Brad Keselowski Talks Title on SPEED's NASCAR Race Hub
It was a championship feast on SPEED’s NASCAR Race Hub, as newly crowned Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski brought his unique perspectives from the 2012 season, including everything it took to claim the title. He joined host Steve Byrnes for tonight’s special edition of the show.
The following are highlighted quotes.
Steve Byrnes: What was the vision you had for Penske Racing?
Brad Keselowski: To be a Sprint Cup champion. To be a championship team that produced cars and people that shared a common goal of greatness. It sounds really easy, but I can assure you, it’s a lot harder than it sounds.
Byrnes: In just three Cup seasons, you’ve gone from 25th, to fifth, to first. Has your ascension to the top surpassed even what you dreamed of, in terms of quickness?
Keselowski: I never dreamed of, at a young age, of being a Sprint Cup champion. I thought I would be doing well just to be a guy who’s winning races in the Truck Series. That was as big as my goals were. But obviously, as different opportunities came up, I had the opportunity to drive for James Finch when they raced at Talladega, with Rick Hendrick and so forth; I started to think that big. But it’s amazing how those things change. I’m living beyond what I could have ever asked for in life, and I feel very, very fortunate.
Byrnes: It’s a tough sport. You talked about being a guy who wanted the opportunity to win races. The fact that you are in one of the top rides, much less winning a championship, is in fact an amazing story.
Keselowski: It is. It’s been a long, long road to get there. But you know what because the road was so long, and full of so many treacherous turns, I really, really appreciate being here. I appreciate those that have been around me, in helping me get here. Without them, without the adversity, the fight that it took, I wouldn’t have respected it, I wouldn’t have known what this means. But I feel like I really appreciate it accordingly.
Byrnes: The fight was worth it?
Keselowski: Yeah it was. The fight was worth it, and I’m a better person because of it.
Byrnes: Was there a fork in the road that made it go from being a good year, to a championship year?
Keselowski: I think that winning at Chicago was a big weekend for us. It started out The Chase, and we needed to show that speed and have confidence through The Chase. To be able to pull that off, the first week, I’m not going to say it was a turning point, but it was a weekend where I think we all knew that we could do this.
Byrnes: You won on every type of track we have, except a road course (finishing second at Watkins Glen), what part of your game has improved the most?
Keselowski: I don’t think there’s one part. I think I’ve gotten that much better across the board in every category. That’s served me very well.
Byrnes: Did you and (crew chief) Paul Wolfe have a game plan for the first 26 races in the season?
Keselowski: I don’t feel like we treated The Chase that much different from the first 26 races of the season. I think we had the same approach, and I think if you have the fundamentals right, you’ll win in The Chase just like you did in the regular season.
Byrnes: Did you think about winning a championship heading into the season?
Keselowski: Oh, absolutely, without a doubt we thought, ‘what can we do to be the best team possible?’ Now there’s no guarantee of any result in sports, that’s what makes it so great and compelling to watch and be a part of. But you have to approach it as being a competitor, as though you have the opportunity, and you have to believe in yourself to have that confidence because as the member of a team, a competitive team, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?
Byrnes: You drew inspiration from a video you saw of Baltimore Ravens (linebacker) Ray Lewis, in which he says; ‘I’m not big enough, I’m not fast enough, I’m not strong enough.’ Everyone told him that. You had that chip on your shoulder so to speak, but then you realized that it wasn’t just about you as well.
Keselowski: I grew up with a family race team. When you’re a part of a family, in anything you do, it’s great in some ways and awful in other ways. The great parts are that you always have each other’s backs. No matter what happens, you are always together; even when there are times (when) you don’t want to be. Then there’s also the bad part, when sometimes you get really emotional and do things, say things and act ways that you wouldn’t act around other people. What’s hard for me to understand when I first got separated from my family’s race team was how to be a part of that, and how to have the best of both worlds. How to be with a group that has that respect for one and other, that you really struggle to have as a family, but also has that motivation to be behind you – you need both to be successful. So I didn’t understand teamwork, I didn’t understand those things. The point I was trying to say after the race, and the story in general, is that to be a member of a great team, no one person is strong enough, fast enough, smart enough, but together you are. For me, I didn’t know that until I started to experience it. It’s been like a drug for me, but you get a little of it and I want more for the team. I want more teamwork across the board because I know that we’ll continue to be stronger as that happens. That’s part of why I’m so excited to be bringing on Joey Logano next year; so excited to have Ryan Blaney coming in. Two guys that both seem to understand that team philosophy.