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SEP 10, 2017 | Ford Performance Staff

Logano No. 22 Fusion takes Second at Richmond Raceway


RICHMOND, Va. - Joey Logano came up one spot shy of a playoff clinching win at Richmond, finishing second to Kyle Larson (Chevy) in an overtime finish Saturday night at Richmond.  Kurt Busch, one of the five Ford drivers to qualify for the 2017 playoffs finished fourth to give Ford a pair of top-ten Fusions.

Logano and Clint Bowyer came into Saturday night’s season finale needing a win for playoff berth, but both fell short for different reasons. Logano ran in the top-10 most of the night and was able to work his way up to the top-three before his eventual runner-up finish.  

Bowyer suffered a pair of critical pit road penalties and had damage to the front end of his car in a bizarre incident with Matt Kenseth and an ambulance on pit road. Prior to that, Bowyer had run as high as second at one point and inside the top-15 for the bulk of the evening, even working himself from 33rd to 12th after the first pit road penalty early in the race.

Despite Logano and Bowyer just missing out, Ford will have five drivers in the 10-week playoff run. Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Blaney make up the Ford five which head to Chicagoland Speedway next Sunday for the playoff opener.

1st -- Kyle Larson
2nd -- Joey Logano
3rd -- Ryan Newman
4th -- Kurt Busch
5th -- Denny Hamlin
6th -- Erik Jones
7th -- Daniel Suarez
8th -- Jimmie Johnson
9th -- Kyle Busch
10th -- Chase Elliott

11th -- Brad Keselowski
16th -- Kevin Harvick
17th -- Aric Almirola
18th -- Ryan Blaney
19th -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
23rd -- Danica Patrick
24th -- Clint Bowyer
25th -- Trevor Bayne
27th -- David Ragan
31st -- Matt DiBenedetto
39th -- Landon Cassill

JOEY LOGANO (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil/Red Cross Ford Fusion) -- Finished 2nd
“We came into the weekend saying second would be a failure and we finished second, so one spot short.  But, overall, I’m proud of this team.  We came in here with the pressure on us and we executed the best we could.  We scored some good stage points, which don’t mean anything, but it means we’re up front at least.  We just came up a little bit short there at the end.  I had a good restart.  The last run before that we short-pitted and we lost a lot of speed that run. For whatever reason we lost all of our track position and fell out of the top five, and then just fought hard there at the end to try to make something happen.  Hopefully, there was another caution.  They all but brought out a caution, but overall we’ve got 10 races to go and we’ll make it exciting for everyone that’s in the Playoffs when there is a car running for the win that’s out of it.  It’ll be interesting for us. That’s the end of our championship run, but it’s not the end of our season.  We’ve still got a lot to race for.”

DOES IT STING MORE BECAUSE OF WHAT HAPPENED HERE THE FIRST TIME?  “That’s in the rearview mirror at this point.  The sting is over.  There’s nothing we can do about that at this point.  You’ve just got to keep looking out the windshield and not the rearview mirror.  It is what it is.  I’m proud of the effort that we’ve been able to give.  This was one of the best races we’ve had in a long time, which is a good thing, but it was just one short.”

KURT BUSCH (No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion) -- Finished 4th 
“Our Fords are fast and now we’re finding this handling balance.  I’m really proud of everybody at SHR for working hard, knowing we were kind of going into unknown territory, but we got it switched over and thanks to Doug Yates, Haas Automation, Tony Stewart, Gene Haas, Monster Energy.  They’ve been with me the last six years and it’s great to see them as the entitlement sponsor of our series, but it’s great to carry their logo on our car and have all of their vendors at the track.  We’re having a Monster time.  We’re in the Playoffs and now we’re gonna go execute for these 10 weeks.”

DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM IS PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME?  “We’re doing everything right on the 41 car, and we can do better in some categories.  Our long-run speed was really good tonight and that last green-white-checker I knew there was gonna be chaos.  I hope we end up getting fourth out of it.  We ran third tonight.  We missed it on the setup early on, making the wrong changes, and then we backed it up and, to be honest with you, I think we ended up with what we unloaded with on Friday right in this car right now, so those are some good signs heading into the Playoffs.”

WHY DO YOU THINK IT TOOK SO LONG AFTER DAYTONA TO GET BACK INTO THE TOP-FIVE ON A CONSISTENT BASIS?  “We poured everything in it after the off week and we did a lot of research to figure out where we were off a little bit, and I’m just happy with Ford and Monster Energy and with Haas – everybody at Stewart-Haas just pushing to find more.  You can’t be complacent in this series. Anytime I look at a scoring pylon there are usually a couple of Toyotas ahead of us, but that Larson kid is good.  He won tonight and he got some more bonus points.”

HAVE YOU SEEN AN AMBULANCE AT THE TOP OF PIT ROAD BEFORE?  “Here’s how that went wrong.  When we have our stage breaks they usually have three or four yellow flag laps to control the field, and they opened up pit road way too soon there and there was an ambulance in the middle of pit road.  It’s because these stages are confusing race calls.” 

BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Fusion) -- Finished 11th 
WHAT HAPPENED ON THAT LAST RESTART?  IT LOOKED LIKE THERE WAS SOME CONTACT?  “Yeah, you get these late-race yellows and everybody puts tires on and you just kind of play the bonsai game and I got bonsaied, but that’s how it goes sometimes.  I’ve been on the other end of that too.  We had a really fast Fitzgerald Glider Ford.  Early in the race I thought we were gonna drive up and win it, and then the last two or three runs we just kind of lost the handle, but all in all a strong day.  We’re still looking for some rear downforce in the Fords.  I think if we had that, we might have had a shot at it, but, all in all, we ran solid and ran competitive, so that’s good.”

YOU GO INTO THE PLAYOFFS WITH SOME GOOD BONUS POINTS.  HOW DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM IS SITUATED?  “I don’t think we’re anywhere close to where we need to be for the mile-and-a-halves, where the aero kicks in, but the short tracks we’ve got Martinsville, which has been a real strong track for us, and then Talladega is a real strong track for us.  Hopefully, we can just get solid finishes on the mile-and-a-halves and advance and find something to get on an equal playing field with the other manufacturer.”

KEVIN HARVICK (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion) -- Finished 16th 
“We were terrible all night.  We never got close to even being where we needed to be.  The last two weeks we’ve started the race worse and fell off really bad.”

THE GOOD NEWS IS THE PLAYOFFS ARE HERE.  WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET NOW?  “I wish we were in a better spot performance-wise. We’re just not running very good and we have to figure out how to run better.  Otherwise it’s gonna be a short 10 weeks.”

RYAN BLANEY (No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion) -- Finished 18th
“It’s been a decent year for us.  We knew tonight was gonna be a struggle.  This is probably our worst race track and it’s been my worst race track my whole career.  I don’t know what I need to do, but that’s for a different day.  I think all of the races in the Playoffs we can go and do really good at.  I think the first round is pretty strong for us and Chicago has always been a fast race track for us, so hopefully we can start off with a strong showing and can have a good run to where we go to Loudon, which is probably our worst track in that little series.  We still run decent there, but I think the biggest thing is just not making mistakes, getting stage points and not messing up on pit road with speeding or things like that.  You don’t want silly things happening that kind of take you out of the first round because I think round two is really, really strong for us.  There are some really good tracks for us in there, but I’m proud to just be in it.  It’s nice to be a part of it with the Wood Brothers in my last year with them and hopefully we can have a good 10 weeks.  It’s gonna be fun.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. (No. 17 Fastenal Ford Fusion) -- Finished 19th 
WHAT ABOUT YOUR RACE?  “It was pretty disappointing, actually.  We had high hopes coming in after a strong spring run here and we practiced well and qualified well, but just didn’t have it in the race.  There were points in the race where I thought we were OK, and then we took a gamble, pitted early and tried to jump some positions and it didn’t really pay off for us there.  It was a bummer of a night.  We wanted to have a little bit better of a night going into next week at Chicago, but we’ll take it and forget about it because next week is a totally different week and a totally different race track, and I think it’s something that we’re looking forward to.”

THE PLAYOFFS WILL BE YOUR FIRST TIME.  WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?  “I’m just focused on making sure I don’t make mistakes.  I felt like tonight was a good night on that aspect.  The last couple of weeks I felt like we’ve made some mistakes – pit road, me driving – so I felt like we accomplished a really good goal tonight of having a smooth, no-mistake race and that’s what we’re going to have to do come Chicago, Loudon and Dover.  We were trying a few little things tonight to look forward to Loudon, a short track in this first round, and I think we found some things not to bring back, so I guess that’s a positive to take out of it.”

IT MUST BE GOOD TO HAVE ROUSH FENWAY REPRESENTED AGAIN IN THE PLAYOFFS?  “Yeah, it is.  Since I’ve been at Roush Fenway since 2008, really 2007, and all the Chase and the Playoffs that Jack has been able to be a part of and to see us not a part of that over the last few years feels really good to be back.  I know it was always a pretty upbeat thing being around the shop, especially during the Playoffs, so I’m looking forward to the shop guys being able to enjoy it and being able to put a lot of effort into it.”

LANDON CASSILL (No. 34 CSX Play it Safe Ford Fusion) -- Finished 39th 
“I think the left rear tire was cut down or something like that. I am not really sure. We just hit the wall. It is really tough. We look forward to this race and then we didn’t even get a pit stop. Tough night.”

DAVID RAGAN (No. 38 Camping World/Good Sam Ford Fusion) -- Finished 27th 
“We had a great car, usually when we can run in the top 25 through attrition and a mistake-free race we can run in the top 20, but there weren’t many cautions tonight and weren’t many guys wrecking.  We had a great car and raced with some good guys, but we tried to be aggressive with our strategy at the end and cost us four or five spots.  We just didn’t think we would run that many laps green, and those are calls that you’ve got to be aggressive and make.  Sometimes they fall your way and sometimes they don’t, but I’m real proud of the speed we had in our car and it’s something we can learn from and hopefully finish the final 10 races strong.”

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil/Red Cross Ford Fusion -- JUST A LITTLE BIT SHORT OUT THERE.  WHY DON'T YOU TALK ABOUT THAT. “Yeah, you said it, came up a little bit short overall.  Yeah, it stings a little bit.  Last time we were sitting hereafter a race, it was after a win, and this time it's after a second, which overall if you look at our Richmond overall for a season with the two races, you'd say, that's pretty good, a first and a second.  But just overall, obviously it stings to come up one spot short and not be able to get into the playoffs.  It is what it is. It's reality, and we will move on. This is the test of our character, not only as a driver but as a team and the way we handle these next 10 races.  We don't want to roll over.  We want to help our teammates try to win a championship, and ultimately we want to win 10 races.  That's what the goal is at this point.  It may be the end of our championship run this year, but it's not the end of our season.  There's still a lot of races and a lot of stats we can rack up to make up for what still hurts right now. It is what it is.  Like I said, we were close.  I said before the race, second is a failure, and we finished second.  Go figure.  But overall, I'm proud of our race team, proud of the way we handled the pressure this week.  I said before the race started that this is kind of like Homestead last year for us.  It's just come a little bit early, so we knew how to handle these situations, and we executed as good as we knew how to, just wasn't fast enough to make it happen when we needed to.”

WOULD YOU CALL THIS A SUCCESSFUL SEASON IF YOU WERE TO GO INTO THE PLAYOFFS AND WIN A FEW RACES AND TURN THIS SEASON AROUND?  WOULD YOU CALL THIS A SUCCESSFUL SEASON IN THAT MANNER?  “I'm not in the playoffs.  I mean, a successful season is winning the championship, and that's not going to happen this year.  You know, can we win a bunch more races and call that success?  Yeah, for that last 10 races, yeah, we'll be happy with that and we'll still celebrate victories, but the ultimate goal when we go down to Daytona every year for the first race is win the championship.  That's all we talk about.  We came up one spot short last year, and this year we came up one spot short just being in it.  Yeah, it's a humbling sport.  It's just how it is sometimes. We put ourselves in this position, and we'll live with it, and we'll fight hard to come back.”

YOU'RE STILL YOUNG, BUT EVERY YEAR THAT GOES BY THAT YOU DON'T WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP, DOES IT START TO EAT AT YOU A LITTLE BIT BECAUSE YOU'RE SO COMPETITIVE? “We want to win, right?  Like I said, the goal for the last nine years has been to win the championship, and we keep getting close.  This year we didn't, but in the past three, four years we've been in the hunt to make it happen. You know, to me is the pressure on to win one?  I'm only 27, man.  I've got a long ways to go in this deal, and I like the position that I'm in.  I like the race team I'm with. You know, I think if you let your job define who you are, it would hurt a lot more, but I'm able to know that life is a lot bigger than just driving a race car, and I'm able to handle these situations a lot stronger as a man than just being a racer and that's it.”