Keselowski qualifies 2nd as four Fords land in Top-10 at California

Brad Keselowski: “I have had a lot of fun with this new format. I don’t feel like a very good qualifier."

Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Ford qualifying order:

2nd Brad Keselowski
7th Joey Logano
8th Marcos Ambrose
9th Carl Edwards
21st Aric Almirola
22nd Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
24th Greg Biffle
29th David Gilliland
41st David Ragan

Joey Logano, No. 22 AAA Southern California Ford Fusion (Qualified 7th) – “We picked up a lot from practice. After our first run I thought we had something to go on the pole there but we just didn’t get faster. That is where we lost it a little bit because other guys got faster.” WHAT ABOUT THE TIRES? “There was some fall off but the fast guys kept their speed throughout every session. They were able to make the right changes. That is why they are up front. We just have to be a little better with our adjustments, get some better info, and I need to probably talk a little better. Overall it isn’t bad. We are mad about seventh place, which is a good thing I guess.”

Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion (Qualified 8th) – “It was a great day for us. This has been a tough track for RPM the last couple years and had enough speed to get ourselves in the final 12 and put down another good lap. I am proud of the efforts for Stanley and Ford and everyone with the program. It has been a really good day.”

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Farmland Ford Fusion (Qualified 21st) – “We were just a little bit too tight. We were tight in practice too and worked on it but we were still too tight. The groove moved around quite a bit from where it was in practice, so we probably weren’t as prepared for that as I needed to be. That is okay. I think we started 23rd at Bristol and finished third and we are starting two spots ahead of that.”

Carl Edwards, No. 99 Subway Ford Fusion (Qualified 9th) – “That was fun. We were on the outside looking in and then had a good run there the second run of the first round. That was pretty fun. I thought we maybe even had a shot at it at the end there. At the beginning I thought we would be 28th or 27th. The tires weren’t as bad as I thought either, so that made it really fun.”


Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Wurth Ford Fusion (Qualified 2nd) – “I have had a lot of fun with this new format. I don’t feel like a very good qualifier. It took me all three shots to even get in the top-10. Fortunately the last one was our best with getting us second and I am really proud of my team for that effort and adjusting on the car to get it where we wanted it to be. We have a lot of great momentum going and want to keep that up. Qualifying up front is always fun and always a great start to the weekend. There is more to be done in the race and we need to keep that going as well. I’ve had some really good races of late and happy where we are at. We are finding a nice flow for our team and hopefully we can keep that up and get another race win this weekend.

WAS THERE ANYTHING TO WAITING TOWARD THE END? “I don’t think the track cooled off much. I have read a little about that but I don’t think that was the case. If anything it was getting hotter. We needed all the time we could to dial our car in and make the adjustments we needed and we barely had the time to get it done.”

YOU IMPROVED EACH ROUND, IS THAT YOU LEARNING SOMETHING ON THE TRACK OR YOUR TEAM MAKING ADJUSTMENTS? “It is everyone. The car gets better, I get better and you learn from what you did across the board. I think that is really important. If this would have played out the way it was going to we would have had a 20th place qualifying effort. This knockout format has been really good for our team. Being able to adjust and get dialed in at the end when it counts.”

HOW MUCH HAS THIS NEW FORMAT IMPROVED THE THOUGHT PROCESS OF YOUR TEAM? YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO MAKE IT TO THE FINAL ROUND ALL FOUR TIMES. “Every track is different. The first two or three weeks we saw the cars get faster. I think this is probably the first qualifying effort where the cars have gone slower in the last round with the tire fall off playing a factor in that. So, each week is different as far as what it is going to take to make it through all three rounds. I think that is part of the interest and the challenge for us as teams and drivers.

This weekend was different than the last two or three. I would expect next weekend to be even more different with it being our first flat short track at Martinsville where the tires will really fall off. I think each weekend is going to have its own challenges and each track will have its own challenges with tire and time of qualifying. There are infinite amount of variables and teams that can dial that in the best are the ones that will be up front. So far we have been able to do that which I think is a strong statement for our team.”

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM WAS THAT YOU WOULD GET ONE GOOD SHOT AT THIS. SOME GUYS WERE MAKING BETTER RUNS ON THE SECOND LAP. WAS THAT GOOD CHANGES? “When you are going all out, sometimes you make a mistake. That could be with the car or driver or both. Qualifying certainly is an all out opportunity. You see when guys go out and make another run they are basically saying they didn’t hit it perfect and this is their opportunity to get it right.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK QUALIFYING WILL BE LIKE AT TALLADEGA? “As it stands right now, a big wreck fest and a disaster. The Superspeedway version of this qualifying is very interesting. It is not something I am looking forward to. We will have to figure it out. At the end of the day it probably won’t mean much to the race like it will here. Staying out of trouble and trying not to go through your cars just to get a starting spot that is really irrelevant for Sunday is going to be in the decision making.”

IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS CONCERN ABOUT THE CARS BACKING UP THEY WAY YOU HAVE TO GET READY FOR QUALIFYING. HAS THAT PASSED? ARE YOU USED TO THAT NOW? “Yes and no. It has gotten a little bit better with time but I don’t think it will get much better. It is about communication and talking to the guys next to you. It is a very interesting situation and I think we have seen the teams with an early draw in qualifying have a distinct advantage with less chaos to go through making their way out to the race track. There is probably a question of why that is important. I look at tracks like today and being early out was a significant advantage. Jeff (Gordon) with his early draw took advantage of that because he didn’t have to go through the traffic. It is part of the game and what makes it fun. Each week will have its own challenges with that variable being added to the one’s I talked about.”

I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY IT IS AN ADVANTAGE? ARE YOU JUST GETTING A CLEAN SHOT AT IT AND NO DIRTY AIR? “A track like today here at California, in between runs or when there has been a break, the seams get really hot and the asphalt itself cools off without cars running on it, so the first couple cars on the track have a significant advantage. We see that in practice sessions at tracks like this with this type of surface. Other places it is the exact opposite. Bristol was an advantage to go out late. For this track it was a significant advantage to go out early. The earlier your draw is in line, the cleaner the track you are going to get.”

Ford Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle , Marcos Ambrose , Carl Edwards , David Gilliland , Brad Keselowski , David Ragan , Aric Almirola , Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , Joey Logano
Teams Team Penske
Article type Race report
Tags aric almirola, brad keselowski, fontana, joey logano, marcos ambrose, nascar-cup