NASCAR Cup PR Ford Performance NASCAR: Harvick Wins Pocono Pole as Mustang Sweeps Top 3...

Ford Performance NASCAR: Harvick Wins Pocono Pole as Mustang Sweeps Top 3 Spots

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Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Saturday, July 27, 2019
EVENT: Gander RV 400 Qualifying

Ford Qualifying Results:
1st – Kevin Harvick
2nd – Joey Logano
3rd – Aric Almirola
10th – Daniel Suarez
14th – Brad Keselowski
16th – Clint Bowyer
17th – Michael McDowell
18th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
19th – David Ragan
20th – Ryan Blaney
21st – Paul Menard
24th – Ryan Newman
27th – Matt Tifft
30th – Corey LaJoie

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Beer Gen X Ford Mustang

POLE-WINNING PRESS CONFERENCE

IS THIS THE WEEKEND YOU CAN CROSS POCONO OFF YOUR LIST AND WIN? “We hope so. It has been a really good track for me and my guys and really the whole company know that we’d love to cross this one off – one of the last two of tracks that we haven’t won at. Like you say, it’s been a successful race track and the first race this year we had a great car and the right strategy and jacked it up and the steering box broke. It’s just kind of been one thing after another like that and tomorrow it’s gonna take a fast car, but it’s also gonna take everything falling your way so that you can get the strategy right. It’s restarts and pit strategy and all the normal Pocono things that you have to battle are still going to be the things you have to overcome. Track position and starting up front would obviously be nice to have.”

YOU’RE IN POSITION TO BREAK THROUGH BEING ON THE POLE. “That’s the best way to break those win streaks or whatever the streak is or whatever you’re doing on a daily basis is to consistently try to do it right, and our guys have done a good job. We scrambled today in practice and never even made a qualifying run in practice, so we worked on our race stuff as long as we could and never really felt like we got it 100 percent right. We weren’t bad, but I think as you look at that our car was pretty good after about lap six and I think as you get into the race tomorrow there’s gonna be a lot of two-tire strategy and a lot of green flag strategy. There’s gonna be a lot of unique times that you pit, so keeping yourself inside that time limit of that pit window is important to try to fulfill that strategy and keep yourself up front. We’ll see. I think as you look at the things that track position has meant this year, I think obviously having that tomorrow will be very important.”

DO YOU SUSPECT YOU GUYS WILL GRAVITATE TO THE PJ1 IN THE RACE TOMORROW? “Watching the Truck race I think it looked like it was pretty good in turn two, and Kyle made some passes on the outside without it last time, so I’ve got to believe with the trucks running through it some and us on the restarts two or three laps and lapped cars being on the inside and us having to go to the outside, it’s going to get run in some. I still think the preferred groove is going to be the bottom of the race track. I think the ultimate goal is to not have to be pinned behind the car, to have an option of that second lane and hopefully in at least one or two of the corners it comes in well enough to be equal to the bottom. I don’t think the race was what everybody wanted the first time. It’s going to be an improvement with the PJ1 on it, and I think as we go to the next race and know where we need to exactly put the PJ1, how high up the race track, the entries and exits, what those lengths are and shapes of the PJ1 as we put it down, we’ll have a lot more knowledge after the race. I think as you come back next time you’ll see more of a benefit, but I still think you’re going to see a benefit from it this time around.”

ARE YOU EXPECTING TOMORROW’S RACE TO LOOK ANY DIFFERENT FROM JUNE? “I think it’ll look different, and I think at some point you’re gonna have more options. It’s just gonna take enough people running up there to have it come in enough to really benefit and I think the restarts will probably be where you see it the most beneficial. I still don’t’ think the preferred line is going to be anywhere but the bottom of all three corners when you’re running by yourself, but if you can get up the race track and only lose a tenth or two, instead of seven or eight tenths trying to get around a car that’s off the pace or three-quarters of a second slower than you and you can make it work, that’s a game-changer and a step in the right direction.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON POCONO NEXT YEAR? “I didn’t have my phone all day, so I haven’t even read anything. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I try to just focus on what I’m doing, so I haven’t read about it yet. I’m sorry about that.”

NASCAR IS GOING TO TALK ABOUT RESTARTS TOMORROW AND THEY WILL START MAKING CALLS. IS THAT SOMETHING THEY NEED TO DO? WILL IT CHANGE? “Usually when they start talking like that somebody is gonna get penalized. I think for us, for me personally, I just try to control – every time I start jacking around I screw up myself, so I just try to roll in there and do what’s best for my RPM and my car. There are some guys that are different than others, that change things up in different spots and this and that, so, yeah, I think as you look at it, I watched qualifying live so I don’t understand why we can’t just officiate that with whatever it’s called – the SMT. I don’t know why you couldn’t just officiate it from SMT.”

SOMEBODY SAID SOMETHING ABOUT BRAKE CHECKS. “The pace car runs a certain mile an hour and you’re supposed to be within whatever that range is of that pace car speed, so that’s why I thought that was always the rule. I think it should be relatively easy from SMT.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Mustang – HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE POCONO WEEKEND NEXT YEAR? “I like mixing things up. It will be really fun. I think it’ll be one of the events next year as a driver and probably me being a fan you’ll circle and say, ‘I can’t wait to see how this works out and what it looks like.’ I think it’s bit of the spice of life having a few changes in the NASCAR season for us.”

WERE YOU THE ONE WHO SUGGESTED THE INVERTED FIELD? “No, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea.”

NASCAR IS GOING TO TALK ABOUT RESTARTS. DOES NASCAR NEED TO START CRACKING DOWN? “That’s just part of the ebb and flow of the sport. The restarts calm down for a little bit and then they get crazy, and then they calm down and then they get crazy. I don’t think there’s a lot to be made out of it other than that.”

RESTARTS CAN BE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING. “This sport is set up for restarts to be critical. It’s not set up for long runs or for guys to really be able to work their cars and do things like that. This sport is set up for restarts to be kind of the key moment of racing for us with the way the sport is laid out. There’s always gonna be a lot of drama around them and I don’t expect that to ever change.”

ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE LAST COUPLE WEEKS THAT THINGS HAVEN’T GONE EXACTLY RIGHT? “We sat on the pole last week, so I can’t really complain about that. We’ve just barely missed a few things and have some things to clean up. You’ll have that in a long season, but we still want to fix it.”

HAVE YOU BEEN TRYING ANYTHING AT ALL? “We’re always trying things, it’s just some things a little more out of the realm than what you would try if you hadn’t won races, so sometimes yes and sometimes no.”

RYAN NEWMAN, No. 6 Performance Plus Ford Mustang – HOW BIG WAS LAST WEEK? “It was like a miniature victory. Our guys did a really good job of fixing the engine issue, starting last, and I didn’t realize as much as it was that there was oil on the race track when I spun in practice, so that made me feel a little bit better about it, but to start last three different times and then still finish in the top seven was pretty spectacular on a track that’s been notoriously hard to pass at.”

DID YOU FEEL YOU HAD A RACE-WINNING CAR IF YOU GOT UP THERE? “I think we could have. I know at one point in the race we passed the 4 and the 11, so if we could have got one more restart or another chance to put tires on, I guess they could probably say the same thing, but we were a top five car and that was nice to see.”

YOUR MINDSET WITH THE PLAYOFFS NEAR AND FIVE RACES TO GO? “Race to win. Just race to win.”

IS IT THE KIND OF THING WHERE YOU COULD LOOK BACK ON IT AND YOUR NEW HAMPSHIRE RECOVERY COULD BE WHAT SAVES YOUR PLAYOFF HOPES? “We were fortunate that we were able to do what we did because the guys that we were racing around had bad days. Yes, I could say that about that one especially, but I could say that about other ones as well. We didn’t unload off the truck the way we needed to here today, so we haven’t proved that we learned from our first race experience here, so that’s one of the things that’s bothering me today, but we still have a chance to qualify and see what we corrected and be ready for the race tomorrow.”

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang – “We made a lot of changes from practice. We weren’t really happy with how we ended practice, so made a lot of changes there and I felt like we made it a lot better. We’ll see. I’m looking forward to the race.”

HOW WAS YOUR LAP? “It felt good. I felt like I got pretty much all of it. I might have left a little bit on the table, but I felt good about our lap. We made a lot of changes to our race car after practice. We weren’t really happy with our race car in final practice, so we made a lot of changes going into qualifying for the impound race procedure, so I wasn’t really sure what we were gonna have there and it kind of surprised me. I’m really happy with that. Our Smithfield Ford Mustang has got a lot of speed and now we’ve got to go race for 400 miles. Track position is really, really important here. It’s been important all year, but you saw places that have flat corners like Loudon last week and here, it’s gonna be really important.”

NASCAR IS GOING TO TALK TO DRIVERS ABOUT THE RESTARTS. YOU WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT LAST WEEK. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT? “It’s my understanding that rolling into the restart zone that we’re supposed to be wheel-to-wheel, door handle-to-door handle. It seems like more often than not the guy that’s in second place is usually on the bottom lane and he typically tries to roll to the restart zone to kind of build his momentum up, so he’s not at such a disadvantage when the leader goes. That’s not the way it’s actually supposed to be. It’s supposed to be wheel-to-wheel, door handle-to-door handle and, quite frankly right there at the end of the stage, I wanted to make sure. We were in position to win that stage and get a bonus point for the Playoffs and I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to get a good restart and get our front in clean air and win that stage. I wasn’t gonna let the 22 roll faster than me to the restart zone and then try to bait me into going. He actually throttled up and then slowed down, and when he slowed down I took off. So, yeah, I think the restarts have been interesting for quite some time now, depending on who is on the front row they get really stacked up and jumbled up. I think it’s a very gray area. It really is. I mean, there’s a lot of leeway there when the pace car pulls off. You’re supposed to maintain a relative pace car speed, which I felt like I did, and the guy in second is just always going to be trying to time the restart right and it’s the leader’s job to try and do everything he can to get an advantage on the restart. That’s why he’s the leader. A long time ago the leader had the advantage because of single-file restarts. Now with double-file restarts the leader’s only advantage is trying to mix up the timing to try and get a jump on the restart.”

CLINT BOWYER, No. 14 Toco Warranty/Haas Automation Ford Mustang – WHAT ABOUT ANTHONY SHERMAN DRIVING YOUR RACE CAR TO PRACTICE? “That was cool. Man, he called me a couple weeks ago and he was like, ‘Hey, is there any way you have a car or something I could use?’ I was like, ‘Let me work on it here.’ And the more I got to thinking about it I knew it’s a big deal – a professional football player reaches out to anybody for some help on something. He’s always made such a big spectacle of him showing up at camp, whether it’s his outfits or whatever the case may be. His nickname is the Sausage and, man, he’s got a following. I like people with personalities. Obviously, you guys know that and certainly there is no better personality with the Chiefs than him. I was worried about him getting in that car to be dead honest with you. He fit in it just fine, though. I reached out to Sparco and they made him a firesuit. I was like, ‘Dude, make it your touch,’ so of course a big football player with big arms all jacked up blows his sleeves out of it, but I thought he wore it good. It looked cool. It was fun. I’m glad he had fun with it.”

ARE YOU GOING TO WEAR A FOOTBALL HELMET OUT THERE? “Something has got to change. Maybe that’s what I need to do is wear a football helmet, but obviously I’m a big Chiefs fan. It was a big day for those guys getting their year started off and I was happy to help out. That’s what we do, man. Everybody helps out. It’s fun to help out people with fun things like that.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT A WEEKEND DOUBLEHEADER HERE NEXT YEAR? “Cool. A good idea. I think it’s time to shake a lot of things up in this sport, you know what I mean? You can’t just continue to do the same thing over and over and over and over and reinvent yourself every single time for a fan, and I think that goes for any sport or any event, whether it’s a country music festival or football game or a baseball game or a race. I think we’re all up against having to reinvent ourselves over and over and over to stay appealing and stay relevant to a fan that’s looking for something new. They expect to see something different or something that they didn’t see the last time or how do you expect to entice them in and bring them year after year. That’s a huge gain for a fan. I couldn’t imagine being able to take in all that. I’m a big advocate of if we’re gonna ask a fan, I don’t care if we ask them for two weeks or two days, you better fill their day up with content. These are race fans and they want to see cars on the race track and people putting on a show and it’s certainly gonna have that with that schedule, I can promise you that.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT INVERTING THE LEAD LAP CARS FOR THE START OF THE SECOND RACE? “That’s kind of old-school mentality. You race all over the country and watch my dirt late models race. They do that quite a bit. That’s a practice that is nothing new and it’s always something to enhance a feature and it’ll do that. It’ll do that for a little while, but the cream will always rise to the top like it does on those short tracks and the good cars will be up front when the time is right, but it’ll make it entertaining getting there.”

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT RESTARTS? “We’re just trying to gain a position. We’re all just trying. Restarts are so important to win a race or put yourself in position to get a good stage win or whatever it is it’s important to get up through the gears in the most efficient way for you. A lot of that depends on who is around you and it’s important that the control car as the leader is the control car and the leader is not at a disadvantage. You don’t want that, but you also don’t want the leader playing games that aren’t necessary to control the restart more than he should.”

WHAT’S THE DEFINITION OF NECESSARY? “I don’t think there should be brake checks and things like that coming to a restart zone. I think you should be able to maintain a speed and there should be a range of speed that should be OK – maybe from what the pace car speed is plus or minus five or six miles an hour is probably OK. Slowing down at a quick rate right before you go green just wrecks 20th-place pretty hard. It stuffs everyone up in the midpack and toward the back of the pack, but I also think if the cars behind in the second row have too much room, if they leave too much room between the cars, they’re gonna have a big run and the poor guy in the lead doesn’t stand a chance to defend it, so that needs to be enforced, and so does the second-place car, whether it’s no the inside or the outside. That car lays back too much and gets a big run, so, really if everyone is nose-to-tail like you’re supposed to be and side-by-side like you’re supposed to be, it’s really not much of an issue. It’s when everything loosens up and there’s a bunch of room behind you or beside you. That’s when the leader sometimes make decisions to try to maintain the lead that, in my book, isn’t the way – or at least from the rulebook isn’t the way it’s supposed to be and what they say in the driver’s meeting every week. Everything needs to be tight to be able to keep us all in check.”

HOW DID THE RESTART WITH YOU AND ARIC GO LAST WEEK? “I saw him stop really fast before we went green (laughing). I saw him do it the restart before, too, so I wasn’t surprised by it. If you’re him, why not? I don’t blame him for doing it. I don’t blame him at all. He got away with it the first time and he got away with it the second time. That’s the message sent.”

YOU GUYS ARE TRYING TO SNOOKER EACH OTHER RIGHT? “At times it’s like that, yeah. It’s gamesmanship. It’s part of the game.”

MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 Long John Silver’s Ford Mustang – “Pocono is a tough place. You can overdo it and screw up and lose about a half-a-second, and so I feel good with where we were in our mock run to where we were there picking up a few tenths and not screwing it up. You could so easily run a 53.5, instead of a 52.5, so you always feel like maybe you left a little bit on the table when you put in a good lap and you didn’t have a big moment, but I’m just really proud of everybody at Front Row Motorsports. It was a busy week this week, but the Long John Silver’s Ford Mustang has been pretty solid and I’m pretty excited about the race. It’s definitely a big improvement from the first Pocono race, where we really struggled to find speed and balance. Today we’ve had a little bit of both and hopefully that will play well in the race tomorrow.”

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