Saturday, Nov 26

Ford Performance NASCAR: Clash at the Coliseum Media Availability Kevin Harvick & Brad Keselowski

Ford drivers met with members of the media after practice sessions for the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles Saturday afternoon.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang -- YOU WERE ONE OF THE GUYS THAT USED HIS BUMPER OUT THERE. WHAT DID IT LOOK LIKE AFTER PRACTICE COMPARED TO WHAT THE OLD CAR WOULD HAVE LOOKED LIKE? “I didn’t even look. That’s not my job. My job is to use it, not fix it. That is the theory I am going with this week. I hit the wall, hit a car, and they haven’t said a word about it. So next time I will use it harder I guess.”

 

BEING FROM BAKERSFIELD, THIS IS ALMOST LIKE A HOME GAME FOR YOU. WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN THIS FIRST RACE AND ALSO HAVING IT KIND OF IN YOUR BACKYARD? “Well, first, just the guts that it took for NASCAR to take the leap and try an event like this and then seeing how practice went and how smooth everything has gone. The doors that are open have been blown wide open now. I think as you look at this particular facility, the thing that I remember most about it are Mickey Thompson off-road trucks jumping out of the top over there. Motorcycles and those off-road trucks were what I watched here. Obviously it is an iconic site and I think for me, being close to home and knowing that I have a lot of friends and family that are just intrigued by the event. The intrigue of the event is really the most valuable piece of the event, not only for what we do as teams but for our sponsors and new fans and for the sport in general. This is the type of event that you need to blow it out of the water at the start of the season to get the eyeballs and the people and you guys to all show up because it is different. That is the world that we live in. We live in different and trying new things and having the guts to do it is sometimes hard to do but the rewards are pretty big on the other side whe it works.”

 

IN TERMS OF BLOWING IT OUT OF THE WATER, WHAT RESPONSIBILITY IS ON THE DRIVERS TO DO THAT? “I don't think you can screw it up at this point, personally. The event is here. The race track didn’t fly up. Practice went good. The cars all made the corners. People were passing each other and as our good friend Jim Hunter would say, ‘You have to have cars that pass, Kevin’ to make a good race. When you look at everything that has happened, the amount of tickets and media passes and all the things -- you can’t screw it up at this point. That is my opinion.”

 

KNOCK ON WOOD? “You can’t, I am telling you. The race doesn't even matter.”

 

WHAT IF WALLS GET KNOCKED DOWN OR? “Knock ‘em down. We will make them stronger next time. You already have everything in here and had practice and everything. You can not screw it up at this point. You can. You could screw it up, but we will just send you to all the haters on Twitter and they can lock your account down.”

 

WERE YOU JUST TRYING TO SEE HOW THESE CARS REACT WITH THE BUMPER CONSIDERING IT IS THE FIRST TIME IN THESE CARS? WERE YOU TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU CAN DO TOMORROW IN THE RACE IF YOU NEED TO PASS? “I think all the sightlines and things are a little bit different. I think trying to figure out how to pass and how to almost create that little crossover move to cut below somebody and just cut it a little closer than it probably needed to be. If there is one thing I have learned by watching my son race and the way that all these kids have been taught to race is you better go out and freaking go in practice or you won’t learn what you need to do. So you just go out and treat it like it is a race and go from there.”

 

SO YOU ARE LEARNING FROM KEELAN? “I am learning to be more open-minded. I would never have done this. I would have said you were crazy. Then you get here and it is pretty fun, pretty cool. I am probably the only guy that has been here but I think it is way better than racing through the streets of LA that we did in the southwest tour car back in 1999 with the jump through the gutter and things like that. We have done some different things. This is over the top and looks great.”

 

ANYTHING SURPRISE YOU THAT YOU LEARNED OUT THERE ON THE TRACK TODAY? “I think that is one thing that I did learn, that our simulations did a pretty good job. From what we had (out there) to what we had in the simulation was really good. I think as you get in the car and kind of overcome those things, I had no expectations other than to come here and just wing it and have fun with it. That is really what this event is. The Clash has always been kind of a recap of the year before with people who have won and not won and this is a little bit different than that just because of the fact that everybody is here. Or all the charter cars are here. For me, I was not going to come here and have a bad time. You shouldn’t do that on the first race of the year. I can show up and have a bad time but it isn’t going to be the first race when it is nothing but having fun and learning on the line.”

 

IF THIS CONCEPT CAN BE APPLIED ELSEWHERE, WHAT OTHER STADIUMS WOULD YOU LIKE TO RACE IN? “For me, I look at the NFL and what they do in London and I look at the things that they do. I think in order to really open doors, I think Wembley Stadium would be fun. I think everyone wants to do something but the weather has to be different. But this is something that you could put in the middle of the year and I think the All-Star race is definitely something that could learn something from this just because of the fact that it needs to be more like this instead of just at a 1.5-mile track that we go to all the time. It needs to have that intrigue and fun and atmosphere that goes along with an event that is different. I am of the opinion that I would never do this twice, but I know that I will probably get overruled after this happens. It is kind of like the Roval, the intrigue isn’t as much the second year. I would move it all over the place. If this goes like everyone thinks it will, it will just blow the doors open to opportunities and I would take them.”

 

A WEEK FROM TUESDAY WE WILL BE AT DAYTONA. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE ANTICIPATION BUILD UP TO GET THE SEASON REALLY KICKED OFF AND UNDERWAY WITH THE NEW CAR AND EVERYTHING? “Yeah, I think you have a kick-off leading into Daytona that you haven’t ever really had before with everything this weekend. Hopefully the weather cooperates all week and it isn’t freezing like it was last week. I will take freezing over rain though. I think as you go into the Daytona 500, this is a great event, but there is nothing like coming to the green flag of the Daytona 500 with all the anticipation and excitement from the off-season and everything that has happened over this last year with the new car. YOu have a lot of enthusiasm and this event and hearing about this event, it is a lot like it had been 20 years ago when every race was an event. You have that feeling and that excitement and enthusiasm that goes with that event. I think this will make that bigger than it was. The new car will make that bigger than it was. YOu see the reflection in ticket sales that come with the enthusiasm from the race fans and I think that is only going to grow as we get done here.”

 

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE OUT OF RYAN PREECE THIS YEAR STARTING TOMORROW? “I think just those opportunities he will have. I believe in Ryan and the ability he has. Having those few opportunities and already seeing the things that he has done for Stewart-Haas Racing and knowing what the plans are to be able to implement, there is so much you have to take in during the first half of the year from a learning standpoint. A lot of that is going to have to be done through sim and the simulator. From the test to the simulation. There are more pieces to put all that together than there is time from the guys that are racing on a week to week basis. Having him in the cars for the Xfinity races and Truck races and being able to stay sharp and do things that he needs to do, but there is a lot more to it than just those few races that he gets.”

 

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 6 Violet Defense Ford Mustang -- YOUR FIRST TRUE PRACTICE WITH THIS WHOLE NEW LIFE YOU HAVE, HOW DID THAT FEEL? ANY SPECIAL TALKS OR ANYTHING? “No, not any special pep talks. We know we have a long way to go. This team hasn’t won a race in four or five years and hasn’t won a non restrictor plate track in almost nine or 10 years. You aren’t going to get where you want to be overnight. It didn’t fall off to where it is overnight and we aren’t going to fix it overnight. But we are damn sure going to try. I am cognisant that there will be some rough moments and all those things along the way that we are working through. We didn’t have the greatest practice sessions but that is okay. This is a one-off deal and we will work through it and be better for it together. I am fairly optimistic about all the things we are doing and the direction we are going and feel it will pay dividends as we go.”

 

THE EXPECTATION BEFORE YOU GOT HERE AND THE REALITY OF THIS PLACE, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE FOR YOU? “It was hard to have an expectation to be honest. When I walked in on Thursday through one of those tunnels to take a look at it, it blew me away. Aesthetically this place is beautiful. To know that they did this in 30 days or less, I don't know how they did it. It is funny because we have all these different things we try to do and then there is always a reason not to get them done. But when we really want to do them they get done. To build this right here in 30 days, as amazing as it looks, in this venue in probably not the most friendly of states to do it, is pretty impressive across all factions. I think the sport has a lot to be proud of. I won’t go so far as to say we can’t screw it up but we are certainly off to a great start. I am proud of our sport and proud of the stakeholders for getting us this far.”

 

YOU’VE GOT THE TEAM OWNER HAT BACK ON, IN TERMS OF SPONSORSHIP, WHAT LESSONS WERE YOU ABLE TO BRING FROM YOUR TRUCK TEAM DAYS TO THIS AND WERE THERE THINGS YOU LEARNED THAT BLEW YOU AWAY? HOW HAVE THE STRESS LEVELS BEEN? “It has honestly been a lot of fun. I am as happy as I have ever been. Head down, digging through a lot of things and solving a lot of challenges. I feel like we are moving the needle a lot and have a long way to go. I am really enjoying that whole process. The sponsorship side is always going to be a challenge. That is part of the race. It is the race before the race. Sponsorship funds the resources you have to be competitive and that is an ongoing challenge that will never go away. I know races like this help a lot. There was a lot of sponsor interest for this race and I applaud NASCAR for being willing to take chances to do things like this. It certainly helped us with those items. I can’t say there have been a ton of surprises. You get into the business side of things and get your hands dirty a little bit and you always find some things here and there that you maybe weren’t expecting. I am really proud of the things we have already done and the things we are going to do. I feel really good about this weekend helping to accent all those things. It has been a really exciting time for me.”

 

WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH MATT MCCALL FOR THE FIRST TIME? WAS IT TRUE THE CLINCHER FOR HIM GETTING THE JOB WAS HIM SAYING THAT HE WANTED TO DO THIS BECAUSE YOU ARE THE DRIVER? “Well, I probably shouldn’t answer for him on what the clincher was. He has been great to work with and I am really excited to have him. Jack Roush put it best to me a couple of weeks ago when he said that we took most of the 1 team to become our team. If Chip was still in the sport he would have took a contract out on me, is what Jack said. Maybe that is true and maybe it is not. It is always nice to bring a team that had been in the playoffs and done a lot of great things over the last few years and has good experience. There are some really smart people that come over from there and a few other places. Certainly the things we need to compliment the other good people we had. He has been great to work with. He is a real racer and has raced himself as a race car driver and has a lot of similarities to me with Paul Wolfe who I have worked with in the past and has been nothing but first class. I think the sky's the limit for him. I would probably give another comp to a guy like Rodney Childers and Kevin (Harvick) knows this better than anybody else. You get somebody that you can relate to and work with, and I have worked with some great people in the past, don't get me wrong, but Matt is right up there with him and I think we can do a lot of good things.”

 

KEVIN HARVICK INTERJECTS: “And you will never lose a fight”


BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED: “Yeah, that is right. The guy will karate kick some people. I tell you what. He has it going on. He knows moves I have never heard of before.”

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