Ford Performance NASCAR: Dover 2 (Blaney, LaJoie & Suarez Media Availability)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, October 4, 2019
Drydene 400 | MEDIA AVAILABILITY

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 PPG Ford Mustang

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS TRACK? “It is a challenging race track no matter what but then you throw it into the start of this round, any race in the playoffs has its own challenges but this place is tough. This is honestly probably the toughest track that we go to as far as the place changing throughout the day. Talladega and Kansas have their excitement but they don’t change as much as this place does over 400 laps. It is important to get started off on the right foot here with where we are in the points deal. There are a handful of us right stacked on top of each other and then a little gap to seventh on up. We have to have a big day. It is a good time to try to start off right.”

DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE HERE? “For anybody it is a challenge here. I think we have run alright here. You can always run better. Some things I would like to do better here but you just hope you come back to each track with a little different mindset and figure out how to improve from last time.”

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CHEVY SEEMS TO REALLY WORK THE BEST AT THE SUPERSPEEDWAY RACES LATELY, HOW HAS THAT ALTERED WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO? “The last couple of years it has turned into that war, a manufacturer war on the speedways. Do I like it? Not much. I wish everyone could just go out there and race but now you have to realize strength in numbers and the manufacturers really encourage us to work together a lot. You saw the Chevy’s do it at Talladega this year and it worked out for them. I think it was the 500 this year that the Toyota’s and Chevy’s worked together and had a little deal. You are kind of almost in a box because sometimes what is good for the group is not the best for yourself and you feel like you are compromising sometimes. It might not help you out. That part makes it a little bit tough. At the end of the day, Chevy made it work at the first Talladega so hopefully we can make it work. It is hard to plan and orchestrate stuff like that when everything in the race is going. It has turned into that though.”

YOU CAN’T CHANGE THAT THOUGH CAN YOU? “No, you aren’t going to change it. The manufacturers want to win and they find that these speedway races are a big teamwork place and not just teammates but everyone within the manufacturer working together. It has become bigger than that. You can’t blame the manufacturer for wanting to do that, they put a lot of support behind the teams and they find those spots to say that if we have strength in numbers that we should be able to win the race. You can’t blame them for doing that. I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES YOU HAVE TO BALANCE AND HOW DO YOU MAKE THAT DECISION? “It is the same thing you run into sometimes with teammates. Sometimes you don’t want to hang your teammate out but you know that if you don’t go with a certain lane you are going to go backwards but you don’t want to hang your teammate out. It is hard. Sometimes it bites you in the butt trying to be a good teammate at plate races. That is a little different. It is so hard now to kind of keep everyone happy. You are going to make someone very mad throughout the plate races because it is hard to make everyone happy because making everyone happy isn’t the best for yourself and we are here to win races. It is a tricky situation and you go into it thinking the best you can and just try to stay out of wrecks and help the people that you want to help and try to pick the right lanes to go. It is a different deal for sure.”

DOES THE FIRST RACE OF A NEW ROUND FEEL DIFFERENT? “Not really, it just resets. Honestly I thought the first round would be the toughest for us personally given the race tracks. Richmond we struggle with and didn’t get a lot of points there and we knew that would be our toughest one. This round is decent for us. You never know what can happen at Talladega. I don’t really look at them any differently other than resetting and going to do three of them again. We are focused on happy hour and the race here.”

WHAT SORT OF GAINES DOES THE 12 TEAM LOOK FOR AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON? “You can always find speed. The speed in our cars have been okay. Speaking as a whole Penske group too, we went to Vegas and had an okay run but not the greatest run and all our cars I thought we lacked a little bit of something there and the same at Richmond. I thought the Gibbs cars were really special there. At the road course at Charlotte the Hendrick cars were really fast. I think we need a little speed right now. We showed a little in practice and there were some cars that were really good and we will know more after this one but we are trying to make our cars faster and make better decisions on the track and things like that to do the best we can internally.”

DID YOU TALK TO OR HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR BUBBA (WALLACE JR.) AFTER HIS ISSUE WITH (ALEX) BOWMAN LAST WEEKEND? “Nope, it is none of my business.”

DO YOU FEEL PLAYOFF PRESSURE MOUNTING? DOES EVERYONE FEEL THAT? “Yeah, it is the playoffs. It was just two drivers heated at each other. One for a gesture and I am sure Darrell wasn’t happy – it wasn’t intentional on Bowman’s part but he had to go through the chicane on the backstretch the first lap and he wasn’t happy about that. Bowman wasn’t happy he got the finger and then got hooked. Listen, you don’t think about this stuff before hand. It is a heat of the moment frustration thing. The water bottle thing, I am going to keep my opinion to myself on that. That is just two drivers heated and that is what it gets to.”

COREY LAJOIE, No. 32 Drydene Ford Mustang

CONGRATULATIONS ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF BABY ON THE WAY: “Thanks. Yeah, I had told like half the garage already. I have known a lot of these guys my whole life growing up in the garage and it feels like the next chapter of life. Everyone in this industry, we all know each other and travel and work next to each other and have been really supportive. Everybody has either been through it or about to go through it so everyone is offering their two-cents of advice.”

YOU HAVE WON HERE IN THE K&N SERIES, WHAT DOES THIS PLACE DO FOR YOU CONFIDENCE WISE? “Man, I always loved coming to Dover just because anytime you look on the shelf and see a Miles the Monster trophy it is pretty cool. This is a place where the haves and the have-nots are separated more than usual. You have to have a lot of downforce and motor and a good aero balance and if you are a little bit off here at Dover compared to the leaders and guys running fast you are in the way. I have been in the way more than I have been fast here ina a Cup car. I have been good here in an Xfinity car and K&N but the Cup deal, I am not sitting on the fastest horse, but I think I need to do a better job of managing Cup races and hopefully putting a full day together.”

LOOKING TOWARD TALLADEGA, IT IS A WILD CARD RACE FOR THE PLAYOFF GUYS BUT FOR TEAMS LIKE YOURS, IT COULD PRESENT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A REALLY GOOD RUN OR EVEN A WIN: “Yeah, for sure. We have a pretty solid average finish over the three speedway races this year and our game plan is to not get up there and race until right there at the end because normally we have just enough speed to get right into the middle of a crash. We will let everybody crash first because it isn’t a matter of if, it is a matter of when. We will stay within arms distance, not make mistakes on and off pit road, and be there at the end. If there are 15 cars left and we are in a decent spot then you get up there and race.”

WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET AS A NO-PLAYOFF DRIVER TOWARD RACING THE PLAYOFF DRIVERS THESE 10 WEEKS? “You just give those guys a little more room than you normally would. Those guys earned their spot and their season is on the line and you don’t want to be the guy that makes a mistake or holds one of those playoff guys up and costs them a point. It could be the difference between them advancing or not and you don’t want to be that guy that affects that.”

DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 41 ARRIS Ford Mustang

WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND NEWMAN LAST WEEK? “We were running towards the top the entire race and one of the pit stops we decided to stay out with no tires and everyone behind me took tires so we put ourselves in a bad situation. That is racing. Sometimes you make good decisions and sometimes you make bad ones. Unfortunately for us that was a bad one and I put myself in the mess of those guys fighting like dogs out there. It was a tough situation. I was very disappointed and I went to talk to Ryan (Newman) after the race and he swears that he didn’t do it on purpose. Who knows if that is true or not but that is what he said and that is what I have to believe. If he was saying otherwise, I was going to go after him. He said he didn’t do it on purpose. He gave me his explanation of how things happened but as a driver it wasn’t just a little contact. It was pretty hard contact. At that point he was pretty much lost. He missed the chicane and had to do a pass through which is why I was passing him on the outside and all of a sudden he turned right. He told me he was going to do a stop and go. Who knows? Who cares at this point? It is time to move on. I am here in Dover, one of my favorite places to race and I want to take advantage of that.”

IS THERE AN UPDATE ON YOUR CONTRACT SITUATION AND PICKING UP THE OPTION OR NOT? “We are getting close. We are getting close to that but we are not there yet. We are still working. There have been a lot of things moving in the right direction and a lot of things moving in different directions in the next couple of weeks so hopefully things work out for us.”

WHEN YOU SAY ‘DIFFERENT DIRECTION’, THAT COULD BE AT SHR OR ELSEWHERE? “I am talking more sponsor wise. Everything is about a sponsor. If you have a sponsor you can drive tomorrow. That is how racing works these days. We have some important meetings in the next couple of weeks that are going to give us a good direction of where we are at. We have to keep working. I know what I want to be, they know where they want me to be, we just have to make sure we have the funds to do it.”

DO YOU GO INTO TALLADEGA NEXT WEEK THINKING ABOUT WINNING FOR YOURSELF OR HELPING YOUR TEAMMATES IN THE PLAYOFFS? “I have to think of myself and help them when I can. Last week I was helping them when I can, when they were around me, but sometimes I have a lot on the line for myself as well. That is one of the worst situations of not being in the playoffs because some people are expecting you to get out of the way and unfortunately that won’t happen with me. That won’t happen with some people and I am one of them. I just hope the 12 guys that are still in the playoffs don’t have high expectations of myself.”

HOW WELL IS TALLADEGA KNOWN BACK IN MEXICO? “It is a very cool place. I guess it is extremely famous because of the movie, Talladega Nights. Everyone knows that race track because of that. For sure it is a very well known place.”

WHAT IS YOUR PRIMARY GOAL THE REST OF THE YEAR? “I feel like we have been racing okay but I feel like we need to run more consistently in the top-10 like we have before. The competition is picking up. I feel like we have a good car for this weekend. We don’t have a super fast car but we have a very consistent car. Kind of like we can’t do a super fast lap but then they get slower to where I am at and then slower than me. I guess that is good but we do want to make the car a little quicker.”

STATISTICALLY THIS IS YOUR BEST TRACK AT THE CUP LEVEL: “Yeah, this place has been very good to me my entire career, not just the Cup level but Xfinity and K&N and everything I have ever driven here has been good. I love coming here and I always have high expectations here.”

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