Ford drivers say their Rough Yates Engines are strong

Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin' the Tires

By Jerry Jordan, Editor
LOUDON, N.H. – Despite being the only two Ford Performance drivers outside the Top 12 trying to make it to the second round of the NASCAR Playoffs, Kurt Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. both said their cars have enough power under the hood to be a force on the track, they need just need to tweak other areas of their cars to improve performance.

“I think Doug (Yates, Roush Yates Engines) has really been pushing forward and trying to advance our engine program as much as possible and I think he’s done a really good job,” Stenhouse said, who qualified 24th. “We’ve gotten our cars better this year, so I feel like since we’ve gotten our cars better, our engines run better, so that’s no different than being here at Loudon. It’s a race track that if your car is not handling good, it’ll feel like you don’t have a good motor. You’ve got to get your car handling good to get through the corners so that – as low RPM coming off the corner.”

Heading into Sunday’s race, three Ford drivers are starting inside the Top 10 with the highest qualifier being a rookie, Ryan Blaney, in the iconic No. 21 Wood Brothers machine. Blaney will start fourth and said he felt like his team made some good adjustments to the car, which helped him improve his position over the three-round qualifying session.

“I think that’s the best we’ve ever qualified here, so that’s something to look forward to and we have a good spot for Sunday,” Blaney said.

Blaney had an average running position of fourth across all three practice sessions and was sixth in Saturday’s final practice.

“We’ve got decent speed,” Blaney said.

Brad Keselowski, who set off a firestorm on Twitter this past week between himself and Kyle Busch over parity and a speed advantage by Toyota over Ford and Chevrolet, will start Sunday’s race in 13th. He believes NASCAR has let the Toyota gain a significant advantage – one that hasn’t been seen in the sport in 30-years.

As for his starting position and how his car was handling heading into the race, he said he believes The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford will be will be fast. However, the team was having trouble building in the proper adjustments to get the performance he wanted.

“We missed it everywhere,” he said. “We couldn’t find what we needed, but we seem to race really well here. I haven’t really qualified all that well here lately, but it’s been one of my best qualifying tracks, but not today.”

Kevin Harvick will roll off the grid in sixth place followed by his teammate, Busch, in seventh. Both drivers feel there is probably more speed in their cars. Harvick was second in final practice and Busch closed out the day in 15th but had an average practice position of 13th.

“I’m happy that we ran our fastest lap there at the end of the whole weekend so far,” Harvick said. “That’s the time to do it. I just can’t get it all timed right. I feel like the car is faster than I am right now.”

Busch said he and crew chief, Tony Gibson, have worked since their Daytona 500 win to find the balance in the No. 41 car and be competitive in the final 10 races of the season. He said they’ve come a long way in their progress but the one area where they didn’t have concern was with their Roush Yates Engines.

“Doug Yates has been our rock, though, our engines are solid,” Busch said.

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