Thursday, Aug 18

Ford Performance NASCAR: Logano, Blaney and Harvick To Start Top 10 on Sunday

DO YOU HAVE A LIST OF THE GUYS TO BEAT THIS YEAR?  IT SEEMS TO CHANGE WEEKLY.  “It depends on the track.  There are certain tracks that I feel like we’re really good and there are certain ones I feel like we have a little bit of work to do.  The same for others.  There are teams that I see that are really good on the mile-and-a-halves and I’m like, ‘Gosh, how do they do that?’  And then some teams are good everywhere.  There are a couple of them that you can probably pinpoint which ones those are, so we’ve just got to work on some consistency on all the racetracks right now.”

 

YOU WON AT GATEWAY WHICH IS SOMEWHAT SIMILAR TO PHOENIX.  DOES IT HELP TO BE GOOD AT THE PLACES WHERE IT MATTERS?  “Yeah, you have to get there first, but I would say yes.  The flatter, shorter racetracks have been our strength.  Gateway, it showed there.  I hope Loudon is like that.  Phoenix, we had a pretty solid run there.  I would say if we’re pinpointing in the area where we’re strong, it’s those areas, which surprisingly enough it was the same way with the old car.  I’d say as much as everything is different some things stay the same.”

 

WILL WE SEE TEAMS RUN OFF FIVE OR SIX WINS OR IS THREE OR FOUR THE MAX YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE AS WE GET CLOSER TO THE PLAYOFFS?  “I think you’ll have teams that can rack up five, six wins.  I think so because good teams still figure things out and win.  I don’t know if the separation is quite as big, though.  The teams that have good pit stops and nail the strategy and have fast enough cars to recover if they have an issue, or can pass a car from fifth and move your way forward and put themselves in position, those teams are gonna win races.  Even though the field is closer and a tenth of a second means more than ever, I still think that there will be guys who can knock off quite a few wins.”

 

THE HEAT DOESN’T SEEM TO BOTHER YOU AS MUCH AS OTHERS.  ARE YOU BETTER AT IT THAN OTHERS?  “I don’t know.  It is what it is and it’s the same for everyone.  It’s an element that has been there forever.  Ever since they’ve been driving a Cup car it’s been hot and when you get to the summer months like we are in now it gets hot, so you better prepare for it because it’s gonna happen.  You know it’s coming.  You can prepare for the storm when you look at the weather forecast and you kind of see it’s gonna be hot.  You would just adjust to that and prepare for it.”

 

HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR HEAT? “I think your training conditions are one big piece to me.  A lot of the training I do is outside on the asphalt.  I mean, think of where is your heart rate and what are you doing inside the car.  The biggest thing the heat does is I feel it really limits your reaction times, your ability to think quickly, which is what it’s all about and then mistakes are happening – and you’ve got to be the best at the end.  The end of the race is the most important.  This is a short race though – 300 laps, so it’s a pretty short race.”

 

THIS IS CONCRETE AND DOVER WAS ROUGH FOR YOU GUYS.  WILL THIS BE AN INDICATOR TO SEE IF YOU HAVE IMPROVED?  “I feel like this is so different than Dover.  I get that the surface is the same, but there are so many differences from Dover to here.  I hope that’s not the case.  I promise you that.  That was a rough one.  That was our worst race of the year, which I don’t think we’re that far off.  I wouldn’t say we’re great right now, but I don’t think we’re as bad as we were at Dover.  Thank God (laughing).”

 

THOUGHTS ON THE NEW JGR STYLE OF PIT STOPS AND IF YOU HAVE TALKED TO YOUR TEAM ABOUT THAT STYLE?  “Details matter more is basically what it comes down to.  When everybody is running a similar speed and you don’t have a dominant race car – nobody really does – and if you don’t have that, the details matter more and so pit stops, restarts, strategy – all the little things that is really hard to say matter one way or another.  The little things will stack up and eventually those will be the ones that makes the difference, so I’d say overall, yeah, we’re pushing in every direction.  Any little item we can find we’re gonna push on it.”

 

ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT THEY’RE DOING?  “When they hit it, they’re fast.  We saw even at the All-Star Race not all of their teams did it.  There’s some advantages to it, but the mistakes are like yard sales – when they go wrong, they go way wrong.  They’re pretty selective on when they do it and that would be what we’d have to do.  It’s a decision you have to make.  Do you want to focus 100 percent on one type of stop, or do you want to be able to do both and does that mean you’re gonna be mediocre at both?  You’ve got to answer these questions.  This is kind of like the discussions we’ve had is how do we want to do this and what’s the pros and cons to it.  There’s some risk factor of a bad stop, but also where you’re putting your guys is a little more risky as well.”

 

HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO DIGEST AUSTIN’S DATA FROM THE MARTINSVILLE TEST?  “I talked to him on the plane, but that was it.  I’d say I haven’t really dug too deep into it.”

 

HELIO COULD BE COMING TO DAYTONA.  ARE YOU EXCITED FOR THAT?  “Heck yeah.  I hope so.  Helio is awesome.  He’s just a good person.  You don’t see that every day, but what you see is what you get.  You see him out there and he’s an intense racer, and then he’s as happy as can be and he’s joyful and jokes around.  He’s a goof.  He’s just fun to be around, so I’m happy to see him successful.”

 

CAN HE ACCLIMATE TO THAT KIND OF RACING WITHOUT ANY XFINITY OR ARCA?  “On a road course, yeah.”

 

HE WANTS TO RUN DAYTONA.  “Is that what he’s saying?  I haven’t heard this.  Yeah, the 500, you can figure it out pretty quickly.  Superspeedways are a lot different.  It would be a big challenge because he’s never done it before, but he’s pretty talented and he’s been racing forever – and dancing – so he’ll figure it out.  He’ll dance in the draft.”

 

HOW COSTLY IS IT TO MISS A TURN AT ROAD AMERICA?  “It depends on how you miss it.  Did you slide a tire and now you’ve got to come down pit road because you slid your left-front or right-front too long and you’re gonna blow a tire out?  Then you’re never making that up.  If you’re just kind of off a couple feet here or something like that, then you’re not bad.  It’s just the run off there.  You run off and you go in the dirt and then you’re like in the dirt.  That’s not good, so it’s a tricky track.  Tire wear is big.  The car changes every lap, so you get used to one thing and then you go do the next lap and you know you can’t do the same thing, but how bad is it?  It’s four miles by the time you get back around at a track that wears tires out, so you’ve just got to be adapting quickly the whole time.”

 

SO GUYS WHO ARE GOOD AT TIRE MANAGEMENT HAVE AN EDGE?  “Typically, yeah.  I would say so.  It’s kind of like Sonoma.  Sonoma is like that too if you can manage your tires, you’ll be pretty good on a long haul.”

 

HOW TAXING WAS ATLANTA?  “Mentally frustrating just because of the way the drafts work, but I wouldn’t say whether it’s the car or not but the track itself and the cars are running – I mean, you’re definitely grip limited.  You’re somewhere in between a mile-and-a-half and a superspeedway – more so a superspeedway because you can’t do it on your own.  You think you can for a corner and you’ll probably make a bunch of spots in the corner by yourself if you get clean air and you go, but if you don’t get back up you lose 10 spots, so that’s kind of the frustrating part.”

 

WOULD IT BE A HYBRID DRAFT?  “Yeah, it’s a hybrid for sure, but more so superspeedway – definitely.”



RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang – IS THIS REFLECTIVE OF HOW YOU WERE YESTERDAY IN PRACTICE?  “I think we made good changes from practice to qualifying.  I didn’t feel bad yesterday in practice after my first run.  My first run I didn’t think we were very good, but I thought we made good changes.  I really wish we would have had a second round of qualifying because I kind of left a little bit out there, I thought.  I was kind of conservative getting in the corner watching everybody blow it in there and missing, and I was like, ‘All right, let’s not miss the corner,’ and I kind of left a little bit out there, so I was really hoping to have a second round, but I don’t know where we’ll start.  Overall, not a bad effort.  It’s a decent spot for tomorrow and I think our car is OK, so we’ll see.”

 

HOW DIFFERENT WAS THE TRACK FROM LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR?  “Yeah, I mean multiple things from the track to the car being different.  I was kind of surprised we didn’t move up in practice like we were last year.  I felt like last year we were top of the black, like middle of the racetrack three lanes up, trying to chase the grip and kind of practice yesterday the highest you were was in the middle and then in the race we were on the bottom.  That kind of surprised me a little bit.  I don’t know why because they put resin on the whole racetrack instead of just half of it this year.  I thought we would have moved up, but you never know.  I think in the race tomorrow you’ll be searching around with it being hot.”

 

DOES THE BRAKE ROTOR FAILURE FROM LAST YEAR MAKE YOU WANT TO HAVE AN EVEN STRONGER RUN THIS YEAR?  “Yeah.  I mean, to be honest with you, it was just a bad day last year for us.  We qualified good, but we had to start in the back messing up our quarter panel coming on the track and then 40 laps later we blew a right-front rotor and knocked the fence down.  I didn’t have any fun here last year on Sunday and I’m hoping to change that.  It would be nice to run the whole race this year and hopefully contend for a win.”

 

THE JGR TEAMS ARE DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY ON PIT ROAD WITH THEIR CHOREOGRAPHY.  HAVE YOU TALKED TO YOUR TEAM ABOUT THAT?  “Yeah, I mean, our pit department is really good at noticing that and kind of seeing what that group does – what the Gibbs guys are doing.  It does have potential to be faster and it can be faster, but it’s kind of a risk vs. reward thing, especially when we go to these tight pit roads and you’ve got guys all running out in front of the car.  You’ve got more guys in a smaller area at one time.  That can kind of be nerve-wracking and you don’t want to see anybody get hit, so it’s kind of a risk-reward thing.  I know they practice that a lot.  There’s speed there, but I think there are certain tracks it will probably perform better than others – when there’s a wider pit road and you’re not having someone to kind of try to come around you.  We’ve talked about it in our group and you’re always trying to learn new things, but that’s more of the pit department there.”

 

RICHARD PETTY TURNS 85 NEXT WEEK.  DO YOU HAVE ANY COOL STORIES ABOUT HIM?  “Yeah.  I can’t believe he’s 85.  He looks great.  It’s been a pleasure to get to know him throughout the years.  I had my passing with him.  ‘Hey, how are you?’  Talk a little bit.  It was really neat, I got a sit down with him.  We were testing the new car at Charlotte in the offseason and he came over to our camp in our garage stall and sat down and talked to me for 20 minutes, just kind of BSing about the car and just other random things.  I thought that was super cool that he just came over and started talking to me.  He’s just such a great guy.  As a kid, you loved the guy and growing up around the sport it was really neat to kind of know who he was at a young age and be around him, but that sit down for 20 minutes, just casual at Charlotte, that was like the coolest thing ever.  I was like a kid again getting to talk to the King was very neat.”

 

YOU START 6TH.  “That’s better than I thought I was gonna be.  That’s good.  It’s better than seventh, so that’s good.,  I felt like I left like a tenth out there, which really disappoints me.  I was too conservative, but I think our car is pretty decent and definitely could be starting worse, but I think it’s a good spot to try to go forward.”

 

AT WHAT POINT DO YOU GET NERVOUS ABOUT THE POINT SITUATION VERSUS NUMBER OF DRIVERS WHO HAVE WON THIS YEAR?  “Obviously, we want to have a win.  It’s getting down to where four guys are in without a win right now.  Yeah, we’re the highest points guy, but that doesn’t really mean much if you’re not the points leader and four guys win and you’re out, so it’s kind of a weird spot we’re in, honestly.  I think about this week and we’re kind of sniffing the points lead.  There are like five of us that are really close to the 9.  OK, if you don’t get a win and you win the regular season points, you’re in.  So our strategy is, ‘OK, we need to strategize to win races,’ but you don’t want to dump away a lot of points because you’re still in the fight for the regular season championship.  It’s kind of an interesting spot.  Obviously, the easy goal is to just go out and win races, but last week was tough.  This opposite strategy, we short-pitted everything and threw away stage points to restart towards the front in the stages, but we threw away a bunch of points, but we got a good finish and then contended for the win.  As far as am I nervous?  Not really.  I think we can go out and win any single week.  We’ve just got to execute well and do our job to the best of our ability and if we do that, I think we can get one here soon.”

 

BUBBA SAID DESPITE GOING ON VACATION IT TOOK 3 OR 4 DAYS TO GET RACING OUT OF HIS SYSTEM.  HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO PUT THE RACING BEHIND YOU AND JUST ENJOY THE MOMENT?  “I’m pretty good at kind of putting things behind me and focusing on what’s next.  I think it was harder for him because he had a bad race.  He blew up, so he’s gonna be stewing that.  You’d stew over that for more days.  We had a pretty decent run, so I was like, ‘All right, good run.  Let me get my notes down here and I’m gonna go enjoy my off time.’  I think everyone handles that differently, but I’ve always kind of been somebody who can put good or bad things behind you and move onto the next thing and learn to enjoy these certain things.  It didn’t help that he had a bad day and I had a good day.  If I had a bad day, I’d probably think about it for a day or two, but I was fortunate on that one.”

 

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