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MAY 12, 2017 | Ford Performance Staff

Blaney Grabs First Pole as Ford Sweeps Front Row


KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano lock themselves into the front row for the Go Bowling 400 on Saturday night. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick fill out the rest of the Ford Fusions in the top-10.

1st Ryan Blaney
2nd Joey Logano
4th Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
6th Kurt Busch
8th Kevin Harvick
13th Aric Almirola
16th Trevor Bayne
17th Brad Keselowski
24th Danica Patrick
35th David Ragan
37th Clint Bowyer

RYAN BLANEY (No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion) -- Qualified 1st
“I didn’t know during the first two rounds if we would have enough. The 18 and 4 were really fast. We got our car better and better each round and that is what you want. That is what we did. We have improved a lot on that this year. Last year I always thought we kind of got worse, if anything, This year has been a big step up in qualifying. You car and track changes and you have to be on top of that. Everyone has done a great job of staying on top of that. We have been really close a couple times this year but it feels good to get it done. I know it is only qualifying but it feels really cool to get this first pole. It says a lot about this entire team.”  

WHAT HAS BEEN THE DIFFERENCE FROM LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR? “Just hard work in the off-season. Ford and everybody have made a big dedication to our team, really all the Ford teams, they have stepped up. I think you see it this year, not only in qualifying but racing as well. That is what it boils down to. It is nice to be part of a team that is so hardworking and dedicated to be faster every week. It feels nice as a driver.”

JOEY LOGANO (No. 22 AAA Ford Fusion)
“I can think of a couple spots when I dissect it where we could have had more speed. Congratulations to Blaney. That is cool. Your first pole is a big deal. It is a big deal for him. I just hate being second. I have to be honest. Man, I just think a little off of two and a little off of four. Those ones always sting, believe me. On the other side of it, we weren’t really in contention for a pole after practice. We made some good adjustments. The greedy side of me wants the pole so bad but the realistic side says we made huge improvements from practice, so I am proud of that.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. (No. 17 Go Bowling Ford Fusion) -- Qualified 4th
“Not bad. P4 looks pretty good there. We got bound up just a little bit and needed to rotate the corner a little better. All in all, felt pretty good. We picked up from the second round. That was good. It is feeling really good to be a part of this Ford Performance team right now.”

KURT BUSCH (No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion) -- Qualified 6th
“It is the Go Bowling 400 and I got a six in the first frame, we have a tough spare to pick up. No, I thought we did good in qualifying and we were loose from our practice and tight into qualifying. That builds your confidence in the changes. If you were loose to finish and then started loose then the changes wouldn’t have meant what we wanted to. I am happy we were on the snug side and kept freeing it up the whole time. We just didn’t quite get the balance in one and two like we needed to to be able to carve through there and get the speed for the pole but sixth is pretty good.”

KEVIN HARVICK (No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion) -- Qualified 8th
“I just over did it in the last round trying to put the dagger in ‘em for the pole there. I knew better than to try to go faster in the third round here. It is just one of those places where you get two rounds out of it and then have to try to maintain what you have. It is just the drivers fault there. Our Busch Light Ford is good in race trim and we qualified decent. Everything has gone pretty well so far.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Elite Support Ford Fusion) - Qualified 17th
“We just didn’t pick up speed from the first round to the second round. I am not really sure why. We will get together and talk about and take a look at it and try to be better for tomorrow’s race.”

CLINT BOWYER (No. 14 Mobil 1 Annual Protection Ford)
“This is just, wow. Super disappointing. You are off 10-thousandths of an inch. It is ridiculous. Most people can’t even understand how little that is. I get it. If you are off, you are off, but I watched my guys move the car and adjust the car accordingly for it and then actually overcompensate on it because we were worried about not making it. Then they wheel it back in and fail the exact same amount? Twice? That makes no sense. None.”

DAVID RAGAN (No. 38 Overton’s Ford Fusion)
 “I don’t get paid to figure out what happens in that room. I think just my honest opinion on why it is so hard for these cars to get through tech is this. NASCAR gives us all guidelines for the rule tolerances. They give us a margin of error, plus or minus a small fraction and it is a black and white pass or not pass. I think in our case and in a lot of other teams cases, they push the margins to the end, to the illegal point, and even though you may fail by a tenth of a degree or a couple thousandths of an inch, you are still playing with that wiggle room that NASCAR gives you. Now, I do think there is some inconsistency in the LIS machine because there are different tire deflection, the plate is going a little different. There are a lot of small inconsistencies when you are measuring thousandths of an inch. The only thing I am not too sure about is how so many cars can not get through. Everybody is not trying to cheat on the same thing. We aren’t going to get to go out but we have a good game plan for tomorrow and I think we will be fine. It is not the end of the world, we have 400 miles and new sticker tires for the first few laps, so we will be fine.”


JOEY LOGANO -- “I guess the greedy side of me is angry that we could be that close to a pole and not get it. On the flip side, I guess I should be grateful considering how far off we were in practice to be able to make up the speed that we did. It is a tough race track to try to go fast. It takes aero and it takes a lot of horsepower and it takes a lot of handle to make it all work at this race track. I am proud of what we were able to accomplish today on the improvements, especially some of the challenges we were going through. I hate losing. I hate coming in second.”

WHAT WILL THE DIFFERENCES BE DOING ALL THIS TODAY AND THEN DRIVING AT NIGHT TOMORROW? “Yeah, there will be a swing we have to adjust for with our car. Qualifying probably has the bigger difference when you put tape on and your pressure is up and all that. That is a bigger change than what this track goes through today. We have a lot of changes to go through in general. I think we will be throwing the kitchen sink at it for the race tomorrow because we weren’t very good in race trim. There are some unknowns but we improved a lot today. The track will go through its changes and transitions in the race as we start in the day and go to night. We will be prepared for it and adjust the best we can.”

DID YOU WONDER WHERE EVERYBODY WAS OUT THERE ON THE TRACK? “Yeah. I don’t know. My car was out there and that is all I care about. As long as I have something to drive I don’t really care about anybody else.”

“I think every team pushes the limits and finds them every weekend when you roll through tech like that. We are right on that edge. Any little discrepancy is what makes you go over the line. You have to be close to the edge. If you aren’t close to the edge you won’t be competitive. That is not just the car, that is the drivers too. The drivers have to be right on the edge of out of control, with the rules, we have to handle that every week. That doesn’t -- it is the same for everyone but you have to push it to the edge if you want to win. That is just part of it.”

RYAN BLANEY -- YOU ARE ON THE POLE. TALK ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE OF WINNING A COORS LIGHT POLE FOR THE FIRST TIME. “Yeah, it is really nice. We have been second three times this year and they have all been really close. It is nice to be on the other side of it. I can’t be more proud of everyone on the 21 team. The work they put in this off-season of getting better round to round. I felt like last year we were really good in the first round and sometimes get slower. That was something we really wanted to work on hard in the off-season and we did. We have a better understanding of what we need round to round and that has shown this year. It is nice to start up front and have really fast race cars and get this weekend started on the right foot. The past three races have been pretty rough on us finish-wise and this is a good way to start off this weekend. I think our race cars are pretty good. Our race trim was pretty fast. Hopefully we can fine tune a little and end up where we need to be tomorrow night.”

DID YOU WONDER WHERE EVERYBODY WAS OUT THERE WITH A DOZEN CARS NOT ON THE TRACK? “I noticed when I walked to my car for the first round that pit road was kind of empty. I guess 11 cars didn’t get through and we have been on that side of it before. I know NASCAR is cracking down a lot on tech. We have seen that over the past month or two. That is something they take very seriously. It should be taken very seriously. Sometimes you are on pit road early and other times you can’t get out of the inspection area. We have been on that side of it for sure. I was definitely wondering where everyone was and I know a lot of good cars didn’t make it out but that happens.”

YOU HAVE THE POLE, DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A STRONG ENOUGH CAR TO GET A WIN TOMORROW? “I think it is contention of where it needs to be. Obviously they are two completely separate things and you can’t set your hopes too high from getting the pole or starting well. The race will be completely different when it cools down tomorrow night. Race trim will be completely different but I thought our race trim car was pretty good to where we can make minor adjustments on it. It will change a lot. It will cool off a lot. This track is always changing. I feel like we have good notes here from previous years to look back on and adjust accordingly to what we need. That is another thing we have done well this year. We have qualified well but can we adjust from practice to the race to be able to run up front and make minor adjustments instead of throwing everything at it. I think we have a decent shot at it. I just can’t really tell you right now. I will let you know about lap 30 tomorrow.”