Ford Drivers keeping an open mind about Pocono changes

Ford Racing

The NASCAR Sprint Cup ‘Blue Oval Boys’ head to Pocono this weekend as the summer tour continues, only this time Pocono will have a decidedly different feel to it. The race marks the first on new pavement at the Tricky Triangle, and drivers aren’t quite sure how the track will be when they show up for two days of extra testing before the weekend. Ford Racing caught up with Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Aric Almirola and David Ragan to get their thoughts on heading into an unknown situation in the Pocono Mountains.

Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

MATT KENSETH, No. 17 Best Buy Ford Fusion

THIS WEEK YOU HEAD TO THE NEW REPAVED VERSION OF POCONO, WHAT KIND OF UNKNOWN IS THAT NOW WITH THE NEW PAVING AND 400 MILES VERSUS 500? “That is the thing, I don’t know a lot about Pocono since they repaved it. I think by the time you do the Wednesday test and Thursday test you will have a good idea of what you need and a good plan going into Friday and getting ready for the weekend. It is a bit of an unknown right now but I think we are going to have a lot of track time, everybody will, and hopefully we will have a better answer to your question after we get on track Wednesday and probably more so on Thursday once we get a bunch of cars on track and see what we are up against. Until we get on the track, having not been on that surface yet with a tire on that surface yet it is hard to predict how much tires are going to make a difference and track position and all that kind of stuff. I would assume being a new paved track that it will have a fairly hard tire and be more track position and fuel mileage than it will be tires. Again, we haven’t been on the track yet so it is hard to predict that.”

CARL EDWARDS, No. 99 FASTENAL Ford Fusion

LOOKING AHEAD TO POCONO. WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE NEW SURFACE THERE? “I am approaching it with an open mind. I don’t really have a plan. I am going to go there and creep up on it and take it easy and ease into the new surface, figuratively with speed and everything. I assume we are going to be screaming fast so I want to make sure we pace ourselves and learn as much as we can during the testing time we have. With a new surface there is a huge opportunity for someone to figure something out and dominate. We want to be those guys. We don’t want to go out there and have some preconceived notion. We are going in with open minds and hoping we can master that surface and take advantage of the unknown there.”

GREG BIFFLE, No. 16 3M Ford Fusion

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE NEW POCONO THIS WEEK? “I think out of any race track that is getting repaved -- Kansas, Michigan and Pocono -- I feel like Pocono would be at the top of my list for a repave. I am excited about that and I think the racing being shortened to 400 miles will create some excitement with the fans. I think it will be a little better race and not so drawn out. There will be more urgency to go and different strategy. Do I know what to expect or what I am thinking? I am nervous as can be going into the week because I have no idea what to expect. We have a day and a half of practice which is good but I have no idea how fast it will be or how different it will drive through the corners. I am pretty anxious to get there and get on the track.”

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion

HOW DO YOU APPROACH YOUR FIRST CUP RACE AT POCONO? “I think the good thing for me is that it is kind of an unknown for everybody. I have not been to Pocono in a Cup car. That is going to be a challenge for me but at the same time I feel like it is going to be a challenge for a lot of the other teams too showing up there with a freshly paved race track. I don’t feel like I am at as big a disadvantage as I would be if I were showing up to the old Pocono. Leaning on teammates and all that is out the window to a certain extent but Mike Ford has had a lot of success at Pocono and he has some things that we are changing on our cars to get ready for Pocono and he has a lot of ideas on how to make our stuff a little better there so I am looking forward to going there with Mike Ford because I feel like he has had a lot of success there and hopefully I can lean on him quite a bit.”

DAVID RAGAN, No. 34 8 hour Alert Ford Fusion

ARE YOU READY TO TACKLE THE NEW POCONO THIS WEEK? “Our team is going to spend a little bit of time and effort on some practice and pre-race testing that we are going to have this week and we are going to try to learn a few things. A small team like what the Front Row Motorsports is, we just have to be smart with what we learn and how we can learn for Pocono and help us on some other race tracks. We need to see how the track changes throughout the weekend and I think it will be a good time for us to go and test a few things we have been wanting to try. Pocono needed to be repaved. Michigan not so much, but Pocono needed some repaving and I think it will make the racing better. Certainly we will be faster there and I think it will make for good racing for years to come.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags almirola, edwards, ford, giffle, kenseth, ragan