Ford NASCAR Racing in Phoenix


Keselowski’s Track Record Highlights All-Ford Front Row at Phoenix


Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion (Qualified 2nd) – “Man, you win the first segment and Brad was second and we had him by a tenth that first run so I was feeling pretty good. After we made our lap we went faster in the first run and I felt good about it. I watched Brad’s first lap and he was able to pick it up the second lap. The third run I just couldn’t get going any faster, so that was tough.”

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Farmland Ford Fusion (Qualified 9th) – “For the first go at that, for our team to be that prepared and to be up there in the top-12 and make the shootout is big for us. The Farmland Ford has been good. We need to be a little better in race trim but I was really happy when we swapped over to qualifying trim how good our car was. I am proud of that effort. We are looking forward to the race. Hopefully we get some race practice tomorrow.”  DID YOU ENJOY THIS NEW WAY? “I don’t know. It is different. It was pretty nerve-wracking being on the bubble and sit on the end of pit road and wait and see what happens. We made it in, and you just have to be prepared at all times. That is the biggest thing I noticed. You have to always be ready.”

Greg Biffle, No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Qualified 6th) – “I guess it is probably easier if you have a good car and a fast speed. I could tell those guys sitting 10th and 12th must have a stomach ache thinking about what they should do – go again or not or whatever. It was interesting to say the least. As we saw, the cloud coming and then back up and then coming again, that is really what probably gave some of those guys an advantage. If the sun would have stayed out I think we would have stayed third or fourth. It clouded up really fast. We are going to see that with the clouds coming in and out and trying to get your engine cool.”  DID YOU ENJOY THIS WAY OF QUALIFYING? “I think I enjoyed it. It almost felt like less pressure than when you are one lap by yourself. It is still a lot of pressure but it felt different. I like it.”

Carl Edwards, No. 99 SUBWAY Ford Fusion (Qualified 23rd) – “We could have had the car a little better balanced but that was the trade-off. We worked on race trim. I would like to say we got knocked out of the top-12 but I don’t think we were ever in the top-12. That is frustrating. I believe we almost won this thing from 20th last year so we will put the SUBWAY Ford out there on race day and hopefully have some good pit stops. I love this place so it should be a good race for us still.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 NOS Ford Fusion (Qualified 21st) – “I like regular qualifying better. It is interesting. A few guys went faster on their second run. I think here and maybe Kansas and places like that it is going to pay off to be okay and be able to go out a second time. When we get to Vegas next week or Texas you aren’t going to see anybody go out a second time. When guys are cooling their engines off, it is a little hectic. Especially here at Phoenix because you can’t get out of the way in turn one and two, so that can be a problem. I don’t think I am as big of a fan of it as I thought I would be. I like just going out there and putting your qualifying laps down and begin done. It paid off for some guys though.”  HOW MUCH OF THE DAY DID YOU SPEND DISCUSSING STRATEGY FOR QUALIFYING? DID YOU STICK TO IT? “We did exactly what we had planned on. We did exactly what we planned it was just that we were too tight in the first run, then got it too loose the second run. It didn’t really go faster that second lap.”

David Gilliland, No. 38 Love’s Travel Shops Ford Fusion (Qualified 28th) – “I thought it was interesting and it was good. I’m proud of our guys. I think our car drove better here than it did last year.  So, with all the new rules changes, I think that was a pretty good accomplishment.  I thought the new qualifying format was a little bit different. It was interesting seeing everybody’s strategies. We had a 43rd qualifying draw, I think, and now looking back, I think the people with earlier draws had more options as far as to go out early or whatever. It was neat to see how it all played out and I think we learned a lot and I’m looking forward to putting it into play in the race.”

David Ragan, No. 34 Farm Rich Ford Fusion (Qualified 30th) – “We made some adjustment on our Farm Rich Ford and picked up a little speed. We stayed extra in race trim for practice because we are forecasting the weather for tomorrow and haven’t had a lot of opportunities to do a lot of testing with the new package so we spent a little more time in race trim. We would have liked to run faster but we learned a lot. Hopefully we can get on track and run a little on Saturday. I think the new qualifying format is different. It is fun. The fastest cars are still going to be fast, so I think the lineup is going to be set very fairly. We made a few adjustments and just didn’t pick up as much as we would have liked to.”



Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion – TALK ABOUT YOUR TRACK RECORD EFFORT OUT THERE TODAY. “I am the first loser, oh well. The guys did a great job. Team Penske being one and two in the first time out doing this thing just goes to show all the hard work over the off-season. Phoenix, the first race track we go to where handling comes into play. All that hard work you get to show it off for the first time. You come here and start off strong, one and two, is a big deal for our whole team. Unfortunately we won the wrong one. Our teammate got the second one but at least we both got a chance to win something today. He gets the trophy and the pictures though. I am proud of my team and proud of the car I had today. The weather doesn’t look too good for tomorrow so we will try to tune this Shell Pennzoil Ford in for Sunday and hopefully put it up front when the big check comes out.”

WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY GOING IN AND WERE YOU SURPRISED YOU WERE FASTER IN THE SECOND? “We were fortunate enough to set a good enough lap the first session that we could wait and take the time to cool the motor and tires. I was confident I would be able to run the same speed and hopefully with adjustments a little faster. We went just a little faster and needed to pick up more than we did. This is one of the few tracks that will be like this. On the repave tracks you will be able to go just as fast. When you think of places like Atlanta or Martinsville and tracks like that it will be a handful. This is starting us off with a slow pitch as far as understanding what your car is going to do in the second run. A lot of us scuffed the tires before we ran here anyway. Last year we definitely did. For here it is a bit of a slow pitch and easy for us to hit. As we go into the season and get to some race tracks where tires fall off quicker, that is when we will have to scramble to figure it out.”

IN RESPONSE TO JAMIE MCMURRAY QUOTE REGARDING THE SLOW LAPS BY DRIVERS TO COOL ENGINES. “When you are going out there and you are going 100 miles per hour slower, the closing rate is really fast, so it is kind of scary.”




Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion – TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN AND SETTING A NEW TRACK RECORD TODAY. “We had a really fast car and there is some pride to be taken in being the first one to win a Sprint Cup pole in this format. I am sure it will undergo a few adjustments along the way but it is very rewarding and a testament to my team and how fast of a car they gave me. Then it was just a matter of executing on my end. We were able to do that. I dind’t think I ran a good enough lap to be quite honest. When they told me the time, I said, ‘Alright, I will take it.’

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FORMAT AND GOING THROUGH THE PROCESS. “I don’t know how to say it but it feels like a lot of things are coming together for me personally over the last few months. Whether it is personally or professionally – even the rule changes. I think qualifying has been one of those formats that I have struggled with. It just didn’t suit my style in the past. This qualifying format really does suit my style a lot better. It gives me a chance to learn and apply which to me was instrumental to our success today and hopefully will be in how we go forward. It is interesting how a small format change like this can favor or disfavor teams and individuals and this is one that we have been able to take like a fish to water. Hopefully we will continue to do that.”

WAS IT FUN, INTERESTING, HAIRY OR ALL OF THE ABOVE? “It is a lot more nerve-wracking and there is usually a pretty good rule of thumb that if it is a lot more nerve-wracking for drivers then it is usually a lot more fun for fans and partners and all those things. That is a good thing. I am more curious the feedback we will get from our fans and everyone as to whether or not they like it. At the end of the day it isn’t about if I like it, it is if they like it. I like it because it fits my style but that is neither here nor there. It is if our fans care for it more. I will be interested to see the feedback over time.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY SAID THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT THE SLOW LAPS LAST NIGHT AT DINNER, IT WASN’T A COPY CAT THING, DID YOU ANTICIPATE PEOPLE DOING THOSE COOL DOWN LAPS? “I did anticipate everyone doing that here. It will be different at other tracks. This is the interesting thing about this format; you can’t make a template and say this is what you will see every week. Small variables have a tremendous affect on what strategy will be more successful. For this particular track with the sun setting as it was and the hard tire compounds, it is one specific format that was successful that will most likely not be at Vegas. That is a bigger track with a different tire compound and I think the sun does set while we are there qualifying. There are all kinds of small variables and it just takes one of them to change the successful strategy it will take. That is interesting to see how it will work out. At the end of the day, I think nine times out of 10 you will see the fast cars still at the front.”

ANY CONCERNS SAFETY-WISE? “I think it is always a concern to see cars that are significantly slower than other cars on the track. That is why NASCAR has a minimum speed rule in the race. What is difficult is if you are in NASCAR’s position and you disallow those tactics, then essentially you will kill this format and it won’t work because the cars won’t be able to be cool enough to run a second or third time which is what makes this format relevant. It is a tough line to walk. I think we are still early in the stages and it is too early to tell what will work and what won’t. At this level, I think that this strategy or this tactic is probably more acceptable than at the lower levels where the speed gap between the first place car and the slowest car is a lot more prevalent. I think that will show up. Driver experience will show up and that creates a little more concern. I think it is just way too early to tell and like anything else needs to get a couple weeks under its belt and then we can draw a better conclusion on where we are at.”

YOU WERE OUT OF YOUR CAR AND ON YOUR RADIO DURING THE SESSION. WHEN YOU WERE ON THE RADIO, WERE YOU TALKING ABOUT STRATEGY OR CHANGES TO THE CAR? “I was trying to get permission to go to the bathroom. Paul said I could. My lap was fast enough that he thought I would make the next round. The people downstairs in the media center can attest to that. I made a little pit stop.”


WHAT WAS THE STRATEGY IN GOING OUT AT THE VERY START OF THE RUN? “I just get bored sitting around Tom. I can’t sit and watch other cars run, it drives me crazy. I got in the car and they asked if I wanted to wait or go and I had already fired it up and drove off. I am not a very patient guy. I felt that was the right thing to do, just go when you are ready and I was ready.”

DID YOU SEE THERE IS A PRIVATE AUCTION OF 200 TANKS? “Yeah, I am on it. Believe me, I am on it. I told everyone I would buy one if I won the Daytona 500. I need more money. I didn’t win though. I gotta win this weekend. I don’t know what this race pays but I need a little help.”

IS THERE ANY ADVICE OR HELP YOU GOT FROM ANY OF YOUR PENSKE INDY CAR GUYS ABOUT THIS FORMAT? “Oh yeah, Roger was all over that one. He loves it. He provided his feedback which was great and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. At the end of the day stock cars and Indy cars are drastically different but the formats are very similar. I think there are other rules over there that really separate – one of those variables is the tire compounds they use. They have the soft compounds over there and we don’t have that. That kind of throws a little hitch in to be able to carbon copy anything from over there. I am sure there will be small things we will push for to be able to go back and forth.”

DID ANYTHING SURPRISE YOU OUT OF TODAY? “My lap surprised me because I didn’t feel I had a great lap. My best qualifying efforts are always the ones where I don’t think I do well. Maybe I should learn something from that. I think we saw what I thought we would see based off of when I did get the opportunity to do the Nationwide version of this at Daytona. I had a little bit of an expectation in mind but other than that, I didn’t see anything that really stuck out. More than anything else I am just curious the feedback we get from our fans and those that follow the sport as to whether they like it or dislike it. I am kind of neutral.”

WHAT KIND OF A FACTOR WAS GOING OUT EARLY? “If you go out later you have to go by all these cars that are 30-40 mph off the pace and that can cause a whole new set of issues. I am glad we didn’t have to do that.”