NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Beyond the Cockpit: Brian Keselowski Gaining on Cup Even After a Bristol DNQ

Jay W. Pennell, Frontstretch: I just wanted to talk to you about the hard work that went into this weekend’s effort to make the Sprint Cup Series race. Your guys were out here all weekend working hard in the heat. To come up short, how disappointing is not making the show?

Brian Keselowski: It’s disappointing for sure, but if you sit back and look at it as a racer, when we unloaded we weren’t very good, we gained a lot, gained a lot, gained a lot and then over my mock-qualifying run we gained a half second. So, at least it looks like we’re getting somewhere, because when you bang your head against the wall and you don’t get anywhere that sure is frustrating.

I’m not happy about missing the show, but I am happy that we at least look like we know what we’re doing, we’re gaining some. My guys worked hard – I mean, I only had two or three employees working on [the Cup car] because all my other guys were working on the Nationwide car. They worked really, really hard on this thing. We tested it at Toledo last Monday and gained a lot there, but man we needed about another three or four tenths to even get us there.

Man, a lot of work, but you know what, with all the fears you have about running Cup – all the big fines you hear about, this, that and the other – it still really worked out this weekend. I was really happy with how everything went. Made it through tech fine, didn’t do anything bad, we had a few little issues, but they were easily fixable. It was a decent weekend, too bad we didn’t make the show, but we didn’t wreck the car and we can try again.

Pennell: When do you plan on bringing the car back?

Keselowski: Maybe Richmond. I’m hoping Richmond and then maybe New Hampshire, kind of depending on how things go.

Richmond is a Nationwide CoT race and I don’t have one done now. I made a deal with Parker Kligerman to run the race in the Nationwide car, so Parker will be running the Nationwide race and I’ll run the Cup car race since I’m not doing anything else this week. New Hampshire is a weekend off for the Nationwide Series, so we’ll try that one, too.

Pennell: Being a guy that comes from a racing family you could probably jump on with other teams, but you are out here doing this on your own. Why are you doing this on your own?

Keselowski: Well, it’s not very easy to jump on with anyone else if you don’t have a sponsor right now. That was kind of our reasoning back in 2008, I had a ride with Jay Robinson and a sponsor deal didn’t pan out and they wanted Kenny Wallace in the car – which is fine. That’s what sponsors do.

I kind of got sitting around thinking about it, ‘Man, I’m either going to sit around thinking about it or I’m going to put a full-force effort into this.’ I said if I’m going to get somewhere I better go after it.

Through 2008, we kind of hit or miss picked some races we thought we would run well at – and we did, we ran well a few races. Then, in 2009, we’re just going to go after it and we’ll figure it out. We started two cars and ran them full time. It was really, really difficult at times, but we got to a point where everything got so bad I said, ‘Man, you’re going to get buried.’ Then we turned it around and made it all work.

Kind of the same thing this year. I mean, I don’t want to quit driving, that’s not me. Last year I had to stop driving so my crew chief and I could get my cars wherever they needed to go, and that worked. I’m not going to stop now. I’m way too far into this to stop now.

There’s not a lot of other opportunities out there for me, so I’m making them myself. It’s really like the old school way of doing it. If nobody is going to give it to you, do it yourself. I am kind hoping one day to be like the Alan Kulwicki story – do it all yourself, make it all happen, go out and win races and championships and that would be awesome.

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