DAYTONA - Aric Almirola was the lone Ford driver to qualify in the top 10 for the Daytona 500.
FORD QUALIFYING RESULTS
7th - Aric Almirola
11th - Joey Logano
12th - Kevin Harvick
13th - Clint Bowyer
14th - Cole Custer
15th - Ryan Newman
16th - Matt DiBenedetto
19th - Chris Buescher
23rd - Brad Keselowski
24th - Michael McDowell
25th - John Hunter Nemechek
26th - David Ragan
27th - Ryan Blaney
37th - Corey LaJoie
ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang - Qualified 7th
“That was pretty easy. When we show up down here for Daytona and Talladega, the drivers have a few things that are important with the launch off pit road and hitting your shifts and all those things and being smooth on the wheel but most of the speed just comes from the guys and everybody back at the shop and all the preparation and hard work that goes into the offseason and gearing up for the Daytona 500. I am proud of the effort. It shows we have a lot of raw speed in our car. Now we just have to get it ready for racing. That is what is most important now. If you don't get those top two spots you go race for your starting spot in the Duels and you make sure your car is driving good for 500 miles here on Sunday.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang -- Qualified 11th
“If you qualify on the front row it does matter. If you don't, then eh, not really. You want to qualify good, don't get me wrong, but if you aren’t on the front row I am not sure it doesn't matter much.”
WITH BRAD’S ISSUE YESTERDAY, DO YOU THINK TEAM PENSKE HAS GOTTEN THE BAD LUCK OR GREMLINS OUT OF THE WAY EARLY HERE?
“I don't know. I don't believe in gremlins and bad luck or any of that. Things sometimes just happen, but what are you going to do? I am not a luck guy. You just always have to expect the unexpected.”
DO YOU LIKE THAT DAYTONA 500 QUALIFYING IS SO DIFFERENT THAN THE OTHER PLACES YOU GO?
“I like speedweeks. I have always liked it, even when I was a fan of the sport before I raced. I like that you are down here for awhile and get to watch races this weekend and get to start racing again on Thursday and throughout the whole weekend. For a race fan, that is really cool. You make a trip out of it. You are in an awesome location. You are at the beach. You aren’t stuck somewhere that is 30-degrees right now. I like it. I like coming down here and staying down here for 10 days or whatever it is. It is a fun time.”
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light #PIT4BUSCH Ford Mustang -- Qualified 12th
“We were a little behind the eight ball. We got out there late and drug the track a little too hard. We didn’t quite run as fast as we thought we would. We will be okay. We will just go race now.”
THE CLASH TODAY, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?
“Our Mustang has been fine. I think you just have to get in the positions you need to be in to try to avoid the wreck or the wrecks and try to position yourself for the end of the race. It is good to be in the Clash. Obviously it is great to have Busch back on board with the Clash but it is also good for me to kind of knock the rust off and be able to go out and race.”
CLINT BOWYER, No. 14 Rush/Mobil 1 Ford Mustang -- Qualified 13th
“It is an interesting day. You wake up and your mindset is on this Clash later today and trying to be in Victory Lane at Daytona and your mindset is there and now all of a sudden I am talking about the Daytona 500 qualifying. It is unique in that sense. Today in qualifying, it is all about the efforts of Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford Performance and Doug Yates and all his guys at the engine shop. It is their day. I am looking forward to wherever we land, but more importantly I am looking forward to getting on the track tonight, getting back in the swing of things. That is the hardest thing about all of this. You sit there, I just got a chance to watch my favorite team win the Super Bowl and all the while I am sitting there thinking to myself that I have watched them prepare for this game all season long and be ready for it and realize that in two weeks time I am going to be doing this completely cold turkey with a team that I have relatively never worked with before. I am looking forward to getting the opportunity. I am looking forward to the Daytona 500. You always do, every single year. I haven’t gotten that done yet. We got so close last year going down the back straight away and we went for it and wrecked. That is all you can ask for is that opportunity. I know that Johnny and all the guys gave me that opportunity already ahead of time. It is up to us to get it to the end and then put it into a situation where you can win.”
MATT DIBENEDETTO, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang -- Qualified 16th
“Today is important. It is still an important day. A better starting spot for the Duels is nice. It isn’t the end-all, be-all for sure, but it is always important. It is the first qualifying of the year and for the Daytona 500, so it means a lot to the teams and the speed of the car is a testament to the teams.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang - Qualified 23rd
“I thought we were going to be a little faster than I was. We showed a little bit more pace in practice but we thought we might have gotten a little help. We were hoping that wasn’t the case and weren’t really sure what we were going to run, but I guess it was.”
THE CLASH LATER TODAY. MORE ABOUT KNOCKING THE RUST OFF OR GETTING THE CHECKERS?
“We are definitely here to win the race but we will probably do a little bit of both.”
YOU HAD AN ISSUE YESTERDAY:
“I just had a little error of misjudgement and clipped it and hit it kind of perfectly to tear up the right side of the car. The team fixed it last night and we should be good to go. Being that this is speedweeks and being down here so long, the guys bring a lot of stuff to fix the car. You always expect the unexpected and you expect damage that you might get in the 150’s. They were fairly well prepared.”
HOW MUCH WILL YOU STUDY BETWEEN NOW AND SUNDAY TO MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHO IS BEHIND WHAT WHEEL WITH ALL THE CHANGES COMING INTO THIS SEASON?
“I think this rule package, the racing on plate tracks involves so much that what is true one year isn’t true the next. There have been some big changes in rules the last year or so that have really affected the plate racing. Of course you want to study and be as prepared as possible but I am not sure it is as important as it used to be.”
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang -- Qualified 24th
“Our lap went great. The team did a good job. I feel that is about where we were going to be. I feel good about that and not overly concerned on where it stacks up. Hopefully somewhere in the top-20 would be good to get a good spot for the Duels and we will race hard in the Duels and see what we have and use it as a learning experience to see what we will need for 500 miles on Sunday. It is just a small preview. Everything is different. I think with years of experience now you know how to translate what your car does in the Duels to what you need it to do in the 500. Everyday here is about gaining knowledge and learning what you need to do to put yourself in position.”
JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK, No. 38 Citgard Ford Mustang -- Qualified 25th
“It is kind of an interesting weekend for myself. I feel like waking up on Sunday morning and only running one lap of qualifying is something to get used to compared to everything else that the schedule has kind of been through the Truck and XFINITY Series. It is cool to be here for my first Daytona 500. We are right there with my teammates and sandwiched in the middle of them. Yesterday practice was good. I felt good about our car. I didn’t know about single car speed. I felt good in the draft but everything is so enhanced and happens so fast in these Cup cars. I am trying to get used to how everything drives and the runs these cars get compared to everything else I have driven in my past. Experience is everything. I am trying to learn as much as I can.”