NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Kobalt Tools 400
Topics: Kobalt Tools 400
March 10, 2013
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
KERRY THARP: We have Brad Keselowski in here today as we roll into our post‑race for today's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Brad Keselowski comes in with a solid third place showing here this afternoon. Brad, obviously like you said out on pit road, it's not what you wanted to get, the win, but a solid afternoon nonetheless.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, well, it's the third race, third points race of the Cup season. I feel like we've had a shot at winning all three. That's something to be really proud of. We certainly had the speed to do it the last two weeks, and the execution to do it at Daytona, just caught a bad break and just didn't quite execute it here today, but we're really close, and I'm really proud of that effort.
I want to win really bad, but I guess the consolation is starting out the year with three solid finishes and a top 5 and just kind of backing up where we finished last year with solid runs. For that I'm proud, proud of the effort today to recover from a couple mishaps. Certainly didn't give up there at the end. I thought I might have had a shot. Kasey and Kenseth who won the race, if I could have got by Kyle I would have loved to have gone up there and put a little pressure on him and see if he would have given me a shot, but that opportunity didn't come up unfortunately. But still, like I said, solid day, great effort, and we're off to a really solid start, really the best start of my career by far.
Q. Brad, Matt held off Kasey with no tires on the last stop. You managed to take third from Kyle with no tires. What does that say going forward at all?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: It just says that I had a great car and he probably did, too. Whether you have tires or not, you still have to have a great car to be able to make things happen, and I think Matt definitely had a great car today, probably not as good as this guy, but Matt is a great racer, and he understands the sport very well. He's not the guy you want to have to beat on old tires, that's for sure. He never has been.
KERRY THARP: Joining us now also is our race runner‑up, and that's Kasey Kahne. He drove the No.5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Kasey, you certainly had a car that looked like could win the race, led a lot of laps, passed people, you were fast. Just talk about how things went out there today for you, and I know you're trying to track down that 20 there the last few laps.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, started of the race pretty good, was a little bit too loose, and Kenny Francis and Keith, they made great calls to tighten the car up and get it driving perfect, and from there on it was about making the right pit calls and the pit stops were good. I just had an awesome car. It felt about perfect, I think, throughout three quarters of that race.
There at the end we had two cycles on left sides, and I just got kind of‑‑ Matt did everything right. That's when I caught him, I was like, man, this is not the guy you want to have to race with 10 to go because he's going to do everything right. You're going to have to figure out how to squeeze by him. And you know he had a fast car, too, so it was difficult. He did a perfect job and we came back second. But still a good run. I think we were seventh maybe after that one restart and fought back to second, so we had a great car, did everything right. We just didn't quite get there.
Q. I don't know if you saw Kyle take a line under the white line. Did you ever consider making that move to try to overtake Matt?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I saw that, the problem was Matt was doing that. That's what he was doing. So I could follow him and kind of stay in his draft a little bit and stick with him about the same amount, and when I didn't do that, he would pull away. So it was definitely faster down there if you got a good run off Turn 4 to do that down the front straightaway. So yeah, he did that so I would have had to go through the grass, and I didn't want to do that.
Q. Brad, you talked about the start to the season, in your brief Cup career you've generally been coming from the back. I just wondered being in this position, I know it's early, but do you suspect you and Paul might have some different way of approaching as the weeks go forward, coming from a different perspective?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I want to win. It is a different perspective because I'm not happy with top 5s; I want to win. You know, the last three weeks, really the last two weeks, and I'm sure when I get home tonight I'm going to go home and throw around some pillows and punch some things because we've had a shot at winning all three races and come up short, whether it's circumstances or bad luck or today just a little bit of execution.
In retrospect, once you get a day to cool off from it, you say, wow, that's really good, three top 5s, that's how I'd have wanted to start the year. But with the way I finished last year, I wanted to win. I wanted to win all three of these races, and I'm not happy unless we can do that.
Q. Kasey, Matt didn't take any tires in the last pit stop, and he actually told his team with about 10 laps to go that he thought he'd blown the race. Did you think at some point you were going to overtake him because of that?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I really thought I was, but I just felt like I could have got there, you know, the way the car handled throughout the race and how I could turn down in the center of the corner and carry a ton of speed doing it. I felt really confident, that when I got to him I'd be able to do that again like I had raced with Kyle and Jimmy earlier in the race. And when I got to Matt I couldn't do it, so I was trying to brake in and mess with anything that I could, lift early, lift late, try it all, and just couldn't find a way past him.
So he just did a really good job of keeping his momentum up, keeping his speed. He was cutting across me off the corner. We were kind of tight, loose, and he just put up a great battle and pulled it off on told tires, did a good job.
Q. For both Brad and Kasey, there was a lot of criticism coming into this week about the new car, seemed like they were pretty racy out there, a lot of guys moving up through the field. Could I get both of your impressions on the new car?
KASEY KAHNE: My car drove good. I felt like I could pass, I could race underneath the car, do things that maybe I wouldn't have been able to do in the past. First time on a mile and a half with this new Gen‑6 car, and I would say to have the same tires‑‑ this is the same tire, also, which we didn't have last week, which was a big part of the Phoenix deal.
I think the car itself today was‑‑ I had a lot of fun driving it, and I thought it was a heck of a race. I got to race through cars, traffic and battle for the lead four, five, six times. I felt really confident with our Chevy SS.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Excellent job.
Q. We had the restrictor plate at Daytona, we had the kind of unconventional layout at Phoenix. Some races just look visibly fast watching it. Today looked like a bunch of guys that had kind of been cut loose. Did it feel like that out there today because it just looked fast?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I thought it was a faster pace than what I've ever had, but then again, I've always had terrible cars here. I'm not the best person to ask. This is by far the best car I've ever had here, and that thing would definitely rocket through the corners. I think Kasey's was probably even a little bit better. It was definitely a grueling pace.
You know, one thing I was really happy about was this car seemed to really respond to driving sideways. I think that puts a lot of emphasis on the quality of driver you are to control a slide, which is a really good thing. I think that heightens the ability of talented drivers to run up front. I think Kasey is really good at that obviously, and quite a few others that ran up front.
I think if you look at the drivers that ran up front, they're generally the ones that you would say have a lot of talent and a lot of ability to handle cars like that. I really like that. I think that's how it should be. I think that's what should differentiate the drivers and their performance in this sport. So I was really encouraged by that, and like you said, it also falls into the really fast race pace with the actual individual lap times. A couple times my spotter called out lap times, and I was thinking to myself, he must be in the wrong second bracket. I think that's a big change for sure. But not a bad thing.
KASEY KAHNE: I wasn't surprised by the pace because of the practice speeds, and the pace that we could run there for 10 or 15 laps, depending on how long we stayed out in practice. Today with it being hotter and a little bit slicker, like Brad said, I thought it was a lot of fun. I mean, you could get a little bit loose and not have to like call it quits and get on the brakes and onto the gas and all that, you could just kind of drive through it and ease back on the throttle. It was exciting. It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed driving the car today and thought the pace was up. I've never had great cars here, I've had some pretty good ones, but today I've never driven that hard for 267 laps before, either.
Q. Kasey, oddly on the final laps you and Kenseth are chasing each other and you've got a deal with the lap traffic in front of you. Who's got the spotter communication? Are you listening to it in the car and urging them? What's going on with both parties in terms of the communication on that stretch run?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I mean, for myself I'm just kind of paying attention to what's Matt's doing and what I need to do and where I need to place my car in order to try to get a run on him and at least get beside him and see what can happen from there. As far as the spotters, Matt's spotter is probably trying to talk to a few of the guys that we were lapping saying, hey, give us some space, whatever. I was hoping maybe they'd run Matt's line and he'd have to go to the bottom and I thought maybe I could get a run that way. I think we eased through six or seven lap cars there and most of them went to the bottom and you could pass them fairly easy. It wasn't too bad. It didn't slow Matt up at all, which I was hoping someone at some point would slow him up a touch, but it never happened.
Q. For either of you, how important are the restarts at this point because the last two restarts looked very, very hairy, and to hear everybody say that they want to be in clean air, obviously there's an advantage up there. Can we expect some of the best action now to be coming out of the restarts?
KASEY KAHNE: I felt like the‑‑ I thought restarts last year meant a lot, and if you didn't get a good restart you'd lose those spots and it would take 40 laps before you could get back by that guy. I thought similar today everybody was trying to push a little bit, slow up, get a bump on the straightaway. Matt about crashed doing that, he spun his tires or tried to wait for Carl a little bit. But he had him completely sideways and in front of us. I think it's big, to try to get through 1 and 2 as quick as you can and get position on another car is key. If you can do that and get one or two spots, you're making it a lot easier on yourself for the next 40, 50 laps of that race run.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Obviously there's double file restarts now, and it's a change of‑‑
KASEY KAHNE: When did they start?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: They started in 2009, Pocono if I remember. I do know some good things.
KASEY KAHNE: Good memory.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I can't remember if it was the spring or the summer race. It was one of the two, though, but I do remember the race.
KERRY THARP: I believe it was the first one.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I believe what's important to understand is that the cars run off of air. That's really tough to explain to the media, and I look at the media as maybe the voice of the fans I guess would be the best way to put it. So when you ask a question like that I assume that you're asking for the fans, so the answer this for the fans and the perspective of even though you can't see it, the majority of what these cars are operating on is air, where that's air to cool the engine, air to go inside the engine and combine with fuel or air just so I can breathe or air for the car to operate from the perspective of generating grip. And you have to think of a race car in three dimensions where it makes‑‑ how it affects the air is X, Y and Z, and you have drag, which we all talk about on the speed sways and we have downforce and side force. As it pertains to restarts and you get two cars next to each other which creates this giant bubble which effectively takes the air off of one of the cars. That means that the two cars that are up front are really stealing each other's air back and forth and making it really hard to race, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but that puts everyone in a precarious position and really puts you, where the restarts become so important.
With that said, you go back to those last restarts, and I felt like if we could have possibly got the outside and had control of the air, we would have been able to win the race. But obviously we didn't earn that from the perspective of coming off of pit road, and Matt did, and he did a great job of using that to his advantage, and it's essentially what got him out in the lead and won the race.
But to your point, the actual restart itself is as important if not more important as ever as the sport continues to evolve into using aerodynamics to make the cars perform.
Q. We've had three very different tracks so far. Next week we go to another one, Bristol. Have you guys had much practice on the half mile and do you have a feel for how this car is going to race on a short track?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Nope. That's why you've got to watch.
KASEY KAHNE: I haven't, either.
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