Ford Performance NASCAR: Five Fords Post Top-10 Cup Finishes at Texas

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang -- WHAT WAS LACKING YOUR ABILITY TO CHASE DOWN THE FRONT TWO?  “Air-pressure.  Air is what cost us there.  Air-pressure in the tires, just on the splitter too much firing off.  It took us 15 laps to get rolling.  Our long run speed was incredible, but it took too long and the guys up front were smart, they put fuel only and kept their car off the splitter in three and four over the bumps and maintained the clean air and just couldn’t do it.  I could make runs, but I’d get to three and four and start chattering up the racetrack and had these big moments.  Overall, I’m proud of what the Shell/Pennzoil Ford team did today, scoring a second-place in the second stage and a third in the finish.  It’s not a win, especially when you come to Texas and all the fans here.  Thank you guys for coming out, but it’s not the win we were hoping for as I look at the fire in Victory Lane is super-cool, but it’s progress.  We’ve had a little rough streak on these 550 races, so I’ll take it as a little bit of a momentum-builder.”

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang -- HOW TOUGH WAS IT TO KEEP UP WITH ALL THE DIFFERENT STRATEGIES?  “The cars were just so bad in traffic, ours was anyway.  Our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang, the guys did a good job of putting us in position and doing all the things we needed to try.  We got in a wreck there and had to fix the car and put tires on it and tires just didn’t mean anything.  You parked a couple of slower cars out there and nobody could pass them.  I’m just really proud of our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang guys for the day and all the fight that they had in them and got a top five out of it.  I always want to win here, but it is what it is.”

HOW DID YOU NOT GET AS MUCH DAMAGE AS YOU COULD HAVE ON THAT ONE WRECK?  “I just closed my eyes, honestly.  I couldn’t see anything because the 22 and the 12 were checked up and I was right on them, so I was just trying not to run over them and then I got hit in the side.  Luckily, there wasn’t much damage, but it was pretty wild.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Wurth Ford Mustang -- “We started off really struggling and took us a little while to figure out what was wrong and about a little before halfway we made some adjustments and the car was just hitting the racetrack really bad and I couldn’t make any speed.  I had to slow down a bunch in the corners, so we worked on that under yellow and kind of gave up our track position working on it and was able to work the cycle to get back up towards the lead, but still didn’t quite have enough speed.  So we worked on it again some more and got up to right about fifth and sixth and that was about all we had.  We ended up the last restart and got the bottom lane and fell back a spot or two to I think ninth, but, all in all, a decent finish.  It’s not the day we were hoping for, but a decent finish and we keep piling in on the top 10s and top fives, which is a good feeling.  Our strategy has been really good.  Jeremy and I are really clicking on all of those things, just looking to be a little bit faster.  If we can combine our execution with a little more speed, we’re gonna be a serious threat to win week in and week out.  We’re just not quite there yet.”

HOW MUCH OF A TRACK POSITION GAME IS IT AND WHAT ARE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU SEE A COUPLE OF GUYS WHO HAVEN’T RUN GREAT THIS YEAR SNATCH UP SOME PLAYOFF SPOTS?  “Yeah, I was impressed.  Initially, when I saw the 3 and the 8 do that strategy I thought there was no way that would work, but they made it work.  They deserve a lot of credit and I’ll give it to them.  We’re all learning.  In the All-Star Race I was more shocked that more people didn’t stay out on the next-to-last yellow flag.  Then from there, this week two or three people stayed out.  It’s kind of hard to have any rhyme or reason there to understand it, but that’s how it plays out sometimes.  They’re really hard races to predict.  If I would have known that that many cars were gonna stay out or take two tires or whatever there at the end, we would have took it and we would have probably stole a win, but it’s just so hard to predict.  And then last Wednesday we did that strategy and we got burned on it because not enough people stayed out, so it’s just part of the ebbs and flows.”

A CAR PITTED FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE TRACK TODAY AND COMPLETELY CHANGED THE OUTCOME OF THE RACE.  AS A COMPETITOR YOU KNOW THE FASTEST CAR DOESN’T ALWAYS WIN, BUT HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY IT TO YOURSELVES WHEN A RANDOM INCIDENT LIKE THAT HAPPENS AND CHANGES THE COURSE OF THE RACE?  “I think there are two ways to look at it.  There’s the entertainment way to look at it and say that probably created a more entertaining finish, so if you like chaos, then that was good.  I think on the other side of that there’s the, ‘Hey, I’m a professional race car driver that’s worked my entire career to get here.  Had to jump through a lot of hoops to make it and would like to think that those efforts have created a spot for me in this series to be joined with peers of similar talent levels.’  I have nothing personal against anyone that has an issue like that because they do happen from time to time, but there are certainly a handful of drivers that kindly I wonder exactly how they got to this level.  Part of it plays into all the rules.  When you’ve got this rules package with cars that are super-easy to drive by themselves, it’s very hard for NASCAR, I think, to be able to tell who’s got it and who doesn’t.  So it kind of puts them in a box until you actually get in a race, but one thing I would like to see, and I think I’ve been pretty consistent with this, is I would like to see drivers be able to graduate into this level and equally I’d like to see them be able to be removed from this level when they have repeated issues.  I can’t speak enough to the gentleman that had that issue today, but I have seen in the past where drivers that have had this issue multiple times somehow are still here, where I think they should effectively be placed in a lower series or asked to go back to a more minor league level to prove their salt.  But that’s ultimately not my decision to make.  It’s what I would like to see, but it’s not my decision to make and until it is, I guess I should probably just shut up, but I certainly think there’s some merit to it.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Maytag Ford Mustang -- “It was a strong start to the day.  We were able to start on the front row and get the lead there.  We pitted on the competition caution, which I thought was a good call, and that inherited us the lead later and was able to win us that stage with just being fast and being able to make up all the time.  Then we were able to do the same thing in the second stage, and I thought we had a good strategy for the last stage and the caution came out maybe eight to ten laps before all the other guys that were on the different strategy would have had to pit, so that just stunk.  We had to take the wave around and lined up 15th or something and could only get back to seventh in that short amount of time.  It’s a disappointing finish, for sure.  We had a dominant car all day, especially on long runs, but really proud of that and just unfortunate with the way it ended for us.”

AS A COMPETITOR HOW CAN YOU DIGEST WHAT HAPPENED?  YOU HAD THE DOMINANT CAR AND IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE ABOUT TO WIN THE RACE AND A GUY PITS OUT OF THE MIDDLE OF THE TRACK AND CLEANS PEOPLE OUT AND THAT’S IT.  HOW DO YOU WAKE UP TOMORROW AND FEEL OKAY ABOUT IT GOING FORWARD?  “I’ve been able to get over things pretty quick.  I mean, that’s kind of how I’ve always been.  There’s nothing you can do about it now.  Really, there’s nothing you can do about it in the situation, just something you have no control over, so there’s no point in dwelling on it and what happened -- just be proud of the effort that the team made and now that you had a really fast car.  Honestly, I don’t know what the opposite material of a golden horseshoe is, but we’ve found it.  We’ve just kind of been unlucky a lot of the year with really fast cars and just cautions when we didn’t need them or just bad breaks.  Gosh, we feel like we should have four or five wins at this point.  We’ve had cars to do it and it just doesn’t play out for us, but I’m proud of the speed that we have.  I feel like we can go up there and compete with the 4 and the 11 and some of the best guys that have gotten all those wins this year, we’ve just got to be able to have things go our way.  I feel like we’re doing a lot of things right, it’s just some bad circumstances.  Like I said, I’m already over it.  I’m gonna go to bed tonight, wake up and look foreward to Kansas here in a few days.”

IS IT FRUSTRATING OR NOT TO NOT HAVE ALL THESE WINS, BUT YOU’VE GOT THE SPEED?  “Yeah, to a point it’s frustrating when it happens.  You’re like, ‘Man, bad break after bad break.  What in the hell do we have to do to have things go our way?’  But that side you can look at.  There’s really two ways you can approach it.  You can be a little upset and ticked off that things aren’t going your way, or you can just think about the good things that our cars are really fast right now over in that 12 crew.  We’ve been capable to win a lot of races this year, it, like I said, hasn’t played out for us.  It’s frustrating at the time, but there’s no point in dwelling on things.  You just focus on what you need to do and that’s just keep bringing fast race cars.  If you keep running up front and leading laps, I hope and I think that things will eventually go our way.”

DID YOU FEEL YOU HAD ANY CHANCE WITH HOW GOOD YOUR CAR WAS TO GET BACK TO THE FRONT OR WAS TRACK POSITION GOING TO BE KING WITH 20 LAPS TO GO?  “Track position is gonna be kind.  I can’t really think of a place where you can go from 15th to the lead in 20 laps.  I mean, it’s just not gonna happen, especially here where it’s two lanes.  I thought it was two lanes today, but when you’ve got cars running side-by-side you can’t go anywhere and with that little left to go, you just can’t do nothing about it.  I was just trying to get the best finish that we could and try to pick off cars when we could and we made up some decent spots there at the end to try to get back to the top 10.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE PLAYOFF PICTURE.  YOU HAVE GUYS LIKE CUSTER AND DILLON WHO HAVEN’T BEEN THAT DOMINANT OR CLOSE TO YOU MUCH THIS YEAR POTENTIALLY TAKING SPOTS OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN RUNNING CLOSE TO YOU.  DO YOU LOOK AT THAT AT ALL WHEN HANDICAPPING YOUR CHANCES IN THE PLAYOFFS?  “Not really.  The past couple of races at Kentucky and here those guys did a good job of putting themselves in a spot to win and they’ve got to be proud of that.  So, I don’t really look at that.  Guys find ways to win all the time.  Maybe you don’t have the best car, but they’ve found ways to win.  I don’t really look at that in particular.  Those guys were able to get in Victory Lane, so that’s good for them.”

COLE CUSTER, No. 41 Ford Mustang -- “We just kind of got caught up in it.  They started wrecking in the front.  I couldn’t really see what happened.  I was on the brakes as hard as I could, but couldn’t miss it.  I feel bad.  I mean, I feel like we were getting ahold of our Mustang.  We fired off the race pretty decent and we were just trying to keep up with the track there at the end and I think we got it pretty decent.  We just didn’t really get to show anything for it.”

IT LOOKED LIKE A CHAIN-REACTION.  “Yeah, I mean it’s always one of the most humbling sports you can be a part of -- winning last week and part of a wreck this week.  I was on the brakes as hard as I could and then the 19, I think, came down from hitting the wall.  It’s just one of those things where you couldn’t go anywhere.  It felt bad.  I thought we were getting our Haas Automation Mustang better as the day went and was trying to keep up with the racetrack, but didn’t really have much to show for it.  I thought we would have ended up pretty good right there.”

WHAT WAS IT LIKE IN THE CAR WITH THE HEAT?  “It was hot.  It was definitely just trying to put ice bags on you, spraying cold water on you.  Hopefully, your AC was working good.  It was definitely pretty hot out there, but I think we were able to manage it pretty well.”

WAS YOUR AC WORKING GOOD?  “Mine was.  I don’t know if everybody else’s is, but I was happy with mine.”


SUNDAY, JULY 19, 2020




3rd -- Joey Logano

5th -- Kevin Harvick

7th -- Ryan Blaney

9th -- Brad Keselowski

10th -- Aric Almirola

11th -- Clint Bowyer

13th -- Ryan Newman

15th -- Michael McDowell

16th -- Corey LaJoie

17th -- Matt DiBenedetto

19th -- Chris Buescher

22nd -- John Hunter Nemechek

25th -- Gray Gaulding

32nd -- Joey Gase

39th -- Cole Custer

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 2020, Issue 7, Posted 9:24 PM, 07.19.2020