect them. We like to race with them. Kyle Busch obviously is one of the best guys out there.
I think it was just in our DNA from the beginning of the year. Joey and Brad, it was one thing we could bring them together, drive the same car, get the speed out of it, consistency and the wins, I think brought our team closer together. To me, that was part of the reason when Joey came on, Brad came on. Said, We want to run Nationwide, we think it makes us better.
The goal was to win. Last year was a great year. Brad was pretty humble on the job he did last year. We had a good year this year. Obviously it wasn't what we want. This is a sport, we're in it for a long time. We got to build. Part of building is winning at some level.
I think Paul could step in today. We made the call on the 48 car last week after we got wrecked, Let's put the 48 in. It was just like turning a light on. Our guys just knew what to do. We came out here. That's the spirit we have within the team today, Sam, AJ, a chance to get him back on track, one of the most satisfying things to me this year, to see him back on track.
These guys picked up the ball and ran with it. Like I said, it's part of our DNA from the beginning of the year.
Q. (No microphone.)
ROGER PENSKE: At this particular time, I think we've said we're going to run one Nationwide car at the moment. We have a sponsorship to run a couple other races. Sam has some options right now, which is good. Erwin obviously is contracted with us for next year. He'll work with us in Nationwide and some other things we're going to be doing, also work with us on the testing. He's a real talent. Can't get guys like that very often. We got a seat for him, for sure.
Q. Roger, I presume this is the last race with Sam.
ROGER PENSKE: Correct.
Q. Is there any emotion that comes with that? You have been together a long time and accomplished a lot together.
ROGER PENSKE: I have to look back and say, to see Sam race tonight at the level he did with Kyle, right there all night, shows what a great racer he is. My issue with myself is I started him in the Cup level with no practice. One of the greatest open‑wheel racers we had in IndyCar. I think maybe I started his career backwards.
I think people today want him. I think he's going to have a chance to drive something next year. A couple things out there look quite promising. I would support him always.
He needs to have a good ride because he's a quality guy, a family man. Remember, he won an Indy 500 for us. That's pretty special.
Q. Your thoughts on Dario Franchitti leaving?
ROGER PENSKE: Dario is a guy, I knew him when he was running for Mercedes‑Benz over in Germany. Came over here. Don't win the Indianapolis race three times unless you're a great driver.
A bit disappointed. At his age, the things he can do in his profession going forward, quality person, great racer, I really admire him for making that decision.
Q. Joey and Brad, can you talk what you're going to miss most about Sam leaving Penske Racing?
JOEY LOGANO: I only got to work with Sam obviously for this year. I got to know him very well over this year working together on this Nationwide program. Him and Greg over there on that 12 team, they do a great job. To hear his feedback, the directions they go, build a relationship like that. Like Roger said, he's a great guy. Probably one of the best dads I've seen. Being a racecar driver, being away from home, he's always with his kids. He's always showing us pictures of things he's building for his kids.
He's a great person. I've learned a lot from him from that aspect. As a driver also. He's a very fast driver. He's putting the car on the edge every single lap. I think it's what you see with Sam as he's gotten better throughout the years, is he's able to control that even better. That's why he's in contention to win this championship.
Before, you see how fast he can go, but I feel like he's cleaned up the mistakes, done a very good job this year with some really fast racecars.
He'll be missed, but he'll still be around. We'll still see him around, for sure.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I think obviously you look at what Sam has done. He won the Indianapolis 500, IndyCar championships, he's a successful driver. There's a certain level of respect that other drivers are going to have for him, including myself, because of his credentials. He's got a lot of class. I'm sure wherever he goes he's going to be in great shape for what happens to him next. I've enjoyed the time I've worked with him.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations to Brad and Roger.
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