Ford Performance NASCAR: Michigan 2 Post Race

by Official Release On Sun, Aug. 12, 2018

Ford Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Consumers Energy 400 (Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI)
Friday, August 10, 2018

HARVICK GIVES FORD SEASON SWEEP OF MICHIGAN

  • Kevin Harvick won his seventh race of the season and ninth with Ford after today’s triumph at Michigan.
  • The win for Harvick is Ford’s second straight at MIS (Clint Bowyer, June).
  • The win marks the 38th all-time NASCAR Cup Series win for Ford at Michigan.
  • The win marks his 44th career Cup Series victory and his 104th career NASCAR National Series win.
  • This marks the 12th win for Stewart-Haas Racing since joining Ford last year.
  • Ford has now matched its win total from last season with 10 in 2018.
  • The win is Fusion’s 99th Cup Series triumph since becoming Ford’s flagship vehicle in 2006.
  • Today’s win is Ford’s 668th all-time in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition.

FORD FINISHING RESULTS
1st Kevin Harvick
2nd Brad Keselowski
5th Ryan Blaney
6th Kurt Busch
7th Aric Almirola
10th Joey Logano
12th Clint Bowyer
16th Paul Menard
18th Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
24th Matt DiBenedetto
25th Michael McDowell
27th David Ragan
34th Trevor Bayne

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light/Mobil 1 Ford Fusion – Finished 1st – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW

“Keelan is saving me some work. Usually when I get home the next day we have to mock up a victory lane celebration. For him to be here and able to do that and be a part of NASCAR and bring your son to work and do all the things that we get to do with our kids, I have had him with me by myself the last three weeks and we have had a ball. I couldn’t be happier to be a dad and be a part of NASCAR where they let your family come to the race track and be a part of it. Gotta thank everyone from Busch Light, Mobil 1, Ford, Jimmy John’s, everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing and all these fans for coming out today and supporting everything we do here in Michigan.”

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion – Finished 7th

“It was a solid day. We ran top-10 both stages and finished top-10. Finally a normal weekend for us where we had good speed and kind of executed all day. We had some bad restarts and had a couple stops on pit road that we struggled on but overall it was a decent day and a good way to build our momentum back as we head into the playoff stretch.”

KURT BUSCH, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Fusion – Finished 6th

“Is this groundhog day? Is it deja vu? We are running so strong, not making mistakes and chiseling away. That is why we are 4th in points. Consistency. Anytime I get to the back bumper of the 4, 18 or 78 they inch away from us. We are sliding both ends of our car. We are so close. We will find our day. We have good rhythm, we just can’t steer to far away from this rhythm.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Fusion – Finished 2nd

“We kind of clawed all day and had some good restarts with the Discount Tire Ford and got all we could get out of it but just ended up one spot short and that is so frustrating.”

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Finished 10th

“It is frustrating. I felt like we finished 10th with a fifth place car today. I couldn’t restart very well and I lost spots on every restart. I am proud of the team though. Everyone else did good, I just wasn’t able to get anything going on the restarts and that made life really difficult today.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Knauf Insulation Ford Fusion – Finished 5th

“It was a good showing for us today. Really all weekend I thought we were pretty strong. There were a couple cars better than us all day and a couple that got better at the end. Second half of the race the track kind of changed and our car lost a little bit of speed but I am happy with a fifth after the last two weeks that have been a struggle for us. It is good to get back on the right track which is where we belong. Hopefully we can keep this going here for the next few weeks and then into the playoffs.”

 

BRAD KESELOWSKI POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE

What were you encouraged by during this run, and what do you feel like you need to improve on to challenge the big three as we said into these final regular season races? “Yeah, the last few week’s we’ve had some pretty big struggles, finishing out races with breakdowns and letdowns and all of the above. It’s nice to just be able to have a clean race, or mostly clean. We did have one loose wheel. But mostly clean race, and to be able to kind of get the finish we deserve, that’s important. It’s important to get what you have out of your car, and although we might not have race‑winning speed, you still need to execute. So with that in mind, that’s good for everybody’s morale at Team Penske and on the 2 team, as well, but of course we want to break through and win, as well, and kind of like you indicated, we’re not where we need to be to just win on pure speed against those guys week in and week out. We’ve just got to find it. As a team, we have to find that little bit of performance. It’s not a lot, it’s just enough to keep us out of Victory Lane. It’s enough for us to run up front like we did today, finish up front when we do everything right, but not enough to win. We know it’s possible, and it’s up to us to make it happen.”

As you were saying, you didn’t have the speed of Harvick; if you finish three seconds behind him all the way until Homestead, when do you have to feel like you’re right with him to feel like you have a shot come Homestead? “I don’t know if there’s a great answer to that. I could throw you something out there, but it would just be a lob, right? With the way the points format obviously is, to your point, Homestead is ‑‑ but you have to get to Homestead. You have to make it through those playoff rounds. To that end, I don’t think you can guarantee on being able to point your way through. You can really only point your way through to the third round. You really can’t count on pointing your way through to the fourth round, unless you have all the bonus points, which we don’t. With that in mind, we’re going to have to deliver and make results and win races, and I think that’s what the sport is about at the end of the day. It’s easy to say, harder to do, but I think, again, having a day like today where we were solid, we executed, it allows us to move forward as a team and as a company with all four cars, or three and a half cars, to get there.”

“I think there’s a little bit of both. I think there’s positives and negatives from today, and so you’ve got to try to make the most of the positives and learn from the negatives.”

Brad, when you said we didn’t have enough race speed, do your engineers know in which areas you can improve the car, maybe with the aero package? “I think maybe they might have some ideas, but I’m not really in the loop on what they might be, so I don’t really have a great answer for that.”

With the Ford Mustang coming out next year, I know that’s months after, but is that something that gives you encouragement to think that you might have new dynamics to play with to go ahead and spring you forward? “Yeah, the Ford Mustang is going to be great. It’s going to be great not just for the Ford drivers, but it’s going to be great for the sport of NASCAR to have a performance vehicle in the sport across all the lineups of the series. With that in mind, we’ve got to win now. I don’t want to win just in 2019, I want to win right now. I’m in the prime of my career, prime of my life, and I’m hungry to win right here, right now.”

Question about the so‑called big three. Is it motivating to try to catch up to them, or is it discouraging because they’re clearly so much more successful than everybody else? “Yeah, I don’t know if I’ve really put a lot of thought into that. I go to each weekend as a reset point thinking and feeling as though this could be the weekend where we have the speed to win that way or could execute that way, and I think you have to ‑‑ and then when you start to get through the weekend, you have to get the most out of what you have. We’ve had some races where I feel like we’ve been equal to or better than those guys where we haven’t put it all together, mostly the plate tracks I would say. So that’s kind of on us to get a result. But on these types of tracks, the mile‑and‑a‑half, intermediate, whatever you want to call them, two‑mile tracks, we haven’t had that yet, but we’ve been closer some places than others.”

Following up on that, knowing that this track is an indicator for those mile‑and‑a‑half tracks, Austin Dillon finished fourth today with a new chassis. How much do you think teams were showing their hand today for what they’re going to have when the playoffs begin? “I was really impressed with how well Austin and Ryan Newman ran this weekend. Yeah, you’d be foolish to keep something great in your pocket. It’s time to bring it out and make sure it’s ready to go.”

Being at your home track in front of the fans and friends and family, whatnot, does finishing second again sting at all, or is it more encouraging because you weren’t second most of the day? “It’s just going to make me appreciate when we do win here. I know it’s coming, and I’ve got to believe if we keep knocking on the door, eventually it’s going to fall in. I don’t know any better way to knock on the door than finishing second. Last year here we led a bunch of laps, won the stages, sat on the pole. We have done everything we can do here but win, at least at the Cup level. So we have that opportunity. We’ll see if it can develop into something. It hasn’t so far, but I know in my heart that if we keep running this like, it will happen.”

Also Michigan is a little test of the mile‑and‑a‑halfs and just kind of indicating how much improvement you guys need to make, but when you hear the big three title, does it sort of make you say, hey, man, we’re in this still? Team Penske has still got the three of us that can make this happen? “Not really because I don’t think about it that much. I’m kind of more focused on my team than those teams. It’s kind of ‑‑ it’s great fodder for this room, but for us as a team, I don’t think we really think about it because I feel as though if you focus at any one point in time of beating one car or in this case three, you forget to execute on your end and to beat the other 35‑some cars that you need to beat.”

To what degree are you guys absolutely sick and tired of hearing about the big three? “Well, I kind of feel like it’s the same question. Yeah, I guess, like I said, I don’t really think about it that much. It’s more ‑‑ are you tired of hearing about it?”

Earlier Al Unser Jr. was here and I asked him a question about parity and whether or not it’s good for the sport in terms of the template, both in IndyCar and NASCAR, and he said he’s a traditionalist, he kind of likes the run what you brung. What’s your take on it? If you had the ability to rule NASCAR ‑‑ “Well, I don’t, for first things.”

And is there a Smokey Yunick hiding in Stewart‑Haas Racing in the No. 4 team somewhere? “Well, there’s some smart people. There’s some great decisions made at the executive level. That’s really the difference maker right now in this sport. At the executive level making the right decision to garner the right resources and human capital and equipment is a big difference maker. And you have to give credit to those guys; they’ve done a great job. All three of those teams that you’re discussing have made some really smart decisions at the highest levels, and they’re reaping the benefits of that. You know, no team or no company is made of one player. You’re from Cleveland. You know about LeBron James. He’s great, but he still has to play with four other people, right? It’s the same thing here. I might get a lot of the credit, but at the end of the day, there’s almost 500‑some employees at Team Penske that are building race cars day in and day out, and I can’t drive without them. I can’t race without them, let alone be the best. With that in mind, it takes all those people coming together with the right way with the right tools and the right teamwork to be successful, and you have to give credit to the guys that have put up the most wins this year. They’ve built some of the best teams.”

You had the loose wheel, still wind up second. So when it’s all said and done, was the loose wheel not even a factor? Or if it was, tell us how you worked back. “Well, it wasn’t good. It definitely cost us a bunch of stage points which we’d like to have and possibly an opportunity to restart a little further up, which would have been nice to see play out. But it’s hard to give a perfect answer on whether it would have been a difference if we could have won or not today. I think based on what I saw at the end, the 4 car was legitimately faster, and we would have needed a mistake from him, either way.”

Brad, I know you want to win now, and obviously you guys are showing speed that you can win now. For you, are you willing to show aggression to get back to Victory Lane? Are you willing to lay the bumper, or do you just want it to come naturally? “Well, it’s hard to really show any aggression when the guy that won the race was three and a half seconds ahead of you.”

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