Ford Performance NASCAR: Blaney and Suarez Bristol Media Availabilities

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, August 16, 2019
EVENT: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, Bristol, TN. (Media Availabilities)

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Dent Wizard Ford Mustang – WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOUR CAR IN PRACTICE TODAY? “The power-steering pump had a big issue and blew all the fluid out of it right at once. I’ve never seen one do that before, so it was kind of in the worst spot, right in the middle of three and four, kind of when you’re max load, so I haven’t had one do that before. You have ones that kind of slowly go bad. I had that happen a couple years ago, but I’ve never had one that abrupt. That was a weird spot to do it, but luckily we didn’t wreck it and it’s something you can replace.”

YOU FELT IT IN YOUR SHOULDER? “I don’t know what jacked around in there, but you’re all the way left and that thing all of a sudden stops working at max load, and not expecting it, kind of straightens out real fast and then putting pressure back to the left right away to try and keep it off the fence, I think just kind of messed it up. I banged it up against a couple cabinets and it got back pretty good, so I’m fine.”

American Muscle

YOU BANGED IT AGAINST A CABINET? “It got back to feeling better. I got up against the wall and it seemed to fix itself, so that’s good.”

YOU AND JIMMIE JOHNSON CHECKED OUT THE HIGH LINE TOGETHER TODAY. YOU GUYS ARE GOOD FRIENDS NOW? “We’ve always been good friends. We just had our little run-in and back to good.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WHERE YOUR TEAM IS WITH THE PLAYOFFS A FEW WEEKS AWAY? “Really no concern. I mean, yeah, we would have liked to have won a race or two, and I think we’ve had some kind of slip through our fingers. Once something isn’t going your way some day, you feel like every one is against you and nothing goes your way, but I’m really confident towards that. Really, if you look at the last few weeks I think we’ve had really strong runs. Michigan last week was a bummer, not being good to go on the fuel mileage stuff, but that happens. I think we’re in a really good spot, it’s just a matter of cleaning some things up. I know we’ve been saying that all year, but I feel like we need some luck on our side. There are some things we can do better and get our cars a little bit better. I think our cars have been close to where they need to be. I feel like we’ve lost a little bit of ground. I think the Gibbs cars have been really good lately. The Stewart-Haas cars – the 4 is starting to kind of really pick up – so we just need a little bit more I feel like, but to see it a little bit kind of at Darlington and then Indy, but then everyone kind of goes all-out for the Playoffs, so you just see, but I think we’re in a good spot.”

DOES THIS YEAR’S TITLE SEEM WIDE OPEN COMPARED TO OTHER YEARS? “I think so. I think that’s what this package was meant for. It’s meant to give more teams a chance of winning. Yeah, I don’t know but at this time those three guys have maybe five wins apiece or something like that, and I feel like you’ve definitely seen more winners this year and more teams kind of able to compete, which is good, and that’s what makes for good racing. Unless you’re the one dominating, you don’t want to see that. I think this package has given more teams the ability to compete and get to where they need to be. Maybe some more underfunded teams like Ryan Preece had a great run last week, Buescher has been great, some of those teams that maybe aren’t as funded or have as much resources, I feel like they’re doing really well this year.”

RYAN BLANEY CONTINUED — ARE YOU SLOW TO ANGER? “Well, I think a month ago someone said I was too nice, and then I spun Jimmie and they said, ‘Why the hell did you do that?’ And now I’m slow to anger, so I can’t win in this sense, apparently. You have to keep a cool head. It’s a long, long race around here. Even though it’s 500 laps around a half-mile race track, it’s a long time and you just have to really be calm and patient, but there are times you’ve got to go. It kind of depends what the race track does. If we’re on the bottom or the top. Sometimes you’ve just got to go. You might get the bumper, it’s just circumstantial. I don’t start the race being, ‘Hit somebody.’ You know the spot that you’re in and it’s just all in the moment.”

DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang – WHAT STANDS OUT ABOUT THIS RACE? “I love this place so much, just for the fact that it’s so difficult. It’s one of those places that you can’t rest. Physically and mentally it’s tough. You’re always dealing with car, either on your lap racing for your position or lapped cars, so it’s always run and interesting to be working hard with different cars. It’s just one of those deals that once you’re done after this race after 500 laps, you are tired. I feel like these are one of those races where you definitely need to take a shower, to eat and then go to bed.”

IT’S GOOD TO HAVE A WEEK OFF? “Yeah, for sure.”

HOW IS YOUR SITUATION FOR NEXT YEAR? “We have a lot of things going on right now with the Playoffs and there is more important stuff that we have to focus on. All I can tell you is that I’m very happy with where I’m at. They have told me many times that they are very happy with everything that I have done so far this year for the team, everything that I bring to the table, and I have mentioned before that I have an option, they have an option too, but everything is looking pretty good. Right now, they don’t to talk about it and I don’t want to talk about it. I have more important stuff to deal with, but I feel pretty good about it. I feel at home. Ford Performance, Stewart-Haas Racing, everybody has treated me extremely well and I really hope we can focus on the racing stuff and everything else will take care of itself.”

YOU AND CLINT ARE BATTLING ON THE BUBBLE. HOW HAS THAT BEEN BETWEEN YOU TWO? “I wish we were not in this position and I wish we were more comfortable like the 10 is with 80-90 points on the good side. We have had some rough weekends. We have had a loose wheel. We have had a flat tire and we’ve had stuff happening to us, but I feel like we have good speed most of the weekends. Sometimes circumstances happen, but we don’t really talk about it. We just try to play fair together. Right now there are two spots there that are easy to get. I hope I can get one and he can get the other one, but you never know how things are gonna work out. Once we’re in the race, I take care of myself and he takes care of his self. If I can help him in a way, I will and if he can help me in a way, I think he will (laughing). We are teammates. We are good friends and we try to work together when we can.

DANIEL SUAREZ CONTINUED — DOES THE PRESSURE FEEL ANY DIFFERENT THIS YEAR THAN OTHER YEARS IN YOUR CAREER? “I try to go like my normal weeks, but there is always that little pressure, especially since you guys are always talking about it and reminding me of the bubble and the points and all that, which I think is good. You’re keeping me on my toes, I guess, but I feel good about it. I have never been in the position before where I actually was this close to be in the Playoffs. I don’t feel like I’ve ever been in the position where I feel as strong with my team, actually. I feel right now I really want to make the Playoffs because I feel like we have a good team. We can perform strong once we are in it. I feel like the first half of the year has been ups and downs as an organization, and I feel right now we’re heading in the right direction. We can see the four cars of Stewart-Haas Racing with more speed week in and week out and that really makes me happy for the Playoffs, but, really, we have to get into the party to be able to have fun. Hopefully, we can have three weekends with clean races and have some fun.”

MATT DIBENEDETTO IS HAVING A CAREER SEASON AND DOESN’T HAVE A RIDE FOR NEXT YEAR. YOU WERE IN THIS SITUATION NEXT YEAR. IS IT HARDER FOR YOUNGER DRIVERS THESE DAYS? DO YOU NEED SPONSORSHIP BEHIND YOU? “That’s very difficult. I was extremely disappointed when I saw that news about Matt because I have known Matt since the beginning of my career. We raced together in the K&N Series and we have been friends since then, and I was extremely happy when he got the opportunity with the 95. I was actually talking with him about it before he got that ride, so I was extremely disappointed with how things happened. Unfortunately, the way that this sport is today you need to have a little bit of support somehow. If it’s sponsor-wise or support from a team 100 percent or something because as you mentioned, in my opinion, he’s been doing an incredible job and he deserves to keep that ride. I was very surprised to see that. If he wasn’t performing, well, he didn’t perform. I think he’s doing a better job than what people were expecting and what the team was expecting, so it’s a little bit disappointing to see a good driver and a good guy have to have something like that happen. All we can do is wish him the best and hopefully he can find somebody that has trust in him for real and not just for a year.”

IS THIS JUST THE WAY IT IS FOR GUYS WHO AREN’T ESTABLISHED? “It’s tough. I’m not saying that it’s tough in racing, every sport is like this. Every sport, I think, has ups and downs and sometimes you don’t like those sort of things and you have to try to control what you can control. Unfortunately, the way that this sport is today, if you have a dollar, you are worth more than the guy that has zero dollars, so that’s the way it is and that’s the world we’re living in right now.”

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