Ford Performance NASCAR: Harvick Sweeps Michigan; Ford Runs Win Streak to 6
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang -- VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW - HOW BIG OF A CHALLENGE WAS IT AT THE END? “It was a big challenge. Our Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang got really tight there in three and four. I could run really good through one and two still, but I was just tight on that other end all day. So I’ve just got to thank all my guys. They did a great job all weekend on pit road. Great pit calls. Just got to thank Haas Automation, Mobil 1, Hunt Brothers, Jimmy Johns, Fields. Everybody who helps put this No. 4 car on the track and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Yates Engines for awesome power underneath the hood this weekend.”
YOU ARE THE FIRST DRIVER TO WIN CONSECUTIVE CUP RACES ON CONSECUTIVE DAYS SINCE RICHARD PETTY IN 1971. “It’s been a long time since I’ve raced back-to-back days let alone in the Cup car. I’ve never accomplished that obviously, but we’ve done that a couple times this year, so I think for us it’s worked out pretty well. We’re hoping it goes the same way at Dover when we go there in a couple of weeks.”
RODNEY CHILDERS SAID THIS TEAM IS FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS. WHAT’S IT LIKE TO THE DRIVER? “It drives you. I think when you look at my team we’ve been together for going on seven years now and you look at the confidence everybody has in each other. The details of the race cars and the thought of everything that goes into everything that we do is untouchable. That’s what it takes are details to make these race cars go fast. I want to say hi to my family at home -- Keelan, Piper, mom. I’ll see you kids in the morning.”
HOW WAS THE TRAFFIC EARLY? “Our car wasn’t quite as good as it was yesterday. I think it was obviously still really good, but I had a little bit more trouble going through traffic today than I did yesterday just because of the tight into three that I had today. Like I said earlier, I could still get through one and two really good, but I couldn’t make those great low passes like I could yesterday and stay in the throttle. If I carried too much speed in there I would push up into the center of the corner and just have to pedal the thing on exit.”
THE HERITAGE TROPHY STAYS WITH FORD. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN HERE IN FORD’S BACKYARD? “Well, when you start getting texts from Edsel Ford on how important the weekend is, you answer those. I’ve been around Ford for several years now and you understand the importance of winning at Michigan. The energy and effort that they not only put into our cars, but that they put into the engines at Roush Yates. This is the place, right behind Daytona, that everybody from Ford wants to win at.”
2020 HAS BEEN ODD FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE, BUT TONY STEWART, NED JARRETT, JUNIOR JOHNSON, LEE PETTY AND RUSTY WALLACE ARE NAMES YOU’VE PASSED OR TIED ON THE WIN LIST. HOW DO YOU PUT THAT IN PERSPECTIVE? “It’s like I told you yesterday, those are names that would come with responsibility and you have to think about what you’re doing in this sport and the things that you’re doing with yourself and your team and how you represent and the things you’re doing to push this sport forward. Icons in our sport and it almost seems a little bit surreal to be going by those names and tying Rusty. Rusty has been a big part of my career. When I was in trouble early in my career he was one of two guys that would talk to me and always gave me great advice and still does to this day.”
FORD FINISHING RESULTS:
1st - Kevin Harvick
5th - Joey Logano
6th - Aric Almirola
7th - Matt DiBenedetto
13th - Ryan Newman
14th - Clint Bowyer
20th - Chris Buescher
22nd - Corey LaJoie
28th - Michael McDowell
29th - JJ Yeley
34th - Garrett Smithley
37th - James Davison
38th - Ryan Blaney
39th - Brad Keselowski
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang -- “We went down a different direction than what we had yesterday. That’s one of the things that this doubleheader, especially without practice, presents us is an opportunity to learn and try something different. So we went down a little bit different direction. We learned (laughing). I don’t know if it was better or worse. Some things were better and some things were worse, but we learned and that’s important right now, although it’s a very different track than the other ones we go to, but, overall, a top five -- it took everything we’ve got to get it, so we’ll just keep forging forward and onto the next one, which is a huge unknown. Overall, I’m proud of the Shell/Pennzoil team. There was a lot of work last night getting our car fixed and getting it back out here and ultimately making it a little bit better and a little bit better finish today.”
THE NEXT RACE IS A HUGE UNKNOWN. WHAT’S GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND ABOUT DAYTONA? “I don’t know. We’ve been working on this ever since they announced that we were doing this and thinking about ratios and thinking about how to build a fast car there, what the setups are gonna be. Now is kind of the time of the week where I’ve got to start looking at the racing and how to pass cars and what to do there. It’s not like you go off of previous experience to do that, so it’s more or less just kind of going back and looking at what other cars did there when they raced and how they make moves. It’s just an unknown for all the drivers, so we’ll see how close everyone’s sim tools are. That’s what it is. We’re sim racing at this point, so we’ll have to see how that all works out when we get there.”
WHAT DOES A TEAM GET OUT OF THESE NEXT FOUR RACES SINCE THEY WON’T PLAY A FACTOR IN THE PLAYOFFS? “Playoff points. That’s all it’s about right now. I would say Michigan is nothing like what’s in the playoffs. You hit the nail on the head, Dover, maybe the Roval with Daytona is a stretch, so these next few races, and obviously the superspeedway with the Daytona big track with Talladega in the playoffs, maybe there’s something there. It’s just all about playoff points right now. It’s about collecting stage wins. That’s what it’s about. They’re different racetracks than what we’re racing in the playoffs, but that’s okay. There are trophies out there to go out and get and that’s all that matters. That’s all I need. That’s the only carrot I need to hang out in front of me is a big check and a big trophy and some playoff points to help propel you into the Championship Four. That’s the goal here the next few weeks is to try to get as many as possible.”
HOW DO YOU KEEP CONSISTENCY PREPARING FOR THE PLAYOFFS? “It’s hard. It might be harder than it’s ever been to try to catch up because you don’t really have the opportunity to learn much. That’s why I said today was actually pretty good to have a back-to-back race, where you actually have like and A and a B to answer a few questions, although it’s a different racetrack than anywhere else we go and I don’t know how much actually transfers over, but if we learn something we’ll put it in the notes which is a direction on some things. It’s a little bit more challenging this year without the practice, for sure. Yesterday, I would have loved to have 30 minutes of practice just to see how loose the things was before we started the race and, honestly, those are things that Paul and I haven’t worked together coming to Michigan before, and as much as you just say ‘copy what you had last year for him or for me,’ that doesn’t work either. Everyone knows you can’t go back to the racetrack with the same thing and expect to win. You’re not going to, so you have to evolve and try to move forward and there are still plenty of changes that we made through our bodies and our cars that you can’t even run the same setup if you wanted to, so it’s been really hard without practice, new team, but we’re making progress on these 550s. These 550s, when I think of a month-and-a-half ago, we couldn’t even finish in the top 10. Now, we’re scraping at top fives and a little bit more we’ll be back in the winner’s circle.”
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHOOSE RULE? “I love it. I can’t say I choose the right direction every time. I don’t know if I’m good enough to choose sometimes, but sometimes life is a little easier when choices are made for you, but I think it’s great. I think it’s great that your destiny is in your own hands a little bit more, and I kind of like that more. I’m good with it. Keep going. Keep choosing. It’s hard on the race teams. It’s hard on the spotters. It’s hard on the drivers and crew, just trying to figure out what’s the best. I know every team is trying to figure out a system that is efficient that works and simple, and I’ve been working hard on it. I was up until 1:30 last night trying to figure it out and I can’t say I was any better at it today than I was yesterday. I don’t know. There’s still a lot to learn, but, overall, it is very good for this sport.”
MATT DIBENEDETTO, No. 21 #FordStrong Technicians Ford Mustang -- WALK US THROUGH YOUR DAY. “It was tough. The car had our tongue hanging out all day, so it’s good we made improvements from yesterday. We were really struggling yesterday and our team worked super-hard and made some good improvements so we could at least run further up there. We didn’t play a lot of defense all day and had to drive the thing for all it was worth, so just glad we were able to get a top 10 out of it finishing seventh. You can take a car that’s a struggle and something that we’re not satisfied with and struggled with all weekend and make some improvements with, but if we take a car like that and finish seventh with it and move on, that just shows the strength of our team and how we keep getting better. If you can make your bad days a top 10, sometimes that’s all you can hope for.”
YOU ADDED SOME POINTS TO YOUR BUBBLE POSITION. “We’re watching that so close. The first part of the year we as a team were really kind of getting acclimated with each other and with all the COVID stuff that made it a little tougher because no practice and no qualifying and all that, but we’ve gotten into a good rhythm. We’re working together great, so the strength of our team is definitely there. We’ve been running great, running up front very consistently, so we know we definitely deserve every bit of getting in the playoffs, so we’ll just keep fighting and doing what we’re doing and trying to rack up some points and build up that cushion. Hopefully a win comes. That would obviously be the best way, but only a few races left so consistency is key and a weekend like this just making sure that we finish and run smart and don’t get caught up in any mess -- things like that -- is all so crucial to try and get all we can to make sure we make the playoffs and then hit it hard.”
HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE ROAD COURSE NEXT WEEKEND WITH A 57-POINT CUSHION? “I think my approach will be kind of the same as everywhere else, really. I’ve always had the approach of trying to race smart, especially next weekend. You don’t want to make any stupid mistakes, so racing smart will be very key, especially on a new racetrack where a lot of us are unfamiliar with, so just trying to run smart. I’ve been called patiently aggressive. I think that’s maybe a cool and good description that I like and I try to live by, and I guess that’s maybe sort of my style -- so be smart and be aggressive when you can when it counts and drive hard. As a lot of people know road course racing is probably my favorite thing to do, so I’m looking forward to that. We’ve had a lot of success on road courses in the past.”
THOUGHTS ON THE CHOOSE RULE? “The only person I feel bad for is my spotter. I’m not gonna lie to you, I kind of put it all on him. I don’t want to say all of it, but I put a lot of pressure on my spotter, Doug Campbell. He deserves quite the shout out for really paying a lot of good attention and counting how many cars are going to the inside lane versus the out and managing risk versus reward. I leaned on him a lot. Spotters are so crucial nowadays with this style of racing and the Choose Rule, but it was executed well. I think it was actually better than I thought. Everybody did a good job executing. It was pretty clear-cut, straightforward, especially at Michigan it was managing how much risk you wanted to take really.”
HOW DO YOU USE THESE NEXT FEW RACES TO BUILD ON THINGS? “We’ve been building a lot of momentum as a team, working together and getting better I feel like on a weekly basis, especially the second part of the season. The last couple of months have been great. These next tracks there’s some that are a little bit of indicators of playoff stuff -- maybe Dover will be a decent indicator, a couple 750-horsepower tracks. There’s a majority of those remaining in the season, which is cool. I think we’ll go up there and there are good tracks coming up for us that I look forward to personally, so rack up as many points as humanly possible and I don’t think I’ve even thought much past these next handful of races just because I’m trying to keep focused making sure we have solid, good races -- keep running up front like we have been, racking up the points and make sure we get ourselves in the playoffs because that’s all that matters in general right now because I know once we make it into the playoffs like we want to and we should, I really think we can be contenders and do a great job in the playoffs and we won’t just be there. We’ve been running up front consistently and showed that, and the second part of the season has a ton of really good racetracks in it that I look forward to a lot, so I think we could have a great, great finish to the season.”
WHERE DO YOU STAND FOR NEXT YEAR? “It was awesome when I came over here to the Wood Brothers and they gave me this opportunity -- the Menard family and Motorcraft/Quick Lane, all these folks that gave me this incredible opportunity to drive this car. That’s so much fun. We’ve been building our chemistry here and doing a great job and our alliance with Team Penske, all of that was such a neat opportunity to hop into and when I came over they expressed to me that, one, it was a multi-year opportunity when I came over, which was awesome, and they really expressed heavily that they wanted this to be a relationship that we could build for a very long time to come. They were very adamant about that, so from the Wood Brothers side and the Team Penske side that was amazing to hear and I love being with this team. I love having my teammates we have and all of that, so I haven’t really talked about that stuff for next year yet, but we’ve just been so focused and head down on digging and trying to make the playoffs and run well. We haven’t even really talked about it, so, hopefully, I stay here for a very long time to come and that’s what they had expressed to me when I came over here and we’ve been running well, so I wouldn’t expect any different.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang -- WHAT HAPPENED? “I just lost it. It’s my fault. I feel really bad for my teammate, Ryan Blaney. He didn’t deserve that. I just came off of turn four and the 4 car was behind me and he gave me a push and I swear I went into the corner like 20 miles an hour faster than I had been all day and got past the 11 and I went to get underneath the 12 and I just slipped. I lost the back a little bit and when I went to collect it he was there and I wiped him out and myself out, so I feel terrible for everyone at Team Penske and especially Ryan Blaney. Gosh, he didn’t deserve that. I should have whoa’d way up. I had been running wide-open on the bottom all day and thought I could do it again, but with that big push I overestimated the grip and ruined our day.”
RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Knauf Ford Mustang -- DOES IT MAKE IT WORSE THAT IT WAS YOUR TEAMMATE THAT TOOK YOU OUT? “Well, yeah. It’s just unfortunate for the whole Penske organization. We had two fast cars battling for the lead and it just stinks that happened. He had a run, like he said, and he didn’t think he had as big of a run as he had and just got loose and, unfortunately, got us both. It’s a shame to end our day like that with the Knauf/Menards Ford Mustang. We were so fast. We had to battle back from having to pit again and got to 10th for the second stage and then got the lead. I was like, ‘All right, we can finally go back at it,’ and just got together there. That’s unfortunate, but it’s not gonna carry over. Things happen. Mistakes happen. It’s just a shame both of us got taken out.”
HARVICK SWEEPS MICHIGAN; RUNS FORD MIS WIN STREAK TO SIX AS HERITAGE TROPHY STAYS IN DEARBORN
- Kevin Harvick won his sixth race of the season and 55th of his Cup career by winning today’s race.
Ford’s Cup winning streak at MIS now stands at six, which is the longest it has ever had at the facility. The previous longest streak was five straight from 1996-98.
Ford Motor Company has now won 53-of-103 all-time NASCAR Cup Series race at MIS (41 Ford, 12 Mercury).
The Ford brand now has 41 all-time MIS Cup victories, most among manufacturers.
Ford has now held the Heritage Trophy for three consecutive years without giving it up.
All six of Harvick’s wins have come since NASCAR returned to action on May 17 (14 starts).
The win is Mustang’s 13th of the season.
Harvick is now tied for 10th on the all-time win list with NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace with 55.
Harvick is now 13th on the all-time Ford Cup win list with 20. What makes that accomplishment so impressive is Harvick has done it in only three-plus seasons.
This marks the 26th win for Stewart-Haas Racing since joining Ford (Harvick has won 20).
Today’s win is Ford’s 699th all-time in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.