Ford Performance NASCAR: Keselowski Pilots Fusion to Pole – Darlington Cup Qualifying

Ford Performance NSCS Notes & Quotes:
Bojangles Southern 500 – Darlington Raceway
NSCS Qualifying
Saturday September 5, 2015

FORD QUALIFING RESULTS
1st        BRAD KESELOWSKI
4th        JOEY LOGANO
8th        RICKY STENHOUSE JR.
9th        RYAN BLANEY
11th      ARIC ALMIROLA
18th      TREVOR BAYNE
24th      GREG BIFFLE
33rd     SAM HORNISH JR.
37th      COLE WHITT
38th      DAVID GILLILAND
40th      BRETT MOFFITT

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – Qualified 1st


American Muscle

“We had a really good Miller High Life Ford and Paul Wolfe made good adjustments each round. The track was changing and the car was falling off as the tires were falling off and it is hot so the track was hard to get ahold of but the car is fast and my team did a great job. We just executed when it counted. The number one pit stall will be big because there will be a lot of pit stops with the tires wearing off so much. I think it will be about clean air and holding track position as long as you can. This is a track position race and the new rules will make the cars hard to get ahold of and keep off the wall. You have to keep it off the wall.”

 

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Qualified 4th

“We were in the ballpark. I think all the Team Penske cars were pretty fast. I am proud of everybody there. Brad obviously laid down a good one there at the end. He never slowed down ever and everyone else was slowing down each lap. It was interesting to see that. We were just a little free all of qualifying there. We just never jumped the fence with it.”

 

RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 Cargill Ford Fusion – Qualified 8th

“It was a great effort out there today. The guys did a great job from yesterday in first practice when we were off. We made adjustments all day and got our Cargill Beef Fusion, David Pearson edition, rolling pretty good. I am real happy with that effort. It is two races in a row now where we have made it to the third round, which is important. We are getting speed out of our cars. We have to make the right adjustments now. We went too far at Bristol last time. I am proud of the effort and we will continue to make sure that we get our race cars better for the race. We missed it at Bristol trying to be too greedy and getting too much turn out of it and this week it is going to be another finicky process that Nick and the engineers have to do. We practice during the day, race at night and have to make the right adjustments. We also have to make sure that we have a long run car here because it is going to wear the tires out a lot.”

 

 

GREG BIFFLE, No. 16 Ortho Ford Fusion – Qualified 24th

“Well, that was definitely disappointing to get so loose there and hit the wall. We will have to wait and see how bad the damage is and decide on repair versus backup. It stinks because our Ortho Ford Fusion has had good speed all weekend and we were really hopeful to qualify well and get a good starting position. The guys have been working hard all weekend though, so I have no doubt they will get us ready to race tomorrow night and it is a long 500 miles, so we will go to work and see what we can make out of it.”

 

BRAD KESELOWSKI POLE WINNER PRESS CONFERENCE — BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion –  “This is probably the biggest pole I have ever had as far as what the track means. It is hard to explain that to people that maybe are outsiders of the sport. I have always thought of Darlington as being one of the elite tracks in NASCAR and I said that to someone just a minute ago. You look at Daytona, probably Bristol, Charlotte and Darlington as definitely in the top-five, maybe top-two or three to our sport and what it means. When I think of that, I think that any success you have on those tracks is just a ‘whoa’ moment. It is huge. So in that sense this is a great accomplishment to me personally and it means a lot. This track itself is so challenging for a race car driver. If you make one little mistake you can take a fast race car and make it a ball of wrecked metal. To be able to put all of that together means a lot to me. Of course for my team, we haven’t had as strong of a year as what we had last year and I think that probably wears on everybody a little bit, including myself, but I feel like we have positive momentum and you always want to see results that showcase that. This is one of those results. I feel like we can carry this through the next 12 weeks. I am really pleased with today’s qualifying result and the momentum we are carrying and I think our team outlook for the next 12 weeks and our goal of winning a second championship.”

 

OUTSIDE OF ROAD COURSES, DOES IT TAKE MORE FINESSE TO GET A POLE HERE THAN AT ANY OF THE OTHER OVALS ON THE CIRCUIT? “I would put it right up there, yes. As I am thinking about it, I am not sure I can think of another track, not of this speed. I think of Martinsville as taking a lot of finesse to get a pole at but you are going 120 there and here you are 190 and a foot from the wall. I think this is the highest combination of finesse and guts because you are running so close to that wall. It is just a ballsy race track. It is tough. I think that is why having success here means so much.”

 

THIS IS YOUR FIRST POLE THIS YEAR AFTER FIVE LAST YEAR. WHAT IS YOUR EXPLANATION? IS IT AS SIMPLE AS JUST FAST CARS? “Yeah, quite honestly my explanation is rather lengthy and technical and probably isn’t all that interesting to everyone in the room. The short answer of it is when NASCAR took away horsepower and kept the downforce relatively close to what we had last year I felt like that probably attacked my skillset more than maybe some others. In that light, this weekend although the engine isn’t any different than what it has been in 2015, the downforce is significantly reduced and the balance between those two, aero grip and horsepower is closer to last year’s levels. I don’t think that is a coincidence as to why I am a little more successful qualifying here than what I have been throughout the year. That is one of the underlying factors but probably a bigger factor than that is that our cars probably fell off a little bit from where they were last year as well given that time period. I feel like last year, the first probably 25-30 races, Penske was probably the best team and best cars. We saw the last five races with the 4 car, who had a lot of speed but hadn’t put it all together, started to put it all together and we lost some speed. This year, we kind of started out similar to how we finished last year, if not a little bit worse and we have been ramping up slowly over the last seven or eight weeks as well with our car and team to where I think we feel like we are capable of delivering results similar to where we were the first half of 2014 and last half of 2015.”

 

 

LAST TIME YOU GUYS USED THIS PACKAGE WAS KENTUCKY AND YOU WERE COMPETITIVE IN THAT RACE. I IMAGINE YOUR CONFIDENCE AFTER THAT AND QUALIFYING TODAY HAS TO BE QUITE HIGH. “Yeah, a lot higher than it was beforehand. You know, I have been in Cup now – this is my sixth season. Every year I have been in Cup I think back to the first year and just how difficult the cars were to drive. They have progressively gotten easier to drive with some of the changes that have been made. This is a step back with the downforce off the car to where the cars are harder to drive. I just really appreciate and respect that. I feel up to the challenge. Does that guarantee any kind of success for me tomorrow? No, but I feel you have to earn your success more as a driver with low downforce than previously.”

 

TALKING WITH DRIVER ABOUT THE TIRES, CONSENSUS SEEMS TO BE THAT THE REAR FALLS OFF BEFORE THE FRONT. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE TO DEAL WITH? “Losing grip is usually a good thing for our racing. I think it opens up passing opportunities and opens up driver techniques and increases some of the variability of the field and its performance. I personally always feel like you can always measure, to me anyway, the best racing based on how many times you see someone spin out by themselves. There is like a perfect number. If you go a whole weekend and nobody spins out by themselves, then the cars are driving too good to me. If you go a whole weekend and 30 people spin out by themselves, then the cars aren’t driving right. I feel like there is a magic number for our races as to how many people wreck by themselves. When you hit that number just right you almost always see the best racing. Over the past year or two, going back to what I said earlier about the cars being increasingly easier to drive by yourself, it has been pretty rare that you see somebody spin out by themselves, at least with frequency. I was re watching the Kentucky race before I came in to maybe highlight why the drivers like this package better is because I think a lot of them share that sentiment. At Kentucky there were four of five people that spun out by themselves. That means the cars and drivers are right at their limit. When you hit that sweet spot that is when to me the racing is really strong and compelling to watch. Assuming you don’t want 15-20-30 cars spinning out on a weekend that usually means you’ve gone too far. There is a range and that happens a lot of times when the rear tires fall off. That is in my eyes, the expectation for tomorrow. That you are going to see four or five people spin out by themselves in the race. I think that is great and the way racing should be and that we are hitting the marks of what the proper package should be for a Sprint Cup driver to try to handle.”

 

IS THIS A STEP FORWARD FROM THE TIRES WE HAD AT KENTUCKY? “It is certainly a step forward, I don’t know if it is big. I was here for the test with the other tire which was probably too far. I think we would have seen 15 or 20 people spin out. I think it is exactly where we need to be.”

 

DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH SETS OF TIRES? “That all depends on the race strategy and how many yellows fall.”

 

IF FOUR OR FIVE GUYS SPIN ON THEIR OWN THOUGH? “Yeah, that is going to be part of it. I don’t like the rule. This is Sprint Cup and we spend 20-30 million dollars a year per team. I don’t understand why we want to save $5,000 on tires but that is the rule and we will deal with it.”

 

NASCAR SAYS THIS RACE WILL BE INTEGRAL IN DECIDING WHAT THE 2016 PACKAGE WILL LOOK LIKE. SHOULD THEY LOOK AT USING THIS EVERY RACE, USING THIS FOR SPECIFIC RACES? HOW OFTEN SHOULD THEY USE IT BASED ON WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN HERE AND AT KENTUCKY? “The easiest way to answer that, and not in 140 Jeff Gluck characters, is if I win tomorrow then I want to be able to look at you or anyone in the media or look at a fan and be able to feel like I earned it. That I carried an equal percentage of the work load to win the race with the car and the team. This is a step in that direction and I feel like whoever will win this race tomorrow, with more likelihood than previously, will have earned it. And that is exactly why this is the right direction to go. I think you want to see people who end up in victory lane as the guys that earned the win. That is what true competition is. This rules package in a sense is an acknowledgement towards that.”


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