Q: The points – and as Jimmie stated, a 15th-place finish is not a lay-up. When you start crunching numbers, if you will, approaching the race, how much of that do you do in terms of affecting your mindset, in terms of affecting your approach to the race? I assume it doesn't change, but I also think that it's human nature not to think about, hey, I've got a pretty good shot here.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, I haven't crunched a lot of numbers, to be honest, not those types. I can tell you what kind of fuel mileage we're going to get, but I've got no idea about the trends and patterns of the average finish and so forth, but I know if we go out there and just do our job, everything will take care of itself. To put your focus on those other things is just another distraction that doesn't serve the goal that we have. So I haven't done it.
Q: Brad, no pressure on you, but you'd be the first Michigan-born driver if you win on Sunday to claim the Sprint Cup title. How does that make you feel? I'd guess Detroit needs a boost, the Tigers having lost the World Series. How does that all play in?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, I mean, I'd be glad to help out. How about that? You know, obviously I'm very proud of the roots that I have back in Michigan and specifically in the metro Detroit area, and have strong roots still to the area with my family living there and car owner, who's based out of the Detroit area. I think it would be a very powerful moment for sure, at least for me and hopefully for the area and the community.
So anything that we can do to serve that just plays into some of the heritage of our team and makes us stronger.
Q: When you think back to Rochester Hills and that little white cinder block shop that your dad raced out of and your grandfather raced out of in Michigan, when you think back to all of that and how far you've come, and it could have gone the other way, you could be where Brian is right now, what does that mean to you? What will that mean to the Keselowski family who's really scraped to get where you are today?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, it's hard to speak for everyone in my family, and I don't want to pretend to do that. But I also know that I have somewhat of a read on them, and it's kind of funny when you brought that up. I was thinking about the parallels between Jimmie and me and our brothers and where we're at in sports, and we both want to see them be successful, and obviously that hasn't worked out for them as far as being a racecar driver at this level.
Both of us probably want to see that happen. But it's not easy. It's a difficult balance. I know my brother is planning on coming down here for the weekend on Sunday, or I should say for the day on Sunday, and that's going to be great. Glad to have him here, or any family for that matter. And I think if you know the personal relationship that my brother and I have, you would understand why that's such an accomplishment for him to be here Sunday.
So I think that probably speaks more volumes than anything else as to how my family is feeling that, those moments. You know, my dad is the type of guy that would probably never tell you “good job” to your face, but if he spoke to you or did an interview with you, he'd say, “Wow, man, you've got to see what Brad has done, it's great and I feel awesome about it.” I have to rely on those outside things, those nuances, so to speak, so it's good to see him, as well, at the racetrack this weekend and my brother and my mom and so forth, sister is coming out. So that makes me feel like it really means a lot to them.
Q: Jimmie, you said that at some point the magnitude hits you for everybody, and it affects the contenders in some way. A few weeks ago Dale Earnhardt Jr. said about Brad Keselowski that he's so mentally tough he didn't think he was going to crack. Is there something you see from Brad that makes you think otherwise, and what happens in that moment when the magnitude does hit you? How do you respond to it? What makes that championship mettle that you need to win a championship?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, me trying to explain what it's like and how I've handled it would probably be kind of stupid of me right now, so I'm going to not answer the second part of your question.
The first part is, the magnitude sets in at some point. I mean, he just answered a question about family, and I've been there, and I've been the guy leading the points, and people are so curious to know all these what-ifs, what if it happens, and you're forced to answer questions that you're not used to answering, that you don't want to answer, and it builds through the course of the week.
Again, it hits everybody differently, and there's no guarantees how it'll hit him. But I know from my own experience that there have been those moments. Fortunately I responded well to them. We'll see how the weekend goes.
Q: Brad, you've said all along you're going to come here, you're going to win it, but you really only have to finish 15th. How do you change your mindset from being the go-all-out kind of driver you are to maybe kind of being conservative and playing it safe?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: You don't. One of my favorite movies is this documentary on Ayrton Senna, and there's this really powerful scene in that movie that sticks with me when I think about this weekend. I think about the scene when they talked about him at Monaco, which was his phenomenal track that he was so strong at and how he had this huge lead over his teammate at the time, obviously had an identical car, which showcased what kind of talent Ayrton had, and they were coming down to the closing laps of the race, and they told him to slow down, you have a huge lead, don't worry, just slow down…and he wrecked.
I think of that as I approach this weekend. I'm going to go out there and play my game, race my way. That's got us to this point, and if we do that, we'll be fine, and I think that's our approach.
Q: Jimmie has played little head games on you here, and you said you're relying on people and you're going to race your race this weekend, but what I want to know, this is the championship you're going after, the best of the best in racing. How does this weekend feel different, and if it doesn't, why?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, I've been going for the championship all my life – and specifically this particular one for the last nine races. So Homestead pays the same amount of points as Chicago did and the same amount of points that Martinsville did when Jimmie won. It's the same, and there's no reason to change that approach, and that's why I feel that way.