THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Mark Rushbrook, the global director of Ford Performance, the championship winning manufacturer, Ford.
Q. So far it's been a pretty good weekend for Ford. Your thoughts on the past two nights?
MARK RUSHBROOK: It's been a fantastic weekend so far. It all comes down to this, a long season of racing across all three series, and to have the championship weekend here, and we came in with one driver in each, and so far it's worked out pretty well, and great teams, great drivers, great racing. So proud of what we have in terms of those teams, those drivers, to come here and battle, and especially the racing tonight.
Listening to Justin and John Hunter about how clean the racing was and the respect that was out there, it was a joy to watch.
Q. Anticipation for tomorrow night?
MARK RUSHBROOK: Well, nervous now that you asked me.
But what Team Penske has done through these playoffs and Ryan Blaney and the team, what they have done, especially at Miami Homestead and Martinsville and the strength that they're carrying with certainly a lot of optimism, but we know it's a long race. We know there's three other great Playoff drivers in there, and just looking forward to a good race.
Q. Hand in hand with that, Stewart-Haas hasn't shown a lot of strength in the Cup Series, and then a completely different story here in the Xfinity side. What have you seen Cole provide for the team and for the Stewart-Haas Racing fans that maybe were disappointed about the Cup side but now have something to cheer about?
MARK RUSHBROOK: The great thing about Stewart-Haas is they are a team full of racers. Everybody in that shop wants to win.
Every team goes through ups and downs for sure, different phases in it. But what has been built at Stewart-Haas, when they came before they were only a Cup team in 2017, and with the vision of Joe Custer and the leadership there to build the Xfinity program and to have the strength that they have there, especially watching Riley run some really strong races through the latter part of the season, it's a strong program. They've got good people there, good racers there.
Cole has got great experience, and he dug pretty deep tonight, and he got up on the wheel and got it done, so that's going to be a point of pride for the entire shop at Stewart-Haas and help them through this process.
Q. You've got Cole up there, you have Riley up there, Riley has been turning it on lately, and of course next season you've got AM Racing coming over. Kind of assess where the manufacturer is at with all this young talent coming up.
MARK RUSHBROOK: Yeah, it's a good time for the sport for sure, and like you said, the strength inside of Stewart-Haas with Riley winning in Vegas a few weeks ago and having several strong weeks since then I think is a good sign for the Stewart-Haas Xfinity program.
We're excited with what AM Racing is building, the program that they've run this year and the plans for next year and seeing that all come together, and really their commitment to build that program.
Proud to help be a technical partner with them to help them with that success.
Q. The partnership that Stewart-Haas has with them, how is that looking so far, and what will that look like in '24?
MARK RUSHBROOK: Yeah, it's an efficient way to go racing, especially in Xfinity, is to have one strong team and have technical partners off of that.
Again, the effort that's been put into the Stewart-Haas Xfinity program, their commitment to it, and also commitment to growing it through that kind of extension, it works really well.