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Ford Performance NASCAR: Almirola Puts Ford BlueOval City on the Pole in its NASCAR Cup Series Debut

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series
Bristol Night Race Qualifying | Friday, September 16, 2022

Ford Qualifying Results
1st – Aric Almirola
2nd – Chase Briscoe
6th – Ryan Blaney
7th – Kevin Harvick
9th – Austin Cindric
10th – Brad Keselowski
11th – Cole Custer
15th – Joey Logano
18th – Michael McDowell
20th – Chris Buescher
27th – Harrison Burton
30th – Todd Gilliland
32nd – Cody Ware
33rd – BJ McLeod
36th – JJ Yeley

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 BlueOval City Ford Mustang – HOW WAS IT WAITING TO SEE IF THAT LAP WOULD HOLD UP? “It was tough. It’s a lot of waiting around to see where you’re gonna end up. I’m just really proud of this group. We’ve been busting our tail trying to get speed in our cars and trying to figure out what we need, so it just feels really good. To run a sub-15 second lap time at Bristol, that is wild. That is a fun ride.”

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THE SPEED OF THIS NEXT GEN CAR? “It’s just crazy. I mean, it really is crazy. I’m just really proud of this team and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. We’re working really hard and feel good about it.”

THIS MUST FEEL GOOD. “It absolutely feels good. Man, what a ride to rip around here in less than 15 seconds. It’s pretty crazy how fast these cars are at this racetrack, but I’m just proud of my team, proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. They brought me a really fast BlueOval City Ford Mustang. We were good in race trim and obviously had a lot of speed in qualifying trim, so now we’ve got to go do it for 500 laps tomorrow night.”

WERE YOU ABLE TO TAKE MORE FROM THIS QUALIFYING RUN? “Just that the track has a lot of grip and it’s really fast.”

ALMIROLA POLE-WINNING PRESS CONFERENCE

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT LAP? “It was exciting. To run sub-15 seconds around Bristol, wow, what a ride. It is the most intense, most exciting qualifying lap of the year. Everything happens so fast. There’s no margin for error and to run around here at a 14.94, you can’t blink, you can’t breathe, you can’t do anything, you have to do everything perfectly and you see how tight the grid is. I think the top 10 cars are separated within a tenth of a second, so there’s just no margin for error and every little bobble or twitch of the wheel counts and matters, so to put a good lap up and represent our team for all the hard work that they’ve done and get something good to happen to us just feels good. I’m just proud of my team, really. They’ve been working so hard to bring better and better race cars to the racetrack each and every weekend and this has been a great start to the weekend for us. We were fast in practice and obviously had a lot of speed in qualifying.”

ARE THE NON-PLAYOFF GUYS JUST AS HUNGRY AS THE PLAYOFF DRIVERS? “Absolutely. I think from a team aspect we talked to all the guys after Daytona and we missed the playoffs. I told Drew and my engineers and the guys on the team I was like, ‘Man, I remember a handful of years ago the 22 car missed the playoffs and they came back the next year and won the championship and there’s no reason we can’t do that,’ so let’s use these next 10 weeks, we don’t have any pressure on us, we’re not racing for a championship, so it gives us a little bit of liberty to be loose and not so uptight and try things. We’ve kind of gotten outside of the box on our thinking about this new car and some of the stuff we’ve hit on has shown a lot of promise and had speed, so this is a prime example of that, where we showed up and had a lot of speed in our car. I feel good about that and I do feel like anybody on any given weekend in the top 25 in points can win. I mean, it’s proven and these cars and everything is so close and the field is so competitive that I think you can’t count anybody out.”

WERE YOU RUNNING AN EXPERIMENTAL SETUP TONIGHT? “We’re still continuing to learn. I think as we were going through the summer we felt like we hit on a package that was good and we could run top 10, top 12 and we were kind of being consistent and trying to point our way in. We felt like we were in a decent situation to do that and then new winners kept happening that were below us in points, and the next thing you know we found ourselves out and we had kind of just been fine-tuning and massaging on a car build and setup, and so now that we’re not in the playoffs we kind of have that liberty to try things that we wouldn’t have otherwise tried when we were just trying to be consistent. Now, we’re kind of taking that approach of swing for the fences, who really cares where we finish in the points – up or down, one or two spots doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but what matters is learning as much as we can to be better next year and that’s the approach we’re taking.”

WHAT CAN THIS EFFORT DO FOR SHR BECAUSE ALL FOUR CARS WERE IN THE TOP 11 FOR QUALIFYING? “It’s huge. To finish off the year strong and to have that kind of momentum into the offseason is a big deal because the offseason for, I’d say it’s maybe six or eight weeks until we’re building cars and trying to hustle to get ready for the Clash and Daytona – those first few weeks if you run bad to finish out the year the mood in the shop, because you don’t have another opportunity to go to the racetrack and try to rebound and redeem yourself, the mood in the shop is kind of ho-hum and so to finish out the year strong, to run good and to show signs of promise for next year because everybody, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing your job or just in life in general – we all need hope. You don’t want to go into the offseason being like, ‘Man, this year was not the greatest of years and we don’t really have a direction on how to get better.’ So, finding things throughout these next 10 weeks or 8 weeks now to where we feel like we’re hitting on some things, we’re learning, it just gives us some hope and gives us some encouragement as we approach the end of the season that going into next year we will be better.”



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

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