Sunday, Dec 03

Ford Performance NASCAR: Six Ford Drivers Qualify Top 10 for Martinsville Cup Race


2nd – Aric Almirola

3rd – Cole Custer

4th – Chris Buescher 

6th– Kevin Harvick

9th – Brad Keselowski

10th – Todd Gilliland

12th – Ryan Blaney

13th – Austin Cindric

14th – Joey Logano

16th – Michael McDowell

19th – Chase Briscoe

29th – Harrison Burton

32nd – JJ Yeley

33rd – BJ McLeod

35th – Cody Ware


TODD GILLILAND, No. 38 Cross Country Adjusting Ford Mustang – “It’s funny.  As soon as I got out of the car the first time I was really happy and then now I’m actually kind of disappointed with how that second round went.  It’s just funny how our expectations change and move around, but overall I think we still have to be pretty happy with that.  Our team made some pretty good changes and just to be able to go out and do that was really special.  Starting 10th, that’s still by far my best qualifying effort, so hopefully we can just keep building every single week and keep gaining respect every week as well.”


COLE CUSTER, No. 41 Ford Mustang – “It was an awesome day.  I think we made some great adjustments during practice and now it just comes down to what you have in the race and figuring out kind of how the track is gonna change and what you’re gonna fight on the long runs.  I think we have some ideas to make a few adjustments for that, but, overall, just great speed in the car.  I just wish I was just that little bit better.  I think I could have had a shot at it.  If I would have done things a little bit different, I would have had a shot at it.”


BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 6 Fastenal Ford Mustang – WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE APPEAL AND WAS IT FAIR?  “I think I learned a lot through the process, that’s for sure, and not just about NASCAR but probably more so about our team and where we’re at and what we need to work on and how we need to grow to be better.  Ultimately, I felt like it was a pretty fair deal.  I’m glad that there’s a process like that that exists.”


CAN YOU SAY WHAT IT WAS THAT RESULTED IN THE PENALTY?  “We had repaired a tail panel and it had a key feature that NASCAR deemed was not repaired adequately enough, and it’s a tough situation.  We didn’t want to run the tail panel.  We didn’t have any new tail panels to put on the car.  We had a tail panel with three races on it and we did some repairs to it.  We probably could have done a better job on the repair and we put NASCAR in a tough spot.  It’s kind of like a trickle down effect.  I wish we had, quite frankly, done a better job repairing it, but we can’t go back on it.  I understand NASCAR’s position on it.  It’s kind of one of those things where everybody is right and everybody is wrong at the same time.  Ultimately, we’ll have to learn to be better for it.”


WHAT WAS YOUR ARGUMENT?  “Our intent to appeal the penalty was to show everybody that we didn’t want to run that tail panel.  If we had a new one, we would have ran it to begin with, so it’s a difficult position.  Ultimately, it’s NASCAR’s position that the parts and pieces have to be right.  I think we made our repairs in good faith, but probably didn’t do a great job.  Did I think there was a competitive advantage?  Probably not, but we put NASCAR in a tough position of having to make a judgment call and that’s not fair to them, so it’s one of those situations where I don’t think anybody is really wrong and nobody is really right and it’s probably one of those situations that if we could repeat, we would have begged, borrowed and stole a new tail and put it on the car, but that’s not the world we were living in.  I’m glad that that’s being fixed, but this is the world we’re in now and we’ll go make the most of it.”


ARE SUPPLY ISSUES STILL PUTTING TEAMS IN TOUGH POSITION?  “That’s probably a better question for the operations and manufacturing guys.  I know it’s getting better than it was two or three months ago, but as to whether it’s perfect or not that’s probably not a good spot for me to answer.”


DO YOU FEEL ANY MORE HOPEFUL OR LESS HOPEFUL?  DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GOT SMACKED IN THE GUT?  “It doesn’t feel good.  Ultimately, our success is not dictated by this or anything else other than our ability to get this team and these cars to where they can compete at a high level and run for race wins.  Everything outside of that, to me, is just noise.”


HOW DID JACK HANDLE THIS?  “I think, like the rest of us, is frustrated and disappointed to be in that position, but the reality is that’s where we’re at and we can’t go backwards.  If we could, we would, I tell you that, but I think he also feels like everything that we did was done in good faith and it wasn’t somebody saying, ‘Hey, let’s cheat this tail up and we can make the car go faster.’  It’s pretty clear that that’s not the case, but it’s also pretty clear that we should have done a better job of communicating with NASCAR and with our process of repairing the parts.”


DID YOU ATTEND THE HEARING AND DID YOU SPEAK?  “A little bit.  I mostly just listened and observed.”


DID ANYTHING SURPRISE YOU?  YOU HADN’T BEEN IN ONE BEFORE.  “No, I hadn’t.  Probably the biggest surprise was just how professionally it was run. I didn’t know what to expect.  Not that I had low expectations, but I try not to set high expectations and it was done a lot better than probably some of the rumors I heard in the garage and I’ll give NASCAR credit for that.”


DID YOU DO SOMETHING YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD DO WITH THE PANEL?  “The start of the season is always a scramble to get parts and pieces, but the world we’re living in it’s more than ever before, and that’s not just NASCAR, that’s everywhere.  And it’s not just body panels or Next Gen stuff.  It’s engine parts and things that we’ve had traditionally for years that you just can’t get, and so it’s the realities of the world we’re living in, but it’s not an excuse for us to not have things right.”


WHERE DO YOU STAND ON HAVING WHAT YOU NEED?  “I think we have what we need to race for the next two races.”


WHY DIDN’T YOU GO TO THE FINAL APPEALS OFFICER?  “It’s time for us to move on and focus on what we need to win, and the rest of it is just noise to us.”


IS IT JUST MUST-WIN NOW AND YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT POINTS?  “No, I like points.  Points are nice.  I don’t think you’re gonna make the playoffs if you don’t win races this year.  Not that the penalty doesn’t hurt.  Not that it’s not impactful.  It is.  I don’t think you make the playoffs without winning a race this year.”


DO YOU FEEL THERE COULD BE MORE THAN 16 DIFFERENT WINNERS DURING THE REGULAR SEASON?  DOES THAT HAVE TO BE PART OF YOUR MINDSET?  “Yeah, I think so.  I could see there being 15 to 16 winners this year.  I struggle to say there will be 17 or 18, but I don’t think there’s gonna be 10 either.”


SO POINTS STILL MATTER FOR YOU.  “Yeah, it’s all still gonna matter.  It’s not go for broke, wins only, but I’m gonna try to get the best finish that we can get, put ourselves in position and hope for the best.”


HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT TODAY?  “We’ve made major progress.  We unloaded at the Coliseum and we were a mile off.  We didn’t get where we need to be.  Both cars missed the main race and today we’ve got two cars in the top 10.  I think Chris ended up third or fourth and I ended up ninth.  We’re significantly more competitive and starting to get our feet underneath us.  You asked about the appeal, part of the reason why I don’t want to mess with that anymore is I want to worry about making race cars go fast.  It takes a lot of energy and work to prepare for the appeals and four or five of our best people spending days at a time preparing all that stuff.  I want to just go out and win.”


DO YOU FEEL WHAT THEY SAID YOU DID THAT THE HARSH PENALTY DID VIOLATE THAT RULE?  “I feel like NASCAR is in a difficult position.  We have a brand new car that comes with a brand new deterrence model.  I think if you look historically, no, it would not have justified that level of a penalty, but that doesn’t matter.  We’re in a new model and a new world and NASCAR is doing the things that teams like us requested they do in heavily enforcing the rules.  I think the ultimate test will be not us getting a penalty it’s if somebody else gets a penalty of a similar nature for doing similar things.”


IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO LOOK AT FOLLOWING THE SEASON IN REGARDS TO THE RULES?  “Everybody is learning at a rapid rate, and it’s not just the teams it’s NASCAR.  You guys are learning about this car.  I have never shifted at Martinsville before and I just spent the last two hours shifting, so there’s a lot of things changing and evolving very quickly, and certainly hindsight is 20/20 in this circumstance.”

Ford Performance PR


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