Ford Performance NASCAR: Phoenix 1 (Four Mustangs Qualify Top-10 at Phoenix)
















KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang — Qualified 2nd 

“It was close. I probably didn’t have quite enough confidence on the first lap that I should have had in it. The guys did a great job. Not doing a qualifying lap in practice, we just worked on our race stuff and we were kind of winging it right there as to what we thought was right and it worked out okay.”

YOU WOULD OBVIOUSLY LOVE TO HAVE THE POLE, BUT IS THE RACE THE DEAL? “The race is always the deal. I think as you look at the pole, it obviously makes your day better if you can get that first pit stall but still starting up front is going to be important. Being able to not have to deal with as much traffic early until we get our arms wrapped around our car as far as what is right and wrong and what we need to do and where to run on the race track and those types of things. It has been an interesting weekend so far but I think as you look at the race the cars will be a handful to drive, you just have to make yours drive faster than the other handful.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Tarkett Ford Mustang — Qualified 5th

“I wish I could have done it again. I don’t think we would be on the pole but I thought we could have been maybe third looking at the times. I didn’t hit one and two very good and lost a little bit of time. For not having a mock run and making a lot of changes overnight, I thought that was a pretty solid effort by our group. It is nice to start in the top-five and see the front. Hopefully, we can stay there and move up a little bit.”

“We started off really tight yesterday, super tight. We came here a little bit on the tight side. With the lower downforce package, we didn’t want to be free unloading. Everything we did to try to help it turn just wasn’t working. It was just kind of making the car disconnected and just free the back up but not help the front turn. That seemed like a lot of our practice yesterday so we sat down and talked about it last night and made a good bit of changes to just approach it a different way and it seems like it worked. It is hard to tell in one lap. You hope it races good. It is nice to have decent speed. I didn’t think we had that great of speed yesterday, so hopefully, it pays off.”

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang — Qualified 6th

“I think that is by far the best I have ever qualified here at Phoenix. I am really proud of Bugga and all the guys on this team. Of all the tracks we go to, I feel like Phoenix is one of the utmost importance for track position, so having a good starting spot is really important. I am really happy with that lap. I felt like I got all out of it that I could and maybe even went a little bit overboard. It is still a good lap for us and I am just really proud of our whole Smithfield team. We have been working really hard to gel and come together as a team and things are going really good. I am having a lot of fun with this group of guys.”

COLE CUSTER, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang — Qualified 16th

“To me, it just felt a little bit too loose. I couldn’t get back to the gas how I wanted. Everything is so close, you have to be right on the edge. I think I just probably could have hit it a little bit better but I think we have a really good Mustang for the race, so we will see.”

ROSS CHASTAIN, No. 6 Oscar Mayer Ford Mustang — Qualified 24th 

“I am still learning a lot. Qualifying in the Cup Series is still probably one of my steepest learning curves. A lot left to be desired on my end.”

WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE HAVING RYAN (NEWMAN) HERE AND AROUND AS OPPOSED TO JUST HAVING HIM CALLING AND TEXTING? “Just as guys and as people it is just good to see him and see him walking around. As a person, it is just good to see him. He has a lot of information in that noggin of his. He has degrees that I probably can’t even spell. He understands these race cars and has given me a lot of information.”

ANY IDEA HOW MUCH LONGER YOU WILL BE NEEDED? “Oh Bob, you already asked him that. We are just happy he is alive. I want him in the car tomorrow. If he could get in it. He already told me he could drive it without the insert. If I wasn’t back in time for practice he said he would practice it. I don’t think they would allow that, I think we all know that. I want him back as soon as possible. It has been a great experience and a lot of learning on my side but I would love for him to be able to get back in the car right now.”

CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 SunnyD Ford Mustang — Qualified 23rd 

“We did not do a qualifying run yesterday in practice, so for us, we were just kind of hoping for the best. I think our team has made some really good changes through the night. The car felt pretty stable. Want a little more speed always, but our SunnyD Ford will be in a respectable place when qualifying is done. I will be the first to say Phoenix is not my best racetrack and I put a lot of pressure on myself here as well to try to do a little better every time we come.”

JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK, No. 38 MDS Transport Ford Mustang — Qualified 26th

YOU WILL START AT THE BACK OF THE FIELD BECAUSE OF THE RADIATOR CHANGE. HOW WILL THAT AFFECT YOU?  “I hope the Xfinity guys get the PJ1 running today so that we can move up and go. That is just part of it, part of racing. You can’t be frustrated by it. You have to let it fuel you and hopefully, you can make passes and continue to grow on that and go forward.”

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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