BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 6 Castrol Edge Ford Mustang Dark Horse – HOW DO YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW, GOING INTO THIS HAVING NOT BEEN ON THE TRACK WITH THIS CAR AND YOU HAVE TO PUSH EACH OTHER AND YOU DON’T REALLY KNOW HOW IT’S GOING TO BE DOING PUSHES? I MEAN, WHAT’S GOING TO BE THE TRIAL ON THERE? HOW DO YOU FIGURE THAT OUT? “I reckon the same as it always is. You just go out there and you start pushing and hope you don’t wreck the guy in front And if you do, it’s kind of like I don’t like it, but it happens, right? There’s not really an exact science. I wish it was. You don’t know when you’re gonna push somebody when they’re gonna wreck more times than not. Sometimes you get a little warning, you know, you see a guy bobble a little bit and you kind of go he’s at the limit and sometimes you just push somebody and everything is going fine and then they gone. Well, what happened to that guy? So that’s about all you got.”

YOU RECENTLY HAD A LOT OF PRESS RELEASES COME OUT ABOUT NEW TECHNICAL PARTNERS. YOU’VE ALWAYS HAD THE TECHNOLOGY THERE AND THE ENGINEERS. HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT NOW AND HOW WILL IT AFFECT YOUR ORGANIZATION?  “Yeah, we announced the RFK Tech Alliance, which is really just a super important initiative for me and really for the whole company to just be able to bring in the best technology possible to compete at the highest level and stay ahead of where the world’s going or at least keep up with the world’s going to be able to apply that to our team. We want to win races and winning races is about having great teams. Having great teams is about having great resources and technology is an outstanding resource to help our team, no different than it is in your guys’ life.  You’ve seen technology come and go in it serves us all in different ways. But the race team, we want to bring people in and we want to see them be successful. And for that to happen, they’re going to need some great tools. And those tools, more often than not today, are technology-based.”

SO IS THERE ANY CONNECTION THERE BETWEEN THE TEAM AND YOUR OTHER COMPANY IN THAT ALLIANCE? “We have some small connections, mostly just a cohesive understanding of the technologies that matter.”

SO LAST YEAR YOU CAME IN, WE ASKED YOU ABOUT EXPECTATIONS AND GROWTH, AND AT THE END OF THE YEAR WE ASKED YOU IF YOU MET THOSE EXPECTATIONS AND GROWTH. NEW YEAR, NEW RACE, NEW THINGS WITH YOUR TEAM, WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS AND GROWTH FOR THIS YEAR? “I think we had a really good off-season. We finished 2023 with some pretty good confidence, Chris (Buescher) ran really well at Phoenix. I ran pretty good there, but we had strong playoffs. We ended up 7th and 8th in the final standings, which was a pretty significant improvement from where we ended at 2022. From there, I think we’ve made a lot of key investments, key moves to just be even stronger for this year. Some of those more tangible than others with the Ford and the Dark Horse Mustang, which I’m sure is going to get, rightfully so, a lot of love and attention. Some of those less visible with people and experience and training and resources and processes and all those kind of buzzwords that don’t really mean a lot to everybody, but they do mean a lot to the results. My expectations coming into the year are pretty high. I think we’re going to be a team that can win multiple races with the 6 and 17 and hopefully take another step up from where we were last year. If we do everything right, maybe even be a championship threat.”

COMPARTMENTALLY, FOR YOU AS A DRIVER, YOU WEAR ONE HAT. AS AN OWNER, YOU WEAR ANOTHER HAT. YOU HAVE A BUSINESS THAT YOU ALSO OPERATE. HOW DO YOU KEEP IT ALL STRAIGHT OTHER THAN SLEEPLESS NIGHTS? “There are some sleepless nights, but ultimately that beats not having a job, right? If I had to choose. It’s not an easy task, but there are a lot of people that work just as hard or harder than I do. I don’t really take any self-pity out of all that. I just want to win. I want to win in life, win on the race track and you want to make sure that at the end of the day there is no reason for that not to happen. At least not that it’s within my control.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE A SENTIMENTAL FAVORITE GOING INTO SUNDAY BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE LIKE, OH YOU KNOW, BRAD HASN’T WON FOR A WHILE AND YOU KNOW BRAD IS REALLY GOOD AT FORMER RESTRICTED PLATE RACES. ARE YOU KIND OF SENSING THAT AT ALL? “It’s flattering but the results are what the results are. They’re not what people want sometimes but I just feel like I can only answer for myself and I just know that we’ve been in position. We’ve led the most laps, we’ve won the stages. To your point, we’ve won a lot of races on the other plate tracks and the 500 is the only missing thing for me. To win it would check a big bucket off the list. I feel like we are doing all the right things for that to be real. In the end, you get to the last 30 or 40 laps and stuff just happens. All you can do is be in position and hope that the bad stuff doesn’t happen to you and you have a shot.”

DID YOU HAVE ANY ISSUE GETTING PARTS AND PIECES FOR THE NEW PART? “There were some small issues with some bumper foam, but those all corrected themselves over the last month and we’ve been in a good spot.”

HOW DO YOU SEE RICK WARE RACING BENEFITING FROM THE ALLIANCE WITH RFK THIS YEAR? “I felt like it was really good for both of us last year. I think they definitely made some improvements in how they ran and where they ran and had some of their best races, I think, in their team’s history last year. So I’m excited for them to see that come together. And, you know, Justin Haley in the 51 car had a pretty good Clash. I don’t know if anybody really talked about how good he ran at the Clash. I think he legit ran like 10th the entire Clash which for that team is a huge uptick in performance from where they’ve been and I would expect them to be a big beneficiary of our kind of arrangement here in 2024 and put up even better numbers. I’m happy for them. For us it gives us some flexibility with processes and resources and ability to kind of play back and forth with different opportunities that come and go. It’s hard to quantify those, but it’s real.”

ANY FAVORITE WAYNE AUTON STORIES? “I’ve got a lot of Wayne Alton stories. You guys got time for this? Wayne Auton, 2006. I was running a truck and I had worked all summer and I built this truck out of a garage in Missouri with, what’s his name? Mittler. Mittler, thank you, yes, thank you. And I got it done to run the race at Bristol. And something happened where it got tore up and I had to put a new nose on it. And I didn’t get to race it again until Homestead, which was at that time the last race of the year 2006. I was having a reasonable race, not great, but a reasonable race, and Jack Sprague caught me off of turn four, and he was clearly way faster. Anyway, he hit me. I can’t remember if it was down the straightaway or actually in the corner, and when he did it turned me right and into the wall and tore the side off this thing. I had worked my ass off on that thing for the last few months and now it was tore up kind of for no reason. So when the race was over, you do cool down lap, I ran up behind Jack Sprague and I just piledrove him. Like if I’m going to work on this thing, I’m going to work on this thing, you know, and he’s going to know I’m going to work on this thing because he’s going to have to work on, or somebody’s going to have to work on his stuff too. And so I piledrove him and we got out of the truck. I’m ready to fight this guy. I was 27 years old. I think Jack Sprague at the time had to be in at least his late 40s and nothing ever happened. But I got called into the hauler. Wayne calls me in the hauler and he says, what happened on the cool down last night? Oh, a little disagreement. I don’t remember his exact words, but I don’t think they were something I’m supposed to say. But he says, I got the tape to prove it was more than that. He put the tape in, this VHS tape, in this TV VHS player. It was like a combined unit, you know, you probably remember what I’m talking about, some people that are younger probably don’t, and he put it in there and it was a recording of me running into the back of Jack and he puts it in there, and it proceeded to eat the tape. And so he’s got the play button running and the tape’s just flying out of this thing, you know how the tape would and it just made him even madder. He was just so mad. Like, smoke coming out of his ears mad. He just told me, get the hell out of here and don’t ever do that. Don’t do that. I remember walking out of there, like, trying not to laugh and snickering, but I will never forget that moment.”

“You know, Wayne’s not the most tech savvy guy. But even in the VHS era, he was probably still not the most tech-savvy guy. So when it started eating that tape, I think he went to stop it and he put like the fast-forward button and it just… I mean, just tape flying everywhere. I’ll never forget that moment.”

WE KNOW WHEN NASCAR DRIVER GET CALLED TO THE HAULER IT IS BECAUSE THEY ARE IN TROUBLE, BUT SOMETIMES DRIVERS FEEL LIKE THEY NEED TO GO TO THE HALL WITH THEMSELVES AND YOU’RE ALL FIRED UP, AND YOU’RE ANGRY YOU’RE WALKING THERE. WHAT IS THAT LIKE? “You know it feels a little bit like being a kid again and going to see mom and dad with a problem and you’re all flipped out and mad and mom and dad are telling you to calm down and vice versa when you’ve done something wrong and mom and dad are yelling at you and they’re like we’re disappointed in you. It certainly harkens to those memories for me.”

DO YOU HAVE A MOMENT WHERE YOU WALKED IN THERE AND YOU KIND OF WERE PUT IN YOUR PLACE? “Oh I have more than one. If that ain’t happen every once in a while you ain’t trying hard enough right?

HOW MANY TRIPS HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE HAULER? “I don’t know, I never counted. You know, I don’t know if that’s good or bad.”

AND BEING LIKE YOUR MOM AND DAD, DO THEY CALL YOU BY YOUR FULL NAME? “No, no, that has not happened, but like mom and dad will tell you, you know, we put you on this earth, we can take you out, and I think there’s some similarities there. We allowed you to race and we can take you out.”

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT YOUR DAD THAT HE WAS WILLING TO PUT A FIRE SUIT ON TO DEFEND YOU? “My dad wasn’t known for his temper, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have one. He certainly could be very quiet and mild mannered until he wasn’t. He was just one of those guys that had kind of like this, you know, long leash and when he broke the leash it was kind of a lookout moment. I know he wasn’t exactly proud of that moment specifically, but it was in the end somewhat flattering for me that he cared that much. I get it.”

YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T GET IT UNTIL YOU HAD DAUGHTERS: “Yeah, to some degree, yeah. In the moment there was some cringe over it, like, oh, Dad, I wish you would just stay out of this. But, you know, as I’ve gotten older, I understand it more.”

WHEN YOU’VE DONE SO MANY THINGS RIGHT AT DAYTONA, EXCEPT THE ONE THING AT THE END, IS IT DIFFICULT TO MAKE DAYTONA BIGGER? IT’S BIG, I GET THAT. BUT IS IT DIFFICULT TO MAKE DAYTONA EVEN BIGGER THAN IT IS? “I don’t know if I have an answer to that, I mean every race is its own race. But Daytona just is another magnitude. You know you come here and you have months of preparation, the biggest purse, biggest rating. It’s a race that people remember in a season of races that inevitably there’s going to be some forgettable ones. You want to make that memory a good one. At the end of the day, Daytona is one of those places where you just don’t have a good points day at Daytona. It just doesn’t happen. You either win it or you don’t. And that’s tough, right? Because there’s only going to be one and there’s going to be 39 that went home unhappy. So it’s just hard to explain the feelings of this place. You know, that feeling of leaving the tunnel when you haven’t won, it’s not a good feeling. But you try to take pride in the things you did right and you move on.


HE JUST SAID THAT THEY WANTED IT TO BE RIGHT. THEY DIDN’T WANT TO RUSH INTO ANYTHING AND THEY WANTED TO MAKE SURE YOU ALL GOT YOUR FAIR SHARE AND THOUGHT THAT THERE WAS A FUTURE FOR EVERYONE. “Well that’s good. I think everybody wants holistically the same thing which is a healthy growing sport that’s around for decades to come or hopefully longer. How we get there is always going to be the challenge. There’s a lot of people working on that. I’m optimistic that’s what will happen.”

ARE YOU AND DENNY HAMLIN MORE SIMILAR THAN PEOPLE WOULD IMAGINE OR ARE YOU VERY DIFFERENT? I ASK THAT BECAUSE YOU GUYS HAVE RACED FOR YEARS TOGETHER AND YOU HAD YOUR ROUGH PATCH EARLY ON. I DON’T KNOW IF MAYBE YOU VIEWED YOURSELF AS BEING AN OWNER AT THAT POINT, BUT YOU GUYS HAVE BOTH KIND OF TAKEN THESE UNIQUE PATHS AND HAVE KIND OF BEEN LEADERS. “I don’t know how to compare us. We’re similar in that, you know, in our personal lives we have children and we’re a similar age group. We’re similar in the sense that we race cars for a living and we have some team ownership and driving responsibilities. So yeah, a 30,000 foot view, that probably looks like one city to another city on the water, right? But I think we probably have some different ethos and values and everybody thinks theirs are better than the others, but who’s to say. I don’t know to say if we’re similar or not. I don’t know if it’s fair for me to answer, but I know it’s not something I focus on. I try to look at our own stuff all the time and just head down. And eventually you have to pop up and take a look around at what’s going on in the rest of the world, just see what the hell you’re doing. But for the most part, I can’t say I pay that much attention.”

“I wish I had more wins like he’s got. I think he’s got like 50-some? I’ve got 35. There was a time about three or four years ago where I was within a couple of him, and then my last few years haven’t been as good as his, but there’s a respect that I have for him and what he’s done and his success and talents. I’m sure he’s got more race wins left as the Clash was an indicator.”

WHAT IS IT LIKE HAVING DAVID RAGAN AS A THIRD CAR HERE? A GUY WHO IS FAMILIAR AT LEAST WITH THE TEAM AND HAS WINS AT DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA?  “I mean a third car for us is kind of an acknowledgement of the numbers game that is Daytona. Whether the numbers be running up front enough times and eventually you’ll get the win or those numbers being having more cars running up front and eventually you’ll have more shots at the win. There’s a lot of ways to lose this race and you don’t want it to be numbers at the end of the day. David represents a shot for us to have a quality team and driver representing one of our best partners withBuildSubs to go out and win this race.”

Ford Performance PR