Transcript: Matt McCall – Press Conference – 05.12.24

THE MODERATOR: We’re going to get started with our post-race press conference. We are joined by Matt McCall, crew chief of our winning team. We’ll go ahead and open it up for questions.

Q. What are the intangibles that just separate Keselowski from pretty much anyone else?

MATT McCALL: Yeah, the work ethic, the studying. Just the amount of stuff that that guy thinks about during the day is sort of scary sometimes. At the same time, you’re like, well, it pays off, too, because he just puts in the work in every department.

Obviously it’s been a long time coming. To be able to put it all together now is really sweet.

Q. As you can imagine we asked Brad about the winless streak a lot and he keeps telling us —

MATT McCALL: Really? When did you ask him?

Q. Almost every month at least, and he keeps telling us he’s not really thinking too much about it. Is he truthful with us?

MATT McCALL: 100 percent.

Q. You don’t talk about it?

MATT McCALL: We just talk about winning. It does us no good to talk about the losing streak. You just got to talk about how you’re going to win. That’s what you talk about. Obviously it’s been a long time coming, but we feel like we’ve been getting a little closer and closer, so feels good now.

Q. Chris has got four wins since Brad coming to the organization, and I know you guys have ran well and been close, made the playoffs, et cetera. But seeing Chris get in Victory Lane four times, does it gnaw at you that they’re able to knock that door down and you guys haven’t been able to?

MATT McCALL: I think it just confirmed we’re going to have to work hard for it, right? That’s pretty much what it boiled down to. I think all those races they won, it’s great they were able to win. I felt like we were in contention, but it’s good to put it together. This is the first race I would say that nothing actually happened until the caution came out at the end and it was almost still not good, but worked out okay.

Q. Matt, you’ve gotten the chance to work with Brad obviously both as a driver and seeing what he’s brought to the organization as an owner. Behind the scenes, what maybe do we not see that Brad has done to really help propel this turnaround since he’s joined RFK?

MATT McCALL: The biggest thing is just he’ll keep asking questions what we need tool-wise and just continuing to try to build relationships is how we get better. I think the amount of effort behind the scenes is crazy, the amount of hours the guy puts in. And still drives the race car every Sunday as hard as he can.

It’s so many things. You can’t really just name one because it’s actually pretty amazing, the list he works on every day.

Q. What is it about the chemistry between you two that even though it’s taken this long to get into Victory Lane, you listen to you guys on the radio and it just seems there’s something there that really works for both of you?

MATT McCALL: Honestly, we have some similar mentalities thinking. We’re also able to butt heads a little bit but cordially, so we’ve been able to do that a few times behind doors, and it always comes next week to make it a little better.

Q. Matt, can you give me a sense of perspective; obviously when Brad first came over with you there was always those questions why would he leave an organization where he had been and had success to a group that had not had as much success. Can you give a sense of perspective about the building of what you guys have had to do to get to this point and what’s gone into this because it’s not a one-day thing or one-race thing for sure?

MATT McCALL: No, absolutely not. I think that’s the biggest thing. This car has obviously created a lot of difference when you first start with it, so building that notebook and database, and trying to understand how to continue to build.

Brad loves a challenge, honestly. He’s always thinking really far out. I would be surprised if with 10 to go he’s worried about what we’re taking to North Wilkesboro. It’s just how he thinks sometimes. Definitely always thinking out for the future, which allows us to continue to make gains each week, as well.

Q. Certainly with Brad, there were so many things going on in his orbit, it’s easy on the outside to say he’s got too much going on or this is —

MATT McCALL: Don’t worry, we tell him that. Keep going.

Q. I’m curious, how has he worked through that or what are the challenges because there is a lot in his orbit and this takes a tremendous amount of focus just to to have this success?

MATT McCALL: You know, I think the biggest thing is if he’s not that busy, it makes it more of a whirlwind, so he has to have that much on his plate and just sort of divvy out what that takes to keep the racing side and the business side pushing him both directions.

Q. What was your emotions, your heart rate on the pit box when he’s up there battling with Reddick and he gets together and drops back and your teammate goes around and looks like your teammate is going to win and then all of a sudden they get together and now you guys are in the lead? What was going through your mind at that point?

MATT McCALL: Yeah, a lot. We felt like we were in a good spot for the long run. Even if the 45 got in front of us there, we thought we were going to be okay. Probably about the last five or six laps we felt like it was probably going to happen. Even when the 17 got in front of us, we were like, okay, he’s probably got a really good car, too. We hadn’t seen him all day so really didn’t know, to know for sure leading, and then that happens and you’re like, okay, let’s see how it’s going to play out. I feel like we’ve lost a couple like that, so we’ll take one like that today.

Q. The Cup Series wins you’ve already had or any other major achievement that you’ve had, whether as a driver, as a crew member, anything, I’m curious how does this first one given the road it’s taken to build this organization and team back up, how does that compare to other accomplishments in your career?

MATT McCALL: I would say it’s right at the top. Obviously winning at Darlington is huge for me, obviously close to home. The racing here is my style for what I’ve always enjoyed: Tons of falloff, trying to make a car good on long run and short run. I just think there’s a lot that the driver can control here which I always think makes the racing fun.

This is top of the list as much as we’ve tried to — we came here, I was fortunate to bring a lot of people at RFK to try to get a little bit of culture change and keep pushing to try to get better each week, and this car has allowed us to do that, and then Brad obviously has been able to keep doing that for us, to keep bringing people in to get better.

Q. Why did you even end up with Brad? I know you were elsewhere, but why was this pairing —

MATT McCALL: I like a challenge, as well. When Chip Ganassi shut down, the opportunity was not something I was really looking for at that point in time. Obviously I had started building a relationship with Brad to the side, and we really didn’t know that we were going to do it, but just got to build that relationship and knew what his drive was and what his vision was, and it was pretty interesting to me.

I feel like this sport is never easy, but there’s always things that keep jerking at you to make you want to try to make changes at different places, and that’s what I was looking for.

Q. What’s the challenge with Brad?

MATT McCALL: I mean, the biggest thing is just understanding how to keep him at his top level because he has a scary ability. It’s every week, just like last week, we drove from 25th to 4th or something which doesn’t happen at Kansas. For me, it’s not getting him there; it’s getting what he needs to get there. I think that’s been the hardest thing with this car for us is being able to get that exact line to be able to go from the short run to the long run and know what the balance you need. We had him too loose at Dover and he’s going to drive it until it spins out, so it’s just understanding what that is is the biggest thing. It’s I taken a lot of time for us to honestly build his confidence so we can give him something he can drive every week.

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