Ford Performance NASCAR: Pocono 2 Post-Race Quotes

SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 2020

2nd — Kevin Harvick
5th — Aric Almirola
6th — Matt DiBenedetto
8th — Clint Bowyer
11th — Brad Keselowski
17th — Cole Custer
18th — Ryan Newman
19th — John Hunter Nemechek
21st — Corey LaJoie
22nd — Ryan Blaney
24th — Joey Logano
28th — J.J. Yeley
33rd — Joey Gase
36th — Chris Buescher
40th — Michael McDowell

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Head for the Mountans Ford Mustang — “I think for us our Head for the Mountains Busch Beer Ford was actually better than yesterday.  We had a really good car.  He just did the opposite of what we did.  We didn’t want to get caught with a caution and then wind up losing a little bit too much time in lap traffic with all the cars that hadn’t pitted and he was out there running clean laps and waited until right to the very end and wound up in front of us.  I’m proud of everybody on our team.  Yesterday that won us the race and today finished second.”

American Muscle

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Vote For Bacon Ford Mustang — “Another top five.  I’m so proud of Buga and al the guys on this 10 team.  That’s four top fives in a row.  What a weekend we had here in Pocono, got a lot of stage points and finished third yesterday and fifth today.  We’re riding a wave of momentum and I’m just so happy and thankful for all of our partners — Smithfield, Ford, Mobil 1, Go Bowling, everybody that helps this whole program out and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing.  I know you guys have been working so many hours trying to keep up with the pace of all these races, so just really proud.  We’ll go to Indy, a place that’s very similar to the tunnel turn at Pocono and felt like we were really good there this weekend.  I’m excited about Indy and another top five.”

MATT DIBENEDETTO, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang — HOW WAS YOUR DAY?  “It wouldn’t be a NASCAR race without some rain here lately.  It was a long weekend.  Two races back-to-back was pretty cool.  Knocked them both out in one weekend, but we got stage points in all four stages between the two races, so that’s good and I felt like we finished solid yesterday and today we had a good day.  We got stage points in both and the second stage we were actually anticipating possibly giving up the stage points for our strategy to have a good finishing position, but it worked out to where we still had some solid restarts and got up there to get at least a couple points, so everything helps.  That was big and today was just pretty much real smooth from start to finish, just was up there in that top 10 for most part start to finish for the day, so Greg and the team did a real solid job keeping us up there and having a real good strategy.”

ARE STAGE POINTS MORE OF A FOCUS BEING PAST THE HALFWAY POINT OF THE REGULAR SEASON?  “That’s definitely a big deal and a way to rack up some points because we’ve had some unfortunate luck and some bad races recently, so we fell back in points further back than we feel like we are as a team, for sure.  So it’s time to start climbing back up there and this weekend was an example.  Stage points can just make such a huge difference, especially this point in the year when the point stuff is really starting to settle out a little bit.  People are settling in place, so you’ve got to take everything you can get because that makes a big difference as far as securing a solid spot in the playoffs and, for us, really climbing back up in the points to where we think we are running weekly.  Our cars have real good speed, so the stage points are a big deal.”

ARE THERE ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN POCONO AND INDY?  “If you asked me that a couple years ago when we ran the low downforce stuff, I would say the two tracks were completely different, but now that we have the high downforce and less horsepower, they’re actually pretty similar in the fact that it’s real strategy-oriented, extremely track position-oriented.  You can catch someone.  Today, I caught the 10 at the end for fifth by about four to five tenths of a second a lap, so real fast and you just get stuck in their dirty air now.  I’m no stranger.  I’m surprised Steve O’Donnell hasn’t hit me yet because I give him a hard time because the high downforce just makes it so tough to pass, so I hope we can reverse that direction in the future.  A, it just makes it really tough on the teams and the pit crews and the strategy because you just have to have track position or else you can’t make your way up there.”

IT’S BEEN A WHILE SINCE YOU RAN THE NXS CAR ON THE ROAD COURSE AT INDY.  WHAT ARE YOU EXCITED TO SEE NEXT WEEK?  “I’m super-jealous of those guys, extremely jealous.  They’re gonna have a blast.  That course is awesome.  It’s so much fun, has really good passing zones, so I’m gonna be watching really closely.  I’ve had a lot of guys come to me for advice, too, since I was the only one that got to run that track in an XFINITY car, which was really neat.  I have no doubt it’s gonna put on a tremendous race.  I’m really jealous.  I wish the Cup cars were running that, but I’m gonna be looking at that for the future because I know it’s such a special, really good track, so I’m gonna be watching and knowing it’s gonna put on a good show, and then I’m sure I’ll be bugging everyone at NASCAR and saying, and everyone at Indy saying, ‘Let’s run the road course next year’ because it’s gonna be a cool layout.”

WHAT HAS THE TEAM DONE WELL IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS AND WHAT DOES THE TEAM STILL NEED TO WORK ON?  “I think today addressed some of our, we’ve had some races where we’ve kind of been up and down and this run we’re fast and this run we get a little off, so we do very well with communication – me, my crew chief Greg Erwin and our team – we talk a lot, our engineers, multiple, multiple times a week on team calls, so we do an excellent job of communicating to iron those things out and I think this weekend was an example of what we’ve been working on and knowing that we’re capable of doing is addressing that and just having solid days like we did today being in the top 10 from the start to the finish of the day, getting stage points and finishing up there, so we’ve done a good job at working on that and I think we can do a lot more of this moving forward.”

DO YOU FEEL YOU’RE GETTING CLOSER TO BEING A CONSISTENT TOP-10, TOP-15 FINISHER WITH THE OTHER TEAM PENSKE GUYS?  “Yeah, 100 percent.  I think when you’re with a new team working with new guys it always takes a little time to typically figure each other out.  We’re really trying to get this 21 car where it’s up front every week and I think we’re stepping in that direction.  To be honest, every single racetrack we’ve been to, aside from Darlington, we’ve had top 10 speed at every track, so that’s like unbelievable.  I’ve never had equipment or an opportunity like that much in the past, so that’s the encouraging part and so I knew once we got on track together, I think we can do this very consistently.”

HOW WAS THE VISIBILITY LATE IN THE RACE?  “It was actually better when it started getting darker when the sun went down.  The sun getting in the tunnel turn, I mean the tunnel turn makes you white-knuckle it already and it’s one of the most hairy corners in all of NASCAR when you can see, so when you have sun in your eyes it was pretty much one of the most petrifying experiences I’ve had to deal with.  But it was good.  I’m just glad we were able to get the race in and glad to see the sun at at NASCAR race, but when it got dark it actually started getting dark it was actually better and easier to see.”

HOW DOES IT FEEL HAVING A DOUBLEHEADER WITH INDY CAR NEXT WEEK?  WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE MEANING FOR THE SPORT?  “Even just being on that track on the road course and being the first guy was special, like I said.  The race weekend is gonna be one to remember.  These are things that go down in history and even just racing at the Brickyard, every time you go in there is a check mark, a bucket list item in itself, so that’s gonna be a special weekend that I’ll always remember.  I’ll be like a race fan, just watching these races as excited as any fan that you’ll see because it’s gonna be so cool on such a history weekend, the July Fourth Weekend, you name it.  All of that is so cool and then obviously excited for us to be on track there and be watching some good racing.”

THOUGHTS ON NO FANS BEING AT INDY?  “That will be awkward.  It’s definiltey awkward, especially going to the Brickyard 400 that weekend, which is one of the coolest and one of the coolest places we go, period.  It’s definitely awkward.  People have asked if I’ve gotten used to it and I don’t think we’ll ever get used to it.  We miss that element, but hopefully we’ll get back to normal in the future and just glad everyone can tune in and at least watch and see a good show on TV.”

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