Ford Performance NASCAR: Stenhouse Jr. Wins Cup Pole at Talladega

Ford Performance NASCAR Notes and Quotes
Geico 500 Qualifying – Talladega Superspeedway
Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ford Qualifying Results:
1st – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
3rd – Brad Keselowski
5th – Trevor Bayne
6th – Kevin Harvick
12th – Joey Logano
15th – Kurt Busch
16th – Ryan Blaney
17th – Clint Bowyer
22nd – Aric Almirola
25th – Landon Cassill
26th – Matt DiBenedetto
29th – David Ragan
31st – Danica Patrick

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford Fusion – POLE-WINNING INTERVIEW — “It’ll be nice to lead the field to green here. The Fifth Third guys worked really, really hard on these cars. Like I said earlier, Jimmy Fennig has done a great job on these speedway cars. This is cool. Doug Yates builds awesome horsepower. With his dad, Robert, not doing as well as we would like, it would be cool to dedicate this one to him and all the hard work that the engine shop does. Man, it’s a cool way to start the weekend. I’m ready to get to Sunday.”

American Muscle

YOU’VE HAD A COUPLE OF TOUGH YEARS WITH THE TEAM AND THIS YEAR IT SEEMS LIKE YOU’RE BACK. WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IN YOUR MIND? “There’s a lot of difference. The culture at our shop is just different. The guys want to work there. They want to show up to work and work harder. They’re seeing that working harder is making different results for us, so it’s been a blast for Trevor and myself to drive these race cars each week. We plan to keep getting better and continue to bring better race cars to the track and go out there and lay it all on the line like we do every week. It’s been really fun to drive, real special. There are a lot of good people at Roush Fenway right now.”

MATT DIBENEDETTO – No. 32 EJ Wade Foundation Ford Fusion – “Yeah, that was cool. It was our first lap on track all weekend. We just went off previous notes and I guess we had good notes so we’ll see what it’s like tomorrow. We didn’t get any drafting practice but the car feels good right now. I’m confident in the notes we have here from previous races. We’ll just try and keep it clean for the first 400 miles and go race them the last 100.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – No. 43 Fresh from Florida Ford Fusion – “It was an okay qualifying lap. I thought our car was pretty good in the limited amount of drafting practice we got yesterday. I feel good about it. It’s such a crapshoot here. The most important thing is to have four fenders on it late in the race to be able to go for a win. We’ll try to be somewhere near the front with about five laps to go and see if we can get the win.”

RYAN BLANEY – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion – DO YOU THINK MORE PRACTICE WOULD HAVE HELPED? “No. You need straightaway speed and we didn’t have a lot of it.” HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT TOMORROW CONSIDERING THE LACK OF PRACTICE LAPS? “I feel pretty fine about it. The car has always raced pretty good. We’ll be just fine tomorrow.” ARE THERE ANY AREAS OF THE TRACK THAT ARE PARTICULARLY TROUBLING? “All two-and-a-half miles of it. You never know what’s going to happen.”

CLINT BOWYER – No. 14 Haas Automation Demo Days Ford Fusion – “A little bit disappointed. We were expecting a little bit more, especially after the way we practiced yesterday. It doesn’t deflate me a bit. This place is all about how it sucks up, how it reacts with cars in front of it. (Kevin) Harvick gave me a few good pushes, so I know those Yates engines are strong. You have to be able to push good and work well in traffic here to be successful. Just really proud of everyone’s efforts.”

KEVIN HARVICK – No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion – “I think, for us, the the Ford program has turned our superspeedway program around and in a different direction. We’ve changed some of the things that we do in the shop and it’s made a big difference. It’s always nice to have the Yates horsepower under the hood and it will make a big difference tomorrow. It’s the closest we’ve been to a pole and when you put it in race trim it’s really fast.”

WITH THIS RACE PACKAGE THAT YOU CURRENTLY RUN, ARE THE DAYS OF RUNNING IN THE BACK TRYING TO AVOID THE ‘BIG ONE’ OVER WITH? “Yeah. I think with the stage races and with how important the track position game has become, and even if you don’t have it, you need to push as hard as you can and try to keep your car clean.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Fusion – “A good effort for the Miller Lite Ford team. Qualifying was good. Qualifying up front means that you have a fast car. To run a time that we did makes you feel like you have a car that will run up front and challenge for a win. We have fast race car and I hope to make it count.”

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion – “I’m proud to make it to the final round and have a good run at it. All the Fords look fast and it doesn’t really matter where you start here because it’s such a chaotic race and it’s the luck of the draw on how you finish, but it at least puts us in a good position to start the race and to stay out of trouble. We know we’ve got a fast car and everybody knows we’ve got a fast car, so maybe they’ll be willing to work with us.” HOW ARE THE CARS WITH LIMITED PRACTICE TIME YESTERDAY? “We didn’t really get enough practice time to know everything we need to know, so a lot of tomorrow will be learning.”


RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford Fusion – DID YOU THINK YOU HAD WHAT IT TOOK TO TAKE HOME THE POLE? “Yeah, I felt like it after that first round, looking at the time differences that we had on the field and with the 88 right there behind us, so I knew that when we ran faster than them in the first round that we would have a really good shot at it, that our car was pretty good. I was always a little bit nervous of the 88 and the 24 because they seemed to pick up a lot in that second round, but luckily, man, our car picked up a lot. The boys did a good job and as far as for me, there’s not a whole heck of a lot to do to it. I go out there and shift and hold it down, so the guys brought a really fast Fifth Third Ford. It felt good in the draft yesterday and it will be nice to start the race on the pole.”

ANY CONCERN ABOUT GOING TO THE CONCERT TONIGHT WITH ALL THE JUNIOR FANS WAITING FOR YOU? “No, I heard them all cheering when he got the pole at first, but hopefully they’re not too mad. We’ve got another race here that maybe he can get the pole for. I’d really like it if they let me win on Sunday. That would be nice.

WHAT ABOUT THE WIND. ANY ISSUE FOR YOU? “Speedway qualifying you’re always looking at the wind and looking at the flags and, really, the first run in the first round I thought the wind was blowing quite a bit when I went out versus some of the other cars, but we were still able to run a fast lap. It definitely moved the car around a lot and coming up off of turn two is probably where I felt it the most and I just tried to do whatever I could do to not make the RPMs drop, so I just tried to keep the car free and let it keep the RPMs up, but I wasn’t gonna do too much to get the car around the track any different with the wind. The guys just brought a fast car, which is nice. We’ve got Jimmy Fennig overlooking our speedway program and I think over the last year-and-a-half he’s been doing that a lot – two years – and I think we’ve seen a big jump in our speedway cars when we come. We always feel like we’ve got a shot at qualifying well and running well. I think all the hard work that they’ve been putting in at the shop has paid off. Doug Yates and all the boys at Roush Yates – all the Fords are pretty fast, even this whole year – so it’s nice to get Doug a pole as well, especially with Robert not doing as well as we would like. It’s cool to get him a pole.”

HAVE YOU FELT LIKE YOU’VE BEEN ON THE TRACK AT ALL? “More than other people. You’ve got a good point. There was definitely guys that really wanted to practice today instead of qualify. We got 12 solid laps yesterday in practice with all the Fords lined up, so we got to check our travels and I got to make a good run at pit road, which is really important here in the race. Don’t make mistakes coming to pit road and we got to check our pit road speed. Other than that, that’s really all we had planned in our practice session anyway. We may have made one or two more runs by ourselves, but, for the most part, that was our plan. There’s definitely cars that didn’t get on track that probably wish they would have.”

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