Fontana: Ford Racing - Ben Leslie No. 6 interview

This Week in Ford Racing April 23, 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series BEN LESLIE, crew chief-6-Pfizer Taurus: ON JACK ROUSH'S ABSENCE AND HOW IT AFFECTS THE RUNNING OF THE RACE TEAMS. "Jack has it structured and has the management in place. He...

This Week in Ford Racing
April 23, 2002

NASCAR Winston Cup Series

BEN LESLIE, crew chief-6-Pfizer Taurus:

ON JACK ROUSH'S ABSENCE AND HOW IT AFFECTS THE RUNNING OF THE RACE TEAMS. "Jack has it structured and has the management in place. He normally comes down once a week, Tuesdays, usually, but it's more about just to check and see how everybody's doing, make sure there's nothing that he doesn't, you know, no major fires that he can help with. But, for the most part, it's pretty much business as usual. Obviously, everybody is concerned about Jack's health, and everybody really wants to see him back as soon as possible. As far as everyday business and looking down the road, it's pretty much business as usual because Jack's kind of like your father that when you were trying learn how to ride a bike. When he took the training wheels off, he was behind you, but once you got so far out in front, you had to sink or swim yourself, you had to peddle the bike yourself. That's kind of what's he's done with all the management and us crew chiefs and everything for the last couple of years. We've pretty much had to sink or swim, and he was there to help us with problems, but it was up to us to make it happen."

WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE LESSON THAT MARK MARTIN HAS TAUGHT YOU? "We've worked real hard on cars. There's been a number of things that Mark's helped me with, helped me understand. It's been a number of things as far as mostly racing, patience, being real perceptive on the race track, knowing where you want to be at the end of the race, knowing where you're going to wind up at the end of a tire run, on how the way the car is handling at the beginning. It's things like that. Really having a real good foresight because of his experience."

TUESDAY IS JACK'S DAY TO VISIT THE SHOP. HOW HAVE YOU MISSED HIM TODAY? "Obviously missed his smiling face and his humor that he usually brings down with him every Tuesday. But, like I said, it's pretty much business as usual. The California cars left yesterday, we're getting Richmond stuff ready today, we're working Charlotte test stuff and Winston stuff. As big a machine as all this is, and with the NASCAR schedule, you got to keep rolling. There again, like I say, we're pretty much self-sufficient. He helps us if we need it, but we really try to make him proud in the fact of being able to help ourselves."

JACK HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE ON RACE DAY. WAS THERE TIME AT TALLADEGA WHERE YOU MIGHT'VE TURNED AROUND FOR HIS HELP? "He offers a lot through the course of a race, some serious, some not so serious. Some of the things are on a lighter note. You really miss every part of him not being at the race or the race track, whether it's Sunday, Saturday or Friday. But you miss it for him, you just miss seeing him. There's things that he helps with, for sure, because of his vast racing experience, but the part that we really miss is just him."

HUMOR IS A BIG PART OF JACK. IS THAT AN IMPORTANT RELEASE IN RACING? "He is really good. A lot of the times he'll catch you by surprise with his humor, it'll catch you off guard."

IF YOU COULD DO ANYTHING TO SEPARATE THE CARS AT TALLADEGA, WITH NO RESTRICTOR PLATE, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? IS A BIGGER GREENHOUSE THE ANSWER? WHAT KIND OF ANSWERS DOES ROUSH RACING HAVE? "Honestly, I'm not sure. You're gonna separate the pack when you make them run faster, because you're gonna put handling back into the picture, it's going to be a lot bigger key part because basically the cars are running too slow for the aerodynamic capabilities. To separate the pack, it's basically going to mean speeding 'em up. Obviously, that has repercussions that come along with it. Honestly, at the speeds we're running, with what we've got for aerodynamics, I don't know how you would separate them."

HAS NASCAR TESTED THE GREENHOUSE? HAS THAT BEEN TALKED ABOUT? "A little. We haven't had a lot of feedback from the testing that NASCAR has done. I don't know what to think about that because I don't really have a good idea of what exactly went on up to this point. I know NASCAR is working real hard on trying to figure something out on how to make the race safer, and I'm sure they'll do a real good job like they always have of coming up with a real good solution. Now, what'll happen is the crew chiefs and the crews and the drivers will do a real good job about putting everybody back together again, as far as being competitive. One of the problems is, right now, in today's time, is you have anywhere from 30 to 35 teams that can win a race every weekend. And when you have teams of that close in knowledge, capabilities, equipment, you know, when NASCAR comes out with a rule change, everybody will figure it out kind of at the same time, and they'll be back in a group again because every team, like I said, there's 35 teams out there with great people on them. And we're as big a hindrance on NASCAR as anything because of how close the competition is right now."

THERE ARE A COUPLE OF NIGHT RACES COMING UP. DO THOSE RACES CAUSE ANY HINDRANCES FOR A CREW CHIEF? "There's not a whole lot of hindrance as far as racing, basically, at night. Like the Richmond race starts at dusk, basically, and runs into the night. That's not the big of a deal. It really isn't much different than running in the day. Obviously, we enjoy it, the night races, better for the same reason the fans and everybody does, and, obviously the same reason the drivers do - it's a lot cooler. The only one that gives you a little bit of a headache is the 600 because it starts in late afternoon and then runs into the night, so you do have some track change, a little more dramatic then, say, a Richmond or a Bristol night race. It's great to watch, it's great for the fans, and we enjoy doing it even though sometimes it's a little more of a headache then normal, but we enjoy it."

-ford-

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup