Ford Performance NASCAR; Kansas 2 Cup Qualifying

KEVIN HARVICK (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion) -- Qualified 2nd

A GOOD ROUND 3 FOR YOU: “For the most part is was three sketchy laps. The first time out it was really loose and tight on one end. It was really windy on one end. It was hard to keep up with the car but I did a good job adapting to the first run. I got through 1 and 2 okay and as I got into 3 the front end washed out and then the back stepped out and got up a lane. Still a good run considering what was on the line for pit stall selection.”

FRONTROW STARTING SPOT FOR SUNDAY. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SUNDAY? “I think every time that we come here it feels good based on the fact that we’ve run so well here and qualified well and today the same result. Obviously, you always want to qualify first but I knowing everything on the line for pit stall selection for this week and next week is definitely a good day. We can definitely race from there. I think we hopefully have a car that can be capable of staying up there and hopefully having a chance to win the race at the end. It’s a good start to the weekend. That’s half the battle when you’re trying to collect stage points in the first stage and get pit stall selection and try and gain all the advantages that you can on Friday and that’s something that our team did a good job at this year. I feel like our cars are a lot faster from the beginning of the year on the mile-and-a-half race tracks and we’re on the game. It’s been a fun few weeks.”


KEVIN HARVICK (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion)

CAN YOU COMMENT ON THE CHANGING CONDITIONS? “I’d tell you that I’d know a lot about that. but I really don’t. It’s like today, a lot of times I’d tell you I’d like to go back again, but I really didn’t enjoy any of those laps. With the wind gusting around and the car doing something different, it’s just hard to predict how hard you needed to drive in, how aggressive you needed to be. The last lap was kind of weird. Going into Turn 3 the front end washed out and the back end stepped out. Just a weird pocket of gusty wind and the way that the car acted. So, that part is over. The car drove well in race trim. At this particular point you just have to go off your notebook from what you get tomorrow. Obviously, it’s going to be cooler. The cars are going to run faster. The track will have more grip.  A lot of times when the track is cooler and has more grip it means that you’re going to run lower and lower in the race the preferred groove. We’ll have to see where that evolves to and I think if it does ran and they race all day tomorrow we’ll just have to see what the conditions are going to be and go from there. We’ll just have to wait and see. It’s suppose to rain for a couple weeks and it hasn’t rained one out yet.”

THE FORD ENGINES HERE ARE RUMORED TO BE DOWN ON MILE-AND-A -HALF TRACKS. YOU WERE FAST OUT THERE. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR ENGINES AND YOUR TEAMMATES WHO HAVE BEEN FAST IN QUALIFYING? “I don’t think that our engines have been off all year. I hear talk about it here and there but we’ve had shot at 10 or 12 poles this year and had four or five. Everytime we go to qualify they always pick up a tenth-and-a-half to two-tenths from practice. It’s a constant evolution. Every engine department is a constant evolution of getting better. I know ours have evolved. I don’t think that we’ve been off from what I’ve felt.

“We started off winning the Daytona 500. Obviously, it didn’t go bad and we’re working constantly to get more competitive on the mile-and-a-half race tracks because that’s what it’s really going to take to win a championship. I think as you look how the year has gone, when we went to Chicago there was a big step in the performance and it went from hoping that you could point your way in and not making any mistakes to legitimately feeling like you had a chance to win races and qualify on the pole and do all the things that you needed to do without depending on somebody else's bad luck. Chicago, Dover, Charlotte, here so far, the cars have been really fast. It’s been a good evolution. I think going into the year you have to kind of write this year off with all all the workload and all the things you do to get the cars to the race track. The team came out and won the Daytona 500, led the most laps. Led the most laps at Atlanta. Won at Sonoma and put ourselves in position to race for a championship. The car have constantly got better. It’s hard for the production side of things to keep up with the R&D side of things. Luckily, this time of year it becomes a little more urgent to get it into place. And the’ve done a great job of putting things in place as they’ve gone through the year and sticking to a plan and the plan has probably changed 100 times because nothing is the same. Absolutely nothing is the same. As a company they’ve done a great job. We've got Ford and good owners that spend money to make up time. Because that’s the only way to make up time is to overspend and we've  done that at times to get to a point where we are and feel like you can race for a championship.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CONTROL YOUR OWN DESTINY ON SUNDAY? “I think as you look at the circumstances you just never know what’s going to be presented to you on a given day. But I think of the things that we can control, so far we’ve done a good job of qualifying up front. We’ll have a good pit stall. We’ll have good track position and doing all the things that you need to do score points in the first stage and that’s really the first goal of the day is to score as many points that you can in the first stage and go from there.”

RYAN BLANEY (No. 21 Omnicraft Auto Parts Ford Fusion) -- Qualified 3rd

YOU IMPROVED ROUND TO ROUND. WAS IT MORE ADJUSTMENTS OR DIFFERENT RACING LINES? ""It was adjustments. We got better for each round. I was kind of free the first one and got better. The second round I thought we were pretty good. We just lacked a little speed. We picked up a little more in the last round but we actually got a little tight there. It's not a bad place to start. We can see the front from there. Hopefully we'll be able to work on our race car tomorrow and get it good for Sunday.

HOW KEY IS IT TO START UP FRONT, ESPECIALLY DURING THE PLAYOFFS? "It's huge, obviously. The stage points are what got us to this point at Talladega. Hopefully we can do the same within the stages here and be able to lock ourselves in. Qualifying is not only big for pit selection here but for Martinsville as well. We're going to pick third there. That just helps for the races."

BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Miller Lite  Ford Fusion) - Qualified 11th

WALK ME THROUGH YOUR QUALIFYING RUN: “We had a good round two in the Miller Lite Ford Fusion. Not a really good Round 1 or 3 and I’m not sure why. We’ll have to look at the video and see what happened. It’s part of how it goes. We’ll have to get better tomorrow for Sunday.”

RICKY STENHOUSE (No. 17 Fastenal Ford Fusion) - Qualified 25th

WALK US THROUGH YOUR QUALIFYING LAP: “In practice we were a little loose. We made some adjustments and made our Fastenal Ford a little bit better. We were really fighting two things; 3 and 4 I was a little two tight; 1 and 2 I was a little too loose and just didn’t have enough grip in our car to get the job done for what we did earlier here this year when we qualified fourth. We’ll go back to work tomorrow. We know a few things that we have to do different to get us more like we were here in the spring. Man, the times were so tight right there that I thought we were able to get in but we picked up only a little and not enough.”

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Ron Fleshman

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2017, Issue 10, Posted 9:03 PM, 10.20.2017