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MAY 2, 2021 | Ford Performance Staff

Harvick Leads Ford With Runner-Up Kansas Cup Finish

Kevin Harvick Mustang leading on the track

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Kyle Busch became the 10th different winner in 11 Cup Series races this year, edging out the Ford trio of Kevin Harvick (2nd), Brad Keselowski (3rd) and Matt DiBenedetto (4th) at Kansas Speedway.

Kevin Harvick rallied to second place on the race’s final restart, finishing .336 seconds behind at the checkered flag.  On that restart, it looked like Ryan Blaney would be the Ford to give Busch trouble, as he was running P2 heading to the white flag when a push by Kyle Larson went awry and send the 12 car into a spin. He was able to save it, but was shuffled way back in the field, finishing 21st.

Chris Buescher finished eighth to round out the top-10 Fords while his teammate Ryan Newman finished 16th in his 700th Cup Series start.

The NASCAR Cup Series’ next race is the Goodyear 400, scheduled for Sunday, May 9 (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Darlington Raceway. The event is part of NASCAR’s annual throwback weekend.

NCS RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
1st - Kyle Busch
2nd - Kevin Harvick
3rd - Brad Keselowski
4th - Matt DiBenedetto

5th - Chase Elliott
6th - Martin Truex Jr.
7th - Tyler Reddick
8th - Chris Buescher
9th - William Byron
10th - Austin Dillon

REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
13th - Michael McDowell
16th - Ryan Newman
17th - Joey Logano
20th - Chase Briscoe
21st - Ryan Blaney
22nd - Austin Cindric
23rd - Anthony Alfredo
24th - Cole Custer
29th - Aric Almirola
31st - BJ McLeod
38th - Matt Mills
39th - Josh Bilicki

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light For the Farmers Ford Mustang (Finished 2nd)
HOW DID YOU REBOUND TO GET THIS RUNNER-UP FINISH?
 
“We had the right pit strategy once the cautions came out there.  We had the pit road penalty and came in for tires and Rodney made a great call of coming back in to put tires on and that kind of put us on the offense.  We were able to be really aggressive on the two restarts we had at the end and were able to make up some ground.  Everybody on our Busch Light Ford Mustang did a great job today of just hanging in there.  We made a few mistakes, but we made our car better throughout the whole day and were more competitive than we had been in the last couple mile-and-a-half races.”

THE SEAS PARTED FOR YOU. 
“Yeah, they did.  I told Rodney, ‘That’s why I drive and don’t make the calls on pit road’ because when I came out I was like, ‘Man, we’re dead in the water here,’ but our Busch Light For the Farmers Ford Mustang was on and off today.  They did a good job of adjusting it and had the right strategy there at the end to have better tires than everybody else, and got pretty aggressive there at the end and were able to come up with a good finish.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Verizon 5G Ford Mustang (Finished 3rd)
“We weren’t quite as fast as we wanted to be.  The Gibbs cars were real fast and Kyle Larson was screaming fast, so a very similar race for us to Vegas, kind of right there on that edge of the top five.  We just need a little bit more, but we almost stole one there with pitting and the yellow came out there with 10 to go and it was just kind of the restart chaos and we all run into each other, whether it’s me running into someone or somebody else running into somebody it’s just part of it, but, all in all, not a bad day for the Verizon 5G Ford Mustang.”

MATT DIBENEDETTO, No. 21 Dickies/Menards Ford Mustang (Finished 5th)
“Holy cow, I’m mentally tired.  That was wild.  Every restart was insane.  That’s how Kansas is because you run from the bottom to the top.  I’ve got to give a lot of credit again, I know I do it a lot, but my spotter Doug Campbell does an excellent job.  My team did a great job today.  We started the race and I was like, ‘Oh, we’re not very good.’  We were just hanging on and we had to defend all day and then to come home with a fourth is excellent.  The car looked fantastic.  People love this thing.  The Menards and Dickies Mustang looked awesome, bright yellow, it looks good.  I’m glad we brought it home.  Man, we’re on a roll -- another top five.”

DIBENEDETTO POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
TAKE US THROUGH YOUR DAY. 

“The restarts at the end were insane, which is pretty normal for Kansas  It’s kind of like superspeedway racing on the restarts and it gets messy at the end.  I’m glad we survived them.  I’m glad we were on the bottom lane, which I don’t say much but at the end it worked out because they got all jumbled up and about crashed up top there, so it worked out.  We were in the right spots and tried to be smart all day.  These are the races that you’re super proud of because we didn’t have a fourth-place car.  We were really having to fight, defend to be around that top 10 area at all.  To execute and get the car better throughout the day and at the end to just defend a whole bunch.  My spotter, Doug Campbell, he’s so good and just really helped a lot to get us that finish.”

YOU ARE IN THE TOP 16 IN POINTS.  DID YOU THINK THAT WAS POSSIBLE A FEW WEEKS AGO? 
“I know anything can happen and I’m a positive kind of guy.  I look at everything that way, but if I’m being honest I don’t know if I would have believed you -- that we’d make up that many spots in points in such a short time.  I knew we had the strength of the team after such a rough start to the season and just circumstances out of our control.  It’s amazing to come back like this, so it just shows that momentum can go one way or another and when it clicks and you get on a roll it can go well.  I’m just really proud of the team.  Nobody every got down during those times when it was a rough start and we’re really rebounding and just super proud of the entire team.”

DID YOU SEE THIS RUN COMING? 
“I knew we had good tracks coming up and we were very strong as a team, so I knew we were very capable of doing what we’re doing, but it also takes a lot of things.  Just like they didn’t work out way, it takes things working our way like today, making good calls and having good restarts and staying out of the mess and being smart, so it takes a lot and I’m glad it’s lined up for us to be on a good streak here and racking up points.  I’ve put a big emphasis on racing smart because we’ve got to be there at the end when it counts.”

WERE YOU AWARE OF THE TIRE SITUATION IN THE INFIELD FOR 10 LAPS AND NASCAR WAITED UNTIL ALL THE LEAD LAP CARS PITTED UNDER GREEN BEFORE THROWING THE CAUTION? 
“Yeah, I was aware.  My spotter, Doug, was keeping me up to date on it.  I’d be curious to see what peoples’ thoughts were on it.  Mine personally, in my opinion, I guess I was glad and appreciative because it wasn’t unsafe.  The tire was down there out of harm’s way, so I thought personally that was pretty cool that they let it shake out and we all got our pit cycles through.  It was nothing unsafe or anything, so I was totally fine with it.  NASCAR does a good job of not trying to impede on the races and do anything that jumbles it up unnecessarily, so thankful for that.”

CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 autoTempest Ford Mustang (Finished 8th)
“That was a good ending for autoTempest Ford Mustang group. It was a fight all day. We worked hard at it and everybody did a great job to get us home with a top-10. It is a respectable finish from where we started. We kept working on it and getting better. It is a fun race track. Kansas is always fun being able to move around and have options. The late race restarts were pretty wild. We came out in once piece and the car is clean and I am just glad to be able to get autoTempest their first top-10 in NASCAR.”

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford Mustang (Finished 17th)
“I am okay. I stayed pretty hydrated in the car so everything was fine. It was a roller coaster day for our AAA Mustang. We started in the back and couldn’t get our way up there. Then we had the opportunity to take two and it was all well and good and then we had a bad restart and hit the wall. We had damage and put tires on and got back up to 11th. When the 12 and whoever else was pushing and got all loose they stopped right in front of me on the last restart. These lanes you pick and what lane you are in on restarts is just chaos up there. I don't want to say it is luck but one time you are better taking the top lane and worth losing two spots and then the next time I wish I had been on the bottom. The 17 took the bottom behind me and he finished eighth. Go figure. That is what these races are coming down to and if you aren’t up in the top-three or four it just becomes a mess back there.”

AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 33 MoneyLion Ford Mustang (Finished 22nd)
“Honestly, it was a really solid day.  I don’t know if we were good enough to be a top 10 car, but raced our way up inside the top 20 and really had our own throughout the day, so I’m proud of that.  I’m proud of being able to establish track position at a non-track position racetrack, so our MoneyLion Ford Mustang was pretty quick.  I probably had a few more adjustments left to know I would be really good, but, otherwise, just late-race restarts with comers and goers.  It looked like the 47 couldn’t keep his car under control and pretty much slammed us into the wall, so it’s unfortunate to come with damage, but as far as I understand it that’s our first lead lap finish, which is kind of a kick in the gut if you ask me, but past that a really solid day without the finish to show.”

HOW BENEFICIAL DO YOU FEEL THESE CUP RACES HAVE BEEN FOR YOU? 
“Yeah, I definitely learn more about what I have to prepare for.  Every race we’ve done so far with this 33 team we’ve had to start at the back and there’s a much bigger learning curve as far as what to handle with that, but also a higher level of competition and how you have to approach that and what you know and don’t know your weaknesses are gonna be and your challenges are gonna be throughout the day.  That’s been tough for me to understand and I think this weekend we handled that better than any other weekend.  The pit crew guys are stepping up and they were able to help us out today, so I’m proud of everyone who is putting in the effort because it’s not easy but it makes it worth it when we start running good.”

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