Ford Performance Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Cup Series
Martinsville Speedway | SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2020
FORD FINISHING RESULTS:
2nd – Ryan Blaney
3rd – Joey Logano
4th – Brad Keselowski
7th – Aric Almirola
8th – Clint Bowyer
10th – Matt DiBenedetto
13th – Cole Custer
17th – Kevin Harvick
18th – Ryan Newman
25th – Corey LaJoie
26th – John Hunter Nemechek
28th – Michael McDowell
31st – JJ Yeley
34th – Joey Gase
36th – James Davison
38th – Chris Buescher
FORD PERFORMANCE QUOTES
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang — DID YOU BELIEVE COMING INTO TODAY THAT THIS WAS A POSSIBILITY? “For sure with the way that we’ve run here in the past. Everybody kept battling there. I tried to run into the door of the 18 as a last-ditch effort there and spun him out. Sorry to put him in the middle of trying to gain a point, but not a great three weeks. It didn’t go our way. We fought for everything we had and it just came up short.”
FOR ALL THE WINS THIS YEAR TO NOT MAKE IT TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP 4 WHAT ARE THE EMOTIONS? “Look, these championship aren’t like winning like Petty and Earnhardt used to win them. You have to put them together three weeks at a time and it comes down to one race and it came down to one race for us tonight and came up short.”
IT WAS A STRUGGLE TODAY. “Yeah, we just weren’t good and everybody on our Mobil 1 Ford just kept battling to make it better and gave ourselves a shot there at the end. I tried to drive into the door of the 18 to get that last point to make it and spun him out. I don’t usually drive like that, but you’re trying to make it to the Championship 4 and doing everything you can. Just came up short. Just not the night we needed.”
KEVIN HARVICK POST-RACE ZOOM
DID YOU FEEL LIKE THE MOVE ON KYLE WAS GOING TO WORK OR WAS IT ONE OF THOSE YOU WHERE YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO CRASH AS WELL BUT YOU HAD TO TRY IT? “It was just a move I had to try knowing that I needed one point. I needed to hit him square in the door, but at that point I was too late and wound up hitting him in the back. It was just a Hail Mary that didn’t work out.”
ARE YOU STILL OKAY WITH THIS SYSTEM? YOU HAVE 9 WINS AND DON’T MAKE THE FINAL FOUR. “We had a great year. Like I said earlier, they aren’t won the same way that Earnhardt and Petty did. You have to put together a few weeks and we didn’t put together these last few weeks like we needed to and just came up short.”
IS THIS UP THERE AS ONE OF THE WORST GUT PUNCHES YOU’VE HAD TO TAKE? “No, I’ve been punched in the gut a lot harder. We won nine races, had a great year, and, like I said, the championship is kind of a bonus. It would be great to win it, obviously, but I’d rather go through the year and win races and do the things that we did and just came up short.”
HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY TO PEOPLE THAT YOU WON’T BE RACING FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP WHEN YOU ARE CLEARLY ONE OF THE TOP FOUR TEAMS THIS YEAR? “That’s the system that we work in and it’s obviously skewed more towards entertainment than the whole year, so it’s exciting to watch and has that format that goes with it and you take them as they come and we race within the system that they give us and do our best. It just didn’t work out for us. The last three weeks didn’t go exactly how we needed them to and you’ve got to be right when you get to this Round of 8.”
WHAT IS IT WITH MARTINSVILLE THAT GIVES YOU AND RODNEY DIFFICULTY? “We just got to make our car handle better.”
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN AT PHOENIX AND RAIN ON THE CHAMPIONS’ PARADE? “It’s been a great racetrack for us and obviously that’s what we want to do. I just want to get the season over with.”
YOU WERE NOT ON THE LEAD LAP FOR MORE THAN 200 LAPS. HOW DID THAT IMPACT THINGS FOR YOU OR WAS THAT MORE OF A SYMPTOM OF THE CAR WASN’T GOOD AND THAT WAS JUST AN EXAMPLE OF THE STRUGGLES ALL NIGHT FOR YOU? “No, we had a flat tire and had to pit under green. We got a couple laps down and every time we’d get close one of the other cars would get lapped and so it just wound up not working out for us quick enough to get back where we needed to be.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Dent Wizard Ford Mustang — WHAT WAS IT LIKE IN THE CAR KNOWING YOUR PLAYOFF LIFE WAS ON THE LINE? “I thought I was part race car driver part mathematician. I can only imagine what my wife was feeling. She’s here in a suite watching, let alone my fans, but I’m really happy for Team Penske to have two cars in. Just a hard fought day. Got a speeding penalty there with like 70-80 to go and I’m not sure how. The box where i got the speeding penalty is where my car was pitted, so I don’t know. I’ll have to figure that one out later, but just really thankful to be going to the Championship 4.”
HOW AWARE WERE YOU IN THOSE FINAL LAPS THAT IT WAS CRUCIAL? “Not enough. There was nothing I could do other than just pass as many cars as I could and look forward. The last two runs, I don’t know if we were the best car, but we were close to it. Credit to Jeremy Bullins and the team. They just kept adjusting on it at the end and we got good when it counted. It was just frustrating because that pit road penalty I did not see it coming, to be honest with you.”
DID YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT? “No. It’s the same thing I’d been doing and the place where I got the penalty was right outside my box, so I didn’t even think it was possible to speed right there, and I was wrong.”
WHAT DID YOU BUILD ON HERE FOR NEXT WEEK? YOU FOUGHT BACK HARD, DOES THAT HELP? “Oh, yes. I know we’ve got great cars on these short tracks and one-mile tracks. At the end of the race we might have had the best car. It was probably pretty close between Chase and I. If we bring this kind of an effort at the end of the race at Phoenix, we’ve got a great shot at it.”
RYAN BLANEY POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
Q. How are you?
RYAN BLANEY: Could be better.
Q. Overall, go through your run. What was it like battling up front with your teammate for the lead?
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, pretty decent all day. We got progressively better. I sped on pit road before that first stage. That really set us back. Good thing we had a lot of time to get back up through the field after that.
We got the lead there, which was good. We were riding around, biding our time. Caution came out, we lost a spot on pit road, lost the lead, lost control of the race. Started third or fourth on the restart. Got back to second.
Trying to run the 19 down. Caution came out. Lost a couple more spots on pit road. Could never get back up there. By the time we got second, the 9 was completely gone.
Overall not a bad night. It sucks to finish second here, though, both times this year.
Q. Was it the cautions that killed you?
RYAN BLANEY: Cautions maybe. If we just maintain on pit road, I thought we’d have a good shot at it. We just didn’t do that tonight.
Q. Your fourth consecutive top‑10 finish over this Playoff stretch. Do you think you and the No. 12 team are building strong momentum towards 2021?
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, I mean, that’s what it’s all about, right? Our Playoffs ended pretty maturely there, being eliminated in the first round. Obviously bums out everybody.
We wanted to show that we can run up front, contend for wins. Main goal when we got knocked out was to run as well as we can, try to win races, get ready for next year. That’s the main thing.
Yeah, proud of this 12 group. The past 10 full weeks we’ve been strong. Had a chance to win a couple races. Just need to put it all together. Yeah, definitely hoping we can have a good day at Phoenix, we can have a really good off‑season headed into next year.
JOEY LOGANO POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
Q. It’s got to be really exciting for you, given you kicked off the Round of 8 with a win at Kansas, now going to Phoenix, a good track for you. How excited are you to battle for your second championship?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, of course we’re excited. We’re ready to go. This is a great opportunity. We were able to lock ourselves in a couple weeks ago, be able to breathe for a minute, get through these last couple races. What a crazy race it was today for those guys trying to get their way in.
Glad we were able to Keep some momentum up, get a good starting spot. I don’t know where we’re going to be for next week yet. Hopefully it’s a good starting spot. We’ll fire away and try to get our second championship.
Q. You mentioned at Charlotte you have the competition right where you want them, that you wouldn’t be the most favorite title contender, but you’re in it. How would you say it’s been to have this finish for your team?
JOEY LOGANO: You guys told me we weren’t the favorites in 2018, so…
We’ll believe what we want to believe and we’ll believe in ourselves first. I’ll tell you again we’re the favorites to win this thing. That’s how it is in my mind. I said that a couple weeks ago, doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
Q. Obviously your win at Texas denied Harvick that win, then Harvick gets knocked out. How big a deal is it to have Harvick out of the Final 4?
JOEY LOGANO: That’s surprising, that’s for sure. Obviously we know what Kevin’s record is at Phoenix. We all thought he’s got as good a shot as everyone. He’s strong there. Finished second right behind us there when we were there in the spring.
Yeah, he’s going to be fast. I said this before. The top four cars, the Championship 4 cars, are all going to be racing for the win. That’s one thing I think we can be pretty certain of.
Q. Do you like the system? Obviously it helps you this year. Everybody has a chance.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I love it actually. I mean, it brings these crazy moments. I mean, I couldn’t imagine what it was like watching the race tonight with every possible scenario getting thrown out there with the 9, the 19 in the lead, then you got guys racing for points behind them, trying to get every point they can. It’s all within a point. Racing all way to the checkered flag like that, that’s crazy. That’s absolutely amazing.
I believe the system is very fair. It’s just like any other sport, right? In the NFL you can have an amazing regular season, lose the first time and you’re out. That’s just what Playoffs are.
I’m glad we have it in our sport because it produces some amazing moments. There will be another amazing one next week when you have four cars going for it.
Q. Going into the last hundred laps or so, seemed like the Penske cars were the dominant group. What did you see from Chase over the last run that let him sneak up on you guys?
JOEY LOGANO: Saw his back bumper too much (laughter). Seemed like whatever they did to their car the last run, that thing took off. He definitely was able to find some speed there last run, get out ahead of me, ahead of the 19. He just kind of kept going from there.
They made some good adjustments, whatever they did.
Q. You were in a luxurious position with your win at Texas. What did you learn about your car and team over the next two events? What lessons can you take into the finale at Phoenix?
JOEY LOGANO: Really the past two weeks the advantage we earned was to be able to focus on our Phoenix car before everybody. That’s the advantage we had. We get to go to these races not having our tongues hanging out trying to get in. Our batteries are charged up and we’re ready to go. That part is nice.
I think we proved that our pit crew tonight is absolutely incredible. They kept us up front all day long. I don’t think there was one pit stop I didn’t gain at least one spot throughout it. Our pit crew is strong. They’ll be ready to go when we get out there.
I think we’ve proven our team is definitely the team to beat. We’re well‑rounded. I think that’s something that can help us next week.
BRAD KESELOWSKI POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
Q. Earlier this season you called this silently one of your best seasons of your career. Going into the Championship 4, do you still feel that to be the case?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, absolutely. Got four wins this year. Making the Championship 4 is a big deal. Credit to Team Penske for that, for having two cars in it, Joey and myself. The way Blaney ran the tonight, shows he’s one of the best drivers out there, too. Could easily have been in the Championship 4 if some things would have gone his way.
Wow, it was a long night, right (laughter)? I thought we were one of the best cars at the end of the race, if not the best car. Was just a little disappointed in the speeding penalty. I’m still not sure I understand it. I didn’t feel like I was speeding.
Either way, great finish for us. I’m really proud of everybody.
Q. How worried were you about Harvick making a charge there on the last lap?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Oh, very worried.
Sorry, Roger is calling me (laughter).
Q. Bigger name on the other line.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I’ll call him right back, if you’re watching, Mr. Penske (laughter).
Anyway, he did a great job (indiscernible) so hard to pass cars (indiscernible).
THE MODERATOR: Brad, I think we lost you. It was about half an answer. Would you mind going through that again because you were breaking up significantly.
Q. Just take me through what was going through your mind over the closing laps. You’re getting information, Harvick is getting information, closing in on you.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, well, I passed him to gain the seven spots I needed. It was just a matter of I knew he had some teammates in front of him that helped him out a little bit. It was very close. There’s just only so much I can do about him. I was trying to focus on just myself. Of course, I wanted to know, right?
Q. We’ve been going through this Playoff system since 2014. Here we have the guy that has the most wins throughout the season not there fighting for the championship. Do you see anything wrong with that?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, I’ve been there, too. I won six races in 2014, didn’t make the Championship 4. Most of anybody the entire year. I’ll tell you, it stings. I feel for Kevin because I’ve been there.
The format is what the format is. It’s our job to decide the format, it’s our job to race the format.
Q. With the Championship 4 set, is there one driver you see as the biggest threat? If so, why?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I mean, no. I think all of us are pretty evenly matched going into Phoenix. Denny has had some good runs there, Chase has had some good runs there. Joey won last spring. We’ve been so good on that type of track this season. I think it’s about as even matched as it’s going to get.
Q. Was that nerve‑wracking? When you’re in the moment, are you just: I need to get this, if I don’t, I don’t?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: You’re just trying to control what you can control. I can’t control the 4 car. I can’t control those other guys. All I can do is really run my own race. That’s what I was trying to do, is run my own race, not get ourselves in any trouble by overthinking it.
I definitely can’t control the 4 car, the 11 car. I knew it was really close with all of us. But, whew, I hope you guys had fun. It was a hell of a race.
Q. You seemed a little bit surprised that you got a speeding penalty. Do you think your lights were off?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: No, I just think something didn’t add up there. Being in the first stall, I shouldn’t be able to speed the first or last segment on the racetrack. I wasn’t even up to speed.
It’s tough because on these rounded corner pit roads you don’t have to be at full speed to be speeding because of the way the math is figured out. It’s a time thing, not an actual speed. I’m going to have to take a look at it.
Q. When you guys incurred that speeding penalty, it would cause a lot of lesser teams to cringe, make excuses. You were back to a great finish and advancement. How proud are you of the resiliency that this No. 2 squad has displayed all season long?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: That was some resiliency. That was certainly some resiliency for sure to make it through a moment like that. I mean, talk about back up against the wall. Oh, my gosh. That’s as backed up against the wall as you can get.
I just drove the best race I could drive and the team did the best they could do with the remaining pit stops and we were back at it.