FORT WORTH, Tex. - September 24, 2023 - It was a roller coaster day for the Ford camp at Texas and when all the dust settled it was Kevin Harvick who led a trio of Mustangs with top-10 finishes, coming home sixth in his final race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Harvick was joined by playoff driver Brad Keselowski in seventh and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Chase Briscoe in 10th. Briscoe actually looked poised to contend for the victory late, restarting P2 with 10 to go, but nose damage from a push of Bubba Wallace on the previous restart was too much to overcome, ultimately sending the 14 car back in the back.
Keselowski was the top-finishing Ford playoff driver, with his RFK teammate Chris Buescher coming home 14th on a day where both RFK cars ran in the top-10 most of the afternoon. Pit call strategies late in the race shuffled both cars into the middle of the pack, where chaos began to bring yellow flag after yellow flag. Neither RFK car was able to charge all the way back to the front, but Buescher scored 15 valuable stage points on the day.
Ryan Blaney, the third Ford playoff driver, was not so lucky. A costly pit-road speeding penalty on a Lap 210 stop dropped Blaney’s No. 12 Ford from fifth place to 27th for the race’s final stretch. He regained a slight amount of the lost ground, but the miscue put him back in the pack, where he was caught up in a crash with 12 laps left. The 28th-place finish dug a deeper hole for the Team Penske driver to escape. Blaney has some Talladega success on his side — two wins, plus runner-up finishes there his last two times out as the playoffs head to the Alabama track next weekend.
The NASCAR Cup Series continues its Round of 12 on Sunday, Oct. 1 at Talladega Superspeedway, 2:00 p.m. ET. (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM, NBC Sports Live Stream).
NCS RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
1st – William Byron
2nd -- Ross Chastain
3rd -- Bubba Wallace
4th -- Christoper Bell
5th -- Denny Hamlin
6th -- Kevin Harvick
7th -- Brad Keselowski
8th -- Daniel Suarez
9th -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
10th -- Chase Briscoe
REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
14th - Chris Buescher
15th - Michael McDowell
18th - Aric Almirola
20th - Harrison Burton
21st - Joey Logano
23rd - Ryan Preece
24th - Zane Smith
27th - Austin Cindric
28th - Ryan Blaney
32nd - JJ Yeley
35th - Todd Gilliland
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang -- (FINISHED 6th)
IT WAS A HOT DAY, BUT A DECENT OUTING ALL IN ALL?
“Yeah, it wasn’t too bad in the car. I just struggled a little on the restarts getting the car pointed quick enough to really make ground and didn’t do a very good job of putting the car in the right spots. We lost a couple on the restarts and probably should have finished third or fourth but it was still a great day.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 6 BuildSubmarines.com Ford Mustang -- (FINISHED 7th)
“There were big ups and downs today. We ran in the top-10, 10th to 12th most of the day. At the end there we pitted and put two tires on at the end. I think we were fourth of fifth but then they kept wrecking so much that we didn’t get a chance to take advantage of it and were only able to get back up to seventh. All in all it was a great effort today for us and we scored a lot of points and didn’t beat ourselves and I am really proud of that.”
YOU SAID A COUPLE OF THINGS DIDN’T GO YOUR WAY, WHAT WERE THOSE?
“Well, we didn’t need all those wrecks at the end of the race because I felt our car was really strong and capable of getting to the front with the newer tires that we had and I missed a few things that I needed to do better that probably cost us a stage point or two in the second stage. Just a few things that I need to clean up a little bit and a few breaks we needed to catch too.”
HEADING TO TALLADEGA, YOU HAVE HAD SPEED, ANY COMFORT KNOWING THAT YOU MAY HAVE A GOOD DAY NEXT WEEK?
“Yeah, we are in the hunt with our cars and it is an exciting time for all of us at RFK and we are hoping we can go to Talladega and repeat what we just did at Daytona.”
CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford Mustang -- (FINISHED 10th)
“From where we started, 31st, to being on the front row with six to go, I thought our team did a really good job of making our car better all weekend. Yeah, I didn’t know but I guess we got damage on the nose there. I pushed Bubba (Wallace) to the lead the restart before and hit him super hard to get him out there and it split the nose. There at the end I was so tight, just hanging on. I would have loved to have another shot at it without the damage because I feel like it would have been really close. We have been struggling all year long on mile-and-a-halves so to be as fast as we were today and run with the Hendrick cars and Gibbs cars says a lot. I am proud of our effort at Stewart-Haas, we just still have to get better and go to Talladega and see if we can win there.”
CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang – (FINISHED 14th)
“It was a great day for us. A really strong day. It was really hot. We made a lot of speed and got a lot of stage points and we ran in the top-five a lot today. At the end there we tried some strategy to make something happen and we couldn’t keep green flag conditions for more than a couple laps at a time so we bled off all the laps that we needed to do something and I ended up back there with people that were all over the place all day, running into us on straightaways and just shouldn’t have been around that group.”
HOW DO YOU WALK AWAY FROM TODAY WITH 15 STAGE POINTS AND UNTIL THE END YOU WERE HEADED FOR A GREAT FINISH AND A REALLY STRONG DAY AND THEN EVERYTHING KIND OF HITS THE FAN?
“It is the way these things go sometimes I guess, I don't know. I don't know how many cars were wrecked today. It was just a mess there at the end. I don't know how many green flag laps we actually got in the last 25 but it wasn’t near as many as we needed for it to work out the way we were trying. We got back there and got shoved up out of the groove and run into down the straightaways, it was just bad. We should never have been around that group but we ended up there.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE FIRST FOUR RACES OF THESE PLAYOFFS WITH A FEW STRONG FINISHES?
“We were fast again today. I think that is probably the best qualifying effort we had all year. We had a good practice and good speed in the race. We have been fast at every single playoff race so far. There is a ton to build on and a ton to build on today. There were a lot of things that went really well.”
RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford Ford Mustang -- INVOLVED IN MULTICAR ACCIDENT ON LAP 257 (FINISHED 28th)
“It was an up and down day, definitely and it ended with a down. I am proud of this group for getting a little better all day and having a good strategy. We took right side tires to get track position and then the car was ok, just kind of hanging on. We got better and then I sped on pit road. That really took us out of it. Took us out of having a good finish. When you put yourself back there then you get in a wreck. A slight sliver of hope and proud of the work all day on getting better and getting stage points but a driver mistake puts us back in the stuff and getting wrecked. Not a very good job by me today but proud of everyone on this Menards/Dutch Boy Ford Mustang group. They did the best they could. We’re still not out of it. We’ll head to Talladega not too many points out. Hopefully we can rack up some there.”
NASCAR XFINITY Series (September 23 -- Texas)
- Cole Custer battled up front all day, finishing 6th and earning a spot in the Round of 8 on points.
- Custer led 28 of the 200 laps and scored 48 points, the second most of any driver in the race after a pair of top-3 stage finishes.
- Brett Moffitt joined Custer in the top-10, finishing 10th while Ryan Sieg and Kyle Sieg were 11th and 12th, respectively.
- The Xfinity Series playoffs continue with the final race of the Round of 12 on Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, 3:30 p.m. ET (NBC, PRN, SiriusXM, NBC Sports Live Stream).