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FEB 11, 2018 | Ford Performance Staff

Harvick Qualifies 8th for Daytona 500

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DAYTONA, Fla. - The 2018 NASCAR season officially kicked-off this weekend, as qualifying set the field for next Thursday's two Can-Am Duels.

FORD QUALIFYING RESULTS
8th Kevin Harvick
9th Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
11th Joey Logano
12th Paul Menard
13th Aric Almirola
15th Ryan Blaney
16th Clint Bowyer
17th Kurt Busch
19th Brad Keselowski
20th Trevor Bayne
24th Michael McDowell
33rd Matt DiBenedetto
40th David Ragan

Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion (Qualified 8th)
“I am extremely happy with the effort. For me personally, just guessing, I didn’t think we would run that fast. The second round pick up was really good. I know we have done a lot of things to our car to slow it down to make sure it handles good on Thursday. From that standpoint, I think the speed is better than we expected just because of that.”

WHAT HAS THIS WEEKEND BEEN LIKE FOR YOUR TEAM WITH THE RULES CHANGES? “It has been hectic. For us, we were behind in every session. It was like the shootout is almost a disturbance to the 500 car because of all the things you have going on. This week it was good because we can take what we learn, adapt it to the 500 and that got us behind. The first time out we got into oil and they red-flagged it. We didn’t really make a run until 10 minutes to go in the session with the 500 car. It has been a lot of work. A lot of decisions have to be made pretty fast. Hopefully today we can have another step in the mindset as to where we need to go. Obviously, this car is what it is until Thursday. After the qualifying races  -- we will have a better idea of where we need to go after today, but really after the qualifying races we will have a good understanding of what we need to do for the 500.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Fastenal Ford Fusion (Qualified 9th)
“It could have been worse. I actually thought it was going to be worse after our single car runs yesterday. I was hoping we could pick up a little bit there and move into the front row from third in the first round. All in all, I am really happy with the speed that the boys found for our Fastenal Ford and I am looking forward to racing the Duels with that come Thursday. I think the Clash today will be a good representation for what we will need next Sunday. The Duels won’t mean as much come 500 time. I am really happy with the speed, we just have to get it driving good now.”

YOU HAD SPEED IN PRACTICE TOO. “Yeah, it helped me with confidence of how it drove in the draft yesterday. That was nice. I was really confused when we were third in the first round. I was pretty surprised. Pleasantly surprised. We will definitely take that qualifying effort and go on to the Duels.”

Paul Menard, No. 21 Omnicraft Ford Fusion (Qualified 12th)
“I thought we had a little more that we didn’t get. We slowed down the second round and we are confused at that. We slowed down a tenth. Overall, we have a really fast Ford Fusion with Omnicraft on board and we will line up for the Duels on Thursday. I feel good about how we drafted yesterday. It looked like a lot of guys were out of control but our car handled really well, so hopefully it pays off.”

DOES THAT MEAN YOU ARE READY FOR THE DUELS? “Well, you can’t dictate what happens in the Duels. It is kind of a crap-shoot that way. I feel as good as I can going into it. If we didn’t have the handling that we had yesterday or if we lack the handling that we had, I will be a little more nervous, but right now I feel good about it.”

Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion (Qualified 13th)
“I am really proud of everyone on this No. 10 Ford Fusion team. It has been a heck of scramble this weekend so far but I couldn’t be happier with my Stewart-Haas organization. They gave me a fast Ford Fusion. Now we get to go do some racing. I thought we were going to make it to the final round there. It is a little disappointing not to, but I can’t be upset with the effort and we do have speed in the car. I am excited to go race it to get a good starting spot for the Daytona 500.”

WHAT HAS THE FIRST WEEKEND WITH YOUR NEW TEAM BEEN LIKE? “It has been great. Everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing has done an awesome job. They have been working hard. We are really focused on Atlanta and all those other race tracks but there is a lot of hard work and preparation that goes into getting ready for the Daytona 500. We are just trying to get ready to go race. Qualifying is just one small part of it. There is a lot left to go on Thursday night to get ready for the Daytona 500. We will go from there.”

YOU SEEM TO HAVE SPEED IN YOUR CAR. YOU SEEM DIFFERENT WALKING AROUND HERE THIS YEAR. “Yeah. I am just happy. Happy to be with such a great organization and happy to have a chance to go out and run good, run out front. The cars are fast and we have a shot to go try and win Thursday night, win the Daytona 500. I feel good about it. I am ready.”

Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Menards Ford Fusion (Qualified 15th)
“It is a bummer we didn’t make the second round but we did show a little bit of speed. I thought all four of our cars had decent speed. The 22 and 21 were a little faster than us but hopefully we will be okay with this car in the Duels. It has been pretty interesting with the no ride height rule of how far you want to go to make the back really far down, but can you race with it like that? We messed with that line a lot yesterday and what we settled with was kind of a racing package because at the end of the day that is what you want. You need to make moves and be aggressive. Hopefully we did the right thing there. We will have to see on Thursday. We have the Clash here today which will be nice to get a race in and be aggressive and see if we can seal the deal.”

Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Fusion (Qualified 19th)
“We didn’t quite run the time we wanted to run. Our 500 car has been really smooth though and I am really looking forward to racing it. This weekend has been a bit of a scramble. The last few years we have been here the rules have been pretty consistent and it is almost a little bit boring and you felt like you had more time than things you wanted to do. This is exactly the opposite this year.”No article body