Ford Performance NASCAR: Kentucky Media Availability (Tifft, LaJoie, Almirola & Ragan)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, July 12, 2019

Quaker State 400 Media Availability — Matt Tifft

MATT TIFFT, No. 36 Southwestern Trucking Ford Mustang — WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PJ1 USAGE HERE? “I think all year if somebody is stuck on the bottom and you have a top lane moving, the top is going to prevail just because of the drag that goes on the bottom lane cars. I think there is a shot for some interesting stuff there. It is wider than years past. At least they have done something with that. With this package it is so hard to ride behind people because you get so tight, so at least that is an option. Last night in the truck race it seemed to widen out more and more and I think we will see that even tonight in the Xfinity race. It typically does that in the weekend when they put it down. The more people run on it it keeps moving and making the track better for everybody.”

American Muscle

CAN YOU REVIEW YOUR SEASON SO FAR? “It has been up and down. I think we have had some good runs in there and a couple of top-20 finishes. We had a stretch in May where we had four out of five finishes in the top-25 and that was really good for us. Chicago and SOnoma were not very good weeks for us but we rebounded with a top-10 at Daytona. The first quarter of the season was me kind of learning the Cup series and the second part of it was the team learning what I need to make cars faster. As a whole we kind of struggled in Chicago and Sonoma and kind of scratched our heads at what was happening there. It has been an adjustment for these cars and the other part of it is learning and growing as a company. All of Front Row has been kind of doing that and figuring out how we evolve with this package. I think our weak point is our short track program and we need to get that better for the second half.”

HAVE GOALS CHANGED FOR YOU FROM THE START OF THE SEASON? “Yeah, first it was finish races, then top-25’s, then top-20’s. Now we have gotten the top-20’s and a top-10 so the goal in the second half is to establish ourselves in the teen’s throughout the race and be able to get a couple of legit top 15’s in there. But really become more of a prevalent force in the top-20. We are not quite there yet. We’ve probably got six or seven spots to improve to be there. We feel like for the amount of resources we put in our cars that we should be there. We need to start doing that and showing up there more as the year rounds itself out.”

ARE THERE ANY TRACKS YOU HAVE CIRCLED IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR? “I think Phoenix for sure. That was our first really strong run of the year back in the spring. I feel like that is one I am excited about going back to. Texas as well. We ran decent there and McDowell ran top-15 there. I am excited to go back to the Roval because I enjoy it. There are definitely races in there that I feel like we can capitalize on. Kansas is another one where we had a good run there in the spring. It is just all about how we take our notes from the spring and make ourselves better and not only that but keep up with the other teams that are evolving too.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON TRACTION COMPOUNDS? “I think you are in an interesting position because this aero package makes it hard to run behind each other so to provide the best racing you need the most amount of lanes possible. A lot of these race tracks have been repaved in the last five or 10 years and haven’t completely widened out yet. For those tracks it gives the option to add another lane. I think it is a tool to make racing better but my question comes at places like Kentucky where you have a second groove, why not just pave up to the top. I don’t know if it would work or not but it would be cool to see if it would. Whatever they feel is necessary for a better show and provides better chances for passing. If that provides opportunity to pass I am all for it. It is frustrating sometimes with this package because sometimes you get in the mode where it is too hard to pass, so if it allows passing I am all for it.”

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, July 12, 2019

Quaker State 400 Media Availability — Corey LaJoie

COREY LAJOIE, No. 32 Ford Mustang — “It got pretty hot there. The track temp was up for the second practice so the speeds weren’t quite as fast. I recommended spraying even higher in 3 and 4 because I think the PJ1 will wear out in the race and it might get down to a one groove race track if we don’t go higher like in 1 and 2. Hopefully they do that. Hopefully they take a look at that. We didn’t unload particularly good but we changed everything but the kitchen sink and my drivers seat and we got it pretty good. I think track position will be the ultimate key tomorrow night. I was able to ride in front of Kurt Busch and he was like seventh on the board for six to seven laps and I am a half second slower than he is. Track position will be at a premium tomorrow night.”

DID ANY OTHER DRIVERS AGREE WITH YOU ABOUT THE TRACK? “I just fired a text over to the brass in the big trailer. I think the more of that stuff they can put down because we don’t have enough grip built in these tires. These things feel like bricks. That is why we have to put all this fake stuff on the track track to give the cars grip whereas if we just put some grip in the tires we wouldn’t have to do all this extra work. But that is another whole discussion in itself.”

HOW BIG WAS THE SIXTH PLACE FINISH FOR YOU LAST WEEKEND? “Huge. It is my best finish and the best finish for GoFas Racing. If you had told me before the race I could go home and take a sixth place finish I would have taken it and gone to the bank. If we could have gotten that thing going again we may have been better. We may have been worse. Anytime we can run sixth with a five year old car and a B- or C+ engine package, I will take it.”

DO YOU SUSPECT IT WILL BE LIKE THAT TOMORROW NIGHT WHEN WE RACE? “I expect 3 and 4 will go higher and higher if the PJ1 is applied up there. I think it will work its way lower and lower once the PJ1 wears off if there isn’t more up top. There is a significant difference between the PJ1 and the normal asphalt. I think they should put more down in 3 and 4 but that is way above my pay grade. Dirty air is tough. It is what it is.”

NEWMAN SAID HE THINKS THIS WILL BE THE HARDEST 1.5 MILE TRACK TO PASS ON. DO YOU AGREE? “Yeah, because you are just on the verge of having to lift. The ones that aren’t on the verge of lifting you can kind of move around but here you are on the edge of grip no matter where you are at because of the lack of banking and lack of grip and lack of grip in the tire. The tire is not particularly sticky. When you can run your fastest lap of practice of any run on lap 24, what does that tell you about tire fall off? There is none. I think that is something we need to look at and that has been a topic in those driver council meetings but I don’t know if that has been addressed yet.”

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, July 12, 2019

Quaker State 400 Media Availability — Aric Almirola

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Valley Tech Learning Ford Mustang — HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR SEASON HAS GONE AT THIS HALFWAY POINT? “There have been a few weekend where if we would have done a better job of executing, me on restarts and just as a team holistically on pit road and all of the things, we probably could have run top-five more often. So I don’t want to let the stats do too much of the talking. I think there have been more opportunities to run top-five. I think Harvick is a good example of that. There have been a lot of top-five, just haven’t broken through with a win but I think they feel they have had a few weekends they could have won races. I think we are close. I think we are really close. This new package has really tightened up the playing field. I feel like Gibbs has come out of the box strong. That is very apparent. That is Captain Obvious stuff there. I think we are close. We just have to find that little bit extra. Coming off of last year, we had that little bit extra. We showed up every weekend and Stewart-Haas Racing cars were the ones you had to race to win the race. That has not always been the case this year. We have to find some more speed and some more grip in our cars to be able to go up there and lead races and dominate and be the cars to beat like we were last year.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE IS NEXT WEEK, YOU EXCITED TO GET BACK THERE? “I am excited to go back to New Hampshire. I have really enjoyed that place throughout my career. It has been a great race track for me. The results might not always say so but there have been a lot of races there that I feel like I have overachieved. I feel like we should have won there last year but we made a mistake on pit road and then I made a mistake on a restart that cost us a shot to win. Going back there, I am eager to redeem myself and go back there. Hopefully we will have a good car. I feel like we will. I feel like we can go there and challenge to win a lobster. I promised Alex, my son, that is we win that lobster he can help me hold it up in victory lane.”

YOU ARE CURRENTLY 72 POINTS ABOVE THE CUTOFF: “I didn’t know that. You never feel comfortable unless you are locked in. I have learned in this sport that crazy things can happen. You can quickly get behind. YOu go through a couple weeks of bad finishes or wrecks and anything can happen. Mechanical failure, anything. Next thing you know you are way closer to the cut-off line or outside of it. I have learned to never be too comfortable. You have to keep pressing and keep your guard up. That is kind of the position we are in right now. We want to keep pressing, keep trying to run up front. Score as many stage points and playoff points as we can and the points will shake out how they shake out.”

ARE YOU SURPRISED TO SEE THREE SHR CARS TOWARDS THE BUBBLE? “I think when you look at the 14 and 41 the last few weeks, things just haven’t gone their way. So that is part of it. Yeah, I think going into 2019 I think based on the results and everything from 2018 we would have all assumed that we would have gone into this year and been challenging to win races and winning races and not really be worried so much about the points. That is not the case. Sometimes that is what makes champions out of you. You have to learn to fight and scratch and claw and scrounge for every point. That is what it takes when you get to the playoffs anyway. I would love to sit here and be talking to you with a win or a couple wins and more bonus points but that is not the case and we just have to keep fighting.”

WHAT SHOULD THE FANS WATCH FOR IN THE RACE HERE SATURDAY NIGHT? “I think the restarts. Once it gets strung out it will be challenging for everybody and track position will be really important but the restarts are going to be really wild. The guys on the outside are definitely going to have the advantage but then how high will the groove get and how high can you go in that PJ1. Can we run three-wide? Can we run four-wide? I don’t’ know. We don’t know. We have never done it at Kentucky before. It has typically been a one lane race track so I think it will be interesting to see.”

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, July 12, 2019

Quaker State 400 Media Availability — David Ragan

DAVID RAGAN, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford Mustang — WHAT SHOULD THE FANS EXPECT FOR THIS RACE TOMORROW NIGHT? “Hopefully a dry race track and hot temperatures and no rain, that will be the first thing. I think it will be a good mile and a half race. I think those races this year have been better than in recent years. I think you will see crazy restarts and I think the VHT has helped the middle lane and added extra grip to give the drivers a different area to race around but then once we get 10 or 15 laps in, the faster cars are going to be able to find their way to the front and the middle of the pack cars will run there and the slow guys will be slow and in the back. Hopefully we can be towards the front. I think it iwll be your typical race for this package. Crazy restarts and the field will be tighter together and hard to pass but I think we will see some side-by-side racing and track position will be very important, restarts will be very important.”

WILL THIS BE THE HARDEST MILE AND A HALF TRACK TO PASS AT THIS YEAR? THAT IS WHAT RYAN NEWMAN SEEMS TO THINK: “Newman is hard to pass everywhere. It doesn’t matter where. Every week is hard to pass Newman. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I think it will be similar. All of them have been kind of in the same ballpark. I think it would be if it wasn’t for the VHT because we would be so lane limited but if we have some options I think we will be able to move around.”

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