Tom Bowles
Saturday May 22nd, 2010

Brad Keselowski does a bi-weekly diary for SI.com. After a run of top-20 finishes, he focuses on what his team needs to do to put them in position to make the Chase. Also in this latest edition: after being in Daytona for the Nationwide Series Car of Tomorrow tests, he gives the inside info on how that car is expected to handle and perform for its July 2010 debut. Plus, whether he'd accept Bruton Smith's $20 million offer to win Indy and Charlotte in the same day, his favorite All-Star Race, and what's the toughest corner in racing.

Tell us about your Cup day at Dover. You had another quiet but consistent performance where you ended the day inside the top-20.

Well, it's been a very quiet season for us as of late. So, quiet can be good and quiet can be bad. It's good for awhile, when you're plugging away and putting in solid finishes, but 18th is not necessarily a solid finish, just a finish. We want to get up there and get running a little better than that, but it's going to take some time. We've gotta keep working on it and find a little more speed.

Where were you struggling this weekend? Was it the track, the rubber buildup several drivers complained about?

Yeah, the rubber was kind of a unique challenge, but I thought we did a good job of overcoming that. We just lacked speed on all three of our Penske Dodges last week.

With seven top-20 finishes in the last eight races, you've moved to 24th in points, 224 outside the Chase. Do you still consider that a realistic goal?

Well, I don't want to use the word "goal." If there's one word I want to stay away from, it's the word "goal" when talking about the Chase. The goal all along was to show improvement throughout the year, and show that we are running well enough to get there, even if we don't. To do that, we need to show improvement and we need to keep getting better. Top-20s are great, but we need to take our top-20 days and get top-10s out of them.

When we can do that, that's when we'll be a legitimate Chase contender. It's still very, very possible for us to make it.

Pit road speeding has been a big issue this season. Are you comfortable with the way the penalties are handed out, or would you like to see more transparency?

Transparency never does any harm for anyone. I think we're all confused on why that's not a possibility, and I would love to see it. But there hasn't been a time where I was caught speeding where I thought NASCAR was wrong. It's pretty cut and dry. Well, maybe there was one time. Last year at Kentucky, I feel like they had the lines messed up. I got caught speeding and I know for a fact I wasn't there, and I think Carl Edwards got caught three times in a row. Half the field got caught ... that's the only time it didn't seem right.

But even though they're making the right calls, it's important for our fans in the long run that there is transparency. It gives NASCAR credibility as far as how the sport's getting managed.

You've spent the week testing the new Nationwide Series Car of Tomorrow. How does the car feel compared to the Cup car?

Well, I'm three-quarters of the way through it as we're talking. It feels very similar to the Cup car, just slower. So far, so good.

The way it looks is great, it's a no brainer. I think we've hit a home run in several areas. One is obviously the looks and two is safety. In the long haul, let me stress that -- the long haul -- our cost containment will be a benefit of this car. It's just you're going to lose a lot more before you ever save it. But I still think that we went down the right path, and I'm happy we put a spoiler on the car. I'm a big fan of that.

I think we're making just one mistake. We should not continue to put splitters on our race cars; I thought we figured that out. The advantage of doing this Nationwide car was the ability to learn from the mistakes of the Cup car and so far NASCAR's done a good job on that with everything but the splitter. It affects the Cup car the same way, and I still feel it needs to go.

Several teams struggling to survive financially have asked NASCAR to postpone the new car's debut because frankly, they're just not going to be able to afford them. What is your position on that, and with the current economic conditions should they step in and assist with the transition to new equipment?

I'm not a big fan of NASCAR stepping in and paying the bills. I don't think that's the right way to go for the sport. It undermines the free enterprise system it was built on and gives it more of a franchise feel.

So, I'm not in favor of that. If anything, this car is somewhat of an opportunity for NASCAR to purge the sport of the start-and-park teams. And the rest? The tough will survive, they'll find a way. Guys like my brother, they'll survive. It's going to be hard on them, and for that I'm sorry. But in the long run, this car will be good for the sport.

There's been a lot of controversy about Facebook and how it might be violating privacy laws by giving your information to third-party applications. How do you handle Facebook and Twitter, and do you think social media is a good or bad thing? Are you ever worried something you say on Facebook, for example, is going to come back to haunt you?

Well, as far as that goes, you don't have to post something if you don't want to post something. You don't have to use it if you don't want to use it.

As for my own Twitter, I use it as a way to stay in touch with my fans. Twitter has become an important tool in how we communicate. It can be very useful in that regard. I'm not overly-expressive because I have a sense of privacy that I want to maintain.

I don't put anything on there that would ever come back to bite me.

Bruton Smith is offering $20 million to anyone that would win the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. If that policy goes into effect in 2011, would you ask Roger Penske to take part in it? How many NASCAR drivers do you think would try it? -- @BuckyG

Well, I only see a couple of drivers that would even be allowed to try it. I would like to think I would be one of them, but I wouldn't do it if I thought it would jeopardize my own efforts. The priority would be always winning on the NASCAR side for me. If that opportunity were to come up, and if I had a car that was capable of doing that, beyond a NASCAR ride that had an opportunity to win the 600, then yeah, I would look at the opportunity. In the short-term, not so much; but in the long-term, absolutely.

Carrie Underwood. SPIN HER. Too much hype. And isn't she married now?

Ivanka Trump. SPIN HER. I'm not a big fan of her, her dad, the reality shows, or any of that stuff.

Today's Topic: All-Star Races

RING ME UP: Well, of course the first All-Star Race under the lights, that was awesome. I remember watching that one, it's the first All-Star Race I ever remember and the whole deal of coming out of [turns] 3 and 4 on the last lap. Kyle [Petty] tried to pass [Dale] Earnhardt, Earnhardt blocked him and went spinning, then [Davey] Allison came out of nowhere to win it. It was an awesome race.

I LOST THE NUMBER: There really isn't anything. I really think it's a cool race, so there's nothing that I don't like.

Take us around a lap at Charlotte.

Well, Charlotte is a very, very tough place. It's extremely weather-sensitive. When the sun goes down and it turns into night, you pick up a lot of speed and it changes your car's handling quite a bit. You start off going through the dogleg down the frontstretch and turn off into turn 1, which is a fairly large drop. It has a lot of speed, and you can run the top or the bottom; mostly, we're going to run the bottom, but I'm sure some of the race we're going to run the top. It's also very smooth now. The pavement used to be rough but now it's very smooth, very polished-looking, so it's kind of slick.

Anyways, suddenly you get down into turn 1, and it's got that dropoff into the corner. I carry a lot of speed, around 206-207 [mph], and get down to the bottom of the racetrack. You run the white line as hard as possible, and on exit, it seems like there's a little extra grip the lower you can run. As you merge up to the wall, your car seems to get a little bit loose, and you have to be very, very aggressive with your car up off of turn 2 because there's a lot of speed.

Then you go down into turn 3, which I think is one of the most challenging corners in racing. Jimmie Johnson probably goes through it the best, but Kyle Busch goes through it very well, too. You have to put a huge arc into your car and have it very, very far sideways. And you're going extremely fast, so it can be quite tricky. Obviously, you try and run the very bottom on exit. The trick with that is you have to have a car that turns very well off the center, but isn't too loose off of turn 4. Turn 4 is fairly narrow and that can be quite a challenge.

As you merge up to the wall, you have just a slight amount of wiggle and bob -- it gets worse as the tires build heat in them -- and then it carries you down the last dogleg, and over to the start/finish line.

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