Ford Performance NASCAR: Almirola and Briscoe Earn Top 5 Starting Spots at Talladega


4th – Aric Almirola

5th – Chase Briscoe

11th – Joey Logano

15th – Harrison Burton

17th – Austin Cindric

18th – Brad Keselowski

19th – Ryan Blaney

23rd – Chris Buescher

24th – Kevin Harvick

28th – Cole Custer

29th – Michael McDowell

34th – Todd Gilliland

35th – BJ McLeod

36th – JJ Yeley

37th – Cody Ware


ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang – “I think more and more these speedway races are turning into track position races.  You’ve got to run up front and score stage points and do all those things.  I feel good about it.  I feel like our Smithfield Ford Mustang has a lot of speed in it, obviously, from qualifying.  That will parlay over into the race and people know you have a fast race car they want to work with you.  You have more friends and more teammates.”


CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford Mustang – “I’m happy with how it is.  I don’t think any of us expected to qualify that well, truthfully.  We were definitely more prepared to race well rather than qualify well, so I was really surprised that first round.  When I knew we had the potential to get the pole, honestly, I was kind of glad we ended up fifth.  I don’t really want to be on the front row tomorrow.  I feel like then you can’t really control how guys are pushing you and things like that, whereas in fifth I can kind of settle in and find my spot.  I’m definitely looking forward to where we start tomorrow.  I think we have a really good car and it’s just a matter of putting it all together.”


CODY WARE, No. 51 Nurtec ODT UBCF Ford MustangHOW ARE YOU FEELING?  “Overall, I’m happy to be here to cut a lap in qualifying.  It’s just one lap, but I had no pain there, so that gives me even more confidence going into tomorrow.  I’m just happy with the way that I’ve had a good group of guys with me with Dr. Bill Heisel and OrthoCarolina and everyone who has been a part of the rehab and recovery process.  It’s gonna be a long road, but it’s cool to be back here at Talladega the week after a pretty gnarly hit and still be in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Mustang just has me very excited and happy.  I’m happy to be here with all the support and care and just want to go kick some butt this weekend and do what we did at Daytona.”


WERE YOU SURPRISED WITH THE VIOLENCE OF THE WRECK?  “It was definitely the hardest hit I’ve taken, but I think, all in all, it obviously sucks that I got hurt, but with how bad it was it could have been way worse and to walk away from that with relatively no major injuries and be able to continue to race and not miss anything is a testament to me being lucky, but also the cars being safe for now.  I just obviously want to be part of the process.  There are a couple of guys out with concussions and obviously I’m hurt, but my injury maybe could have happened whether it was this car or the Gen 6 car, so I’m not faulting the Next Gen car with that.  I think we obviously need to do a good job of working together, instead of trying to get angry about it – just working together with drivers, teams and NASCAR themselves to continue to make these cars safer and I think we’ll be able to do that and get that job done.”


DO YOU FORESEE ANY ISSUES WITH BEING ABLE TO RUN THE FULL DISTANCE TOMORROW?  “Right now, we have a pretty solid plan with Dr. Heisel to make sure that I have an air cast system put in place.  I have an oversized shoe for my right foot, so we’re gonna have a lot of bracing and casting as well as some local anesthetics and some non-narcotic pain medication to get me through.  It’s pretty standard.  You’ve got a lot of guys in the NHL and NFL that use those methods to play through an injury.  Thankfully, I just have a very minor impact fracture, so I’m confident and my doctors are confident that I’m not gonna have any pain or complications.  If there was any risk of me getting re-injured or exacerbating the recovery process, I wouldn’t be in this weekend.”


WILL YOU HAVE A FILL-IN DRIVER AVAILABLE JUST IN CASE?  “I think we’re in talks right now.  We don’t have a stand by driver confirmed, but I’m 100 percent confident I’m gonna see this race through start to finish, but just in case the unexpected happens, we’re in talks to maybe have someone in place.”


BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 6 Kohler Generators Ford Mustang – WHAT’S THE TENSION OR ANXIETY LIKE GOING INTO THIS WEEKEND?  “It’s a little bit of a time warp back to the early 2000s and I think the racing will be just a little bit different accordingly.  I don’t know if that’s better or worse, but a little bit of a time warp.  I think we’ve gotten to a point where for a while there the racing was so aggressive because nobody was ever afraid of getting hurt.  Who knows, maybe it will come back a little bit which probably isn’t a bad thing.”

DOES THAT MEAN SINGLE-FILE?  “I don’t know if you’ll see that.  Maybe just some of the less gratuitous moves that seem really terrible.”


WILL DRIVERS REALLY RACE DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY COULD GET A CONCUSSION?  DO THEY SEE THIS AS REALITY NOW?  “Whether they would admit it or not, there’s no doubt you race differently when you’re more afraid of getting hurt, so we all have business decisions to make there.  As to how it affects who and what amount, I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on that.”

YOU ARE ACCUSED OFTEN OF MAKING TOO DARING OF A MOVE HERE?  WILL YOU RACE DIFFERENTLY?  “I don’t think so.  No, I’m pretty comfortable with the moves that I make here,.”


CAN YOU TELL YOURSELF WHEN YOU’RE WRECKING TO PUT YOUR HEAD BACK?  “It happens really fast, so I think generally you can train to some extent on things like that, but ultimately when you’re in the heat of the moment it doesn’t always work out.  But for some of us, hopefully we can learn from that and be able to apply it.  I know that I hope not to be in that situation where I have to apply it, but if I do find myself in it, I’m gonna try to.”


ARE YOU DOING ANYTHING IN YOUR CAR TO CHANGE IT?  “We changed some of the padding to that regard and really tightened up the back of my head rest so I can’t have a really sharp movement backwards for this week.  I think that should be helpful.”

WAS THAT FOR THIS WEEK?  “Yeah.  I normally do that for the plate tracks, but I’ll just do it everywhere now.”


YOU DON’T APPEAR AS FRUSTRATED AS SOME OTHERS, BUT YOU HEAR THAT FROM OTHER DRIVERS, RIGHT?  “Maybe because it’s I have so many other things to be frustrated about.  No, I think there are people working on it.  It would be one thing if there was a magic wand with a solution and just wasn’t being applied.  It would be one thing if nobody was working on anything, but there are people working on things right now and there are projects underway.  I have reasonable expectations of those projects.  The fact that there’s movement and there’s acknowledgement and NASCAR is working on things, confidence is fine for me.”


DO YOU FEEL THAT’S BECAUSE YOU ARE AN OWNER AND DRIVER NOW?  “I’m sure it affects my view absolutely in the sense that I get to sit in meetings I didn’t sit in before where I have a better context of things that are happening.  There’s more transparency for sure being in that spot.”


YOU EXPRESSED CONCERNS ABOUT DOCTORS DIAGNOSING CONCUSSIONS YEARS AGO.  HAS YOUR OPINION CHANGED ON THAT AT ALL?  “It’s no doubt that it’s an inexact science, diagnosing a concussion.  I think any doctor would tell you that.  I would take Kurt’s word for it if he doesn’t feel well enough above anybody else.  I haven’t talked to Alex at all, but I don’t see him coming out and saying, ‘Hey, I still feel really good.’  Ultimately, I still believe in empowering athletes or drivers that if they feel good enough to race, they should be allowed to race.”

HARVICK SAYS SAFETY COSTS MONEY AND THAT’S BEEN SOME OF THE HURDLES TO FIX THIS.  HOW MUCH ARE YOU GUYS LOOKING AT SPENDING AS AN OWNER?  “Honestly, I don’t think the projects that I’m aware of, at least, are that expensive.  The rear clips are a couple thousand dollars.  If we have to replace every one of them next year, in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t mean anything to our budget.  Now, as you get into other parts of the car, it has bigger effects, but I don’t think that there’s a cost-minded objection, at least not from my point of view to the things that I’ve heard at this point in time.  I can’t speak for every owner either, but I think changing some rear clips and changing the rules on them for next year is really not a big needle mover for cost.”


IS THERE A CHANCE FOR CHANGE THIS YEAR BEFORE THE SEASON ENDS?  “I don’t see that, just being realistic.  I would like to think it would be, but given the timelines of we only have three to four weeks left in the season if you think the Phoenix cars are all being built next week or in two weeks – just the way the teams rotate the cars.  They’re usually three to four weeks ahead, so I don’t see us having anything different before the year is over.  I think we need to be working right now to have something for Daytona.”


DO YOU KNOW MUCH ABOUT THIS CRASH TEST HAPPENING NEXT WEEK IN OHIO?  “Yeah, I think there is some sensible work being done.  You have to keep in mind that when this car was built it was a bit of a pandemic baby.  There was a lot of simulation work done and all those things, but there wasn’t a lot of real world crash testing simply because you couldn’t do those things.  I think in the sense of it being a pandemic baby, we’re going through some of those hurdle right now to work through those challenges.”


WEREN’T THERE CRASH TESTS IN OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER AT TALLADEGA?  “Yes, there was one at the end of last year, but that was just one impact and it certainly wasn’t anything representative of what you saw at Texas or with Kurt at Pocono.”

Ford Performance PR

Speedway Digest Staff
Follow Me
Latest posts by Speedway Digest Staff (see all)