This Week in Ford Racing July 30, 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup One of the biggest races of the NASCAR Winston Cup season is scheduled for this weekend as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts the ninth annual Brickyard 400. Some Ford drivers spoke...
This Week in Ford Racing
July 30, 2002
NASCAR Winston Cup
One of the biggest races of the NASCAR Winston Cup season is scheduled for this weekend as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts the ninth annual Brickyard 400. Some Ford drivers spoke about returning to one of the most famous race tracks in the world and their expectations for the kind of racing fans can expect.
MARK MARTIN --6-- Viagra Taurus
DID YOU NOTICE A DIFFERENCE IN THE TRACK DURING YOUR TEST? "The thing about that track is that it wasn't rough for us before. The grip was better during the test, but in our cars the track was already smooth so we didn't really notice any difference with that."
THE LAST THREE WINNERS OF THAT RACE HAVE GONE ON TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP. IS THAT JUST A COINCIDENCE? "You stole the words right out of my mouth, I think that's just a coincidence. Sorry teams don't usually win the Brickyard or anywhere else, if you think about it."
DOES THE BRICKYARD KIND OF KICK START THE CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE? "I think the Daytona 500 in February kick-starts the championship drive -- that's what I think. They're all the same. You can work for any angle that you want to add drama or excitement, but, at the end of the day, Martinsville is the same as Daytona or the Brickyard. They all count and they all start at the first one. The last race doesn't make or break the championship -- every race on the schedule makes the championship, so that's the kind of a competition you have out there. You have to make 'em all count."
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus
WILL THE TRACK CHANGES MAKE IT EASIER TO PASS? "Usually when you start talking about going faster, sometimes that doesn't equate to better racing. But I think, because of the grip, we've got more of an outside groove so you're gonna be able to see more passing and probably a lot more action on the race track from what we've seen in the past."
HOW HAS THE DIAMOND GROOVING ON THE TRACK CHANGED THE RACING SURFACE? "I think what its done is that you can miss the groove now and it doesn't seem like you're out of control or you're gonna wreck. Eventually, I'm sure things will happen, but it just seems that you have a lot more grip all the way around the track. They've made a wider race track right now than what we've had in the past. It used to be that you had to be within at least a foot of your groove to make a decent lap. Now, you can miss it a little more than that, still make the corner fast, and get back on the gas and not have to worry about spinning out or the car sliding out into the wall."
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO WIN HERE? "Handling is the key and getting through the corners is what it's all about. Obviously, having a good engine helps that process. If you can get down the straightaway good, you can be a little off in the corners, but, ultimately, handling is what it's gonna take to win this race. You also have to be a little bit fortunate, too. I've had good race cars at the Brickyard and not won races, so you have to be lucky and kind of have things fall your way, plus you have to do everything right. There aren't many people who get lapped there, so you have a lot of cars on the same lap and you can't afford to have any problems. Otherwise, you find yourself way back at a race track that's very difficult to pass on."
HAS THE DIAMOND GROOVING MADE THE TRACK FASTER? "It's smoother, but Indy has always been one of our smoothest tracks anyway. What we seem to have is more grip and that translates into more cornering speeds and faster speeds overall. I also think that because of that grip, we have a wider race track right now and I believe that's gonna allow us to race side-by-side more and make more passes. It's a plus for us right now from what I was able to see in testing."
IS THERE A CHANCE THE RACING WILL BE BETTER THIS YEAR? "I think it gets better every year. Everybody learns more about the race track in terms of what you can and can't do. Our competition gets a little bit better every year, so I look for this to be a very good race. I think with the work they've done on the race track and with the tire that we have, you're gonna see a heck of a race."
THE LAST THREE WINNERS AT INDY HAVE WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP. WHAT MAKES THAT RACE SUCH A PREDICTOR? "You've got to give a little merit to it, I guess. I think by that time most of the championship contenders have been shaken out and the teams that are performing well at this stage or the ones that are gonna go on and battle for the championship. That's a race track that takes all facets of your game. You have to have a good handling car, you have to have a good aero package and you have to have a good engine. If you have that, then you're probably gonna contend and you're gonna have a chance to win at the Brickyard."
IS THAT DIFFERENT THAN OTHER TRACKS? "It's because I don't think you can be off in any of those places and have a chance at winning that race. There again, we're gonna get in a situation where it's very fast through the corners now since they've done their work on the track and you're gonna have to be good at all of those places. So, yeah, the teams that are performing well right now and in the championship hunt are the teams that will probably go there and do well."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus
DO YOU NOTICE A DIFFERENCE WITH THE TRACK THIS YEAR? "I think the track is just very smooth. It's unbelievable. It's probably the smoothest race track we race on, so whatever they did to it definitely made it smoother. It definitely put some grip in it. The track has some grip in it that I don't think we had here last year. Even when it was in the middle of the afternoon, there was still a lot of grip."
WILL THAT MEAN MORE SIDE-BY-SIDE RACING? "I think it does. Since there's more grip in the track, instead of the guy behind you just sliding around because of that aero push, he'll be able to get some grip in those front tires and try to make a run at you. Hopefully, that will create a little more side-by-side than what we've seen here in the past."
THIS IS ONE OF THE YEAR'S BIGGER RACES ISN'T IT? "I think it is. I think the crews and the sponsors look at it as the next prestigious race we go to after the Daytona 500. They pay so much money and there's so much history at this track. Everybody definitely likes coming here and I think that's why this is a mandatory test. They're gonna charge you whether you use it or not, so there are a lot of little issues that I think makes this one of the major races we have. I look forward to going there and we want to run good there. All of the sponsors come. It's a big event and Tony George really plays it up when you come. They really host this thing very well."