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FEB 26, 2017 | Ford Performance Staff

Ford Performance Captures Daytona 500 For Fifth Time in 9 Years; Busch Returns To Take Checkered Flag

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Kurt Busch’s return to Ford couldn’t have gone any better as he passed Kyle Larson on the final lap to win Sunday’s 59th Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

The win gives Ford Performance five Daytona 500 wins in the last nine years and 15 overall, but it also marked the end of a triumphant debut for Stewart-Haas Racing after switching to Ford following the 2016 season.

“What a great win to start off a partnership. It is so great with Stewart-Haas and to have Kurt win it, our last Ford champion and in his first race back with Ford is fantastic,” said Raj Nair, executive vice president of global product development and chief technical officer, Ford Motor Co.  “Everybody worked together so well.  SHR, Penske, RPM, and Wood Brothers with the Doug Yates power.  We were so fast.  We knew we had a good chance and Kurt hung in there after getting caught up in that crash.  He didn’t give up.”

The win was Busch’s 29th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory and his 15th with Ford, dating back to when he debuted with Roush Fenway Racing in 2000.

“There is nothing predictable about this race anymore, and the more years that have gone by that I didn’t win I kept trying to go back to patterns that I had seen in the past.  My mirror fell off with 30 laps to go and I couldn’t even see out the back,” said Busch, who won Ford’s last series championship in 2004.  “It just got crazy and wild, and I am so proud of all the drivers at the end.  We put on a show for a full fuel run, and nobody took each other out and it was one of the smartest chess games I have seen out there. All the hard work that Ford and SHR put into this -- this Ford Fusion is in Daytona’s Victory Lane.”

Busch was only credited with leading the final lap, and his victory may not have been possible if it wasn’t for some help from Ford teammate Ryan Blaney, driving the famed No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion for the Wood Brothers.  Blaney pushed Busch past Larson and enabled him to get a big enough lead to hold on at the finish.

“We won the Daytona 500. I want to congratulate Kurt on a great victory. We are so proud of this result and the teamwork you saw today out on that track with everyone working together from Ford,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance after six Fusions posted top-10 finishes. “We dominated early and then had some bad crashes that took some of our cars out, but what a way to win it at the end. Ryan Blaney did a fantastic job and SHR in their first outing with Ford, to get this win, we could not be any happier as an organization right now.”

The win was especially pleasing for Tony Stewart, who retired from driving last year and was a major part of the decision to bring his four-car operation to Ford.

“It has been a really long, hard winter, and I am so proud of everyone at SHR and Ford Performance,” said Stewart.  “They really worked their tails off to get ready.  Doug Yates and everybody at Roush Yates Engines brought unbelievable power all week.  Had I known that all I had to do was retire, I would have retired 17 years ago if I knew that’s what it took to win the race.”

The Daytona 500 win is the first for Stewart-Haas Racing and the fifth for Fusion since becoming Ford’s flagship model in 2006.  Fusion now has 80 all-time series victories.Ford Daytona 500 Race Winners (Owner):

1963 – Tiny Lund (Wood Brothers)
1965 – Fred Lorenzen (Holman-Moody)
1967 – Mario Andretti (Holman-Moody)
1969 – LeeRoy Yarbrough (Junior Johnson)
1978 – Bobby Allison (Bud Moore)
1985 – Bill Elliott (Harry Melling)
1987 – Bill Elliott (Harry Melling)
1992 – Davey Allison (Robert Yates)
1996 – Dale Jarrett (Robert Yates)
2000 – Dale Jarrett (Robert Yates)
2009 – Matt Kenseth (Jack Roush)
2011 – Trevor Bayne (Wood Brothers)
2012 – Matt Kenseth (Jack Roush)
2015 – Joey Logano (Roger Penske)
2017 – Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas)

* * * * *

  • Today’s win in the Daytona 500 is the 15th overall for Ford Performance in “The Great American Race.”
  • Kurt Busch won his return race with Ford Performance, taking the checkered flag in today’s Daytona 500.  The win was Busch’s first in the 500 and 29th in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup career.
  • The win is Busch’s 15th with Ford after winning 14 times with Roush Fenway Racing from 2000-05.
  • This marks the fifth time in the last nine years that Ford has won the Daytona 500.
  • Today’s win is Ford’s 649th in all-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition.
  • The win is Fusion’s 80th MENCS triumph since becoming Ford’s flagship vehicle in 2006.

FORD FINISHING RESULTS

1st Kurt Busch
2nd Ryan Blaney
4th Aric Almirola
6th Joey Logano
9th Matt DiBenedetto
10th Trevor Bayne
16th Landon Cassill
18th Cole Whitt
22nd Kevin Harvick
25th David Ragan
27th Brad Keselowski
31st Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
32nd Clint Bowyer
33rd Danica Patrick

* * * * *

KURT BUSCH -- No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Fusion (Finished 1st) -- YOU ARE A DAYTONA 500 WINNER. YOUR INITIAL REACTIONS AND EMOTIONS? “There is nothing predictable about this race anymore and the more years that have gone by that I didn’t win I kept trying to go back to patterns that I had seen in the past. My mirror fell off with 30 laps to go and I couldn’t even see out the back. And I thought that was an omen. Throw caution to the wind. The more unpredictability that keeps unfolding at the Daytona 500, I predicted it. It just got crazy and wild and I am so proud of all the drivers at the end. We put on a show for a full fuel run and nobody took each other out and it was one of the smartest chess games I have seen out there. All the hard work that Ford and SHR put into this -- this Ford Fusion is in Daytona’s victory lane.”

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSSIBLY BEING SHORT ON FUEL AND TAKE US THROUGH THAT LAST LAP: “I almost forgot to drive the line I was supposed to drive because I was shutting off all my switches, going to reserve fuel and saying a hail mary. It all turned out. Here we are in victory lane. I can’t believe it.”

MONSTER ENERGY IN THEIR FIRST RACE AND YOU CARRY THE MONSTER ENERGY COLORS AND HAVE FOR SEVERAL YEARS: “I tried not to put any extra pressure on my shoulders. I tried to rely on my teams strengths and not focus on what I have been through with Monster Energy the last six years. They are strong, big company and they have chosen to be the entitlement sponsor and I can’t be happier to do the job I am supposed to do as a Monster athlete, which is to win podiums and races. Here we are. We are with the Daytona 500 trophy. Thanks to Monster, Haas Automation and everybody at Ford. We are going to enjoy this one.”

TONY STEWART, co-owner, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Fusion -- “The look on Gene Haas’ face right now, that smile, make it all worth it. It has been a really long hard winter and I am so proud of everyone at SHR and Ford Performance. They really worked their tails off to get ready. Doug Yates and everybody at Roush Yates Engines brought unbelievable power all week. It was a crazy race, even crazier to sit and watch it from a pit box finally. If I had known all I had to do was retire, I would have retired 17 years ago if I knew it was what it took to win the race. Kurt did an amazing job. He doesn’t even have a rear view mirror. The mirror folded on him. His spotter, Tony Raines did an amazing job. That is the most composed I have ever seen Kurt at the end of a race. He deserved this.”

DAVE PERICAK, Global Director, Ford Performance -- “We won the Daytona 500. What teamwork you saw today out on that track with everyone working together from Ford. We dominated early and then had some bad crashes that took some of our cars out but what a way to win it at the end. Ryan Blaney did a fantastic job and SHR in their first outing with Ford, to get this win, we could not be any happier as an organization right now.”

RAJ NAIR, Executive Vice President of Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer -- “What a great win to start off a partnership. It is so great with Stewart-Haas and to have Kurt win it, our last Ford champion, in his first race back with Ford. Everybody worked together so well. SHR, Penske, Wood Brothers with the Doug Yates power. We were so fast. We knew we had a good chance and Kurt hung in there after getting caught up in that crash. He didn’t give up. He didn’t have a rear view mirror but he didn’t give up. A great day for Ford, for Stewart-Haas and Roush Yates power.”

RYAN BLANEY -- No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion (Finished 2nd) -- “Well, it took longer to get going than I thought. I tried to make a move with 10 to go and I didn’t go anywhere. I thought we were kind of stuck. Luckily we had the 22 with us. I kind of helped him and he kind of helped me. Late there we got a big run into (Turn) 1 and we kind of all separated and I got a big pull. I got to second behind the 41 somehow and that kept us going the whole way. I laid back to the 47 thinking I’d get a good run and I was sputtering and running out of gas on the backstretch. It was a solid race. It was such a fast Ford. For (it) to be a backup car, that really means a lot for Ford and Motorcraft. Not what we wanted but a pretty good run and start to the season.”

RYAN BLANEY, POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE (RUNNER-UP)

RYAN, PLEASE WALK US THROUGH THE FINAL LAPS FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE. “Yeah, I thought we had a good car all day to start off.  We showed that definitely in the first half of the race.  Then we got some damage there in one of those big wrecks about middle of the race.  Kind of hurt our car a little bit. AJ (Allmendinger) and I are just talking.  Looks like everyone ran a race at Martinsville.  Everyone's stuff was tore up.  Only a handful of cars left at the end. We all got single file with 15 to go, something like that.  I tried to make a move with 10 to go to see what would happen.  No one really went with me.  The 22 tried to.  It really wasn't happening.  I was kind of worried it was just going to end that way. Luckily I got Joey behind me there down the frontstretch, and we were able to lay back to him and get a huge run into one.  At that same moment, the 41 went to go past the 42, and it kept my run going, all the way up to second. Down the back, I look in my mirror, I see the 47 car.  I'll just lay back to him, we'll get a big run. I started kind of running out the gas there into three.  We started sputtering pretty bad.  Luckily made it back to the line. It was a good showing for us.  It was a good way to start off the year.  Stinks to be so close.  But I think that's good momentum for our team, to be good at the beginning of the day, get some damage and be able to rally for a good finish.”

WHAT DID YOU MAKE OF ALL THE WRECKS?  HALF THE FIELD DIDN'T FINISH.  WAS IT THE FIVE‑MINUTE CLOCK, TOO MUCH AGGRESSION, THE STAGES?  WHAT HAPPENED TODAY? “Once we get three‑wide and you're 20th, you can't go anywhere.  There is no room to make any ground.  With the leader blocking every lane it kind of stalls everybody out. So really what AJ said.  Everyone tries to get their track position with a hundred to go, something like that, just so they can stay up front for the end.”

RYAN, I REMEMBER 2015, TALLADEGA, YOU HAD A VERY STRONG CAR BUT COULDN'T GET ANYBODY TO WORK WITH YOU AT THE END.  HAS THAT CHANGED FOR YOU?  WHEN YOU PULLED OUT OF LINE TODAY WAS IT DÉJÀ VU? “I think it's helped a little bit.  The yellow things on the back bumper helped.  Not being there any more, that seems to help out a little bit. Really, you can talk all about people not going with young drivers or whoever.  Really at the end of these things you're kind of forced to go with whoever wants to go. Today luckily we had a teammate with Joey behind us who would go with us.  It's kind of circumstance and timing, when you choose to go.  If the person behind you thinks they can go with you”

IT SEEMED TO ME THAT THE MANUFACTURERS, SOME OF THE TEAMS HAD A STRATEGY OF RUNNING AS A SQUADRON.  IT BIT THE TOYOTAS EARLY ON.  WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM RUNNING TOGETHER IN PLATE RACES LIKE THIS? I thought the Fords had it made early.  We had six or seven of us kind of lined up there.  We were really fast.  It seemed everything kind of was going our way. Then I know a handful of them got taken out.  Then all of a sudden it kind of seems like we're the underdogs.  There were only two or three of us left with the 41, 22 and myself.  The 43 was in there.  Really not a lot of us left in there.  Mostly Chevrolets. You see the plans in the middle of the race kind of working well.  At the end it never really seems to work that way. I definitely think manufacturers are really working together a lot more in the past couple years, just because you can get so many of them to work together. At Ford, we were lucky to get four more cars we could work with, which really allowed us to try to do that today, be strong with all those cars.”

I KNOW IT'S HARD TO PROJECT THE 'WHAT IFS' AND EVERYTHING, BUT WHAT IF CHASE DOESN'T RUN OUT OF GAS? “He ran out of gas, so...  There's really no 'what ifs.'   If wishes were fishes, the world would be an ocean.”

CHASE ELLIOTT WAS VISIBLY UPSET AFTER THE RACE, LEAVING WITH HIS DAD WITHOUT REALLY TALKING TO ANYONE. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT MINDSET?  “I mean, that's the way he is.  He wants to do so well.  He does do a great job and everything.  You see him, he should have won two or three races last year.  Things didn't work out.  Nothing of his fault.  You get down on yourself. Like AJ said, he's going to win tons of races in his career.  He's going to win a lot this year.  He had a great shot to win that race.  He was the best car that could control both lanes.  You saw that in the Duels.  You saw that today.  He could really keep both lanes at bay.  Not many other cars could do that today.  No matter who was out front, the top would get a run.  His or something like that, but his car was really, really good.  I can understand his disappointment, for sure.  You're leading the race.  Looks like you're going to win the Daytona 500.  You know how he is, he's very hard on himself.  But it wasn't his fault today at all.  You can't help you run out of gas. I can understand his frustration.  Like I said, he's going to win a lot this year and throughout his career.  It's easy to get frustrated right now.  He's going to be okay.”

NOW THAT YOU'VE HAD A CHANCE TO DO IT FOR REAL AS OPPOSED TO TALKING ABOUT IT, HOW DID DRIVING STAGES AFFECT YOUR TEAM, WORKING WITH YOUR CREW CHIEF?  DID IT CHANGE ANYTHING AT ALL?  WAS IT MORE LIKE A COMPETITION CAUTION? “I don't really see it as a competition caution mainly because you're benefited for running in the top 10 at the end of the stage.  So you saw some teams and cars group pit early just to try to maybe short pit and get out front before the end of the stage and get some points, if there was a caution that fell maybe 10 laps before or earlier. I thought the communication, the strategy side from the drivers to the crew chiefs, were very important today.  Honestly, I think it's going to be more important on other racetracks, not the speedways. I enjoyed it.  I thought it was good.  It made for good racing before the stages were over, just to try to get some points to help you towards the Playoffs.  It was definitely good strategy.  I know my team, they did a great job of making sure we pitted when the time was right with our group to try to set us up to be up front at the time the stages were over.”

RYAN, YOU HAD QUITE A SHOWING THIS WEEK IN YOUR DUEL RACE, THEN HERE TODAY, MOVING THROUGH THE FIELD, MAKING AGGRESSIVE MOVES, CONTENDING FOR THE LEAD.  WAS THAT COMFORT IN THE STRENGTH OF THE CAR OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE GETTING MORE COMFORTABLE AT PLATE RACING, KNOWING WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT DO? “I think a little bit of both.  I thought our car in the Duel race was spectacular.  It's a shame it got tore up.  Our backup car was honestly, I felt, like just as good.  We came from the back really early and were able to drive up through the middle, and our car handled correctly where we could be up the middle and be aggressive when the time was right.  We were able to stay up there. I think our car had enough time to stay up there, too.  We could never grab the lead at the time being the one car up front trying to block lanes.  We could never get the right push at the right time.  Probably something I was doing wrong not to get the right run. It was definitely a little bit of both with the car and myself, and myself and Josh Williams up top, my spotter, getting a little bit more comfortable with each other and communicating really well.  He's done a great job.  He hasn't been spotting very long.  He spotted for AJ a couple years ago.  He only started a couple years before that. He has a lot to learn, but he's done a great job.  He's been a big part of it, as well.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS IS GOING TO SET YOU UP FOR A STRONG RUN TOWARDS THE PLAYOFFS? “Really same as AJ.  Any time you get a good finish anywhere, no matter what track, it always propels you into the next week.  Maybe it feels a little better it's the Daytona 500.  Like he says, it doesn't mean your car is going to be great when you go to Atlanta, doesn't mean your car is going to be great when you go out west.  Until you get 9 or 10 in, then you can kind of get a good judge of how your cars are and where your team stacks up.  No matter where it is, if you get a good finish, it definitely helps your team confidence‑wise for the next week and maybe a couple weeks after that.”

JOEY LOGANO -- No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion (Finished 6th) -- “I just couldn’t get anyone to go for it at the end.  Everyone was so conservative and I don’t understand why.  We kept trying to go to the bottom and make a run down there and no one would go with us.  We had three cars that kind of wanted to do it, but it’s a matter of getting the right run and getting the right cars behind us and we didn’t have enough of them and couldn’t get up to the lead pack.  I don’t know why everyone was so conservative today.”

WAS IT MAYBE DUE TO ALL THE CRASHES EARLIER?  “It got crazy there on that restart.  I all but crashed a few times today and was able to get the Shell/Pennzoil Ford back home safely, but it got crazy and then it got calm at the end when the plate window opened, so it kind of got weird.”

DID ANYTHING THROW YOU OFF AT ALL?  SO MANY CRASHES.  “It was crazy to say the least.  Right after the last segment it was like everyone turned up the wick a little bit and at the end it was like it burned out.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ALMOST GETTING IT AND BEING ABLE TO HOLD THEM OFF?  “I felt like we were in good shape there with 20 to go or so and then we just got out and it’s just a matter of trying to get everyone to go with us and we just couldn’t get enough.”

MATT DIBENEDETTO -- No. 32 E.J. Wade Foundation Ford Fusion (Finished 9th)  -- “That’s a heck of a way to start the year.  Holy cow.  We survived.  We got in that one crash and we hit pretty hard.  I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s gonna be a long day,’ but the guys did a great job patching it up.  It still ran fine.  I had good speed.  The motor ran great all day, so it was cool.  We have the E.J. Wade Foundation on the car for the first time here and it’s awesome to get them a top-10 in their first outing, so it’s a great cause for what they do.  I’m excited to be back racing and thankful to have a ride.”

ONLY 15 GUYS AT THE SHOP WORKING ON THIS CAR.  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE A RESULT LIKE THIS?  “We’ve taken the team and brought in some really good people.  I’m so lucky to have my crew chief, Gene Nead, who came in and assembled some of the best guys we could possibly get, so we have some real quality people, some of the folks that were at BK with me.  It’s amazing to have that tight of a group, where they are so dedicated to follow me and Gene wherever we go.  That’s special.  You don’t find that often, so we have such a great relationship and I think that’s where we’re gonna turn a lot of heads this year and surprise everybody.  You’re only as good as the people around you and we have really good people.  I’m fortunate to have them.  We’re gonna turn some heads.  We have 15 employees total versus some people who have 400-500, but we have 15 good, quality people and our goal is to overacheive all year.”

DID YOU KNOW WHERE YOU WERE WHEN THE CHECKERED FLAG FLEW?  “No, I didn’t honestly.  The whole race we were pitting multiple times just trying to make sure it was fixed properly and taking our time and we just kept picking them off one at a time and it turned out to be a great day.”

DOES THIS FEEL BETTER THAN THE BRISTOL FINISH?  “It was definitely different.  This one was a little bit more survival.  That one was a little bit more racing up there, so I would say they’re different feelings, but being in the Daytona 500 in the first place is unbelievable, so I’m gonna say this one does feel really good just because it’s the Daytona 500 and it’s been my dream since I was five to even be in it, so to get a top-10 in it, I’m just checking off all these dreams come true.”

LANDON CASSILL -- No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Fusion (Finished 16th)  -- “It was a crazy race.  The one wreck was okay and fair and square, and I was kind of in the middle of it all.  We fixed the car real good, though.  The car wasn’t that badly damaged.  The second wreck I was clear of it and there was just one last straggler that hooked me and that was just too bad.  It kind of killed the car enough to where we didn’t have speed and from that point we just kind of outlasted the field and got a 16th-place finish, which is okay.”

ARIC ALMIROLA -- No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion (Finished 4th) -- “It was a wild day.  I can’t believe how many cars were involved in wrecks here and there.  We were able to get through quite a few of them and our car just didn’t quite have the speed we needed to make the big runs and complete the big passes, but all in all it was a good day for our Smithfield Ford Fusion.  I’m so happy for Ford Motor Company to get to go to Victory Lane.  That’s so awesome for them.”

HOW IS IT WITH CARS RUNNING OUT OF GAS ON THE LAST LAP?  “That’s one thing I think that maybe hurt our chances of having a shot to catch up to the lead pack and getting a good run.  The 5 and the 27 were starting to run out of fuel in front of me and I lost all of my help to go get those guys.  All in all it was a great day for us.  We’ll take it and get ready for Atlanta.  The Daytona 500, you always want to come out of here with a good start to the season.”

KEVIN HARVICK -- No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion (Finished 22nd) -- “We just got some cars up there that didn’t need to be up there and wound up doing more than their car could do.  I’ve just got to thank everybody on our Jimmy John’s/Busch Ford for everything that they’ve done all week.  We had, I felt, the fastest car in the field and right in contention for both segments and then it’s all tore up and it came to an end.  What do you do?”

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO SEE SHR WIN AFTER THE TRANSITION TO FORD?  “I feel good about it.  I think that’s the fastest car I’ve ever had here, so it’s kind of disappointing.”

TREVOR BAYNE -- No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion (Finished 10th) -- “What a day. The first-half was pretty calm. I was cruising in the back waiting for all the wrecks to happen and they didn’t. Then I got caught up with the 48;  I’m not sure if it was my fault. I feel bad if it was my fault. I’m spinning and trying to hang on to it, and did. A few laps later we were running in the middle again and somebody hit me in the right rear. It was just nuts. It was like a pinball for a few laps. But at the end of the day we had a good finish, a top 10 finish at Daytona. Overall, we had a really strong car all speedweeks. This Ford was really fast.”

DAVID RAGAN -- No. 38 Camping World Ford Fusion (Finished 25th) -- “I felt like our Camping World Ford was really fast and drove really good. We had really good strategy that kept us up front. I thought that the race was pretty calm the first 60, 70 laps. The bottom lane stalled a little bit and the 17 had a really good run, I don’t know if I got checked up a bit. He was coming hard and touched me. I got a little loose and tried to chase it and he just couldn’t get off me and ran out of room. It was unfortunate to be in that spot but we got lucky that we didn’t get damaged any more than we did. There were a lot of wrecks all day. You always second guess yourself on things and hard your race. We owe it to our sponsors and our team and everyone involved. We had a good car. I’m glad we were able to work hard and get some spots there at the end.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI -- No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion -- WHAT HAPPENED THERE ON THE BACKSTRETCH? “I haven’t seen the replay yet but everybody wrecked in front of me. We had just pitted and were running really good, right up at the front where we needed to be to be in contention for a solid finish and hopefully a win. We had just pitted to make sure we wouldn’t get caught on strategy and all that but I guess everybody decided to wreck on the restart. That is unfortunate. We will get through it and go on to Atlanta. We did the best we could and controlled everything we could control on our own today.”

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE STAGES? IS THAT CAUSING THE ACCIDENTS? “I thought the stages were good actually and added a nice little element to the race. I didn’t notice guys being any more aggressive than usual. There were a lot of accidents but I would have to see the replays to understand why”

THE FORDS WERE FAST OUT THERE TODAY: “Yeah, the Fords did a really good job working together and establishing position which helped us avoid one wreck but we couldn’t avoid the 10 of them that there have been today. Our Miller Lite Ford Fusion was fast though, all the Fords were fast. Roush Yates brought some great power here to Daytona. It is exciting.”

DANICA PATRICK -- No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion -- INVOLVED IN MULTI-CAR ACCIDENT ON LAP 127 WHAT HAPPENED? “I don’t really know. I just know we were all three-wide and it looks like the 6 and 48 had something happened. There was nowhere to go. They just kept coming and hitting me. The left rear is broken. The bodywork damage isn’t that bad but I don’t know how long that takes to fix. The five-minute clock is an interesting new element. I don’t know if it is good or bad but we don’t want to go on track with stuff that isn’t safe. But when all these cars crash out you want to be able to get as many points as possible. Anyway, we are done. The Aspen Dental car was really fast today. The Fords were really fast today. We got organized and we were gone! It was the funnest 500 I’ve ever had. Well, probably not 500, more like 300 or 250. It is a real shame. I feel like we could have been a contender at the end, for sure we could have been an influencer.”

YOU HAD SUCH A GOOD SPEEDWEEKS “It was definitely the right race, week for us. We got a fourth, sixth, 10th and a fifth. We were having a really good weekend. I have no doubt that we would have been right up there contending for a great finish, if not a win at the end. The Fords are really, really fast, you saw that before we got to the end of the second segment. It was handling well. Like I said to Billy (Scott) my crew chief, I was like, ‘Man, it’s got some power and it’s got some handling.’ It’s a real shame. It was treacherous in the middle. I saw that the accident started in the middle. We even saw that the middle lane was the strongest at times, a lot of the times. That’s different for Daytona, a lot of times it’s better around the top. The bottom was strong and the middle wasn’t a mover. It was a good race. It was a fun race. So far the most fun that I had a Daytona. I really felt fairly comfortable instead of holding on for dear life and hoping that I didn’t get hit. It was fun.”

CLINT BOWYER -- No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion -- “Man I hate the way it ended. No way around it. We got caught up with someone else’s mess. Just really upset right now. We’ve had a good week down here and we still have a lot of racing left in 2017, so I’m pumped about the year. We had a really fast Mobil 1 Ford today.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. -- No. 17 Fastenal Ford Fusion -- “I’m not real sure what happened.  We were two laps down because we had a couple of issues throughout the beginning of the race, but our Fastenal Ford was still plenty fast.  We didn’t really have any damage and was finally in a position to where we could start getting some lucky dogs and get back on the lead lap.  I felt like if we could have done that, we would have been all right.  We were just running around the top and I just got hit in the left-rear.  I’m not really sure what happened below us, but it was a bummer of a day.  I thought we brought some really fast Fords down here and just hate that we didn’t really get a result to show for it.  We’ll go on to Atlanta next weekend and get ready to go racing. 

WHY SO MANY ACCIDENTS?  “We really didn’t have that many until here recently.  I’m not real sure.  They said Kyle may have cut a tire down, which is obviously one accident.  They said Blaney was maybe trying to get off the race track, which caused the one I was in, and I guess we’ve had two since then.  I’d say it was pretty normal racing for us.  I thought the first half of the race went pretty smooth for everybody, but a couple little circumstances resulted in so many crashes.”

DOES STAGE RACING HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT?  “Stage racing hasn’t contributed to any crashes.  We finished every stage under green with no issues, so I would say stage racing was not the issue.  A couple of them happened right after restarts.”