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JUN 10, 2018 | Ford Performance Staff


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BROOKLYN, MICH.- Clint Bowyer led a 1-2-3 finish for Ford and Stewart-Haas Racing, edging teammates Kevin Harvick (2nd) and Kurt Busch (3rd) in a rain-shortened race at Michigan International Speedway for his second win of the season.

Bowyer’s Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Ford led eight of the 133 laps in the FireKeepers Casino 400, which was shortened from its scheduled 200-lap, 400-mile distance because of rain. Bowyer’s 10th win of his premier-series career was his first at the 2-mile track.

Bowyer took advantage of quick two-tire stop during his final trip to pit road. Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz’s call worked as Bowyer held off Harvick on the final restart before rain stopped the event.

Harvick led a race-high 49 laps and finished second in Stewart-Haas’ No. 4 Ford. Pole-starter Kurt Busch led 46 laps and completed a 1-2-3 sweep for Stewart-Haas Racing, a first for the organization. Paul Menard rounded out the top five.

Team Penske finished 6th, 7th and 8th with Keselowski, Logano and Blaney.

1st - Clint Bowyer
2nd - Kevin Harvick
3rd - Kurt Busch
4th - Kyle Busch
5th - Paul Menard
6th - Brad Keselowski
7th - Joey Logano
8th - Ryan Blaney
9th - Chase Elliott
10th - Jamie McMurray

11th - Aric Almirola
25th - Michael McDowell
29th - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
33rd - Matt Kenseth
36th - Matt DiBenedetto
38th - David Ragan

CLINT BOWYER, No. 14 Haas 30 Years of the VF1 Ford Fusion - Finished 1st
“It took something crazy on a restart to be able to get Kevin. That was a gutsy call. When we went out there on two tires I looked in the mirror and I was so far ahead of everybody else i was like, ‘Oh man, we are in trouble!’ The rain came just in enough time. I was trying to hold him off. I was cutting him off and taking his line away pretty bad. If it wasn’t for a win you wouldn’t be doing that. He was so much faster than me in one and two. I got down in three and just had to take his line because that bear was coming.”

THE TWO TIRE CALL PUT YOU IN POSITION BUT YOU HAD TO HOLD OFF THE GUY THAT HAS BEEN THE BEST ALL YEAR LONG. TAKE US THROUGH THAT FIRST LAP BACK TO GREEN: “Well, he almost cleared me off of two and he would have rode off into the sunset again for the 4 car. I was able to just get by him because he left me room and was courteous and a good teammate. I tried to give him enough room in three and four but just enough that I was going to try to stay in front of him and take the air off him. That is the only thing you can really do in that situation.”

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion - Finished 2nd
“It was a weird day. If you are going to have rain kind of take one from you I would rather give it to my teammate. I am happy for Clint and all the guys on the 14 team. Everyone on our car did a great job. I had a really fast car and the pit crew was the best thing that happened all day. They were solid all day and kept us up front. That to me is the best thing that came out of today.”

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion - Finished 7th
“I got out of the car and thought, ‘Man, that was a weird day.’ It was hard to pass. I had a car that was capable of running in the top-five but the result depended on the restart. If you got a good restart you could settle in and run pretty well. Our car took off pretty good on restarts which was good and played into our hands a little bit. We had a good pit stop at the end that got us up to tenth and we had a good restart at the end and got a couple cars and that is what got us to the seventh place finish.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 DEX Imaging Ford Fusion - Finished 8th
We were really fast. We got our car better all day and won that stage and kind of got back there and a lot of guys took two. We were making it back up but then the rain came. It was a really great race car. Definitely not an eighth place car but unfortunately that is where we ended up.”

PAUL MENARD, No. 21 Menards/Jack Links Ford Fusion - Finished 5th
“We had a good car today and all weekend. We didn’t qualify as good as we would have hoped and went from the back and got put to the back twice. Once I sped and another time we got door slammed. I am really proud of my guys. We made a gutsy call to stay out on no tires with a bunch of laps on it. Gutsy call. We had the car to hold on though, so it worked out.”

DAVID RAGAN, No. 38 MDS Transport Ford Fusion - (Retired after accident on lap 35)
Yeah, I wish he wasn’t able to drive away because he just kind of ran in over his head and wrecked us. You will have that sometimes. Guys make mistakes and he made a mistake. It is unfortunate. I feel like I car was going to be okay. We made some good adjustments to our Ford for today’s race and I was going to race hard to try to get to halfway. It is just one of those days and we will move on.”

“ It was a good day for us.  Our pit crew was solid.  Rodney made a good call there in the middle of the second stage to keep the track position and be able to drive away and get the stage win. They had a good pit stop to close out there, and the 14 just gambled, rolled the dice that the rain must have been going to come, and he was able to keep me on the bottom there just by a little bit on the restart.  Then it was just going to take me a few laps to work back by. But he did a good job hanging onto his car and the gamble paid off for him.”

So are you pissed?  You looked like you were kind of in position to win and circumstances seemed to just not go your way.

KEVIN HARVICK: “I don't control the weather.”

Were you confused at all at the end of the first stage when they were going to open the pits but then they closed because there were two laps left in the stage even though the caution had come out?

KEVIN HARVICK: “I didn't know the scenario there.  I saw the pits were closed.  You'll have to ask somebody from NASCAR.”

Obviously you had great control of the race all the way through.  I heard Clint Bowyer say one more lap you probably would have caught him.  That's just racing luck.

KEVIN  HARVICK:Yeah, look, I've been on both sides of this.  If you're going to have racing luck work against you, you want to at least stay on your own team.  It worked the other way at Dover.  He was kind of in the same position, we went back green.  Today it worked out for him. Our guys, the exciting thing to me is we did a great job on pit road, were able to maintain the track position, beat everybody off of pit road.  Obviously those guys took two tires and a gamble.  It rained for them in three laps.  Paid off pretty good.”

Kurt, you started from the pole today.  We knew there was rain heading in.  Talk about your team's strategy heading into stage two.

KURT BUSCH: “We had an excellent day all the way through.  No big mistakes, no rough moments.  Pit stops were solid, adjustments were solid.  Restarts, I'd say three quarters of the time I was on the inside lane, so that might have been a little bit where we were pinned down. But you have to make do with what you have, how the chips fall.  I'm happy with our effort today.  To finish third, rain shortened, of course you always want to go back racing again, but to see the two cars in front of me at the end, the 4 and the 14, that's a big day for Stewart‑Haas Racing.  It's very special to finish 1‑2‑3. Tried to get to your outside when we were on the track, maybe get a picture with the 14, 4 and 41 to symbolize such a special day at Michigan.  To win at Stewart‑Haas for Ford 1‑2‑3, it's a huge day.”

What is it about a track like this where the Fords are showing their strength?  Is it engine?  Aero?  Why on this track is it more obvious on other tracks?          

KEVIN HARVICK: “Well, I mean, you've been around this sport a long time.  You've seen Dale Jarrett, Ernie Irvan, those cars have dominated up here for years with those engines under the hood. I think it's a real honor to drive the Roush‑Yates engines when you get to a place like this because you can be a lot easier on your car.  Obviously they're doing a great job with their cars, it's a combination of things.  But Doug Yates and those guys, they like to make big horsepower on the big end of the motor, put a lot of effort into this particular race weekend.”

KURT BUSCH: “Yeah, I can echo those comments and also say it's a team effort to not have any weaknesses.  We also come here to Michigan for bragging rights.  I've always driven that way.  It really shines through when you see Doug Yates here, Mark Rushbrook is here, everybody from all departments, the chief aero guy was here this weekend from Stewart‑Haas.  We put in a full effort.  It's bragging rights to win at Michigan.”

How surprised were you to see your brother Kyle up there in the middle of the Ford party at the very end after having to start from the back?  Kevin, you were joking before the race started.  Is that what you expected him to be able to do?  Quite a drive for him to get up there.

KEVIN HARVICK:Yeah, I mean, obviously those guys, Larson, Kyle, if they get to the back of the pack, they're going to be driving through the pack, doing great on restarts.  Both of them had a good car in practice.  It wasn't really any surprise to me.”           

KURT BUSCH:Yeah, just a matter of time before you're going to see them pop up because we had the competition yellow at lap 25.  There's stage one, another yellow, then there's the two tire sequence you can jump in on if you really want to gain some track position.  Kyle and Kyle, you knew they were going to show up.”

Kevin, if it hadn't been your teammate that you were racing against there on the final restart, would the results have been different?     

KEVIN HARVICK: “I don't think so.  I mean, we raced pretty hard.  I got fairly loose up underneath him there in three and four when we went down there on the backstretch.  I drove it in there, he drove it in there, slid the back.  He was able to get me sliding enough to where he was able to clear me. Yeah, I don't think it would have been ‑‑ I wouldn't have raced anybody any different.”          

KURT BUSCH: “I wanted two more laps.  I just cleared Kyle, saw you two side‑by‑side.  It's like a fishing reel, hoping I could get up in there.”

Almost like a Chamber of Commerce moment for your team, going for first, second and third.  You're in the Chase, Clint is in the Chase.  Kurt, you must really like your chances, team must really like what you have going forward.        

KURT BUSCH:  “We've been consistent this year.  We haven't had that super perfect All‑Star type day.  We've chiseled away at being consistent, not making mistakes, and our day will come.  We just have to put ourselves in position more often. One of the times off pit road I came out fourth and then a car stayed out in front of us, that put me to the fifth spot.  I'm like, Well, one of those times when things just don't quite go your way. We had a fast car.  Again, it's easy to smile and go into this off week and celebrate a Stewart‑Haas 1‑2‑3, it's very special.”

Talk about what that means for you to bring home the win.
MARK RUSHBROOK, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports: 
"Man, it's just unbelievable the start to the season with the wins and success that we're having, come here to our home track with our employees here watching their friends and family.  To have this performance and strength across all of our teams, to win the race, it's just tremendous for all the company.”

Did you expect this sort of Ford domination going into the season?
“Well, we always want to win every race, so that's always the goal.  Certainly this I think would exceed what our expectation is. We're working on all fronts of what it takes to be successful in racing with our teams and giving them the right tools, making sure they have the best engines, aero tools, CFD tools to optimize what they've got.  We're just going to keep pushing as hard as we have been and not giving up.”

Why do you think this type of track lends itself to one manufacturer being able to dominate the way you did today?
“I mean, to be successful with this track, you've got to have strong engines.  With the rpm range that they're running, high rpms, having the power up there, but also able to get out of the corners with the speed differential in the corners, and aerodynamics. That's what we've been working with the teams on.  I think it's that combination.  If you're not strong in all areas, you're not going to do well at a track like this.”