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Mar 08, 2014 - 11:30 AM
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2014 Las Vegas: Ford NASCAR Sprint Cup Qualifying Quotes
Posted by: ASkyler on Mar 08, 2014 - 11:30 AM
2014 Las Vegas: Ford NASCAR Sprint Cup Qualifying Quotes

BRAD KESELOWSKI - No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion - WHAT HAS YOUR ORGANIZATION DONE TO DO SO WELL IN THIS NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT? "We’ve been very fortunate. The cars are fast and I don’t think it’s much more difficult than that. When you’ve got fast cars it makes your life a lot easier and Team Penske has done a great job of finding the speed in qualifying trim. We need a little bit more in race trim. I think we saw that last weekend in Phoenix and a little bit on the first day of testing here in Vegas. We’ll get a better idea and read for that tomorrow when we get back in race trim, but in qualifying trim I think we’ve got our cars really refined well for this package and I’m very proud of where we’re at."

WHAT’S MORE IMPRESSIVE? TEAM PENSKE ON THE FRONT ROW THE LAST TWO WEEKS OR ROGER PENSKE GETTING HIS FIRST HOLE-IN-ONE TODAY? "I was thinking about that and wondering where it was and what hole it was, but I heard about it. I know I’m gonna hear about it a lot more when I see him here tomorrow, but definitely the Captain getting a hole-in-one."

HOW DOES IT BREAKDOWN WITH HAVING A FAST CAR AND STRATEGY? "Strategy is always important throughout a race weekend, but when you have a fast car your strategy is more ‘don’t screw it up’ than it is anything else. So you don’t have to be aggressive. You can’t be conservative either, but you can just kind of play it right down the middle of the fairway and for us we were able to do that. We didn’t really have anything aggressive or a trick on our strategy, we just went out there and ran some laps."


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WHERE DO YOU FORESEE THIS QUALIYFING FORMAT GOING? "I’m sure like anything else in this sport it will evolve over time. Drivers and teams will push the limits of everything that happens until NASCAR has to step in and police it more so than they are right now, and I think that’s just a matter of time because that’s what we do. We push everything to its limits. So far, there hasn’t been any one particular incident that would stand out and force that to happen, and I would probably guess you won’t see anything change until there is."

WHY DO YOU FEEL SO MANY DRIVERS BROKE THE TRACK RECORD TODAY? "It’s just simple physics. The cars make 300-400 pounds more downforce. The engine manufacturers continue to find more horsepower so they’re gonna go faster. I don’t think it has anything to do with this format. In fact, I think if it wasn’t for this format they’d be even faster than what they are (if we had the other format)."

DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED WITH TONY IN THAT FIRST SESSION? "He had pulled out right behind me when I was in the middle of my first lap and I shut off and tried to get down out of the way. I guess I’d have to watch it a little bit closer but it’s questionable whether I got completely out of the way. I don’t think it really affected him because it was the first round and he made it to the next round, but it’s just part of throwing all those cars on the track. You have to shut down as quick as possible because every second you run the cars they build intense heat and there is no way to cool them off. To Clint’s point, this format is pretty strong. It’s a few tweaks away from being very strong and hopefully we can make that happen."

ARIC ALMIROLA - No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion - "That was a good effort for us. We’re 2-for-2. That’s two weeks in a row we made it to the final session, so I’m proud of my guys. We were not very good yesterday and even this morning when we unloaded. We made some wholesale changes and got our car a lot better, so I’m really proud of Trent and all the guys on this Farmland Fusion because we’re running pretty good."

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. - No. 17 Zest Ford Fusion - "It was good. After last week it was a little redemption to get that done. That was good for us. From where we were yesterday I think it was pretty cool to see the Fords really fast here. Obviously the 2 and the 22 on the front row. You had the 43, the 99 and us all in that final 12, so that’s really cool to see. We just have to keep going. I think we learned a lot about what to do throughout those qualifying runs to get the car cooler and to make a couple more runs. I think you can plan on two runs in the first one. The second one you’ve really only got one shot to do it because you don’t have enough time to cool it back down. We adjusted on it a little bit too much there. It was a little too tight to really hold the throttle down as much as we need to and missed it by a tenth. I’ve missed them by closer, but, all in all, it was a good day and I’m happy with where our Zest Ford Fusion will start on Sunday. We’ve just got a long day tomorrow to make sure we can get it that good in race trim."

MARCOS AMBROSE - No. 9 DeWalt Ford Fusion - "I’m sorry for the 22 but I couldn’t even put a lap together because I had a hole in the radiator. I was throwing water down on my tires and was just trying to get out of the way. I’m not sure if the 22 was trying to cool his engine down or what was going on, but I was just trying to get off the race track." ANY IDEA HOW THE HOLE GOT THERE? "We can’t open the hood until we finish the session, so we’ll find out." SO YOU LIKELY HAD THE HOLE IN THE RADIATOR BEFORE YOU EVEN GOT ON THE TRACK? "Yeah, it was."

DAVID GILLILAND - No. 38 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Fusion - "It was good. That was definitely different. We obviously learned some more stuff. Obviously with this new format and new rules we’ll have to go back to the shop and build some stuff for the car to help cool it down some. That’s our main concern. Like I said, we learned a lot and hopefully we can keep picking up the rest of the weekend."

JOEY LOGANO - No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion - "It was obviously good. To have a Penske front row the last two weekends at two completely different race tracks just goes to show how hard these guys have been working. When you work hard those results come. We obviously haven’t won on Sunday yet, so we’ve got to figure out the big show, but we’ve had some good speed in our cars. This was this first time with three segments so that changes it up quite a bit. We got blocked on the race track a little bit and didn’t get our first run in very well. We went back out and was only 18th after the first segment and then you kind of get to reset - take a deep breath, adjust on your race car, cool it off the best you can and we were able to go out there and run again and win the last two segments. The guys did great. This whole Shell/Pennzoil team they’re a bunch of hard-working guys. It’s so much fun to work with then. We’re here to win this year and we’re trying to prove it."

IS IT THE SPEED IN THE CARS OR DO YOU HAVE THIS FIGURED OUT BETTER THAN THE OTHERS? "It takes both. Obviously, we didn’t have qualifying quite figured out the first run out there because if we did we would have had a clean lap in, so we’re all still learning that. We’re learning what the best strategy is of when to go, when to cool your motor off, when to do all this stuff. We have an idea of what we want to do and we study as much as we can, but everytime we do this we’ve learned something that we may want to do different the next time. I do think just the speed in the car really shows up the best. We were able to go out there and make sure you get a clean lap. That’s the biggest thing is make sure you don’t have somebody pull up in front of you, which is easier said than done because you can’t control what everyone else does, but all you can do is make sure you get the biggest hole you can and make sure you lay down the lap that I get paid to do and make sure they set up the car the way they get paid to do."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE INCIDENT WITH AMBROSE? "It’s kind of interesting. What we were doing is it’s so hard to get up to speed here. Now that we have to stay on the apron until turn two it’s hard to be up to speed by the time you get to the start-finish line, so you’re wide-open through three and four and it’s hard to get up to speed. So what a few cars were doing, and the 48 was doing a lot in practice, is you’d go out and shut your motor off, coast by the start-finish line the first time, and then fire it up into one - run through one and two to build up speed and then you have all the speed you need by the time you come off of four. That’s what we were doing. I don’t think the 9 knew exactly what we were doing, so when he pulled out in front of us then we were behind him, which we still had a big enough hole to get some decent air on the car. And then he got into one and I think he got tight and aborted his run. I don’t think he knew how close I was behind him and he started coming across the race track when I was wide-open. I may have touched him. It was really close. I was on the binders as hard as I could to make sure I didn’t hit him, but it gets crazy out there. You’ve got that going on and then you’ve got cars shut off going 60 miles an hour next to a car going 205. It’s a big speed difference. Things come up really quick."

IS IT A DANGEROUS SITUATION WITH THAT SPEED DIFFERENCE? "Next weekend is gonna be crazy. At least this weekend we’ve got the apron, so we can run the apron all the way around here to cool them off, so that’s good. But next weekend we really don’t. You’ve got a half-mile race track and you’re gonna have all these cars out there at the same time. You’re gonna have 50 cars out there next week. On a half-mile race track that’s gonna be tight, so all of us have the technology. We have cool-down units. We use them every weekend in practice. What we’ve suggested is maybe running the cool-down hookups to the hood flap that we could plug it in right there. They don’t want us to lift up hood, obviously, so if we can just cool them down like that, then everyone could make more runs. That would give the fans more time of watching cars make their speed laps instead of cool down laps trying to cool your motor down."

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR COMFORT LEVEL HERE? "You come here this year with added downforce and the new rules package with ride heights and stuff kind of opens up a whole new ballgame for us. The speeds are up quite a bit. You’re in the gas so much. I barely lifted in three and four in qualifying. You’re pretty much wide-open and that changes it up a lot. I don’t know if you’ll see cars as high as you did in last year’s race. You saw cars up in the third lane last year, but it might just be the first and second lane this year because you’re going so fast and you’ve got so much grip that the shortest way around seems to be the fastest right now. As it rubbers in that may change, but right now that’s what it’s looking like. As far as getting a handle on it, we had four hours yesterday to test our car and try a lot of things out and make some progress that way, so I feel pretty good about our piece right now."

DO YOU THINK THERE NEEDS TO BE ANY TWEAKING TO QUALIFYING? "I think we just talked about that - cooling down. That’s the big tweak that I see that needs to be made, which I know they’re thinking about. Obviously, we’ve got to think about our decisions before we go out and just make a rule up. We have to maybe go through a couple qualifying sessions to understand the pros and the cons to make it safer and more enjoyable for the fans. I think it’s way cooler than the old style of qualifying. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome. There’s a lot going on. For a driver you used to wait on pit road for an hour and then you made one lap and you were done. Now you’ve got three opportunities to get eliminated and go for the pole. So much more goes in to qualifying, so, to me, it feels even more special to get a pole because a lot more work goes in to it. I think that part is really cool, but as far as tweaking, I think the cool down option is probably the safest for us."

ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC FOR SUNDAY KNOWING CONDITIONS AREN’T GOING TO CHANGE MUCH? "Yeah, our qualifying setup is completely different than our race setup. When you go to qualifying trim you’re adding tape to the front of the car, which adds a ton of front downforce, which you obviously have to compensate for that with wedge or track bar or nose weight - whatever your adjustments are - to balance it back out. So when you take the tape back off we’ve got to go back to race trim, but like I said earlier we had four hours of practice yesterday, so we’ve got a good baseline of where we want to start tomorrow’s practice. We have an early-morning practice, which is a little bit unrealistic because it’s cooler out and the track is gonna be really fast. We’re gonna really focus on the second practice and make sure we get it tuned in, just final touches. But I feel like we’re in the ballpark and pretty good. I felt like yesterday we were a second to fifth-place car on the lap tracker. If we can tune it in a little bit more, we can be right where we need to be. We’ve got the track position to start with all that clean air. We’ve just got to make sure we get a good start and get that lead and focus on running those laps and tuning it in throughout the race and make sure we’re there at the end. Strategy will come in to play here. Tires aren’t wearing much. Lap times aren’t falling off much and clean air is worth $1 million bucks, so it’s definitely gonna be a strategy race on how we play this thing out."

HAS QUALIYFING ALMOST BECOME A MINI-RACE MINDSET FOR YOU, AND DID YOU NOTICE THE CROWD TODAY WAS REALLY NICE. "That’s good that we had a larger crowd. That’s the whole point to this. A lot more preparation goes in to it. A lot more communication between myself, my spotter and my crew chief - not really about our race car but how we’re gonna go out here and what’s our gameplan when we go out. It’s changed. Every time we’ve had a plan going in to it it has changed every time so far, so at least we’re pulling audibles and they’re working so that’s good. A lot more thought goes in to this and that’s why I say winning the pole means a little bit more than it used to even because it’s not just one lap and the fastest car gets it - it’s a fast car, great strategy, running a great lap, cooling down the way you’re supposed to, making the adjustments in between from run to run to get faster because everyone is gonna get faster, especially at a place like this where there is no tire wear. Every run is gonna go faster and faster. When you get to places like Richmond and Atlanta it’s not gonna be like that, we’re gonna keep going slower, so that will be interesting and a total different strategy to see how that works, but we’re all learning right now. It’s all new to us, but we’re having fun with it. I enjoy it. I think it’s cool. It’s a little nerve-wracking when you’re on the edge of getting bumped or you’re on the pole and waiting for the other guys to go. You’re counting down to 30 seconds and the 99 and 17 are still out there, so it’s a little nerve-wracking that way, but it’s still fun. I’ve enjoyed it."

SO ARE YOUR EYES ON THE CLOCK? "Yeah, you’re on the clock for sure. Your eyes are on the clock the whole time. You’re always constantly knowing how much time you’ve got left and it’s tough. You want to go out there early enough to make sure you can cool down and maybe make another run, but then if you have to make another run then you’re kind of setting yourself back for the next run because you can’t cool off quick enough to reset. There’s a lot that goes in there. You just want to make sure you get the most of it every time you go out there."

CAN YOU CLARIFY. DO YOU HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO PLUG IN WITHOUT LIFTING THE HOOD? "Yeah, all you’ve really got to do is put an adapter that hooks to where your cool-down would go now, which is under the hood. Just basically run a couple lines up to the hood flap and you can just plug-and-play. It’s a pretty cheap fix right there and we all have the technology to cool them down. We do that in practice every week. We all have the stuff and we brought the piece with us just in case the rule was made here, but we’ll see what happens. Like I said, we have to run through a couple qualifying sessions to understand what we need to do and make sure we don’t make a rule and then regret it later. We’ve got to make sure we’re methodical about it and do the right things."

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