Ford Performance NASCAR: Almirola and Harvick Post Top-5 Finishes at Nashville

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang -- “We had a good car, just, my goodness, we don’t have anything for those Chevrolets right now.  They’re making grip and they’re getting up off the corner.  It’s so hard to race with them.  I can roll the center as good as some of the guys in those cars, if not a little better, and then it’s tough to keep up.  But we have made huge strides to close the gap.  Our race team is doing a great job scrounging and scrapping to build better race cars and it’s nice to come here and run up front, run in the top five and at least be in the mix, so it feels good.  We’ll just keep building on it.  The All-Star Race was a good race for us.  Today, again, was a good race for us, so we’ll just keep grinding.”

HOW AS TODAY?  “Today was a solid day for us, so it was good to bounce back and do it two weeks in a row, considering we had a good race at the All-Star and come here and have another good race.  It feels good.”

ALL FOUR SHR CARS WERE IN THE TOP 12 AT ONE POINT.  WHAT DOES THAT SAY AS FAR AS PROGRESS?  “It means we’re working hard.  We’ve had a lot of races where the 4 has been a 10th-place car and the other three of us have run 25th it seems like, so we’ve been working so hard.  When you run bad it’s 10 times as much work because you’re going down every single different avenue trying to figure out what’s gonna make speed in the race cars, and when you have fast race cars it’s easy because you just massage on it and polish it and keep going to the racetrack with what you know is fast.  We’ve been working so hard.  I’m proud of everybody back at the shop and specifically this 10 team.  We’ve been off and it’s been nice to get it back and go on here in the right direction after two weeks in a row of running up front.”

WHAT DOES THIS DO FOR YOUR CONFIDENCE?  “it just feels good.  It’s been such a tough year and it’s easy to get down on yourself and not have a lot of confidence.  Confidence is something that comes with results.  You can’t fake it, so it’s been nice to have two good weeks now and it certainly makes everybody have a little pep in their step and things are going in the right direction.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL THE RACE WENT TODAY AFTER 10 YEARS?  “I don’t know, it was tough.  The racetrack was really low on grip.  The tires didn’t seem to have a lot of grip and we were just kind of slipping and sliding around.  Nobody ever really felt stuck or looked stuck to the racetrack and it was just a challenge, to be honest.  But, all in all, it still put on a race.  There was a green flag and there was a checkered flag and there was a winner and that’s racing.  We show up to all sorts of different racetracks and we do our best to compete and try and outrun each other.”

WAS IT NICE TO HAVE TONY HERE TODAY.  DID IT HELP?  “Yeah.  That wasn’t the magic to make our race cars go fast, but it was certainly nice to have him here.  Tony is a great morale booster.  He’s our boss and we all look up to him and appreciate when he’s here at the racetrack, so it was certainly nice to have him here and see his smiling face and have him walking around patting everybody on the back.  It’s nice.”

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Grave Digger Ford Mustang -- “Our Monster Jam Grave Digger Ford Mustang was a lot loose at the beginning and really pretty good the second half of the race.  We got some damage there when we made a little contact with the 24 and that made it a little bit tighter.  I thought we were better than the 24.  The 42 had fresh tires and the 10, I thought we were better than those cars.  The 5 was kind of in a league of his own, but once again the guys did a great job and ground away at it and came away with a top five out of gas.”

WHAT STATEMENT DOES THIS MAKE FOR THE 4 TEAM?  “I don’t know if we made a statement, but we ran better.”

IS THIS WHAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT AS FAR AS A BUILDING BLOCK?  “Yeah, I think before our damage we probably had the second-best car at the end and got a little bit of damage on the right side.  I got a little bit tight and then ran out of gas off of turn four and last a couple spots, but, all in all, it was a solid day.”

WILL THE CONVERSATION NOW INCLUDE BEING CLOSE TO A WIN?  “I don’t know.  I don’t think anybody can beat the 5 right now.”

A LOT OF GUYS SAID THE TRACK WASN’T LIKE IT WAS IN PRACTICE.  DO YOU AGREE?  “Yeah, I think that was to be expected though with whatever they call it, the resin wearing in and out.  I think that was to be expected -- move around, change, so I don’t think that was a surprise to me.”


JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang -- “We just weren’t very good.  We just kept grinding and grinding to get every spot we could and did what we could to try and get the best finish.  Tenth was the best we were gonna do.  That’s about where we ran all day anyway after the first few laps.  Once we lost our track position that’s where we were.”

CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 Ford Mustang -- “We just lost the brakes getting into turn three.  It’s super unfortunate.  We had a really really good car.  I feel like we were gonna be right there for a top five.  We just needed a long run.  Even on the short run we made our car so much better, so I really hate it because that was gonna be our best run of the year for sure and something like that happens.  It’s really wild with all the brake issues we’ve had today.  We were able to do the Goodyear test and knew that brakes were gonna be way worse than everybody else thought.  We beefed them up and it still wasn’t good enough, so it’s unfortunate.  We’ll go on to Pocono.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Duracell Ford Mustang -- “It was not a very good start to our day and not a good end, either.  We had an issue before the race and had to come and fix it.  Then we had some brake trouble and we came in and pulled tape, and then on the restart I’m not sure if I broke a rotor -- I think that’s what happened because something exploded into one and then no brakes and took a pretty big lick.  It’s a shame.  Just not a very good day for us and hate that it ended early.  I hate it for Menards and everybody in our group and Ford, but we’ll come back strong at Pocono next week.”

CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford Mustang -- “My feeling are hurt right now more than anything.  The FIfth Third Bank Mustang was pretty good.  We were wrapping the bottom and able to do so pretty well.  We were just getting going there, but right before I left pit road it looks like probably a piece of debris from the 77 cut our tire down on the way into the corner.  It’s definitely unfortunate.  It’s one of those luck things.  It’s not like we did something wrong to cause our own DNF.  That’s a bummer.  I’m proud of these guys.  This was a good weekend.  We were strong.  We had a good qualifying and practice was good.  The race was gonna be a really good one as well, so that one is gonna hurt as we look at the next handful of races heading to the playoffs as well, so we’ll go out there and go win a race.”

Ford Finishing Results:

4th -- Aric Almirola

5th -- Kevin Harvick

10th -- Joey Logano

14th -- Ryan Newman

17th -- Michael McDowell

18th -- Anthony Alfredo

24th -- Brad Keselowski

25th -- Matt DiBenedetto

27th -- Josh Bilicki

29th -- B.J. McLeod

31st -- Cole Custer

32nd -- Chase Briscoe

37th -- Chris Buescher

38th -- Ryan Blaney

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 2021, Issue 6, Posted 9:43 PM, 06.20.2021