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NOV 3, 2019 | Ford Performance Staff

Harvick Claims Championship 4 Spot as Ford Sweeps Top-4 Spots at Texas

AAA Texas 500

FORT WORTH, TX. - On a day of mixed fortunes for championship-eligible drivers, Kevin Harvick brought home another clutch victory and clinched a shot at a second Monster Energy Series title in a caution-filled Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Harvick started from the Pole and led a race-high 119 of the 334 laps in the AAA Texas 500, placing his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in Victory Lane for the fourth time this season. His third straight postseason win at the 1.5-mile track also marked the 49th of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

Harvick’s win was the cherry on top of an overall very good day for Ford and SHR as the OEM and organization finished 1-2-3 in the race with Harvick, Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez. Ford added to the run with a 4th place finish from Joey Logano to sweep the top-four positions.

Ryan Blaney, also still alive in the Playoffs, mustered a top-10 finish on a night where he struggled with the handling on his No. 12 Team Penske Mustang. Blaney came home eighth and will go into Phoenix 23 points outside of a transfer spot, needing a win or to make up significant points to advance.

Xfinity Series regular John Hunter Nemechek finished 21st in his Monster Energy Series debut for Ford in the Front Row Motorsports No. 36 subbing for Matt Tifft, who suffered a seizure at Martinsville eight days ago.

The Monster Energy Series’ next race is the Bluegreen Vacations 500, scheduled next Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) at ISM Raceway near Phoenix where the Playoff field will be trimmed to four drivers that will vie for the title the following week at Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

MENCS RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
1st - Kevin Harvick (P)
2nd - Aric Almirola
3rd - Daniel Suarez
4th - Joey Logano (P)

5th - Alex Bowman
6th - Martin Truex Jr. (P)
7th - Kyle Busch (P)
8th - Ryan Blaney (P)
9th - Kurt Busch
10th - Erik Jones

REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
11th - Clint Bowyer
15th - Ryan Newman
20th - Paul Menard
21st - John Hunter Nemechek
25th - Michael McDowell
26th - JJ Yeley
35th - David Ragan
36th - Garrett Smithley
38th - Corey LaJoie
39th - Brad Keselowski
40th - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

UPDATED PLAYOFF STANDINGS
1 - Martin Truex Jr. (WIN)
2 - Kevin Harvick (WIN)
3 - Kyle Busch (+22)
4 - Joey Logano (+20)
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5 - Denny Hamlin (-20)
6 - Ryan Blaney (-23)
7 - Kyle Larson (-23)
8 - Chase Elliott (-78)

(P) KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Bush Beer Ford Mustang 
MAN, THREE TIMES YOU WERE STUCK BACK IN TRAFFIC.  WERE YOU WORRIED IN THOSE MOMENTS YOU WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO GET BACK TO THE FRONT? “Well, we had a bad restart one time when we got buried back there, but I think as we came in, we put another set of tires on, we were really able to make up some time.  Our car was just so fast through 3 and 4, as long as I could keep my momentum up, I could get up beside him. So it was definitely fast, and speed made up for our Ducks Unlimited Busch Beer Ford Mustang tonight what we lacked a little bit in handling.”

HOW CRITICAL WAS THIS TO GET BACK TO MIAMI AND A SECOND SHOT AT A CHAMPIONSHIP? “Well, we've already been going down the road.  They've already built the car, picked a direction.  Like we talked about earlier, we've got so many things that ‑‑ so many things that you had to choose from from an aero standpoint, and Homestead is such a unique racetrack.  We've already been to the simulator, we've already built the car, and now we've just got to make sure that we do what we think is right and go with our gut and see what happens.”

AGAIN TODAY KEELAN SET THE AIR PRESSURES BEFORE THE RACE AND AGAIN YOU WIN. “Yeah, I think he's three for three or four for four.  I think all four races he's set the air pressure this year, so if anything we're helping him with math.  It's fun to have him at the racetrack. Had a fun weekend. They have a great zoo here, in case you were wondering.  We didn't do much yesterday. But just really proud of everybody on this team. Just got to thank everybody from Busch Beer, from Hunt Brothers Pizza, Mobil 1, Jimmy John's, everybody from Haas Automation and Stewart‑Haas Racing, Roush Yates engines for the last‑minute engine change and the things that they worked on to give us all the speed we had here, and it was definitely fun to drive.”

(P) RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Wabash National Ford Mustang - FINISHED 8th
“It was a long night. We struggled really bad all night with track position and then I felt like even when we got a little bit of it we still weren’t very good. We tried a lot of things tonight and they didn’t really work. Unfortunately we didn’t really get many stage points and the 4 winning didn’t help our cause but we have to run better than that anyway.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT PHOENIX? “Gotta win. Hopefully we go do that.”

YOU HAD A WICKED HANDLING RACE CAR AND IT SEEMED WORSE WHEN YOU WERE TRYING TO GET RYAN NEWMAN. IS IT A MATTER OF COURTESY WHEN YOU ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS? “I am not in his head. Ryan is Ryan and he is going to race hard. I was mad that I had a massive run up top and he just turned right and it made me jump out of the gas and get tight and hit the fence. That is what I was mad about. I was fine with the racing before that but when someone has a big run like that it is like, ‘C’Mon.’ I don't know. I don't really care. I forgot about it until you brought it up to be honest.”

(P) JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford Mustang - FINISHED 4th
HOW WAS IT WITH THE PJ1? 
“It isn’t the PJ1 it is when you get a little above where it isn’t activated or it is really dirty. I believe it is dirty. I believe it is so sticky that the dust that comes off the cars to that part of the track just sticks. Until it is cleaned off it is like ice. Literally ice in Texas. It is just a tough deal when you get on it. I went for a hell of a ride early in the race getting a little too aggressive with it. It wasn’t a bad thing, don't take this the wrong way. It wasn’t a bad thing on the race track. It helped the track to be wider and be able to put on a better race for the fans but if you got a little much it was, look out.”

KYLE BUSCH JUST SAID HE WILL HAVE TO RACE YOU NEXT WEEKEND AND YOU ARE TOUGH TO BEAT: “It is going to be a good battle for sure. We are definitely racing for that last spot just in case someone behind us outside of the top-four wins. Then it will come down to the 18 and the 22 to try to get for that last spot. It is going to be fun. I am looking forward to the battle. It will be a good time. Obviously the 18 team is good and Kyle is a good driver but I think we are a great team and they are beatable just like everybody else.”

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang - FINISHED 2nd 
“Our Smithfield Ford Mustang was really fast. I am really proud of the effort by everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing, Roush Yates Engines and Ford Motor Company. Our cars were really, really good from the time we unloaded here and we all came with a little something different, just trying to learn and get ahead for next year. I think we learned some stuff. I am really proud of all the guys on my team. We have had such a bad run of luck the last two months and it is so nice to come here and just execute all night and have a fast car, lead laps and win a stage and run up front. We had a great night on pit road. I did my part on restarts and on and off pit road and just an all-around solid night. We can build on that.”

YOU WERE RELENTLESS TONIGHT: “Yeah, for a little while I thought we had a car capable of winning. When Harvick got a good restart there and was able to keep pace with us I knew I was in trouble. His car was a good bit faster than ours in clean air.”

DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 41 Walmart Family Mobile Ford Mustang - FINISHED 3rd
“That was a very solid night and I am very happy with the performance and speed that we brought from the shop. Everyone back at the shop did a great job. We knew we would be fast here. We had a solid performance here last time. We did a good job. We had good execution and a good clean day. I am very happy for Stewart-Haas Racing and the 41 Ford Mustang was pretty sporty. I am very happy for Kevin (Harvick) getting his ticket for Homestead.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Wurth Ford Mustang - (RETIRED FROM ACCIDENT ON LAP 52)
“I just busted my butt. I feel terrible for Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.), he didn’t deserve to get caught up in it. I was just real loose and trying to make something happen. When you are getting passed by other cars you kind of lose your confidence and you try something and I knew better. My butt told me I would wreck if I do that. I was getting passed and swung for the fence and I hit it. It just sucks. I am kind of embarrassed to do that. I was just trying to make something happen for my team and swung too hard.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang - (RETIRED FROM ACCIDENT ON LAP 52)
“We got our car better there and we were running top-five but with the flip-flop of track position we made an adjustment and I got running 1 and 2 really good and passed some really good cars. Then we got around to Brad (Keselowski) there in 1 and 2 and he got loose underneath me and almost crashed us down there. We lost a lot of track position. Then going into turn 3 there I was running the top and saw him getting loose. When I checked up my car got loose as well. I was just trying to avoid him and it got mine sideways. It is a bummer of a weekend. Our Fastenal Mustang was really fast and I was having fun until then.”

WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT TRACTION COMPOUND AND HOW IT IS ACTING TODAY? “It is coming in really well. I feel like it was a little tight the first run to run up there in 1 and 2. I could run up there in 3 and 4 as the tires wore out a little bit we put fuel on it and our car got more free after we made an adjustment and I felt I could really run 1 and 2 really well. I needed to probably run the bottom of 3 and 4 to be optimal lap time for us but I passed the 11 and the 22 and was passing the 2 there in 1 and 2 on the top. I felt really good, it is going to continue to come in.”

(P) indicates driver currently in NASCAR Playoffs