Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Keselowski: "Potential To Be Just As Good" In 2013

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion, met with the media during a break in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series preseason testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway this afternoon, commenting on the new Sprint Cup Series cars for 2013, Penske Racing’s move to Ford Motor Company and having Joey Logano as his new teammate.
“It’s hard to get a great read on the whole manufacturer change because, obviously, it’s a different car,” he said. “But I think all the signs are there that we have the potential to be just as strong, if not stronger than we were last year, which is very encouraging.  We still have to work for it and make it happen, but the signs are there.  

“It’s been a lot of fun working with Joey,” said Keselowski of his new teammate. “I think (that) has been more of an adjusting process than the actual car itself. A good adjusting process.  I’m curious to see over time how we can work together and push each other to be the best we can be, so I’ve had a lot of fun with that so far.  We’ve got a lot of work to do.  We’re only a half-a-day into two really important days, not only
for Penske Racing but for the sport itself and, hopefully, we can continue to show progress.”
Asked why he is so confident that Penske Racing will be stronger in Fords than they were a year ago in Dodges, he said, “Those are hard questions because you get into things that are somewhat proprietary. Bbut I think the level of engagement from the Ford camp is very, very high, which is extremely encouraging. That’s from the top on down.  

“That makes me feel more confident than anything else, because at the end of the day this is a people sport.  You look at the cars and you look at the aero or whatever it might take to be the best… and those things tend to work themselves out when you have the best people… people that are engaged and all are
sharing a common goal and work ethic.  

“I look at that as it stands right now and I’m very happy with that desire and passion we share as
a team, and from the manufacturer perspective, as well.  That commitment is across the board and it feels really good. It makes me feel like the potential is there to be just as good, if not better than ever.”
In typical Keselowski style, the newly crowned series champion said he has a plan to officially welcome Logano into the Penske camp.   

“The best way I can break in Joey is to get him one of those championship glasses and take him out for a night,” he laughed. “I think he’d really enjoy that and I’d really enjoy it.  I think it’s really important to keep (improving)… and I think there are things Joey does right out of the gate that are better than
what I do.”
“He has the ability to unload at a place like this and instantly be fast,” he explained. “That’s not my style.  It’s something that I would like to add to my arsenal, because there are times where that’s really, really helpful, so those are some of the things I look at.  I think Joey is an elite talent in this sport and if we can work together, we will both be better.  I would rather finish second to him next year in every race -- and even the championship -- than rest on my laurels, not get any better and run fifth, 10th, 15th, 17th – whatever it might be – and beat him.  

“I think it’s that spirit that is going to drive us to be the best we can.”
Keselowski said one of his main goals for the season is to maintain the same level of motivation and enthusiasm in his team as was displayed a year ago.

“It’s really tough  for any championship team to keep all of the people motivated, because you’ve achieved a goal,” he said. “I think everybody starts their career wanting to be a champion and wanting to be the best, and that keeps you motivated. But once you get that, it’s easy to lose motivation and we have to find ways to motivate ourselves.  The best employees are always going to be self-motivated, but we have to find ways to make sure that there is no temptation to lose that. I think that’s probably one of the biggest challenges we have.   

“The switch to Ford is good,” he said, “because it lends itself to having something to prove. One of the best advantages of switching to Ford is it gives us something to prove all over again, that we can continue to be successful no matter what the manufacturer or no matter what the circumstance. I think that’s very healthy.  I also feel like, as a team, we have that motivation right now.”
Keselowski said this week’s test at CMS is important, since the team that figures these new cars out first will have an advantage at the start of the 2013 season.

“It takes a lot more than speed to win,” he said. “You still have to have some of the other things; (like) execution and good fortune, but speed is the backbone of this sport and any team’s success.  Anyone who comes out of the gate with the most speed has the potential, so it tends to be an area where we all go first.

“There are a few guys that are a little bit ahead of everyone else,” he said. “I think the Toyotas have shown that they’re going to be really tough to beat with this new car. I really like the way they finished last year, and I think they have the capability of starting out next year stronger than (the rest of) the field.
“That will be interesting to watch, but there’s still a lot of testing and a lot of development left to be done.  (But) if I was to venture a guess, I would definitely say they’re at the top of the list.”
Photos: Getty Images,

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