Ford Performance NASCAR: Keselowski and Custer Give Ford 1-2 Finish in XFINITY Race

Ford Notes and Quotes
Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 (Darlington Raceway, Darlington, SC)
Saturday, September 1, 2018

AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 60 Ford Hall of Fans Ford Mustang – (Retired after being involved in an accident on lap 2).
“My only mindset coming in today was to learn 200 miles around Darlington. That’s all I cared about. All I cared about was getting a good run for this team and to be taken out on lap two sucks. It sucks bad. It just shows the level of respect some guys race with and it’s tough. It bothers me a lot, but you’ve got to keep fighting. You can’t give up. It’s been a tough year.”

WHAT HAPPENED? “Obviously, it was just one of those racing deals. It’s hard for the spotters to see off of four, but either somebody cleared themselves up too early or, I mean, we were right by the wall so there’s nothing I can do. I get turned on and plug the fence two laps into the race. I’m really frustrated about that. I’m frustrated that this is my last race with the 60 car. This team has worked really, really hard and has nothing to show for it. It’s a bummer to end on this kind of a note, but we’ll keep moving and keep fighting. I’m in the 12 car at Indy. It should be a good run and then finish out the year in the 22, so hopefully we can stay above the Playoff cut line and keep going.”

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 98 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang – (Retired after being involved in an accident on lap 111)
“I tried to stay as low as I could and he just rode on my door. That’s just a really inexperienced racer and a really bad move there and got the air and got on beside me and just kept going up the race track. I couldn’t do anything with the wheel. So, you’ve got a really inexperienced guy in a really fast car and made a really bad move, and then wrecked me down the back straightaway and hooked me to the right. That’s probably the reason that he’ll never get to drive many of them again.”

Ford Finishing Results
1st – Brad Keselowski
2nd – Cole Custer
13th – Ryan Reed
29th—Kevin Harvick
40th – Austin Cindric

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 22 Snap-On Ford Mustang – ON TRACK POST-RACE INTERVIEW – YOU WERE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME. “Yeah, we had a really great Snap-On Ford Mustang and I could keep up with Ross, but I couldn’t pass him. I tried to make the move to get by him and I just brushed the wall and him and Kevin got back by me and then they had their issue off of two and were just so strong that we pounced on it and took advantage of the opportunity. That’s a testament to this team. I drove five races this year and we’ve won three of them. That’s pretty darn good and I’m really proud of that.”

COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang – “We just had to tighten our car up a lot to get pretty good, to where it was secure, but I was pretty happy with our Haas Automation Mustang. It was a pretty good run. We just need a little bit more, but I’ll take a second at Darlington.” THERE WAS NOTHING YOU COULD DO WITH BRAD, EXCEPT WAIT FOR A MISTAKE. “Yeah, I was a little bit better than him at the start of the run, but I tried to pace myself and at the end of the run we would just always get too loose. It was a solid day. We just need a little more.”

RYAN REED, No. 16 Drive Down A1C Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang – “Overall, it was just a tough weekend here in Darlington. We knew this was gonna be a tough one for us on the schedule. I feel like we’ve always had this place kind of circled as a place we need to get better at and we came here and tried a lot of things. Ultimately, finishing 13th, it’s not anything that we’re gonna walk away from here really super-proud of, but, at the same time, it didn’t cost us any big points or anything like that. So it was kind of an uneventful weekend. We stayed out of trouble and salvaged what we could and now we’re ready to go to Indy and try to get Lilly Diabetes a win in their hometown.”


CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FINAL RESTART AND TRYING TO CHASE DOWN BRAD? “For some reason I can’t get going on restarts. I just spin the tires, so I don’t know if that’s something we can do transmission-wise, or I just need to work on something. I just had that problem all day, so I didn’t get the best restart, and I was kind of able to hold with him at the start of that run. We had a really good short run car. I wouldn’t say we had the best long run car, but I tried to save my tires a little bit, so we had something left at the end, and I could maybe catch him a tick at the end if I had a perfect lap, but we were fairly equal, I would say. I was really happy with our second-place run, just because of how the race started We had to tighten the car up a lot to where I could be secure with it and be aggressive, but it was a good day. I can’t thank my team enough for making my car better.”

COLE CUSTER CONTINUED — DO YOU FEEL SOME MOMENTUM ABOUT THE SPEED YOU HAVE GOING INTO THE PLAYOFFS? “Yeah, for sure. I think our mile-and-a-half stuff has always been our strong suit, and this last run it’s kind of an unpredictable run these last five or six races because you’re going through road courses and you have no idea what’s gonna happen in those, and then you have Bristol and that’s also kind of a wild card, so I think now we’re gonna get into a stretch where we can really show our speed and get some good finishes.”

WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET THE HAIRCUT? “Probably tomorrow – whenever I can.”

DO YOU FEEL YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO WIN TO MAKE A MARK IN THE PLAYOFFS? “Yes and no. I mean, I think you could make it to the final four without winning a race, but that has to be the goal every single weekend. You can’t go there and just try to be consistent. You have to go to win, but I definitely liked our speed today and I think we can carry that into the Playoffs.”


WHEN YOU GOT THE LEAD WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND? “I just got through there is the right way to put it. We had a good little battle going there for the lead between the three of us and you hated to race that hard, but the race was on the line and we were in the last stage and everybody was going for it. I went for it and it looked like Kevin went for it and Ross was going for it, and it all came together there. You could see it kind of coming, but it was a tough battle and I’m glad we came out on top. Sometimes you don’t come out on top, so it makes you appreciate the times you do. They got together a little bit, it looked like, off of two. I couldn’t exactly tell what happened. There was a lapped car in the whole thing there, so I saw him just make a little contact and I was trying to make a run to pass both of them and the next thing I knew I was underneath them and then it looked like Kevin was spinning and I was trying to get away from him. I don’t know how much I missed him by, but it couldn’t have been much. I was glad to make it through that. That was certainly a key moment to the race and we were able to survive and move on and bring it on home from there.”

WHAT DID YOU SEE OUT OF ROSS TODAY? “He was just driving with a lot of heart and not really making any mistakes. He’s certainly earned the opportunity and showing the grit that’s needed to make the most of it.”

ROSS DROVE FOR YOU. DO YOU FEEL HE DID ENOUGH TO EARN MORE OPPORTUNITIES? HARVICK IMPLIED ROSS HOOKING HIM AT THE END MIGHT TURN PEOPLE OFF. “I didn’t see that part there, so I couldn’t speak to it. I mean, I don’t know how you could not like seeing a guy go fast. At the end of the day, that’s the backbone of the sport is just being able to go fast and he can go fast. That’s a big part. The rest you hope comes with it and I can appreciate his work ethic to make the most of his opportunities.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED — IS THERE ANYBODY ELSE IN THE FIELD YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE GET THE KIND OF OPPORTUNITY ROSS GOT TODAY? “Yeah, how do you pick one? There are a lot of great drivers out there and from the local level to the XFINITY level, the Truck level and even the Cup level that probably have never had an opportunity in elite equipment. It would be interesting to see what they could do. I’m sorry, my brain is a little frazzled. As soon as I get out of here I’ll have a great answer for that one, but there are a lot of great drivers and I don’t know how you pick just one. I look at the Truck and XFINITY level and I think Ben Rhodes does a great job. I look at the XFINITY level and Ross is probably the highest performing guy for the level of his equipment. I’m sure there are a few more in there, but it’s just so hard to tell. I’ve been in those shoes, too.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WIN YOUR FIRST RACE AT DARLINGTON? “It means a lot to me. This has been a track where I started my career very well with the Cup car here and had some great runs, and then the last half-dozen races I think I’ve ran here have gone quite awful. I’m trying to figure out why that is and running this race certainly helps. It gives me a lot of confidence and direction to know what to work on to be better, and to know what to work on with the car and what to work on with me, so I’m proud and thankful for the opportunity to drive for a team that has fast race cars and can bring it all together at the end with the pit stops and the adjustments and all those things it takes because it takes both, but it’s nice to be able to check this track off, like you said, and I think I have one track left back through the circuit with Sonoma and I’m hungry to win there.”

HOW IS THAT DOG OF YOURS DOING? “Great. She travels like a jerk, but she’s great at home. But, yeah, I love my dog. I like dogs.”

BRIAN WILSON, Crew Chief — IS DARLINGTON THAT MUCH HARDER TO WIN? “For Team Penske it has been. It’s one of them we’ve wanted to get for a long time. We’ve struggled here, whether it was on the Cup side when I was working as a race engineer with Brad there were a few races we were close and just couldn’t get it done, and then there have been more races where we’ve just been off and haven’t been able to find what we needed. Even on the XFINITY Series it’s been up-and-down and we’ve really searched around quite a bit trying to hit on something that would make us competitive here. This is really a validating and pretty incredible bucket list type of win.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – “For sure, and to bring this one home, and I can’t state it enough, it gives me a lot of confidence for knowing what I need to work on for the Cup level.”

HOW IS YOUR CUP CAR AND CAN YOU SWEEP? “Yeah, I’m not entirely sure. The Cup car was pretty similar to the XFINITY car in qualifying and we’ve had the same approach to the weekend between the two to maybe not run the fastest laps in practice, but be good in the race. I think in general we’ve been a little bit more competitive with the XFINITY car than the Cup car and we’ll see. If we can find the speed, I think we have the right setup and balance approach to be fast, but we’ll have to see what shows up tomorrow.”

BRIAN WILSON CONTINUED – WHY IS THE XFINITY CAR HOTTER INSIDE THAN THE CUP CAR? “Honestly, we’ve been searching all year. Every one of the drivers in our car has been talking about it. I don’t feel like there’s anything too different than we’ve been doing. Maybe it has something to do with the flange-fit cars and the way we’re running those. Maybe it has to do with the air flow, the way we have it coming into the cars, but there’s not a whole lot different from years in the past setup-wise. We’re not controlling the splitter any better, sealing the car off any better than the Cup cars, so it’s definitely something we’ve been working on. We’ve gotten it a little bit better to where at the beginning of the year we had some drivers saying we were burning their feet off, but we’re not there, but we’re definitely not where we need to be.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – “If I had to make a guess it would be all the restrictor plates make the engine run so hot, but there are a lot smarter people than me than that, so we’ll have to see.”

HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR TOMORROW WITH HOW HOT IT IS? “Drink lots of water. That’s about all you can do is try to stay hydrated and try to recover. I had a great beer in Victory Lane, but it’s water and Powerade from here to try to get ready. This is year over year the toughest race. Labor Day Weekend is generally very hot. South Carolina is like another country hot, and you put those two together with a long race and you’ve got really one heck of a trifecta of pain in the race car, so, with that in mind, that’s why we’re professional race car drivers. As everyone would say, that’s why we make the big bucks is to be able to take the heat and we’ll have to man up and be ready for the challenge.”

ANYTHING YOU LEARNED FROM TODAY THAT WILL HELP TOMORROW? “Yeah, I think in general I really struggled to get my Cup car to work well in the high lane in three and four. I’ve been trying different techniques and I haven’t found anything, and then I got in this car and it just clicked right away, so that tells me it’s not probably something I’m doing, it’s something I’ve got to figure out how to communicate back to the Cup team to get the car right.”

FOLKS AT THE U.S. OPEN FELT THEY SHOULD SHORTEN THEIR MATCHES BECAUSE THE SURFACE WAS 109 DEGREES. DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT INVITING THEM DOWN TO SPEND FOUR HOURS IN THERMAL UNDERWEAR AND A FIRE SUIT AT 140 DEGREES IN A CAR? “Yeah, but I know where that would go next is they’d invite me to play tennis with them and that’s not gonna end well, so that’s the problem with being in a sport where you wear a helmet and you’re in a car is people can’t see your pain, so I just feel like I’d get more embarrassed than they would, so I’ll stay away from that one. Although I do like tennis, but I’m good enough to get embarrassed.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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