Ford Performance NASCAR: Phoenix Post-Race Cup Quotes

Ford Performance Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Cup Series – Instacart 500
Phoenix Raceway | Sunday, March 14, 2021

FORD FINISHING RESULTS:
2nd — Joey Logano
4th — Brad Keselowski
6th — Kevin Harvick
10th — Ryan Blaney
11th — Aric Almirola
14th — Matt DiBenedetto
18th — Chris Buescher
22nd — Chase Briscoe
23rd — Michael McDowell
28th — Ryan Newman
30th — BJ McLeod
31st — Cole Custer
35th — Josh Bilicki
37th — Anthony Alfredo

FORD PERFORMANCE QUOTES

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang

WHAT MORE DID YOU NEED TO KEEP PACE WITH THE 19? “All of the above, just a little bit everywhere is where it seemed they beat us. Once they got 19 car tuned in he was the fastest car on the racetrack. We did a good job maximizing our day with our Shell/Pennzoil Mustang. We were a second-place car and finished second, won a stage and second in the other stage, so a lot of points. I hate finishing second, though. It really stinks, but, overall, this has been a good racetrack for us. The last few times we’ve been here is first, third and second, so we’re all over it, just needed that last run not to have a caution. I think we were in a pretty good spot to maybe run that thing out, but, overall, that was where we had it.”

YOU CHOSE THE BOTTOM LANE ON THE FINAL RESTART. DID THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE? “I was surprised he was able to hang with me on that start. I felt like he had a good start too, but I had a good one on the bottom and I thought the amount I short-cutted it in the dogleg I thought, ‘Boy, I’m gonna have him cleared,’ and then we went in the corner it was still door-to-door and when you’re door-to-door the outside car has control of you. I’m pretty sure even if I beat him on that start he was still gonna hound me and probably get by me. They had the best car. They tuned it in. We had a good car, for sure, but once they tuned it in toward the end of the second stage that was the best car on the racetrack. He just had to get up front and he did, so I’m proud of the Shell/Pennzoil team. We did a great job all day execution-wise, staying up front, good pit stops, getting us back up front when we lost our track position, and, overall, a solid day. We had a stage win and some points in second place, so we’ll take it. It’s not a win. Second hurts, but we’ll move on and go to Atlanta.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Wurth Ford Mustang

“Not a bad day. We were just really consistent, top five all day. We got the lead there towards the end on that one restart and I thought, “Oh, man, we’re gonna drive away,’ and I just wasn’t quite fast enough. We learned some things for today. We tried some things here to try to be better for the fall and I don’t know if they were necessarily better, so a lot to learn.”

IT SOUNDED LIKE YOUR CAR WAS THE BEST IT HAD BEEN AT THE END OF THE RACE. “Yeah, we just never could get the car quite as good as we were last year. We tried a few things I think could be better for the championship race here this fall and I’m not sure it went the way we thought it would, so learned a lot. We were really solid, so really proud of everybody on the Wurth Ford Mustang team. We’ll build off it. We’re clicking off really good runs here and that will transfer into wins.”

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang

“We struggled on the restarts and we just could never get the track position. After seven or eight laps it felt like our Mustang was good enough to run in the top three, but we could never get going on the restarts to be able to get that track position to take advantage of that.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Richmond Water Heaters Ford Mustang

“Towards the end of the day I think the track kind of changed on us and we lost some speed. We were fighting stuff that we weren’t fighting at the beginning and other guys’ cars came to life and we were kind of chasing ours a little bit. It wasn’t for a lack of effort. We tried a bunch of stuff and tried to get ahead of the track and just couldn’t quite get there, so, for how much speed we lost throughout the day just track changing, running 10th I’m proud of that. I’m proud of Todd and everybody for sticking with it all day and good stage points for sure and not a bad finish, either.”

WHY DO YOU THINK THERE WERE NO UNDERDOGS UP FRONT TODAY? “I wouldn’t say anything really surprised me. The PJ1 seemed pretty similar than last year, so I thought that was decent. You could run the bottom a little bit, like bottom on restarts was preferred, I thought, for five, six, seven laps and then it would start moving up when you started losing drive, so pretty usual for Phoenix. As far as surprises for people running up front or not, it’s the first short track of the year. I put Phoenix as a short track and everyone kind of has a notebook from last year and, honestly, I think it’s a little bit tougher for the underdog teams to run better at mile-and-a-halves because I think the bodies are a little bit more looked at, things like that, more throttle time, stuff like that, so I think the mile-and-a-half package helps the underfunded teams out a little bit more than a short track package just because I think it’s a little bit different obviously racing and style of racing, stuff like that.”

IS ANYTHING GETTING ANY EASIER TO PASS WITH THE PJ1 OR IS IT STILL AS DIFFICULT AS IN RECENT YEARS? “The 9 and the 5 drove from the back and got towards the front, so I think if your car is good enough, you can do that. And, yeah, I mean the PJ1 I think helps. I think it helps other than just being right along the line it gives you a lane to be, if you put the preferred lane three or four lanes up the racetrack, it just leaves all that open space at the bottom, so you have sliders, you have guys who follow you up in there in the PJ1 and can turn, park it and drive underneath you, so I think it’s better than what it was, for sure, as far as Phoenix races. It’s always been a track position race. It was like that before you even repaved it, kind of the same and now, but I think the PJ1 has helped it. It’s better than what it was before I think we started applying it here.”

HAS MUCH CHANGED IN WHO IS CHALLENGING YOU GUYS ON THE 750 TRACKS OR WHAT YOU NEED TO DO MOVING FORWARD AT SOME OF THESE OTHER TRACKS? “The mile-and-a-half stuff I think we’ve been pretty decent. Obviously, I think Hendrick winning the last couple of them they’ve been really strong. The Gibbs cars are fast. You saw that again today on a short track, but the 2 and the 22 were in the top five. I think they were second and fourth, so I think we’re really close. The 22 led a bunch of laps and we led early, so I think we’re really close. The Stewart-Haas guys, they’ll figure it out. They’ll get to where they need to be. Kevin ran good today, so you always have to keep working. I think we’re close and we’re towards to top, we just have to keep working really hard on our short track and mile-and-a-half and road course programs to keep competing with these teams.”

DID THE PJ1 WEAR OUT DURING THE RACE OR DID IT STAY CONSISTENT? “I think it lost a little bit of grip throughout the race, just a touch. I feel like we were starting to run pretty high in the center of one and two. Now you kind of had to turn down out of it, but there was some cars entering close to being in it. Larson was entering way high and kind of running it in, but I felt like that never came in. There wasn’t enough cars running just above the cushion to kind of wear that part in and get the dust off of it, so, yeah, everyone was just kind of in that lane and I think it lost a little bit of traction, a little bit of grip, but not a ton.”

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang

“Finally a solid day. I’m proud of my team. We ran in the top 10 most of the day, had a really good car on the longer runs and there at the end it panned out to be a few short runs, so, all in all, a great day. Finally turned all the bad races around and got us almost a top 10. Thank you so much to Pit Boss Grills and representing the Pro Series on the car. That was fun to run up front and be competitive and get out of here with a solid finish. Hopefully, we made some hay and made some ground on the points situation. We’re gonna have a lot better starting spot and pit selection going to Atlanta, so we’ll keep this momentum going into next week.”