THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports, and the winning OEM of the driver champion, Joey Logano.
Q. Ford hasn't had a driver win two championships since David Pearson a long time ago. What has Joey Logano brought to Ford as you guys are able to celebrate a second in five seasons?
MARK RUSHBROOK: Yeah, having Team Penske as part of Ford, as a partner for Ford, they are such a strong team, such a great partner, and you saw the strength across their cars today and throughout most of the season.
Joey, I don't remember how many times he's been in the Championship 4, but it seems like almost every year that he's been, and he delivers. He's a racer. He pays attention to every single detail, and especially getting locked in early like he did. That's all he's been focused on for the last three weeks, and Paul Wolfe and the team and everybody.
He's just so committed and so strong and executed today, every lap.
Q. Ford had some struggles at the beginning of the season but really started to turn it on. What do you think was the turning point?
MARK RUSHBROOK: Yeah, it's been a great season for the sport, I think, just with the Next-Gen car coming in, and it definitely mixed things up a lot. We did start out well in many ways in the sense with the win at the Daytona 500, and we were fast in some of the early races. Chase Briscoe won here, but then we seemed to struggle a lot, and a lot of it was just coming to grips with the new car, really optimizing.
It's different at every track, and we found that we could get the setup right across our teams at some of the different tracks but not at all of them. It's part of learning the new car, and I think definitely the second half of the season, last third of the season, I guess, came on really strong, a lot of extra work from Doug Yates and Roush Yates engines and extra power they've been bringing these last couple races, and it all came together, and really strong today.
Q. I know you guys are celebrating a championship, obviously, which is fantastic for Ford, but I also did want to ask about Keselowski's car catching fire. If my math is correct, I think that's the ninth Ford that's caught fire. I wanted to see if you guys have started to work on a solution for those fires or if you feel like this might be just be freak situations with the new car and you guys are still trying to figure out the new car as a whole?
MARK RUSHBROOK: I think there's a lot in the sport we still need to figure out. NASCAR made a lot of changes partway through the season, which certainly seemed to help, but there's just so much variability from track to track. A lot of it is due to the rubber buildup, and Brad last week at Martinsville, there was almost no rubber buildup in his car. Obviously this week there was a lot.
We need to take a close look at that through the off-season as a sport, as a manufacturer, and see what we can do to improve for next season.
Q. You had two championships for the manufacturer this weekend. Can you address the trucks, as well, and what this means for Ford overall, for you guys?
MARK RUSHBROOK: Yeah, the truck race on Friday and the championship and Zane Smith and what Front Row Motorsports has done in starting that truck program and Zane being as strong as he was and, again, a dominant race that he had, as well, so he's got a really strong future in the sport.
And that means so much to us because the Truck Series is important to us. It's a great place for talent, for us to develop that at all elements of the team, and especially in the drivers. So that was an important day for us. And then to cap it off today with the Cup Series and Joey and the championship, it's been a great weekend.
Q. With the Daytona 500 win with a rookie, a truck championship and a Cup championship, how do you assess Ford's year as a whole?
MARK RUSHBROOK: Yeah, at the end of the day, at the end of the season, it's the championship that matters. So to get the truck championship and the Cup championship, that means so much. Great to see our young drivers excelling as well.
So with Austin Cindric as a rookie to come in at the Daytona 500 and to win and Chase Briscoe getting a win here in Phoenix early in the season, strength across our different teams and our drivers, really happy with where our program is right now.