Wednesday, May 25

Ford Performance NASCAR: Harvick, Almirola and Blaney Bristol Media Availabilities

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Latte Ford MustangDO YOU FEEL BETTER AT THIS POINT THIS YEAR THAN A YEAR AGO IN TERMS OF THIS EVENT?  “Yeah.  At this point I wasn’t worried about coming here just because you kind of know everything that you’re gonna go through.  The cars are my cars.  I sit in them every week and it’s the same throttle, the same stuff and learned last year that it’s not a dirt late model or something along those lines.  It’s our own style of dirt racing – much slower pace.”

 

WAS VISIBILITY A PROBLEM TONIGHT?  “It was way worse in the first practice than it was in the second practice.  When I have a question, I would assume that would probably get better at night.  Briscoe tells me that should get better at night and that’s really all I have to go off of, so if he tells me to run the bottom, I run the bottom.  If he tells me to run the top, I run the top.  If he tells me to go backwards on the back straightaway, I’ll go backwards on the back straightaway because it’s just not anything that I know what’s going on.”

 

YOU HAVE THAT MUCH TRUST IN HIM?  “Oh, yeah.  I think as you look at it he’s the leader of this whole dirt program, so he’s the only one with any experience, so we kind of have to live and die by what he says and use his experience as the guidance for what we do.”

 

SO WHEN CHASE SAYS THEY SHOULD CONSIDER WATERING THE TRACK MORE, YOU WOULD AGREE WITH THAT?  “They tell me water makes dust, so I don’t know (laughing).  I don’t know when you water the track.”

 

WATER MAKES MUD.  “That’s only at the beginning.  Apparently, water makes dust if you water it right now, so I’m totally confused because I thought water made mud, too.”

 

SOMETHING IS MAKING IT DUSTY.  “I don’t know.  Water makes dust and mud, so I don’t know.  Once I get into a rhythm, I feel like I’m just always five laps behind the guys who know what they’re doing because they know where to go on the racetrack.  They know where the moisture is, but once I can get into a rhythm I’m fine, but you’re just always trying to play catchup with the guys who know where to go on the racetrack instantly and you’re always a little bit behind because you’re playing follow-the-leader.  It’s like a really slick asphalt track once you get going, but it’s just those fast laps, knowing how hard to push it and things like that, but the rest of it I’m fine with.”

 

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE TOE LINK ISSUES AND WHAT’S THE BALANCE OF NOT DAMAGING THAT?  “Don’t hit the wall.  The same guys have all hit the wall and they break the toe link.  You hit the wall and the car is 45 degrees yawed out it’s gonna hit the back of the wheel and it’s gonna break the toe link.  There’s really no way around that, so I don’t know what to tell them other than don’t hit the wall.”

 

IS THE FASTEST WAY AROUND HERE UP AGAINST THE WALL OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE BOTTOM WILL COME IN?  “It depends.  Earlier it was faster around the top.  I never had any luck with the dead bottom, right against those little turtles down there.  We were one lane up and seemed to be the best place for us, but in the first practice what was the top, I was fine with and could do that, but I never got in a good rhythm like right against the wall with the small cushion.  It’s not even a cushion because if you miss it’s dust.  It’s just a big pile of dirt.  You can’t even call it dirt.  It’s a big pile of dust, so that’s what happens.  You get comfortable and then you get hung in that dust up there and it then it will just kind of grab it and pull it into the wall.”

 

HAVE YOU EVER RACED ON EASTER BEFORE?  “I have not.”

 

WHAT DO YOU NORMALLY DO ON EASTER?  “We have an annual vacation that we got to come home from three days early this year.”

 

SO YOU’RE THRILLED ABOUT BEING HERE?  “Super thrilled (laughing).”

 

THEY NEED THIS TO BE A NIGHT RACE AND PUT IT ON EASTER SUNDAY TO CAPITALIZE ON THE TELEVISION WINDOW.  IS IT IMPORTANT THAT THE SHOW IS DECENT?  “The only way it’s successful is if the TV ratings are through the roof.  That’s the only way that having it on Easter night is successful.  That’s the only reason it is where it is is for a TV rating, so if it doesn’t have a TV rating, you should never do it again, in my opinion.  It’s an experiment, which I’m fine with experiments if it’s beneficial.  If it’s beneficial for this sport and beneficial for TV ratings and beneficial for a number of things, then I’m all in, but that will be the real tell of success if that rating is way up compared to what it was.”

 

WHERE WAS VACATION?  “The beach.”

 

DID THEY STAY AND YOU CAME BACK FOR THIS WEEKEND?  “No, they went early when I was at Martinsville and then we all came back.”



ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Cummins/Rush Truck Centers Ford MustangWAS VISIBILITY ANY BETTER FROM PRACTICE 1 TO PRACTICE 2?  “Not for me.  It just depends on how close you are to a car.  If you have three quarters of a straightaway or so from a car in front of you, then you’re OK.  The closer you get to a car in front of you, and depending on where they’re running, if they run up close to the wall, it just creates such a cloud of dust that it’s really hard to see the wall.  The wall is painted black.  I think that makes it harder to see as well.”

 

THE GOOD NEWS IS YOU COULD RUN AGAINST THE WALL, BUT THE BAD NEWS IS IT’S UNFORGIVING IF YOU HIT IT?  “Yeah, I tried to test those limits as well.  I got in the fence a couple of times just trying to figure it all out.  I’m not a dirt racer and these cars are not dirt cars, so just trying to figure out what those limits are and how much of a cushion, it’s not really a cushion.  There’s a bunch of loose crumbs up there, but if you get close to it there’s some grip, but if you just barely go over the top of it, you get in all of that loose dirt and it sucks you into the wall pretty quick.”

 

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN BUILD OFF OF FROM LAST YEAR’S DIRT RACE?  “No, it’s a totally new car and the track is even different with the banking change and the way they transition from the straightaways into the corners is different than what we had last year.  Those turtles, or whatever those are on the bottom, are less aggressive as last year, so I think so much is different from last year that you can’t really take anything away from that.”



RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford MustangWHAT WAS THE VIEW LIKE FOR YOU OUT THERE?  “It was hard to see, not as bad as last year but it’s still pretty rough.  The sun being down definitely helped that, which was a little bit better.  The wall is painted black, so you can’t see the wall, which makes it worse.  They need to paint that white or neon or Easter egg colors.  I don’t care, but you need to paint it something other than black because you can’t see it when it gets dusty.  Overall, it’s not as bad as last year.  I think the night race is gonna help it out a little bit.  The track seemed to be OK, pretty decent, so it’ll be nice to just get the dust down, but you can’t really do anything about that.”

 

DID VISIBILITY IMPROVE FROM PRACTICE 1 TO PRACTICE 2?  “A little bit with the sun going down helped, but I think the track got dustier in general the second practice, so it kind of evened each other out.  It was better than the sun being up and getting a glare.  You could at least squint your eyes and see a little bit.”

THERE’S NOT A LOT OF SIMILARITY FROM LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR, BUT IS THERE SOMETHING YOU CAN TAKE FROM THAT RACE TO THIS ONE?  “Yeah, I mean slightly.  The car is obviously different.  The tire is way different.  The tire is way better this year, honestly.  It’s got way more grip and you can actually drive it more, so I don’t know if you can compare much like car to car, setup to setup, but just knowing the trends of how the race went last year, maybe that applies to this year so you try to look at the trends of the racetrack and all that, but the track is a lot smoother than what it was last year, so that’s nice.  But there’s not a lot you can compare.”

 

DID YOU FIND A PREFERRED LINE?  “That’s the deal.  The top, where the moisture was, was really small by the end of practice.  Larson and Bell, they were up there and could do it really good, but I think they both hit the fence pretty hard, so I was right around the middle.  I’m not good enough to run up there consistently like they could, honestly, so I was like middle.  I thought I had pretty decent grip, actually, so that’s gonna be tough.  I think you’re gonna have that option Sunday night, where it’s gonna be a pretty narrow strip of kind of moist mud, but the risk factor is gonna be pretty big with no cushion.  There’s really nothing to lean on and you’re just kind of gauging where your right-rear tire is and is it gonna get in the moisture.  And the bad thing is you can’t get close to the wall because the quarter-panel is gonna hit before the tire hits anything, so I will not be up there probably because I’m not good enough, so I’m gonna be in the middle trying to chase where the other grip is.”

 

IS RUNNING THE TRUCK RACE AN ADVANTAGE FOR JOEY?  “I talked to him and he was like there’s so much different – the two cars.  The tire is way different.  He was like, the Cup cars are spoiled from the tire we’ve got now.  That tire the trucks have and what we had last year was way less grip of what we have now.  I think it will help him, like seeing how the track changes.  I think it’s gonna help those guys running, but I think the tire being such a big difference over there can be misleading, but the track time is gonna be big for those guys, I think.”

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