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Qs and As: Kenseth, Keselowski Give Their Sides Of Brawl Story

| , RacinToday.com Friday, October 17 2014

Brad Keselowski talked about Charlotte on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

RacinToday.com

Last weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ended with on-track and off-track brawls breaking out. Brad Keselowski of Team Penske was involved in much of it.

He clipped some cars on the track and in pits and then, as he walked to his motorhome, was jumped by Matt Kenseth.

On Friday at Talladega, Kenseth and Keselowski faced the media. What follows are transcripts of those meetings.

KESELOWSKI:

DID YOU SEE WHAT MATT KENSETH JUST SAID ABOUT THE INCIDENT AT CHARLOTTE? “I did actually, yeah.”

YOUR REACTION TO HIS COMMENTS? “Do I have to have one? I am just ready to go race here.”

WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND MATT AT RICHMOND (earlier in the year)? “We had a little contact at Richmond.”

ANY REACTION TO THE FINE? DO YOU FEEL IT WAS FAIR? “It is what it is. I didn’t have a big reaction. Maybe I should have had a bigger one, I don’t know. I thought Richard Buck was really classy and I thought that was really nice of him. It isn’t something that I didn’t understand.”

MATT SAID THAT YOU WERE GREATLY EXAGGERATING THE STORY ABOUT HIM SWERVING AT YOU AND DAMAGING YOUR CAR. “He is always entitled to his opinion as I am to mine. We are both entitled to your opinions. Obviously we have a difference of them or what happened Saturday wouldn’t have happened.”

DO YOU FEEL ANYTHING ONE WAY OR ANOTHER ABOUT TONY STEWART GETTING DRAGGED INTO THIS? “It is not something that anyone was happy to see but it happened and it is unfortunate.”

DO YOU REGRET ANYTHING YOU DID? “I am not really ready to get into that side of it. I haven’t put a lot of thought into it to be honest. I have been busy testing Martinsville and getting ready for this weekend. It is a huge weekend for me and our team where we have to really pull out a clutch moment and I don’t want to lose sight of that by spending a whole bunch of time on all that other garbage. I am not going to say I haven’t spent any time on it but I didn’t spend enough to really have all my thoughts and feelings put together enough to share it with you guys.”

HOW DOES THIS WEEKEND COMPARE TO ANY OTHER WEEKEND? “It is more important to win than it has been on other weekends. That is a challenge, a huge challenge, and Talladega isn’t a place you want to go to knowing you have to win but we have confidence knowing we have won here twice before. We had a great car in the spring and got caught up in an accident early and another accident. We had great cars at Daytona as well and very similar fates. You know if you have great cars and you continue to put yourself in the right position at these tracks you will eventually be rewarded and I think we are due here at Talladega.”

YOU ARE A THINKER, CAN YOU OVER THINK THINGS HERE? “Yeah, Talladega is very easy to over think. I would rather over think it than under think it.”

ARE YOU CONCERNED BY YOUR RESPECT LEVEL? “That is always important within the garage but I think you have to temper that with the knowledge that when you are successful you are a target. That isn’t just me, that is everyone. That is just part of the ebbs and flows we talk about all the time.”

YOU AND MATT HAVE HAD THREE INCIDENTS, RICHMOND, TALLADEGA EARLIER AND NOW CHARLOTTE. ANYTHING TO THAT? “I don’t know. I have’nt really broken that down enough to think about it that way. I guess possibly but who knows.”

WAS IT GOOD TO TEST AND BE WITH THE TEAM FOR TWO DAYS AND JUST SORT OF RESET? “Absolutely. I thought my team handled everything this week and over the weekend extremely well and I think that is one of the moments that really bonds you together as a team or tears you apart and for us it bonded us together. That is as good a sign as any to come out of it.”

WHAT IS YOUR EXPECTATION OF YOUR TEAMMATES THIS WEEKEND?T “I don’t have a lot of expectations for them. We have had that conversation. Talladega, once they got rid of the rules package that afforded the tandem drafting has kind of turned into a one man band race where you really control your own destiny and fate by yourself. It seems like if you get locked into racing or counting on someone else to work with you that you don’t make the moves you need to make to win. I don’t feel that strongly about it. It is great to have teammates and I want to work with them as much as I can but it isn’t as significant as it was with the tandem package.”

IS IT DIFFERENT WITH THIS NEW CHASE FORMAT THE WAY YOU RACED OR DO RACE MORE AGGRESSIVELY? “You definitely race more aggressively when you have as much on the line as you do now. There is no doubt about that. You are less worried about friends and enemies and focused on that night and that night is all that matters.”

CAN YOU TOUCH ON THIS QUALIFYING FORMAT? “I am sorry, I don’t know the rules. I literally am going to get in the car and do what they tell me and that is it.”

IS IT TOUGH THAT YOU AND JIMMIE AND DALE ARE ALL IN THIS MUST WIN SITUATION? “It is tough. I don’t know if it is tough for anyone but us but it isn’t what any of us had hoped for. This bracket was the heartbreak bracket for a reason because you don’t control your own destiny for two of the three races. We did last week but didn’t do a good job with it. I didn’t do a good job with it. We didn’t at Kansas and most likely we won’t here. We just have to get around it.”

WILL YOUR HEART BE BROKEN IF YOU DON’T ADVANCE? “Absolutely. That will be tough but it happens. I am not preparing to fail but I am proud of what we have done this year and if we don’t win the championship because of this round I am not going to go home and cry in my milk. We have a lot to be proud of, led a lot of laps, won races and won poles. It is almost a career year. There is a lot to take away from it but I am not giving up on it either. I am okay. I am in a good spot.”

I ASSUME YOU HAVE LOOKED AT THE VIDEO. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF PAUL WOLFE’S BAR BOUNCING SKILLS? “I saw parts of it. Again, I was surprised and impressed at the same time by the reaction of my team. That is not just one member, that is all of them.”

THE FACT THAT YOU WERE FINED AND MATT KENSETH WAS NOT, DOES THAT BOTHER YOU? “I haven’t really thought about it to be honest. I guess in some ways you could and some ways you couldn’t. It is what it is. I haven’t put that much thought into it.”

HAMLIN SAYING HOW YOU WERE GOING TO WRECK HALF THE FIELD HERE TO ADVANCE, WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THAT? “It is just a bunch of talk to give you guys something to talk about. It worked. It might work with you but it doesn’t work with me.”

HOW AGGRESSIVE AND HOW DOES THAT AGGRESSION SHOW UP IN THIS RACE BECAUSE IT A ROLLING PARKING GRID? “I don’t know. Talladega last fall was probably the least aggressive Talladega race I’ve every seen. I would never have predicted that. Talladega is a weird duck. To try and tell you it will be highly aggressive, I have a feeling it won’t. I have a feeling it will be a very conservative race but I don’t know. I feel like if you come in here protecting a points leads or a lead on the cut-off that you are just going to race conservative and try to ensure you are around at the end but I can’t speak for everyone else’s style or ideals.”

IS YOUR STRATEGY TO RUN UP FRONT AND BE AHEAD OF EVERYTHING? “I am not looking to tell other people what I am thinking. Sorry.”

WHEN DO YOU THINK YOU AND MATT WILL TALK? “I have no idea. No clue. That is hard to say. It is just not something I have thought about.”

KENSETH:

Are you disappointed or regret your actions from last weekend?

“None of it – you never want to get into confrontations, at least I don’t. I like to avoid them. I’m definitely not built for fighting and it’s not really in my genes — not something I ever really want to do, but I guess everybody has their breaking point. Last week was bad enough to run bad all night and to be frustrated and then get two tires and get towards the front and Brad (Keselowski) clearly saw me roll outside of him and he hung a right on purpose and ran me right into the wall and ruined my night and possibly took us out of Chase contention. So, I was mad enough about that and then to come down afterwards and have your stuff off and your net down and come and pull those high school stunts playing car wars after the race was just absolutely unacceptable. That definitely put me over the edge. I don’t regret my actions. I’m not proud of them or happy about them or any of that, but I don’t regret them. I don’t know that I would do anything different if the same thing went down again.”

Would you have reacted the same earlier in the season?

“I would have. Really, obviously I was probably more upset about getting ran into the wall than I would have maybe been on week two of the season. There’s probably a little bit there and some of that is from frustration from the season of not running to our potential and being taken out of a Chase race. The stuff afterwards of getting hit after the race, my reaction to that was besides taking my stuff off and thinking it’s ridiculous to get hurt after a race is over by somebody acting like a little kid using a car for a weapon. I thought that was ridiculous, but that’s the second time he’s done that this year just to me. After the Richmond race he (Brad Keselowski) came and wiped us out down in turn two and then came down pit road and took another slug at me and knocked the side off our car. Besides people having to pay for them and work on them and all that stuff, it’s just not acceptable. After that happening again was probably most of my reaction.”

Were you expecting a fine from NASCAR?

“I was not. You never know, but I think that in the past if you go in there and first of all it was not a planned action and I didn’t go in there with fists flying or anything else like that. I just really wanted to get to him (Brad Keselowski) I guess, I’m not sure what I wanted to do when I got there, but I wasn’t really expecting one. It was obvious I didn’t really have a plan right?”

Would you change taking your belts off when you did in hindsight?

“When you’re on pit road after a race is over I thought that would be pretty safe. That’s what we’ve done every week for 15 years, you know what I mean? You get to pit road and while you’re waiting and everybody is going in the garage at two miles an hour you start getting your stuff off and get ready to get to the trailer and get out of the car. So, I thought that was acceptable and that was safe. I mean, I know under a wreck and anything like that while the event is still going on I know they certainly want you to stay close to your car, but once you’re on pit road after the race or in the garage area of all places I think it’s always been a practice to start getting your stuff off and get ready to get out — been in there a long time.”

Did you intentionally hit Brad Keselowski when you took the ‘wave around’ with six laps to go?

“Well, Brad (Keselowski) is greatly exaggerating that point. If you watch video you can see he had no marks on his right front of his car after that. He said it tore his whole right front off. I did indeed swerve at him when I took the wave around because I was mad he put me in the wall and totally ruined my day, but if you look at his car there is absolutely no damage on it. That was just him greatly exaggerating the story.”

| , RacinToday.com Friday, October 17 2014
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