This Week in Ford Racing: NASCAR Edition
July 7, 2009
This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to a 1½-mile track for the first time since late May when it visits Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Ford Racing drivers Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and David Ragan discuss the importance of doing well at 1½-mile tracks during the season, and some of the characteristics that separate it from other 1½-mile tracks. Roush Fenway Racing has 41 all-time wins at 1½-mile tracks.
CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion
HOW IMPORTANT ARE 1½-MILE TRACKS TO HAVING A SUCCESSFUL SEASON, IN GENERAL? "There is a bulk of our season that is run on mile-and-a-half race tracks, so running well there - if all you did was run well at mile-and-a-halfs, you could still have a pretty good season. So, they're really important. Chicago is one where we can hopefully try some stuff that will pay off down the road at Atlanta, Texas, maybe even California and Homestead - all of those tracks. So, hopefully that will be a good race for us and we'll learn some things."
IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT CHICAGO THAT SEPARATES IT FROM OTHER 1½-MILE TRACKS? "It's a little bumpier, which gives it a little character. I really like it a lot."
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
IS IT IMPORTANT TO GET BACK TO A 1½-MILE TRACK IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH SOME SORT OF BASELINE FOR THE LAST HALF OF THE SEASON AND THE FIVE RACES THAT WILL BE RUN ON THOSE TYPES OF TRACKS? "Really, to have a shot to be a legitimate contender for the Chase and/or the championship, you have to run good pretty much at all the tracks. I guess you could give up a couple, but not very many. So, we've just been focusing on every track one week at a time and putting all the effort we can into getting better running everywhere. It seems that our mile-and-a- half stuff is better than the rest, but you can't really sit still on that, either."
CAN WHAT YOU LEARN AT A 1½-MILE TRACK LIKE CHICAGO BE APPLIED TO OTHER TRACKS DOWN THE ROAD? "The cars are all the same now, so you run the same stuff - there are some bolt-on stuff differences and set-up differences, and obviously every track is unique and had its own characteristics, but we always try to improve every part of the program, even that part that seems the strongest."
IS CHICAGO MORE SIMILAR OR DIFFERENT FROM OTHER 1½-MILE TRACKS? "Chicago and Kansas are pretty much sister tracks. They built them almost the same - with the exception of Chicago has some more banking. It's a track that I always enjoy going to. It's got a lot of banking, it's real fast. It reminds me a little bit of Texas. So, you know, they're all a little bit different."
DAVID RAGAN - No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion
TO DO WELL IN THE SERIES, A TEAM HAS TO DO WELL ON THE 1½-MILE TRACKS. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET BACK ON A 1½- MILER THIS WEEK AND DOING WELL? "Chicago's been a great track for us in the past, and I enjoy the mile-and-a-half tracks because we usually have fast race cars. Roush puts a lot of emphasis on our downforce cars, and we will always have good engines there. So, yeah, the mile-and-a-half races are fun, and it's going to be a Saturday night race, so I think that'll add a little bit extra excitement."
DOES ANYTHING MAKING CHICAGO SIMILAR OR DIFFERENT FROM OTHER 1½-MILE TRACKS? "It's very similar to Kansas. It's one of those cookie-cutter style race tracks, I guess you can say, but my props to them for putting up lights and running us at night. That makes it a little different. I think it's got a good second groove, which is important, when you can run two- wide. It's just one of those standard tracks that usually has pretty good racing."
-credit: ford racing