Charlotte: Dodge this - Mike Ford interview

Tuesday, May 20, 2003. Dodge This Teleconference Ray Evernham, Mike Ford MIKE FORD (Crew chief No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid) "Our No. 1 objective is to make sure he's comfortable. With his injury a week old come this weekend, we...

Tuesday, May 20, 2003.
Dodge This Teleconference Ray Evernham, Mike Ford

MIKE FORD (Crew chief No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid)

"Our No. 1 objective is to make sure he's comfortable. With his injury a week old come this weekend, we need to make sure he's comfortable and able to run the 600 miles being the longest race of the year. It wouldn't be very much fun for him if he were in pain and had to endure that all day. We're just trying to make him comfortable."

WILL YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY WITH BRAKE PEDAL FOR BILL?

"We will try to soften up the ratio. We can make it a little easier for the application of the brake to be able to stop. We've looked at that. I know Bill is working on trying to get a more secure shoe that doesn't bend, so we're looking at changing the pedal ratio to be able to brake easier. He may end up with a little more travel in the pedal, but it may take some pressure off his foot. Being with Bill for going on four years now, in 2000 when he had his broken kneecap we ran into some similar things. We actually had a hand clutch in the car at one point. We went to Richmond with that, and he had to endure the race at Richmond with a broken kneecap which is very similar. It's the same leg, and he actually right foot braked at Richmond, and I imagine he'll do the same at Charlotte."

WHAT'S IT GOING TO BE LIKE DRIVING A 600-MILE MARATHON WITH A BROKEN FOOT?

"I don't know that you have control over it. The 600 definitely wouldn't be the race to come back to. I think it says a lot for Bill. He could very easily not want to do it and no hard feelings would be had there. I'd understand that completely, but he's a professional. His livelihood is driving race cars, and that's what he wants to do. He chooses to do it. The 600 would not be the place to come back a week later."

DO YOU LOOK BACK OR LOOK AHEAD?

"You look in all directions. We collect data at a rapid rate. Some things you do moving forward are predicted by the things you did looking back. We continually as we look forward to the 600, we'll look at what we did in The Winston. We'll look at what we did last fall at Charlotte and what we did last spring at Charlotte. You look at a combination of a lot of things. As you get driver feedback in practice, you look at similar comments from the same race track and look at the changes and things you did and see if you affected the complaint at that time. You're continually looking in all directions, trying to make sense of comments and trying to get the best combination in the car you can."

ANY SPECIAL CHALLENGES FOR A 600-MILE RACE?

"Pretty much to win races in this series right now, there are a few things you have to have. You have to have a strong race car along with a strong pit crew. I think we proved we've got a strong pit crew in The Winston qualifying and the first segment of The Winston. Those guys have worked extremely hard. On top of that you also have to have a good race strategy. Race strategy for the 600 comes down to tire management and making sure your race car runs all day. That's the next part in winning races these days, making sure you're around at the end. So many cars have that figured out right now, and to fall out of a race is extremely detrimental right now. For 600 miles, the wear and tear on an engine is a lot. The suspension parts go through more wear and tear than they do on a weekend, so you have to go with fresh equipment and a little bit to a conservative side on your engine packages. It's all similar. It's just an extended version of a 500-mile race. The ending point is still the same, and to call a race a lot of times you start at the end of the race. You know what the last lap of the race is and you actually call the race backwards if you will. You start at the end of the race and move forward from there to figure out the points of when things need to happen. A lot of it is up to when cautions fall and you don't have any control over that. I don't know that it changes your strategy. It just extends it."

Dodge this - Ray Evernham interview

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ray Evernham