Davis, Roush, Yates -Ford Media Tour interview

The final day of the Lowe's Motor Speedway media tour featured Ford Racing officials, drivers and car owners from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The Q&A session, which took place at Roush Fenway Racing, was the last stop on the four-day...

The final day of the Lowe's Motor Speedway media tour featured Ford Racing officials, drivers and car owners from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The Q&A session, which took place at Roush Fenway Racing, was the last stop on the four-day event.

YOU MENTIONED THAT THE FORD TEAMS WILL BE COLLABORATING ON CHASSIS DEVELOPMENT, MUCH LIKE THE ENGINE PROGRAM. WILL IT END UP BEING LIKE A FACTORY PROGRAM?

DAN DAVIS, Director, Ford Racing Technology: "I don't know if it's going to be a factory, it's a collaborative effort. To me, the way the engine program worked is you had the best of what Jack was doing, the best of what Robert Yates was doing and you combined the two. One plus one equaled four in that case, in my opinion. So what we're going to try to do is the same thing. Let's take the best ideas everyone has, combine them, and let's let one and one equal four one more time. The way we're looking at it is we want the best. It doesn't really matter where it comes from. It makes sense financially, performance-wise, let's take the best, let's be adults about really what is the best and move forward with it. We've shown that in the engine program and it's really worked out. We can do it."

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner, Roush Fenway Racing: "There are some economies of scale from a manufacturing point of view that can be brought to bear to give the teams individually a better price and a better result for their cars than they could if everybody built their own cars, but at the same time, Hutchison Pagen is still out there, Loughlin is still out there, Ronnie Hopkins is still out there. I know that we'll be getting some chassis to benchmark what we're doing against other manufacturers. I know that the Wood Brothers and Robert Yates both had some of our cars last year that they benchmarked against other folk's cars, so we're going to be one consideration that the teams can have for their cars and we hope that what we'll have and be able to provide is something that's coordinated and competitive, but it's not a requirement that everybody use the Roush cars."

WHAT GAINS DID YOU MAKE WITH THE NEW CAR LAST YEAR? AND WHAT IS 3M BRINGING TO YOUR OPERATION?

JACK ROUSH: "The first thing that we learned about the car of tomorrow last year is you need to test it as much as everybody else does to get there. I was mostly responsible for not a making the commitment for the Roush Fenway teams to go underground and to get non-Goodyear tires and to go to race tracks that NASCAR wasn't sanctioning for the tests. I got the deal behind. Roush Fenway didn't start testing until the first of June last year, the end of May. We were testing in Nashville yesterday. We've had a very aggressive testing program. We think that we're caught up on the deficits that we had, certainly at the introduction of the car of tomorrow last year, and we think that we're ready to start on a level playing field with the guys that starting testing early. As far as 3M is concerned, they're anxious to bring some things that could be interesting, but their products will flow back through the manufactures and be able to help everybody."

DAN DAVIS: "I guess the thing I would add to the testing thing that Jack started with is that if you're not testing that car, you're not gathering data. If you're not gathering data, you don't know how to do simulations -- you don't have the fundamental data you need in order to do the things that the engineers in Dearborn can use to make the car better, so it really revolved around getting experience with the car, which means testing. Now that we've got that well underway and under our belt, we've got the fundamental data that we need then to help make this car perform better. These cars look real simple when you see them on the track, but the processes and the analysis and some of the simulation work that goes on is anything but simple. It is very difficult."

NASCAR WAS ASKED ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YATES RACING AND THEY SAID IT WAS STILL UNDER REVIEW. DO YOU FEEL YOUR RELATIONSHIP HAS BEEN APPROVED?

JACK ROUSH: "First of all, Max (Jones) and Doug are certainly great friends and we'll enjoy a friendly relationship much like I've had with the Wood Brothers and we've had with a number of other teams at different times, depending on when our goals lined up and there was the right kind of lineup within the organizations. NASCAR is determined to not let the teams get too big and to not let the cooperation be beyond certain limits. Although they've been specific about some things, they haven't told us everything that they're willing to do and everything that's important. They are looking at what we're doing, but I'm given to understand that they're looking at things that are going on within the Hendrick organization, with Haas and some of the other teams out there. So they are determined to have competition between the teams. I think that one of the things they told me they were interested in is that one driver wouldn't pull over for another driver because the ownership was affiliated in some way, and you could come back and express the same concern about all the engines coming from Robert's and mine shop, that Doug runs of course. But that hasn't been the case in the past. If I tried to effect that by telling one of my drivers that they should yield for a driver within my organization, let alone somebody that they didn't eat out of the same plate of, I'm sure that it wouldn't work. So NASCAR is really paying attention and wanting to make sure that the racing is open and competitive on the race track. I know we had a little issue last year, and I'm sure it's all behind us, between Carl and Matt. If anybody had any question that the human spirit was alive and well in stock car racing, what happened between those two guys, which are close as brothers, should answer that. But certainly we don't expect any kind of coordination. Everybody that has a Roush Yates engine is not going to have a different way of racing against one another than the folks that have got Chevrolets or Toyotas or Chryslers or what else. So NASCAR is paying attention, but it's gonna be like chasing snipes, they're not going to find anything wrong. We're going to race real hard."

DOUG YATES: Car Owner, Yates Racing -- "First of all, I'm glad to be here. This is a great opportunity for myself and Max Jones, and I think there are some great things in store for Yates Racing in the future. Max and I complement each other. He's gonna run the racing side of it and I'm gonna be able to focus on the engine side, so it's a great start for Yates Racing. Secondly, I probably wouldn't be here without the support and help of Ford Motor Company and the Roush Fenway organization. It's hard for a young guy like myself and Max to go out and start our own race team, so there are some things per NASCAR's rules that we're gonna draw on from Roush Fenway. From a marketing standpoint, there are a lot of people all over the world looking for sponsors for Max and I right now, including the Roush Fenway organization. So we've worked very close with NASCAR on are we abiding by the rules, but, let me tell you something, I love this sport and I love being a part of this sport. I would want to be the last guy to compromise the integrity of it. I'm very fortunate to be here and I want to race and compete and that's what we're here to do."

WHAT IS YOUR DAD GOING TO DO WITH ALL THIS TIME OFF?

DOUG YATES: "He's always been a guy that likes new cars, shiny new cars, and he went out to Barrett Jackson and bought two old cars. I don't know what a Packard is, but he bought one of those. And then he gets home on Monday and tells me he's gonna send them back and sell them. He loves the sport, but physically and emotionally it's been real tough the past couple of years as you guys know. Everybody has talked to him and has seen what my dad has gone through. I talked to Bill Elliott about it a little while ago, he just needs to take some time and get away. What I'm trying to encourage him to do is to do what he loves to do. You've got to be passionate about something if you want to do a good job at it, and he loves engines. I think there will be something engine-related he'll be a part of. Right now I think everybody has heard his save the world or go green speech, but the only problem is there's not a lot of money for that, unless you're connected to Washington. But we'll see him back doing something and I appreciate you asking about him. If it weren't for him, obviously I wouldn't be sitting here, so thank you."

DAN DAVIS: "And I saw him at Barrett Jackson. He bought a Chevrolet, too. He was like, 'Man, I wish Dan you hadn't seen me.' He bought a '57 convertible, a gorgeous car. But he does want to work on some engines with lower displacement and higher efficiency -- that sort of thing. He even asked me about getting some parts for a diesel motor and things, so he's got some things in mind that he wants to do and I'm going to encourage him to do it because I think as the sport of NASCAR goes down the road, I think we're going to want to see better efficiency in these vehicles as well. So why not have, in my opinion, the best engine builder that ever lived, helped us do that. So I'm going to really encourage him."

DOUG YATES: "The problem is that Jack and I are gonna have to pull him back because he's gonna change all the rules and cost us a bunch of money."

HOW COULD FORD GO FOUR MONTHS INTO LAST YEAR AND NOT TEST THE NEW CAR WHEN EVERYONE ELSE WAS?

JACK ROUSH: "I've got myself up on the cross here. I've said it was my fault and one more spear probably is not going to hurt me worse than I'm already hurt. The thing was that last year NASCAR decided that we couldn't own the tires, and what they told me was the reason I couldn't own the tires -- for a $450 tire, if they dismounted it, if I gave it back to them and I hadn't used it, I got $100 back, and I had to pay them $25 to take it off the wheel. So it was really $75 I got for a tire I never used. That hurt a lot. I believed that they were serious. I thought that they were going to stop us from testing. They said they were going to control the tests. We were all going to test the same place, and I figured it was a matter of time before the guillotine fell on the people that were testing the cars. So I wasn't going to create a scenario initially where they said, 'Well everybody is doing it.' Well, everybody wasn't doing it. We weren't doing it. The Wood Brothers weren't doing it. A number of the other small single-car teams that they say they want to protect were not doing it, and I thought it was going to go real bad for the people that were there. I was wrong. I misread NASCAR. They wound up going with the flow of what the teams wanted to do. If I would have been at the front of that line, I don't think it would have worked out that way. Dan, why didn't you get after me sooner? Maybe it's your fault, too."

DAN DAVIS: "It's partly my fault. I have all those tires in my garage and I'm still selling them (joking). But at some point you hear the words and music and you want to believe it and you want to do the right thing. Obviously at Ford Motor Company we're very ethical and we want to do the right thing, so we held hands and said, 'This is what we should be doing. This is what we've been asked to do.' We come under a lot of scrutiny to do the right thing and it turns out we misunderstood or someone changed their mind. Who knows? It happened. And the best thing we could do at that point was to regroup and just go like hell. And, boy, I tell you what, in the last six months my view is that we're really pushing it hard. We're testing everywhere we can go. We're testing all kinds of vehicles and I feel like we've caught up and sometimes you need to be a little bit behind and a little bit embarrassed to really get your stuff together and I guess I feel like that's kind of where we're at and it's together. So look out this year."

JACK ROUSH: "An unnamed NASCAR official told me that they had the paperwork all organized to send out, with the applications, early last year to make the team owners that applied for an entry to the races to swear that they weren't testing, except for NASCAR-sanctioned tests. They didn't send out the paper. They changed their mind. It came as a surprise to me."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Robert Yates , Max Jones
Teams Roush Fenway Racing , Yates Racing