Keselowski diary (cont.)
How about the private vs. public thing? Good for the sport to keep secrets like that?
Yeah, there's no good way of handling that situation. You look at the NBA and other sports that have gone through the same thing, who fine coaches or players who make disparaging remarks, and essentially what you get out of it is more publicity to the negative remarks. So I can understand NASCAR's reason for not wanting to publicize it; obviously, it still got publicized. So, I feel like they made the right move, they just didn't do a good enough job of making sure it didn't go public.
You guys were at Iowa on Saturday for the Nationwide race and the track was a true sellout. Do you think that facility deserves a Cup date down the line, and what do you think they're doing that other venues on our circuit can learn from?
Well, they have a natural business advantage in several key areas. One, the owners of that track, all they worry about is Iowa Speedway [the track is independently owned, unlike ISC and SMI [who control the majority of Cup tracks across the country]. So they really understand their brand, really understand their customer, the people they're around. And they cater to them. That's a natural advantage. The other one is that it's a fresh market. It always helps. It's a fresh new track, new concept, new idea, so that community ... that's going to help ticket sales. But they just do a really good job of taking advantage of what they have to sell.
Infineon was a bit of a learning experience for you on a road course. What types of things have you done to prep for Watkins Glen and learn from those mistakes?
Just getting more seat time makes you better. I'm working on it, did some studying, and that's really all I care to share about that. Not going to give my secrets away...
A report popped up this week saying Brett Favre is going to retire again. What's your position on multiple retirements in sports, and do you have a problem with all these athletes saying they're done only to come back six months later? You had a similar situation at Hendrick with Mark Martin changing his mind.
In any sport, to me it's all about making a decision and sticking to it. Brett Favre, he's good enough at what he does to have a draw and a demand ... and it's a shame he uses that to his advantage in that way.. That being said, I'm not close to my retirement age yet so I don't fully understand how hard it is to walk away from something you love. It can't be easy.
Do you feel Mark was any different?
Not really. Their situations are very similar. Purely from numbers , though, they are both still at the top of their games. And that's what makes it hard for the organizations. If they are has-beens the teams could make that decision for them but the fact is they still give them an excellent opportunity to win.
Madonna. SPIN HER. Well, you know she's from Rochester Hills, my hometown. She went to the same high school I did. But I'm not a big fan. I don't know ... something about turning your back on where you're from turned me off on her at an early age.
Rosie O'Donnell. SPIN HER. I don't really have anything nice to say, so I won't say anything at all.
Today's Topic: Tracks
RING ME UP: You have fun as a driver anywhere you run well at. For me, there's been a few select tracks I've really had a lot of success; we spoke about Iowa, that's one of those tracks. Bristol has got to be on the top of that list. I enjoy going there, the atmosphere ... under the lights, you really feel like you are the show.
I LOST THE NUMBER: Probably the opposite of that would be Pocono. Purely from a safety standpoint..
Take us around a lap at Watkins Glen.
It's a high-speed road course. It's really an oval-racer's road course. Forward bite is not a huge issue there, so you see very high speeds. Down the backstretch, we get anywhere from 180 to 185 miles an hour.
Let me take you for a ride. You enter Turn 1, which is one of the toughest corners in racing, because it's a downhill. It's very hard to stop the car, and you have the use of gravity against you, which is trying to speed the car up. It's also a very fast right-hander that requires a lot of arc to the entry. Because of that, it's very easy for somebody to try and outbrake you, take your line away and call it a day. So it can be kind of a disaster corner, you have to be smooth through it and very aware of who's around you.
You downshift from third to second going into Turn 1, starting out in third gear at the start/finish line. You downshift to second, apex as late as possible and try to carry as much speed up off. You grab third gear almost immediately upon exiting the corner, and carry that down into the esses. The [S-curves] are two of the trickiest, fastest corners in racing just off of feel. Turn 2 is a very high-banked, right-hander where you carry a lot of speed through it and just barely lift. Turn 3 is a left-hander of the [S-curves], where you're going to have good RPMs to carry a lot of speed off. You'll lift just barely for Turn 3, but then get back to full throttle very quickly. A very sharp, abrupt corner is next, where you're carrying speed to the point you end up right against the guardrail. It feels very similar to Darlington and how close you are to the wall there on both entry and exit. Then, you carry that run off of Turn 4, and grab fourth gear upon the exit. You accelerate flat out, until the bus stop or the inner loop, as people call it. You switch to third gear, then to second; there's very nice brake markers there, and it's a nice place to outbrake someone and a great passing zone.
You also use a lot of curbing -- really, it's the only section of the track where you use the curb. So you jump the car, try and lay it smoothly on the ground, hit the throttle out to the carousel, which is the next section: Turn 5. Turn 5 is a high, high-speed right-hander with lots of banking, also downhill. The car naturally accelerates while going through there. And it's a very, very strange feeling to drive on a right-hander that's that fast. It's essentially faster than half the racetracks we go through on the Cup circuit in the corner -- but it's a right-hander. So it's a different, unnatural feeling. You're in second gear through here -- you grab third gear on exit. You drive all the way up to the edge of the turn on exit. This is where we've seen the big wrecks; it's very hairy, a very dangerous-feeling corner that puts you on the edge of your seat.
So you carry your speed through there, then the next corner -- turn 10 -- is a high-speed left-hander. Some guys will shift into third in between, some guys will shift into fourth, and then double downshift from fourth, to third, to second in that left-hander. It's a very high-speed left-hander, and the car doesn't really want to turn left because it's better to the right. That can be a tricky corner. So you roll through the corner there, late apex, use as little brake as possible and then throttle hard -- but not too hard, because you've got to get from the right side of the racetrack quickly to the left for Turn 11, which is another very high speed, second gear corner. And you carry that speed and that run up off, over the rumble strips on exit, then down to the start/finish line where you'll shift into third gear and complete a lap.