ARIC ALMIROLA – 2019 Michigan II Race Advance

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 3D Systems Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn fresh off his career-best finish on the Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road course last weekend.

His 12th-place result at The Glen gave Almirola a favorable points cushion with the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs fast approach, but he isn’t allowing himself to become complacent with four regular-season races to go.

“I’ve learned in this sport that you can never be too comfortable,” Almirola said. “Really, there are so many people hovering right around that cutoff line who can win on any given weekend. I know it might not appear that way, but it seems that the same cars typically and often win, but every driver in this sport is too good and, on any given weekend, things could just line up for those guys. They’re talented enough, their teams are good enough, their cars have got decent speed to where they could pull off a win. And, the next thing you know, you’re looking at a 60- or 50-point gap, and if one more guy wins, you’re looking at a 20- or 30-point gap, and that can go away in one race. So I’m always mindful of that and I’ve learned never to be too comfortable.”

In Almirola’s 14 starts at the 2-mile Michigan oval, he has earned one top-10 and led three laps. In 21 Cup Series starts this year, Almirola has one pole, one top-five finish, 10 top-10s and has led 112 laps. In 302 career starts, Almirola has two wins, two poles, 16 top-five finishes, 59 top-10s and 469 laps led. Almirola has qualified on the front row six times this season – five outside-front-row starts in addition to his pole.

Almirola has two starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series at Michigan, winning in June 2010 after leading seven laps for his second win in the series that season. Additionally, the Tampa native made three Michigan starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with a best finish of eighth in June 2015 while piloting the No. 98 DenBeste Water Solutions Ford.

“Michigan is a weird place for me because, in my mind, I feel like I run good there” he said. “I won a Truck race there years ago and from that point forward I just always loved going to Michigan. My wife’s family is from Michigan, so I go to Michigan with such a great attitude. I feel like in our first race there this year we had a lot of speed. I feel we had a top-five car there at Michigan and didn’t execute and things didn’t go our way with the restarts and I didn’t get the result. I’m excited about going back. Going to Michigan, there’s always a lot of pride for the manufacturers. I’d love to go there and keep the trophy in Ford’s backyard.”

Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford looks to score its 39th win in its backyard this weekend. Two of its 38 Michigan wins were earned back-to-back last year by SHR drivers Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick.

Almirola’s No. 10 Ford this weekend will sport a never-before-seen paint scheme. More than 30 years ago, 3D Systems brought the innovation of 3D printing to the manufacturing industry.

Today, as the leading additive manufacturing solutions company, it empowers manufacturers to create products and business models never before possible through transformed workflows. This is achieved with the company’s best-of-breed digital manufacturing ecosystem – comprised of plastic and metal 3D printers, print materials, on-demand manufacturing services and a portfolio of end-to-end manufacturing software. Each solution is powered by the expertise of the company’s application engineers, who collaborate with customers to transform manufacturing environments. 3D Systems’ solutions address a variety of advanced applications for prototyping through production in markets such as aerospace, automotive, medical, dental, and consumer goods. More information on the company is available at www.3dsystems.com.

As the season enters the dog days of summer, fans can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access in following “Aric ‘Beyond the 10’” by subscribing to his YouTube channel and following episodes on Facebook and Instagram TV. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.

Almirola sits ninth in the championship standings heading to Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400, 211 points out of first and 96 ahead of the 16th-place playoff cutoff line.

 

ARIC ALMIROLA, Driver of the No. 10 3D Systems Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

How crazy are the restarts at Michigan, and are they the best times to take advantage of someone?

“We’re seeing restarts get crazier and crazier at tracks that we go to. There’s no one track that they’re crazier at than the other anymore because that is the most opportune time to pass cars, besides on pit road. Pit road is the easiest place to pass but, once you line up for the restart, there’s opportunity to gain three, four, five spots in a lap, and there’s no other opportunity to do something like that throughout the run. I feel like restarts are definitely the time to gain or lose track position, so you have to be on offense and defense at the same time. Michigan is very wide and you want to be aggressive and go take spots away, but you can easily give up four or five spots that are really hard to get back once we get single file.”

Some tracks are very line-sensitive on restarts. Is Michigan one of them? 

“Yes, Michigan is a very line-sensitive on restarts. The outside lane is usually the dominant lane. The inside lane – the cars on the inside usually lose sideforce, they lose the air on the side of their car and they are very loose down there in turns one and two on the restart. The outside lane usually has the momentum and is the preferred lane going through (turns) one and two on the restarts.”

Have you had to be more assertive – more of a “jerk” – on restarts this year to take or protect positions?

“I don’t even consider it being a jerk anymore. It’s just racing, right?  We all know that it’s really challenging to pass when we get strung out with the increased downforce on the cars. We’re making a bigger wake coming off of our cars, so the trailing car is sometimes having more of a challenge to pass when the cars get strung out. Restarts are the most opportune time and, now that the cars have less horsepower, at a lot of these racetracks we go to momentum is such a key. If a couple of cars get bottled up and they have to check up out of the throttle and their momentum gets killed, the next thing you see is four- and five-wide – they’re splitting those guys and those guys lose a lot of spots. So you have to be aggressive and you have to try and keep your momentum and take every hole there is. You can’t check up out of the throttle. If you check up out of the throttle, you’re going to lose multiple spots.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2019 Michigan II Race Advance

How important is success at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn to some of the key stakeholders in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series?

This week, Ford is gathering all of its Cup Series drivers Thursday at its headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, where they will meet with employees, tour the world headquarters and talk with executives. Then Sunday, many executives and employees will make the 65-mile trek to the 2-mile speedway to watch the Ford contingent battle the two other manufacturers in America’s most popular form of motorsports.

“Michigan is in the manufacturer’s backyard, and winning there not only means bragging rights for those folks, but goes toward business reasons they are in the sport and support all of us,” said No. 14 One Cure Ford Mustang driver Clint Bowyer. “We’ll take a victory anywhere, but winning at Michigan is always a good thing for everybody.”

Bowyer knows the reward for success at Michigan. He earned his 10th career victory there on June 10 last year. It was one of two victories in 2018 that moved him into a 59th-place tie with Donnie Allison and Sterling Marlin on the all-time wins list. Bowyer could use a victory this weekend as he teeters on the edge of playoff eligibility.

He is 15th in the standings for one of the 16 playoff slots. He holds a 12-point advantage over Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman, who are tied for 17th. While Bowyer is trying to preserve his place in the standings, he’s only 48 points out of 12th with just four races remaining in NASCAR’s regular season.

Bowyer arrives at Michigan after finishing 20th on the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y) International last weekend. He raced in the top-five much of the race until a flat tire on lap 62 of the 90-lap race dropped him back to 34th. Bowyer made his way back through the field, but there wasn’t enough laps left in the race to regain his position.

“That’s kind of how our season has gone,” Bowyer said. “We were right where we wanted to be last weekend and had a flat tire. We know we have some really important races coming up but, if we race like I expect us to race, then we are going to be fine. We plan on gaining a few spots in the standings, as well.”

Michigan might be the place to do just that.

At Michigan this past June, Bowyer qualified fifth and ran at the front of the field until a late-race accident ended his day on lap 130 of the 200-lap event. He owns a victory, two top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 27 starts at the track about a 90-minute drive west of Detroit. While race results and playoff standings are important, this weekend has a little extra importance as Bowyer’s No. 14 Mustang will carry the green and white colors of One Cure.

One Cure is a project led by the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University. The One Cure program is founded on the principle that cancer affects all creatures and that treatment breakthroughs come through collaboration between scientists and doctors working with people and animals. This approach is known as comparative oncology and it is the guiding concept of One Cure and the Flint Animal Cancer Center. The center works to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pets, and teams with the human medical field to translate research findings that will help people with cancer.

The center, located in Colorado State’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, sees more than 1,500 new animal cancer patients every year, with approximately 130 patients enrolling in carefully monitored clinical trials specific to their cancer type. The canine and feline patients are helping pioneer cancer research, moving cutting-edge treatments out of the laboratory and into clinical practice, ultimately providing hope for the next generation of animal and human cancer patients.

“We all know cancer sucks, but I’ve learned about cancer through One Cure and there’s hope through studying animals,” Bowyer said. “They told me one in three people, one in four dogs, and one in five cats will develop cancer in their lifetime and it’s a leading cause of death for all of us.”

Bowyer said there are few things in life more important than seeking a cure for cancer.

“Dogs are the best subjects to study cancer because they get cancer naturally, just like people,” he said. “Plus, they live in the same places, breathe the same air, drink the same water – even sometimes eat the same foods. I’ve learned through the One Cure folks that dogs share 85 percent of our genetic makeup. If you can cure cancer in a dog, then you have a good shot at doing the same things for humans.”

Bowyer hopes race fans will visit www.OneCure.com, where they can learn about the research and offer financial support.

 

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 One Cure Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

Is there pressure on you and the other drivers battling for a playoff spot this weekend at Michigan International Speedway?

“There’s pressure in everything you do in this sport and that’s kind of the way we like it. That’s what makes it fun. We are getting to the point in the season when the pay window is starting to open and it’s go time. That’s when it’s fun for the drivers, teams and especially the fans. As the tension goes up, the sport gets more and more interesting.”

What are your thoughts on Michigan International Speedway?

“The speed at Michigan will surely get your attention. You better have everything right at Michigan. That’s engine, aero, handling and everything else. You are going so fast there that anything slightly off will show up.”

DANIEL SUÁREZ – 2019 Watkins Glen Race Advance

Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International for the second road-course race of the season, Sunday’s GoBowling at The Glen. Suárez will pilot the Haas Automation Mustang for his third career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at the Upstate New York venue.

When the Mexico native first came to the United States eight years ago, he ended up just outside of Buffalo, New York. Development series car owner Troy Williams welcomed the young racer into his home as Suárez worked to further his driving career in the United States. “Troy was extremely kind to invite me to his house and to help me learn about the culture here in racing and to learn English,” Suárez said. “Back then, I didn’t speak any English. He said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come to live with me in the U.S. and you can start practicing English?’ I never thought about where he might live in the U.S. when he invited me to live with him. I can’t forget the day I landed in Buffalo and seeing all of the snow. I had never seen anything like that before. I remember shoveling the snow with everyone every day. I lived there for about three months in the middle of winter before going back home to Mexico.”

Watkins Glen is one of the 27-year-old Suárez’s best tracks on the NASCAR circuit. In his two Cup Series starts, he has finishes of third and fourth, respectively, with an average finish of 3.5. He has an average starting position of 13.0, along with 14 laps led. “I love road-course racing a lot and The Glen is one of my favorite racetracks,” the Haas driver said. “It’s a lot of fun, and hopefully we can get a trophy this weekend.”

In the NASCAR Xfinity Series on the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen road course, Suárez has two starts with an average starting position of 9.0 and an average finish of 9.5 with six laps led. Additionally, he has an August 2014 start in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He started fourth but his day ended prematurely after an accident relegated him to a 19th-place finish.

In the last six Cup Series road-course races dating back to 2017, Suárez has an average finish of 12.7, which ranks 10th among all competitors. Suárez’s SHR teammates Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick are first and second in average road-course finishes over their last six starts.

SHR has one victory at Watkins Glen with team co-owner Tony Stewart capturing the victory in August 2009. In total, SHR has six top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in 31 starts there. Ford has eight all-time Cup Series wins at Watkins Glen.

Suárez is in his third Cup Series season and his first behind the wheel of the No. 41 Haas Automation Mustang. So far this season, he’s accumulated two top-fives and seven top-10s, along with a total of 105 laps led. He has an average start of 15.3 and an average finish of 15.9 this season.

Suárez is currently 18th in the Cup Series standings to round out the four-driver SHR contingent. If Suárez captures a playoff position, it will be the first of his Cup Series career. Last year, all four SHR entries secured at least one regular-season win and a playoff spot. Harvick secured his playoff spot for this year by capturing the win two weekends ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

 

DANIEL SUÁREZ, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

 

What was your first experience when you first arrived in Upstate New York?

“When I first moved here to the United States, it was to Buffalo. The team owner I was going to race for, Troy Williams, lived in Buffalo. I moved there in February and it was very cold. I just remember it being so cold and there was a lot of snow. I didn’t last in Buffalo very long – only about three months before I packed my stuff and went back to Mexico. Can you imagine a kid from Mexico going to live in Buffalo in the middle of winter?”

What is your favorite part about Watkins Glen?

“As a racecar driver, I love coming to Watkins Glen. The fans make it so good and with all of the camping they do. The atmosphere is very good and so fun. Let me tell you, it’s a very, very fast track, especially for a road course, which makes it exciting, too.”

CHASE BRISCOE – 2019 NXS Watkins Glen Race Advance

Race Name: Zippo 200 at The Glen (Race 20 of 33)
Venue: Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, NY
Television: 3:00 p.m. EDT on NBC
Point Standings: 
– Cole Custer: 3rd; trails points leader by 97 points
– Chase Briscoe: 7th; trails points leader by 232 points

  • This will mark Briscoe’s first Xfinity Series start at the 7-turn, 2.45-mile road course of Watkins Glen.
  • Briscoe has one win, eight top-fives and 14 top-10’s through the 2019 season.
  • In 60 NASCAR national series starts, Briscoe has four wins, 20 top-fives and 33 top-10’s.
  • This will mark Richard Boswell’s third start atop the pit box at WGI with a best finish of fifth coming in 2018.
  • Click here for Briscoe’s career stats.
  • Click here for photos of Chase.

Ford’s racing program is part of the Ford Performance organization based in Dearborn, Mich. It is responsible for major racing operations globally, including NASCAR, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, FIA World Endurance Championship, FIA World Rally Championship, Virgin Australia Supercars, Formula Drift, and NHRA Funny Car and sportsman drag racing. In addition, the organization also oversees the development of Ford’s racing engines, as well as the outreach programs with all Ford Clubs and Ford enthusiasts. For more information regarding Ford racing’s activities, please visit www.fordperformance.com, Ford Performance on Facebook, Ford Performance on Instagram and @FordPerformance on Twitter.

The last time you raced a road course in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (Charlotte Roval) you came awayvictorious. How confident are you heading into Watkins Glen?

“I don’t really consider myself a great road course racer, but for whatever reason I tend to run well at them. This will be my first time racing at Watkins Glen, so it will be a learning curve for sure but I’m up for the challenge and can’t wait to get there. Hopefully we can double down and pick up another win this weekend in our Ford Performance Mustang and get ourselves in an even better position for the playoffs.”

COLE CUSTER – 2019 NXS Watkins Glen Race Advance

Race Name: Zippo 200 at The Glen (Race 20 of 33)
Venue: Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, NY
Television: 3:00 p.m. EDT on NBC
Point Standings: 
– Cole Custer: 3rd; trails points leader by 97 points
– Chase Briscoe: 7th; trails points leader by 232 points

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We’re coming up on our first road course race of the year. What have you done to prepare for this stretch of races?

“This stretch of road courses is going to be tough. I ran the K&N race in Sonoma to help get my mind ready for road course season and we ran pretty well there so I am looking forward to getting to Watkins Glen. I will be spending some time in the simulator this week and I will watch film from the past races to ensure I am ready. We ran sixth here last year so we have a little to build on to make sure we are in contention for the win this weekend.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2019 Watkins Glen Race Advance

Kevin Harvick is locked into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs via his win two weekends ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Now it’s time to go for more wins and more points.

Harvick is always a contender on any type of racetrack, including the circuits where drivers turn left and right. That’s what he and his competitors will do during Sunday’s GoBowling at The Glen, which is conducted on the historic road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

The driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) won at The Glen in 2006 and joined Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt as winners at The Glen. Now, Clark, Hill, Stewart, Lauda, Fittipaldi and Hunt scored their wins in Formula One cars, which has “tyres,” not “tires.” And the races were on a “circuit” that was longer than what NASCAR runs on currently. But, hey, those are some big names to be associated with.

In addition to Harvick’s win at The Glen, he has three top-five finishes, nine top-10s and has led a total of 66 laps in his 18 career NASCAR Cup Series starts. His average start is 13.5, his average finish is 13.3 and he has a lap-completion rate of 97.8 percent – 1,589 of the 1,624 laps available.

His lone win came in 2006, when he started seventh, led 28 laps and finished .892 of a second ahead of his future SHR co-owner Tony Stewart.

Harvick has competed in eight NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Watkins Glen and won in 2007. He has one pole, and finished in the top-10 in all eight races. And Harvick has competed in three NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series races at Watkins Glen with a best finish of seventh in 1999.

Harvick is one of only three active drivers to claim a NASCAR Cup Series victory at both true road courses on the schedule – Watkins Glen and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., are the others who can make that claim.

Harvick added his first career win at Sonoma in June 2017, when he started 12th, led 24 laps and finished ahead of SHR teammate Clint Bowyer when the race ended under caution. He also won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race the day before the Cup race.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

 

What is the key to having a good race at Watkins Glen International?

“Watkins Glen is really fast, so the biggest thing there is to get your car good under braking so you can make passes during the race. Usually, where you can gain the most time is in the braking zones.”

Are the road courses still odd-ball races, or do they seem like just another race, now?

“They are pretty much just another race, now. I think everybody knows you are going to a road course and you’ve got a lot of different aspects from a driver’s standpoint and the team standpoint that you have to pay attention to.”

Are the rivalries the same today as they were 15 to 20 years ago?

“You look at other sports and I think we’ll use the Yankees and the Red Sox. Does it seem the same as it was 15 to 20 years ago? No, and I think a lot of that comes down to the media, to social media, to guys growing up together and playing together. There’s just more people who know each other and, for us, it’s harder to carry a grudge in the garage today than it was 20 years ago just because of the fact that, if there’s a major beef going on, it’s a major hassle and it affects your team and it affects the things that you do, and everybody knows that, so it’s best to just move on, have a short memory. That’s the approach I try to take to it – to have the shortest memory possible, whether it’s a good weekend or a bad weekend, a good moment or a bad moment – and you move on with it. It’s just super-hard to carry a grudge and be able to function and not spend time answering questions about that. That would be what it would be about if you had a moment, so that’s frustrating and distracting.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2019 Watkins Glen Race Advance

Who has the best average finish in the last six Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series road course races?

Take a minute to think about it.

Since this is the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) advance, the likely guess would be Clint Bowyer.

And that is correct. Really!

The former body shop employee and dirt track racer from Emporia, Kansas, who hadn’t seen much of any road course until he joined the NASCAR ranks, is at the top of the list.

In his 28 career starts on road courses at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and the “roval” at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Bowyer has earned a victory, 11 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s.

“Not in a million years would I have imagined this success,” said Bowyer, who has a theory on why he and all other Cup Series drivers have improved their road-course racing skills over the last several years.

“I think a big part of it is engineering,” he said. “They came into this sport – our engineers were able to get our cars underneath us way better than we could before. Those ringers would go test time and time again all over the place, all sorts of different racetracks, in preparation for these one or two races. And, when we’d get there, our focus is on those mile-and-a-half tracks that make up the biggest part of the season. That’s a big difference. When we get here and we’re on the same playing field as they are, I feel like I’m proud to say the Cup regulars are holding their own.”

Some of Bowyer’s best road-course work has come since joining SHR in 2017. He climbed in the No. 14 driver’s seat when three-time champion Tony Stewart retired from NASCAR competition. In the six road-course races since joining SHR, Bowyer owns an average finish of 5.8 – the best of any driver who has competed in each of those races. Bowyer owns top-five finishes in four of the six road-course races since 2017 and hasn’t finished outside the top-11. That 5.8 average finish is even more impressive when considering his teammate Kevin Harvick is next best with an average finish of 7.5 in those races.

“That’s pretty cool and shows the quality of Fords the folks at SHR have been building for us,” Bowyer said. “When we go to road courses, we expect to be at the top of the chart each time.”

All this Bowyer trivia comes into play this weekend when the Cup Series races at Watkins Glen in Sunday’s GoBowling at the Glen in the second of three road courses on the 2019 schedule. With those numbers, Bowyer will obviously be a driver to watch when the green flag drops Sunday afternoon.

Bowyer warns there’s very little comparison between the high speeds of the Watkins Glen track and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, where Bowyer finished 11th on June 23. Watkins Glen is all about rhythm and timing that lead to its higher speeds.

“There is such a sensation of speed at Watkins Glen,” Bowyer said. “It is a wild racetrack and you have to be on your toes. If you slip up the least little bit, you are not only going to crash, you are going to crash hard. I think of it like this – Sonoma is like a short track and Watkins Glen is like a superfast, 1.5-mile track. That’s the speed difference.”

Bowyer has lots of motivation this weekend as he arrives in Upstate New York 15th in the NASCAR standings. With only four races remaining in the regular season and only 16 spots available, Bowyer leads the 17th-place driver by 12 points and trails the 10th-place driver by 82 points.

He arrives at Watkins Glen after finishing 11th last weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, where he started 13th and ran in the top-10 most of the day before restarting 20th in overtime and driving to 11th.

Bowyer will have a few extra family and fans in the grandstands this weekend at Watkins Glen. Bowyer’s wife Lorra is a native of Pen Yann, New York – a town of 5,000 people about 25 miles north of the track. Bowyer has spent considerable time in the area over the years.

“I love this place,” he said. “There are so many lakes and the area is so beautiful. Not sure I want to spend winters here but, when we visit, we have a good time.”

Bowyer will carry the decals of Rush Truck Centers and Haas Automation this weekend in New York. Rush Truck Centers has been the primary partner on the No. 14 team since Bowyer arrived at SHR in 2017 and has been with the organization since 2010. The Texas-based company has used Bowyer and the team to appeal to NASCAR fans as one way to recruit the technicians it needs to operate the largest network of commercial truck and bus dealerships in the country, with locations in 22 states. According to Rush Truck Centers, the trucking industry is expected to need 200,000 diesel technicians over the next 10 years to keep up with maintenance demands. Rush Truck Centers wants to make NASCAR fans aware of these opportunities.

Haas Automation is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. Founded by Gene Haas in 1983, Haas Automation manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are built in the company’s 1.1 million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.

 

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

Why is road-course racing in NASCAR becoming more popular?

“It’s just a hell of a show for the fans, the television audience and even the drivers. Man, they’re just so difficult. They’re so out of the ordinary. There are so many opportunities. That’s the thing about a road course – that there are not a lot of good opportunities to pass, but there are a lot of opportunities. If somebody makes a mistake, like if you catch pit road as a caution’s coming out, there are just so many things to capitalize on one of those road courses.”

What are the differences between the Watkins Glen, Sonoma and Charlotte road courses?

“You are way more at ease at Sonoma. It’s a finesse, rear-grip, take-care-of-your-tires type of track. I think it is a much more technical track. When you go to Watkins Glen, it’s a ton of fun but it’s a whole different beast. It’s wide-open. It’s balls-to-the-wall. You have to be extremely good on braking and have a fast racecar. Both of them are a ton of fun and so unique. That is the thing. We race and chase each other in circles non-stop. It is refreshing to have a break like this when we come to these road courses. The consequences just seem far greater at Watkins Glen than they are at Sonoma. If you hit at Sonoma, it’s like, ‘Man that hurt.’ You hit at Watkins Glen, you might be telling ’em about it a couple days later when it comes back to you. From the time you pull out on the track at Charlotte, to the time you get off, it’s just sketchy. You are just tip-toeing. There’s no room for error at all. The grip level isn’t  there. If you get to sliding a little bit getting in there and you look over at them tires, you realize there’s no room. If that thing gets out from under you, you are going to be in the fence and you are going to be in it hard. It’s not something (your car is) going to limp away from.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2019 Watkins Glen Race Advance

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Go Bowling Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads to the second of three road course races of the season this weekend at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

The 2.45-mile, seven-turn circuit is located in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York and is quite different from Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, the season’s first road-course stop each June.

“Watkins Glen is a beast of its own,” Almirola said. “We go to Sonoma, which is also a road course but much more like Martinsville, where it’s very slow, very technical and you struggle for grip. Then you go to Watkins Glen, that’s like a mile-and-a-half racetrack for road courses. It’s very fast and aero-dependent. I can’t stress how fast that racetrack is. It’s totally different than Sonoma.”

Last year at The Glen was a doubleheader weekend for Almirola, who competed in both the Cup Series and Xfinity Series races. He earned his first Watkins Glen Xfinity Series top-five, his previous best Xfinity finish there being eighth in 2011. He finished 22nd in last year’s Cup Series race.

In the days leading into each race weekend, Almirola focuses on improving his physical abilities and is well prepared for races where drivers are faced with high G-forces, like Watkins Glen.

“It takes a different technique,” he said. “From the driver standpoint, it’s very aggressive and taxing on the body.  There are a lot of G-forces (at Watkins Glen) compared to Sonoma, and we’re doing some heavy braking in several different spots on the track. Going through the esses, you try and run through there wide open and the car is very sketchy trying to go up through there at 150 to 160 miles per hour. It’s fun and very challenging.”

In 21 Cup Series starts this year, Almirola has one pole, one top-five finish, 10 top-10s and has led 112 laps. In 301 career starts, Almirola has two wins, two poles, 16 top-five finishes, 59 top-10s and 469 laps led. Almirola has qualified on the front row six times this season – one pole and five outside-front-row starts.

GoBowling.com will serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 10 Ford this weekend. Go Bowling is the destination for bowling fans and enthusiasts seeking news and information about one of America’s favorite pastimes and the nation’s No. 1 participatory sport. With more than 67 million people taking to the lanes every year, GoBowling.com is a one-stop location where people of all ages can go to satisfy their love of bowling. Consumers turn to GoBowling.com every day to find bowling fun – discovering new bowling centers, tips and tricks to use on the lanes, event news, and great deals at more than 1,700 family friendly bowling centers across the country.

Almirola and the No. 10 Go Bowling Ford Mustang also will give fans a chance to get a little extra money for their bank account this weekend. If he wins at Sunday’s Go Bowling at The Glen, one lucky fan will win $10,000. If Almirola doesn’t win Sunday, one fan still has the chance to win $1,000. To enter the contest, visit GoBowling.com/10k.

Also, fans can now get VIP, behind-the-scenes access in following “Aric ‘Beyond the 10’” by subscribing to his YouTube channel and following episodes on Facebook and Instagram TV. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.

Almirola sits ninth in the championship standings heading to Sunday’s GoBowling at The Glen, 210 points out of first.

 

ARIC ALMIROLA, Driver of the No. 10 Go Bowling Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

What is the highest score you’ve bowled?

“The highest game that I’ve bowled was just over 200. I think I bowled something like a 204 or 205. I’m consistent in the 150 to 170 range but, on occasion, I’ve bowled above 200 – maybe a handful of times.”

How do you feel going into the road-course race? With the Charlotte ROVAL coming in the playoffs, is it more important to you?

“Road-course racing has been arguably my Achilles heel throughout my career, and I don’t claim to be very good at road-course racing at all. I have always worked really hard at it to try and be better. As a racecar driver, you want to be versatile. You want to be able to contend for wins on superspeedways and intermediate tracks and short tracks – challenging tracks and road-course tracks. You don’t want to be weak in any one area. For me, it has been a big challenge to conquer road-course racing. I have put a lot of effort into this year to be a better road-course racer and had a lot of help with it. With Ford, they have helped me a lot with a lot of time in the simulator with our race team at Stewart-Haas Racing, and they’ve provided a lot of data to look at and a lot of things to study. I got my second top-10 on a road course out at Sonoma and had a really good run and was really fast. Same thing going into Watkins Glen. I have worked really hard studying data and getting ready in the Ford simulator. We are fortunate enough to have Go Bowling on the car for the weekend because it is the Go Bowling weekend at The Glen. I feel that will help me get in a rhythm for Sunday and hopefully that will pay off for Sunday at Watkins Glen. Road-course racing is definitely not something that I am overly comfortable with, or something I claim to be good at by any means, but through hard work I am trying to get a lot better at it and I feel like I have.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2019 Pocono II Race Advance

Prior to visiting victory lane in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 last Sunday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon to secure his position in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Kevin Harvick was asked about the current state of NASCAR racing tactics.

His comment was very simple.

“If you drove like this 10 years ago, you’d have a fist in your mouth.”

Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is one of the last remaining Generation X drivers to experience such history in NASCAR, and he used his vast driving experience when he battled door-to-door and banged fenders with Denny Hamlin in the thrilling final lap at New Hampshire to score his first race win of the season. It put him in position to race for his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Generation X is pretty much defined as anyone born between the years 1965 and 1980. Harvick was born in 1975, grew up during the 1980s, and made his NASCAR touring series debut in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 1995 at the age of 19 and now stands as an elder statesman in the Cup Series.

Even his personal “Happy Harvick” logo of a smiley face with flames is a takeoff of the original smiley face logo created in the late 1960s and made popular in the 1970s. It was slightly altered to highlight his rather sunny disposition off the track while being known for his fiery personality behind the wheel.

The folks at Busch Beer, who read some comments Harvick made in 2018 about older guys being better than the heavily hyped younger guys in the Cup Series garage, came up with a pink Millennial Car for the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway after millennial driver Joey Logano won the Cup Series championship in 2018.

Busch is at it again, but this time in a way more fitting for its driver’s generation – a No. 4 Busch Beer Gen X #4The Cup Ford Mustang. The car will sport images of things that Gen Xers once embraced, including boom boxes, skateboards, and words like “gnarly” and “fresh.” Generation X also is known for MTV (yes, there were music videos), 8-bit video games (Zelda anyone?), Miami Vice (White Suits rule), and making mix-tapes for their boom boxes or Sony Walkman (Hello, Huey Lewis and the News). While Gen Xers certainly have their gnarly style quirks, they also have a hardened edge to their personality.

Generation X is known for earning it, something Harvick is still looking to do for the first time at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, where the Cup Series Gander RV 400 takes place Sunday. He has won at every track on the NASCAR circuit save for Pocono and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. But he’s finished in the top-10 in eight of 11 races at Pocono since joining SHR, including four runner-up finishes.

In his six seasons with crew chief Rodney Childers at SHR, the duo has combined to produce 23 points-paying victories, a victory in the non-points-paying 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte, 22 poles, 100 top-five finishes and 139 top-10s while leading 9,140 laps.

They won the 2014 championship, finished runner-up in the 2015 title chase to champion Kyle Busch, finished eighth in 2016 and third in 2017 and 2018. The team has qualified for the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway four times in the last five years.

Perhaps, if Harvick wins at the 2.5-mile oval this week, he’ll play a little music – on his old Walkman, per chance? – to celebrate, something like “You’re the Best Around” by Joe Esposito from the 1984 movie, The Karate Kid.

Because a participation trophy is not needed – Harvick wants to earn this trophy.

That is what Gen Xers do.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Gen X #4TheCup Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

 

When did this style of racing start with guys racing all over the track? Many people feel like it wasn’t that way 10 years ago.

“If you drove like this 10 years ago, you’d have had a fist in your mouth. What changed were the rules and, when every spot becomes that much more difficult to achieve, you have to defend the spots that you have because you know that you might not get it back, and you know that you have to block. Blocking is a part of what we do. Defending your position is a part of what we do and it’s just an evolution of where the rules package is. Heck, I had a blown motor (at Kentucky Speedway), a broken engine and was only three-tenths off the pace, so you’re talking about small amounts of time, especially on the mile-and-a-half racetracks, where you know if you can keep somebody behind you – and that comes with side-drafting and blocking and all those things – that if they’re directly behind you, there’s no way they’ll pass you because of the aero.”

There will be PJ1 at Pocono. What are your thoughts on that?

“Our car was extremely fast there last time and the steering box broke, so I feel like we had a lot to build on for us individually as an organization and team we’re still trying to recover from not being where we needed to be to start the season. The progression for us has been rapid. There have been a lot of different things that have been tried as we’ve gone over these last two months and we’re still building and trying to get the cars exactly where we’d like them to be, but Pocono was definitely a race we could have won with the circumstances going right, and it seems like on the days where we’ve had chances to win, we’ve just either made mistakes or we’ve had something go wrong. It’s probably been three or four, maybe five times this year, that we’ve had those opportunities and just haven’t capitalized on them, but Pocono was definitely one of those races. I feel like we’ve been able to hopefully make the car better than it was last time. I think we’ve done that every week, so I think as you go there with the PJ1, a lot of that came from the meeting at Daytona with the communication from the drivers and NASCAR and everybody trying to figure out how to make the racing better there. And, with these particular cars and the way that passing has been so difficult, lanes are a good option for all of us to make the racing better. I think, from the outside looking in, the race is OK to watch. From inside the car, it’s a little bit frustrating just because of how difficult it has been to pass at some of the racetracks, so I think with as much better as we are as a sport in adding the PJ1 at a lot of these racetracks and seeing the results. I mean, it was way better at Kentucky than it had been in the past. You look at this particular racetrack and Bristol and we’ve just done a lot better job. You look at the science that goes into when you spray it, how you spray it, all the things that come into play, the long and short of the story is we’ve just become a lot better at the traction compound and the things that we do, and when we put it down and where we put it down, and you see a lot more people open to it because it’s more consistent. We need lanes as drivers in order to go where the other car isn’t in order to pass, and I think that’s really the reasoning behind Pocono.”

Regarding your mental approach to each week and your capability of winning a race, was there some personal satisfaction that all of it was able to be put into place last week at New Hampshire?

“Honestly, I’m excited that we won, but it doesn’t really – we won’t have a different meeting than if we didn’t win. We won’t have different conversations. We won’t treat each other any differently. It really doesn’t change anything. I mean, honestly, this is what we’re supposed to do. This is what we get paid to do. And it’s our job, and we expect it. We expect to go out and win races, and on the days – and I said this for several weeks, now it’s almost a game of how do we fix it, how do we get to where we need to be, and how do we put ourselves in position to try to win a championship. Sometimes those years are more fun just because – more fun in the end. They aren’t more fun in the middle just because of the conversations, but the satisfaction that comes out of turning things around is sometimes more rewarding just because of the fact that it takes a lot of people to do it. Like you really have to step back and realize that I can drive the car, but there is no way I can do anything close to the amount of work that goes into putting these cars into production on the racetrack, changing things. I’m just a small, small sliver of it. But, I can tell you, confidence is never anything that we will lack.”

DANIEL SUÁREZ – 2019 Pocono II Race Advance

Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) return to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway this weekend for the season’s second race at the 2.5-mile track known as the “Tricky Triangle.” Suárez will pilot the No. 41 machine with the familiar, red-and-black Haas Automation livery.

At Pocono in June, Suárez started ninth in the 160-lap event and finished eighth. But, the day wasn’t without its challenges. The Haas driver had to overcome a pit-road speeding penalty during the break between Stages 1 and 2, which sent him from the top-10 to outside the top-20.

Suárez won his first Cup Series pole award at Pocono a year ago this weekend with a lap of 50.851 seconds at 176.988 mph. He was the first Mexican-born driver to win a Cup Series pole award and he captured it in only his 57th start in NASCAR’s premiere series. Suárez captured his second career Cup Series pole two weekends ago at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, SHR’s fifth of the season.

In the Haas driver’s five Cup Series starts at Pocono, he has a best finish of second earned last July, and three top-10 results. He’s led 39 laps in total at Pocono and has an average starting position of 10.0 and an average finishing position of 11.2.

Suárez has two starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Pocono with one top-five finish and two top-10s with an average starting position of 5.0 and an average finishing position of 7.0. He completed all possible laps in his Xfinity starts and led one lap in June 2017.

SHR has two Pocono victories. Team co-owner Tony Stewart earned the first in June 2009 and former SHR driver Kurt Busch captured the other in June 2016.

Suárez is in his third Cup Series season and has accumulated two top-five and seven top-10s, along with a total of 105 laps led. The 27-year-old has an average start of 15.7 and an average finish of 15.5 this season.

Ford has 23 all-time Cup Series victories at Pocono. The last two Ford winners at Pocono have been first-time victors in the Cup Series. Suárez hopes to be the third.

Suárez is currently 18th in the Cup Series standings and rounds out the four-driver SHR contingent. The top 16 drivers after the 26 regular-season races will earn a spot in the Cup Series playoffs. If Suárez captures a playoff position, it will be the first of his Cup Series career. Last year, all four SHR entries secured at least one regular-season win and a playoff spot. Suárez’s SHR teammate Kevin Harvick secured his playoff spot for this year by capturing the win last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

 

DANIEL SUÁREZ, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

Do you feel the pressure now that you’re currently outside the top-16 and a guaranteed playoff berth?

“I’m confident in the No. 41 team. We have a good group of guys who work hard. Unfortunately, we have had a few things that were out of our control that have happened during the races, which has made things more difficult for us. Other times, we’ve been trying different things to see if they’d work or not, and some of those things didn’t work. But we have some of my best tracks in Pocono and Watkins Glen coming up. We’re just going to keep focused and doing our jobs.”

What do you feel is most important to be successful at Pocono this weekend?

“Track position is extremely important every weekend, but it’s especially important at Pocono. We saw that in the race at Pocono earlier this year. Obviously, qualifying well is important to starting off strong in the race. Stage points are extremely important in helping us with making the playoffs. Track position has always been important, but it’s more important than ever. If we make a mistake, it takes so much longer and is so much harder to recover from.”