Brian Wolfe - Ford interview 2009-10-20

This Week in Ford Racing: October 20, 2009 The wait is almost over for Ford Racing teams and fans who have been waiting for the debut of the new FR9 NASCAR Sprint Cup engine. Brian Wolfe, director, Ford North America Motorsports, said that...

This Week in Ford Racing:
October 20, 2009

The wait is almost over for Ford Racing teams and fans who have been waiting for the debut of the new FR9 NASCAR Sprint Cup engine. Brian Wolfe, director, Ford North America Motorsports, said that it would most likely be on the track next week at Talladega Superspeedway.

WHAT IS THE UPDATE ON THE FR9 ENGINE? "Talladega definitely looks like where we're going to be seeing it at this point in time. We're excited about it. The one thing is when you've had such a rough year as we have with so few wins, it's always easy to point to one thing. A lot of fans and supporters have said, 'We've got to get that new engine out there. It's going to be really, really important to get us to win.' But the reality of the situation is the current engine is either tied or above all the others for both peak power and average power over the operational range. So to jump in and say, 'We're going to throw the new engine out there,' when we're really good for fuel and power could have some unintended consequences. I know it looks like we're really, really slow-walking this, but we want to make sure we're getting the cars most competitive as quick as we can. We apologize to the fans that are so anxious to see it come out, but this is one where you almost have to say, 'You've got to trust us a little bit.' If we were down on power or off 5, 10, 15 horsepower from the guys leading the pack, we'd be pushing real, real hard to get this out there, but, instead, the only driving force for us is to win races. If this was going to be a factor and make us win races, we'd be scrambling hard to get it out there. We have to go to the new architecture, it's NASCAR mandated and we're going to do that, but we don't want to do that and then have some unintended consequences. We really believe the restrictor-plate track is the best one to debut it at. We think that it's going to be very exciting and we think the power levels will be good versus our current restrictor motor, and, hopefully, when you see it out there it will do great."

WHY IS THE ENGINE READY FOR A RESTRICTOR-PLATE TRACK BUT NOT AN UNRESTRICTED ONE, LIKE MICHIGAN OR CHARLOTTE? "I wouldn't say not ready, I would say in list of priorities of things to get it ready engine power wasn't going to be critical to us winning at Charlotte or Fontana. There are significant differences. The engines have a much different stress level on them because you're making a lot less power with the restricted motor than you're making with an open motor. So it's not so much the differences in having it ready or not, it's when is there a reason to really put it out there. We think the restricted tracks, there are some benefits of the new architecture there to make the performance a little bit better than it would be with the current motor."

SO WHERE DO THINGS STAND AS FAR AS AN UNRESTRICTED FR9 ENGINE DEBUT? "The thing is, like anything else, it's not only about making sure it's durable and it's going to win races and there are no unintended consequences, but the other thing we can't lose track of is that the economic times are very, very tight. The last thing we want to do is obsolete parts that are still good and still very competitive, so that's another factor that also goes along with that. The current engine is very, very good. All of our competitors have their new architecture out there and our current motor is running the same power and same fuel economy as they are, so a new unrestricted motor isn't going to give us another 10, 15, 30, 40 horsepower. It's going to be good to keep our performance level right where we're at, which is at the top of the competition. It's something we do want to phase in and one of the benefits of building a new engine from scratch is it will result in less machining time and shop time required to put it together, but I do have a big stock of all the other stuff that is ready and prepared. Part of it is a business decision, but another big piece of it is that if it was something where we were very deficient in performance and had to catch up, we would be in more of a hurry, but that's simply not the case."

-credit: ford racing

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup