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FEB 12, 2021 | FORD PERFORMANCE STAFF

Almirola Wins Duel #1 at Daytona

Almirola posing with number ten car at victory lane

DAYTONA, Fla. - Aric Almirola took the checkered flag in his No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang and will start 3rd in Sunday’s Daytona 500. Austin Cindric also qualified for the Daytona 500 in his first attempt after a 16th-place finish. This marks the fourth straight year Ford has won at least one of the Duel races.

FORD DUEL #1 FINISHING RESULTS:
1st -- Aric Almirola
3rd -- Ryan Newman
4th -- Joey Logano
9th -- Michael McDowell
12th -- Matt DiBenedetto
14th -- Cole Custer
16th -- Austin Cindric
19th -- Timmy Hill
22nd -- Josh Bilicki

FORD DUEL #2 FINISHING RESULTS:
3rd -- Kevin Harvick
6th -- Ryan Blaney
8th -- David Ragan
10th -- Chris Buescher
11th -- Brad Keselowski
13th -- Joey Gase
15th -- Chase Briscoe
16th -- Garrett Smithley
21st -- Anthony Alfredo
22nd -- BJ McLeod

FORD PERFORMANCE QUOTES

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang -- VICTORY LANE INTERVIEWS -- WHAT CAN YOU TAKE FROM THAT PERFORMANCE TO SUNDAY?  “Mike Bugarewicz and all these guys on this team built me an incredible Ford Mustang, so what a way to kickoff our 10th season together with Smithfield.  We’ve been celebrating all offseason going into our 10th season with them.  They’ve been an incredible partner of mine.  My 10th year in the Cup Series working with Ford Motor Company.  A great way to start Speedweeks and this thing is really fast.  I can’t wait until Sunday, so just proud of everybody back at the shop, SHR, Doug Yates, everybody at Ford Motor Company, all of our partners -- Smithfield, Go Bowling, Haas, just everybody that makes this deal work -- Pit Boss, Shady Rays Sunglasses.  It’s been a long time since I got to sit here and do an interview on the start-finish line.  Things are going right for Tampa Bay, huh Clint Bowyer!”

HOW DOES THIS FEEL?  “This thing was a hot rod.  I’m so proud of these guys on this race team.  Our race car is so fast.  I’m proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing.  We’ve got an incredible race car and I can’t wait for the Daytona 500.  Thanks to Smithfield and everybody that supports this program.  Our Ford Mustang is fast and it’s a great way to kickoff the season.”

THIS IS NEVER A BAD SPOT TO BE SITTING, IN VICTORY LANE.  “This is a great place to be.  I’m just really proud of everybody.  This is just step one for the weekend, so we’ve got a great car.  We’re gonna have a great starting spot for the Daytona 500 and looking forward to Sunday.”

AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 33 Verizon 5G Ford Mustang -- YOU ARE IN THE 500 BASED ON SPEED.  “Absolutely.  First of all, I get the bonehead of the race award, speeding in the last section of pit road when I nailed everything else the whole night that I didn’t know how to do, so my guys can all have a shot punching me wherever they want to, but I’m obviously really happy to get our Verzon 5G Ford Mustang into the big show.  There’s a lot left for me to learn, but racing on the biggest stage against the best drivers is an amazing opportunity.”

HOW CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE WAVE OF EMOTIONS YOU EXPERIENCED IN THIS RACE?  “I feel like I did all the hard things correctly tonight, it’s the easy one that I got wrong.  I can’t believe I sped on pit road.  I get bonehead of the night, but, overall, really proud to get this Verizon 5G Ford Mustang into the big show.  Obviously, it’s the biggest stage in NASCAR and I’ve got a shot to learn how to race against the best for 500 miles.  After I lined up behind the 37 I knew I had a shot and whether he wanted to move forward or not I was gonna push him no matter what and it was a matter of inches.  Unbelievable.

DAVID RAGAN, No. 36 Select Blinds Ford Mustang -- “We had a couple of close calls out there.  Our car was a little on the loose side the first half of the race.  We made a few adjustments and the main goal was to try to race this car in the Daytona 500, so we learned a little bit about the balance.  Hopefully, we didn’t use all of our good luck up because we were close to a couple of those accidents, but the Front Row guys did an amazing job having some speed in this Ford Mustang and sure made the Duel a lot more enjoyable tonight.”

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