Ford Performance NASCAR: Ford Sweeps Front Row as Keselowski Wins Richmond Cup Pole

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, September 20, 2019
EVENT: Federated Auto Parts 400, Richmond Raceway (Qualifying)

Ford Qualifying Results:
1st – Brad Keselowski
2nd – Kevin Harvick
5th – Clint Bowyer
7th – Aric Almirola
11th – Michael McDowell
14th – Daniel Suarez
15th – Ryan Blaney
18th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
19th – Ryan Newman
24th – Paul Menard
26th – Matt Tifft
27th – David Ragan
28th – Joey Logano
29th – Corey LaJoie

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – POLE-WINNING PRESS CONFERENCE – WHEN YOU DON’T MAKE A QUALIFYING RUN IN PRACTICE DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE CAR WILL DO IN QUALIFYING? “No, not at all and that’s part of the enjoyment of today. But Richmond is one of those tracks that practice the track has so much different grip than it does in qualifying. I’m not sure it’s a great indicator to do those things and maybe even fall behind doing that because you adjust to conditions that aren’t realistic when qualifying does come. Regardless of that, we had an amazing lap. The car drove very, very well and we’ve had exceptional short run speed here the last few times and again this weekend, but then the races seem to be playing out with long runs, so if we can just hold on with the short run speed we have on the long runs, we’ll be in good shape for this weekend.”

IS WINNING THE POLE HERE A BIGGER ADVANTAGE THAN OTHER TRACKS? “It is hard to pass in some ways and in some ways not. If you look at, I think it might have been this race last year, I think I qualified 30th and Kyle Busch was right beside me and between the two of us he got up a little bit faster than I did. I think he was in the top three or four in 100-150 laps, so if you get long runs it becomes an easy track to pass at because the mechanical grip is pretty low and you really have to drive the cars and the aero grip kind of evens out because everybody is in traffic, so on the long runs I think there’s a fair amount of passing, but certainly having the patience and discipline for that to be realized is tough for us as race car drivers, but there’s never a track you want to start in the back at, so don’t get me wrong there, but this isn’t the worst that you could.”

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IS THERE MOMENTUM FROM WEEK TO WEEK AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET OFF TO A GOOD PLAYOFF START? “Momentum is just a really tough topic. Sometimes I think there is and sometimes I don’t think there is in this sport. The Playoffs are set up naturally to kind of kill anybody’s momentum because anytime you get a little bit ahead they reset everything and you’re never really ahead, so with that in mind there are times where I think it can be real. I know winning Martinsville is a huge deal because you have two or three weeks to prepare for Homestead, and that can be real, but with that in mind it’s a tough sport to really say that week to week there’s momentum. I’m not sure it’s really that important to get a fast start in the Playoffs. I think it’s just important to survive the first round. Anything beyond that might feel good, but I don’t think it really does anything for you. I think three of the last eight years we’ve won the first race of the Playoffs here and with that in mind with this Playoff format that there is only one of those years have we made it to the final round, and it wasn’t a year that we won the first round, so I don’t think it’s super-important for that. It does feel good, though. It’s a nice trophy.”

HOW MUCH HAVE YOU FOCUSED ON QUALIFYING? “Not at all. The cars have good short run speed and notoriously we’ve been a team that has a lot of long run speed and whatever settings are on the car that seems to be inverse for us right now at the moment, so not a complaint just strength and weaknesses, pros and cons, et cetera and right now that seems to be, for us, on the shorter runs.”

WHAT DO YOU TAKE FROM THE SPRING RICHMOND RACE AND HOW DOES IT FEEL COMING OFF A GOOD VEGAS RUN? “Vegas was not a lot of fun for us the first three-quarters of the race and then we rebounded with some good adjustments and teamwork and great restarts and all those things to have a good day to put us in a position to where these next two weeks aren’t a gimme by any means, but they’re not as hard as they could have been based on how we started at Vegas. And starting up front for Saturday night’s race is certainly another little feather in our cap for being able to get through this round, so I think that answers your question.”

ANY EXTRA EMPHASIS KNOWING A BAD RESULT COULD PUT YOU IN A PRECARIOUS SPOT AT THE ROVAL? “There’s no doubt you can control your own destiny a little bit more here at Richmond than you can at Charlotte. A solid day for us here would put us in a position to where we’d have a lot more fun at the Roval. I think we put a lot of emphasis on this race regardless because it’s a good track for us, but I wouldn’t say that we necessarily put any more on it because of the Roval. It just feels a little better if we do have more success here.”

YOUR LAST WIN FROM THE POLE IS HERE AT RICHMOND. IS IT IMPORTANT TO STAY UP FRONT? “You’d like to take control of this race and just own it as long as you can. Is it important, can I go (inaudible)? I’m not sure that it’s a must-do. I think if you’re good and you have a great car you’ll be able to recover from it, but it sure beats any of the alternatives. There’s not a better starting position and we want to maximize it. I think that first pit stall is gonna be really big at some point in the race and we’ll certainly try to use that to our advantage.”

PAUL MENARD, No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Mustang – “The track picked up a lot of speed, but going out early with the sun going down at Richmond kind of sucks. I think if we could end up in the top 20 at this point we’d probably be pretty happy about that.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang – “You don’t really want to think too much on today or qualifying. I thought the practice today was pretty decent and our race run stuff seemed to be OK, so we’ll just try to work as hard as we can all race tomorrow. Hopefully, we wind up in a decent qualifying spot. We’ll see if the track gets faster as it cools off. Overall, not a bad day. Hopefully, we can make some progress and just have a good, solid run tomorrow night.”

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang – “Richmond is all about grip all the time. There’s no drag versus downforce question that we’re talking here. This is all about as much grip as you can get. It might be long run versus short run speed is sometimes a question, but in qualifying trim you get everything you can and just didn’t have enough.”

SO YOU DON’T FEEL YOU HAVE TO MAKE SOMETHING UP FOR THE RACE? “I thought we were good in race trim, actually. I thought our speed is good as anybody, so that’s encouraging. We just have to get through the field, which if I stay patient, we should be OK.”

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang – DO YOU USE THE FORD SIMULATOR MUCH FOR THE ROAD COURSES? “We do. For me, it is just because I’m a big kind of visual person and so that repetition for me is good just to get a visual and have that memory of curbs and direction of the track and all the things that you remember from last time become spurred in your memory bank as you use those simulators, so we’ve actually started to use it more this year than we have in the past.”

BEYOND THE ROAD COURSES? “Yeah. I think for me, you guys have heard me talk about this before, keeping up with the evolution of this sport is very important and I think as you look at the way that all this stuff is going the evolution is going to be less on-track time and I think it’s important to start having more data points, especially post-race, to make sure that we start to gather more information to make sure that our data points are closer to what they need to be, closer than what they have been in the past, and for me I’d rather do it myself with my team, so we’ve definitely been spending more time. But that’s really a company-wide thing. I think as you look at Cole and Chase, they’re in there every week and they do the brunt of the work, but I think for me I think it’s important because you hear so many people get in there and get sick, and that’s not something that I do. I enjoy being in there, so I think for me it’s the next piece of evolution that has to be in play with your simulation.”

DOES IT GIVE YOU A GOOD BASE SETUP OR MORE JUST FEEL AND SIGHTLINES? “For me it’s more feel and sightlines. I don’t know that it’s 100 percent setup stuff, unless you’re doing post-race stuff and then it’s more making sure that grip levels and lap times and those types of things are right and things that you wanted to work on that you saw from other cars and other ideas that you had from that particular weekend at the race track. I’d never done any of the simulator stuff until I got to Ford, but we’ve got two of them now. We can race each other, too.”

DID ALMIROLA AND SUAREZ DO THAT EARLIER THIS WEEK? “They haven’t done that yet. The best part about my simulator time is when they’re making changes and all the lights are off and it’s quiet. I don’t get that much at home (laughing).”

DOES IT HELP TO HAVE A SIMULATOR NOW WITH LIMITED TRACK TESTING? “The biggest miss in this whole process of bringing these guys up right now currently is the owners in the XFINITY Series that keep vetoing the electronic fuel injection. I know it will cost some money, but it will make all of those drivers better. I was one of the ones that was totally against having all the information be public and for the less on-track time the simulator is really not going to give you what you get here. I mean, we use it because we want to use that as part of our tools in our toolbox and not use it as what we’re doing at the race track, but having the EFI and having all that data and being able to compare that to whoever it may be that you’re racing against or if it’s Kyle Busch when he comes and races the XFINITY Series, to me, is a huge miss for those guys to learn faster.”

ARE YOU HAPPY TO BE ON THE FRONT ROW OR UPSET YOU DIDN’T WIN THE POLE? “I don’t get upset about stuff like that, to tell you the truth. It’s really just about protecting yourself at this point and starting in the front of the field sets you up good to score some points in stage one and get a good pit stall selection. It gets everything going and it’s really survive and advance, and the more points that you can gather, the better off that you’re gonna be. If we can put ourselves in a good position to get through the weekend and make the Roval a lot different to race just because of the fact that you know where you stand. Hopefully, you can put yourself in a position where you know where you stand when you leave here.”

DO YOU CONTROL YOUR OWN DESTINY AT THE ROVAL? “I would say not 100 percent.”

IS THAT THE SAME AS ANY OTHER ROAD COURSE? “It can be anywhere. Honestly, somebody could blow a tire going into turn one and we could have a 20-car pile-up. You never know, but there are definitely more spots at the Roval where you could tear your stuff up than at Richmond.”

SOME BELIEVE TOMORROW COULD BE LIKE THE SPRING AND IT WILL BE HARD TO PASS. DO YOU SEE IT PLAYING OUT THAT WAY? “Extremley.”

DO YOU THINK A PLACE LIKE THIS TRACTION COMPOUND COULD WORK HERE? JIMMIE BROUGHT IT UP. “I honestly thought we’d have traction compound down for this particular race. Using the tire dragon here does zero.”

WHERE WOULD YOU PUT IT. “Chase Elliott had the best idea, just like we used to do with the sealer, just coat the whole corner and let it ride for the weekend. Let the race track evolve, but it’s become one of the most difficult places to pass and it’s become more difficult this year. I think the traction compound would definitely be a good option because the tire dragon is really just wasting rubber.”

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