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MAY 10, 2019 | FORD PERFORMANCE STAFF

HARVICK WINS POLE AT KANSAS

Digital Ally 400

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Kevin Harvick led the Ford effort during qualifying for the Digital Ally 400. Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez were close behind, rounding out the top 4.

FORD QUALIFYING RESULTS
1st - Kevin Harvick
2nd - Aric Almirola
3rd - Clint Bowyer
4th - Daniel Suarez
9th - Brad Keselowski
16th - Paul Menard
19th - Ryan Blaney
20th - Joey Logano
21st - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
23rd - Michael McDowell
28th - Ryan Newman
33rd - David Ragan
35th - Matt Tifft

POST QUALIFYING QUOTES

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Mustang, Qualified: 1st
HOW SURPRISING IS IT TO YOU THAT YOU ARE WINLESS THIS SEASON?
“We have run well. All seasons aren’t going to be like last year. It isn’t like I have been through a season this far and not won a race before. Every season is different. We have scrambled very well and knocked some top five and top-10s out and some poles. We have done everything with what we feel like are not superior cars. The whole organization, engine shop, team, you can see a vast improvement across the board from our cars this week. It started at Texas. That was the last step on this 550 package for us and we knew we were off at the beginning of the year and they have done nothing but work and work and work and work. This is really a good moment for Stewart-Haas Racing in general. I think that is something to be proud of. Sometimes it isn’t about wins or losses, it is about how you are running and we have run well the last three weeks at the 750 tracks and you just can’t force those things.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE KNOCKING ON THE DOOR NOW? “It is all in how you look at it I guess. We want to lead laps and win races. That is the ultimate goal. I think as you look at the poles, they are great, but in the end you do want to win and that is why you are here. When you can’t and you think you are off, being able to scrape decent finishes out of weekends is also important too because you are not always going to have the fastest car. If you are comparing it to last year you can compare every year of my career to that and say it was worse because it was. Every year is a little different and has a little different look to it and this one is just shaping up to whatever it will look like when we are done.”

THIS IS YOUR FIFTH POLE HERE, YOU HAVE WON TWICE FROM THE POLE HERE. YOU HAVE LED THE MOST LAPS HERE. HOW COMFORTABLE DOES ALL OF THIS MAKE YOU GOING INTO TOMORROW? “This has just been a really good race track for us since they have redone it and even when I was at RCR this was probably our best race track. Coming here to SHR and having the success we have had here, we feel like we have lost more than we should have at this particular race track for one reason or another but we have also had good success here, whether it is poles or wins. It is a place that fits a lot of things that I like to do in the car and they like to put in the car. It has been a happy spot for us. You just have to take advantage of those places and try to get a good result out of those places that you think you should.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL THE RACE IS GOING TO BE TOMORROW NIGHT? “I think it is going to be very similar to Texas. I think you will see some wild restarts and I think you will see guys when they have to check up you will get a swarm of cars that catch you. I think for us the closing rate has been very good when you catch a draft off a car. I don't think it is going to be one big pack. You will see that for seven, eight or 10 laps on a restart like you did at Texas. You have multiple lanes here. As you run through the night, I think you will see tire strategy. I don't think the tire fall off will be near as bad as in the past. There will still be some there but we haven’t seen a lot today and it will be cooler tomorrow night. I think the exact style of race it is hard to tell you because the conditions are going to be different when it is dark.”

WE KNOW YOU ARE AN ADVOCATE OF SWAPPING THE SCHEDULE AROUND. NEXT WEEK IS THE ALL-STAR RACE. SHOULD IT STAY IN CHARLOTTE OR DO YOU WANT TO SEE THAT BE ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS MOVED TO MAKE IT MORE ACCESSIBLE TO FANS? “I think it needs to be more accessible to the fans. There are a number of places that I think you could move it around to. I think it would be a great piece of NASCAR racing that you could use to help build back the short track system. You could take that race to a number of short tracks across the country and combine it with a truck race or K&N race. Go to the Nashville Fairgrounds or Irwindale Speedway or race tracks like that. There are no rules you have to make up, you will just have a good race. You are going to have as many people as you want in the grandstands and as many grandstands as you can put up. It is a great way to spotlight a short track and build some enthusiasm in a market and put some money in the infrastructure of a short track that may need it to keep going to give it a stable type facility that can race in that region. There are a number of ways you can look at it. You could go to ORP during the week of the Indy 500 and race on a Wednesday night at ORP and I bet you would have plenty of people there. I think you could get really creative with it. I love Charlotte but I think in the end, Charlotte has three races. In this day in age I think that is too many.”

I WAS GOING TO ASK IF YOUR QUALIFYING LAP WAS LIT AF. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PAINT SCHEME? “I think as you look at next week, they made the tweet and I didn’t really pay attention to it. Sometimes they get pretty edgy on their things that they say on Twitter. So I didn’t really think anything of it. Then I saw all the plans and pait schemes - let me take that back - I didn’t see all the schemes I saw all the plans. Obviously I didn’t see that paint scheme but I thought that particular plan was fun just because it is interaction. It is just kind of poking fun at yourself. In the end, I had to look up and I still don't even know what “Yeet” means. It says SKRRRT SKRRRT on the skirts with no i and I don't think that is proper spelling. I can kind of relate to “squad goals” but I don't really know what the frog in the tea means. In the end it is something that I believe is a lot of fun. Really, it is the perfect event to put that at and kind of create some interaction. They have had great interaction. For God’s sake we got Jeff (Gluck) to change his name. There will be some great merchandise, some great Bush AF merchandise to go with it. It is fun. I have learned that sometimes it is more fun poking fun at yourself because you don't know what something is and this is one of those situations. It is the ugliest race car I have ever seen though, but I think that is part of what makes it great. And who knew there was a color called millennial pink. That is an actual color. It isn’t the prettiest pink though.”

HAVE YOU SEEN THE CAR WITH THE UPDATES AS FAR AS THE RADIATOR DUCTS COMING THROUGH THE HOOD? “I have not seen the car. I have seen the drawings. The guys tell me that the duct fits in there well. These cars are really, really sensitive currently with this particular splitter to the height to the ground and if that improves the sensitivity to the splitter height and the cars lose less downforce because of where the cars run on the race track behind each other then I am a fan. They are losing 400-600 pounds of downforce when you get behind somebody. At Texas, we had a weird situation where the splitter was at a weird height and the car vibrated and bounced so bad that you couldn’t drive it. Those are the types of things that you don't really know but it was a strange thing. The radiator duct is really for under hood temperatures and to keep the underhood temps down because they make the engine guys nervous with all the wires and things under the hood. I think everybody will be fine with that. The splitter is the part that I am excited about.”

“When you get behind a car right now, the car raises up. If it raises up a couple hundred-thousandths of an inch, it is going to lose hundreds of pounds of downforce because of the car coming up off the race track. It is not all the splitter that loses all the downforce. It isn’t just the splitter.”

REGARDING INTRATEAM COMPETITION: “It is hard to get a word in because Clint talks so much. It is difficult to understand if we are talking trash to each other because most of the time Aric, myself and Danile just kind of look at him and wonder what he is talking about. It is a good group of guys to have together just because I feel like we all work together well. Clint and I have been around for a long time and around each other. Daniel is new but very easy to get along with and Aric can get along with anybody. Most of the time it is just me being a pain in the butt more than anybody else. Everybody is competitive but helpful. Today is a classic example of having four good teams and the progression rate and you look at how we got to this point and the things that were tried at Texas and other race tracks and you can’t do that with one or two cars. You have to have four cars that are running well and four guys that are willing to be somewhat similar to the thought process and that is really where we are as an organization and I think that showed up last year as well with the way that the cars ran.”

QUESTION INAUDIBLE: “As you look at it, our lives are much different due to the fact we both have kids and it is hard to find time to do things that we used to do. One, we probably would be in more trouble nowadays than we were in those days and two, you just don't have time. When I have free time I want to spend it with my kids, not out doing whatever. We go to work and we know what we have to do and then it is Keelan’s schedule and his baseball games and the things that he does. We just both wind up busy.”

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang, Qualified: 2nd
“We have really fast race cars. Our Ford Mustangs are fast and I like it. It is fun when you show up to the race track and have a lot of speed. It has been tough to show up to these race tracks and just not feel like we were one of the cars to beat, so it feels good to show up here and have the speed we have today and I am looking forward to the race tomorrow night. Hopefully we can carry that speed through the rest of the race.”

CLINT BOWYER, No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang, Qualified: 3rd
“It is fun to be back home in Kansas and it is fun to be in a fast car at home. That is the biggest thing. You come home and you just want to run good. I have been beat up pretty bad here. There are so many media members, fans, family, everybody tells me how I have to do better at home. Obviously, everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing has been working hard to get us in victory lane and I think their efforts are really starting to show. The speeds in our cars are very obvious from the time we got in there here today. That is exciting for me. These mile and a half tracks, we need to do better and I need to do better. Certainly having a good hot rod goes a long way towards that.”

“Having the top-4 is just awesome. The guys have been working hard to get us in victory lane and we have knocked on the door pretty hard here lately. We have had a lot of short track success and I have been looking for that on the mile and a half tracks. We have a long night ahead and we will be ready tomorrow.”

DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 41 Haas Automation Demo Day Ford Mustang, Qualified: 4th
“This feels very good. This is the first time I have been in this situation where we qualified 1-2-3-4. What can I say? I am very, very grateful to be a part of our organization at Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford Performance. We have very good speed in our cars. We actually struggled alot in the 41 team to find the balance in the morning practice. Good information from our teammates helped us get in a better direction but right now it looks like the Q trim is different than the race trim but the car drove very good and hopefully we can keep that going tomorrow night.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Wurth Ford Mustang, Qualified: 9th
“It was an easy, wide-open run. It was just all she had today. It drove good, there just isn’t much to say more than that. I feel okay about tomorrow. I am interested to see how it is going to play out. This is a different mile and a half than we have been running this at. Different shape and different style. I am not really sure what to expect but I am looking forward to it.”

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang, Qualified: 20th
“We qualified 20th. We didn’t do very good today. Hopefully it races better than that. I feel like we will be able to make passes. We are going to have to. But I do think it is going to be a good race and plenty of two and three-wide racing with plenty of opportunities to pass, so I think we will be okay.”

MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford Mustang, Qualified: 23rd
“Our Mustang has been really good in both happy hour and qualifying there. Single car it is hard to tell because it depends on how trimmed out you are. I feel like our car is going to race really well and we are looking forward to tomorrow night.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 SunnyD Ford Mustang, Qualified: 21st
“We ran about what I thought we would run. We didn’t do a qualifying run in practice or do any trimming out. We just tried to work on our race car because we had a pretty disappointing practice. We have been working hard on our SunnyD Ford. It seemed to be a little better there. Hopefully it is in the right direction. It is an impound race so hopefully we are heading in the right direction for the race.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 BodyArmor Ford Mustang, Qualified: 19th
“Well, I held it wide open but I think we are 11th right now and probably going to drop. It is just the way it is. You have cars trimmed out and other cars kind of hopefully better for the race. That is how we have really been, that has been our mindset at the mile and a half tracks. We will give up some qualifying to have a good handle on the race car. We will see. You never really know until it gets going.”