This Week in Ford Racing - Texas
Texas Motor Speedway will host the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series events this weekend and that’s good news for Ford fans. No manufacturer has more NSCS wins at the 1.5-mile facility than Ford, which has 10 in 21 all-time events. Jeff Burton not only won the inaugural race in 1997 driving the No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford Thunderbird of Jack Roush, it marked the first series win of his career. Ford has been just as good with a series-tying best seven NNS victories – all by Roush Fenway Racing. Carl Edwards has a chance to make it three straight series wins at TMS this weekend.
DID YOU KNOW?
Texas Motor Speedway has seen a NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver sweep both races two of the last three years. Carl Edwards did it in 2008 while Denny Hamlin achieved the feat last year on the Cup side. Matt Kenseth has that opportunity this week after winning the Samsung Mobile 500 in April. Kyle Busch won both NNS races in 2008 and 2009, but Carl Edwards can extend that streak on Saturday after he gave Mustang its first NNS victory in April’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
THE LAST TIME…
The last time Ford won the manufacturer’s championship in the NASCAR Nationwide Series was 2002 when Greg Biffle won the driver’s championship. Ford goes into this weekend with a 10-point lead over Toyota for this year’s title with three races remaining and can clinch the championship by winning on Saturday. The highest-finishing driver for each manufacturer is awarded points on a sliding scale with nine points awarded for first, six for second, four for third and three for fourth.
CREW CHIEF CORNER
Bob Osborne, crew chief for Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion team, has won three times at Texas Motor Speedway. Ford Racing asked Osborne about the keys to success for getting around the 1.5-mile track with 24-degree banking in the turns.
Bob Osborne, Crew Chief, No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – WHAT MAKES TEXAS CHALLENGING? “Texas is pretty bumpy. That’s the biggest thing about that track compared to Charlotte. Charlotte is very smooth, but speed-wise they’re very similar. It’s just that Texas is bumpy and you have to work around those, so your set-up has to be a little more forgiving that what you can run at Charlotte.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE WEEKEND FROM A SETUP PERSPECTIVE BECAUSE THEY SEEM TO CHANGE SO MUCH FROM WEEK TO WEEK? “We start the weekend from a known setup that has performed well there and then use the simulation to try and improve that setup. We’ll go through our practice session changing the parts and pieces of the setup based on what you saw on the simulation, and, if everything works right, it correlates to what you saw in the simulation and you improve. Then that gives you an opportunity, if you need to, to make more adjustments in the simulation to improve the setup again once you’re done practicing.”
JACK HAS SAID THAT THE MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACKS ARE YOUR BREAD AND BUTTER. WHY HAVE YOU GUYS HAD SO MUCH SUCCESS? “It’s hard to put your finger on why we do so much better on mile-and-a-halfs than we do short-track racing, but it is historically something the Roush camp has done well with. It is true, we do feel more comfortable going to a mile-and-a-half than a short track based on our track record.”
There is a lot to do in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, and one driver who has a specific agenda away from the track is Ricky Stenhouse Jr., a professed lover of boots who will be looking to add to his collection before heading back to North Carolina. Besides talking about how he spent the last two weekends off, Ford Racing asked Stenhouse Jr. about why he loves boots so much.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Driver, No. 6 Blackwell Angus/Cargill Ford Mustang – WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING THE LAST TWO WEEKS? “I relaxed a lot the first week off and after that I went home and just hung out with the family and worked in the shop with dad a little bit and then went to the dirt track in Arkansas this past weekend for a race that I used to compete in growing up. We went and watched. There were 100 Sprint cars and a lot of good racing, so I hung out there all weekend.”
WERE YOU GETTING A LOT OF ENCOURAGEMENT FROM FANS THERE ABOUT YOUR TITLE CHASE? “There was a lot of people pulling for us in this deal, so that was cool to hear. Everybody I raced with and people that I didn’t know were coming up to us and telling me that they were pulling for us and have enjoyed watching so far. That gives us a little more confidence going into this weekend.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING TO TEXAS? ROUSH FENWAY HAS HAD GREAT SUCCESS THERE IN CUP AND NATIONWIDE? “Yes, we’re definitely gonna have a good car. I’m not worried about that part at all. We’ve just got to make sure we make the right adjustments on it to be spot on and Texas is one of my favorite race tracks. I like Homestead a lot, but Texas is pretty high up there. I have a lot of fun going to Texas and I think as a team we have confidence rolling into Texas more than anywhere we go.”
YOU SAID A COUPLE WEEKS AGO THAT WHEN YOU RACE ELLIOTT SADLER YOU GIVE EACH OTHER ROOM AND THERE SEEMS TO BE A COMFORT LEVEL AS FAR AS WHEN YOU’RE IN CLOSE QUARTERS. IS THAT ACCURATE? “I really only met Elliott this year, but we’ve never had an issue on the race track or off the race track. It seems like we give each other a lot of room. It doesn’t seem like he wants to get into us and mess our deal up and we don’t want to do the same for him, so it’s been really fun racing so far. They’re gonna be fast at the last three races as will we, so we’ll probably be fighting this out around the top five, but I think it makes it a little easier knowing that we’ve raced all year and give each other a lot of room. I think it gives us both confidence that we’ll race the same way all the way to the end.”
YOU’RE A BIG BOOT GUY. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS WHEN YOU GET TO TEXAS AS FAR AS INCREASING YOUR COLLECTION? “On Thursday I’m headed to Tony Lama’s. We’ve been talking to them and I’m taking all of my guys there and get them all boots. I’ve got an idea of what kind of boots I want to get them, but I’m not 100 percent sure, so we’ll get there and check that out and see what we can come up with. We’re headed there Thursday morning to check out their place and see how they run everything, so I think it’ll be pretty cool to go there. Tony Lama is a boot that I’ve worn for the last couple of years, so I’m looking forward to getting down there and picking some more out.”
HOW DID YOU BECOME A BOOT WEARER? “I became a boot wearing guy because of my dad. Growing up I wanted to be just like dad, as a lot of kids do. He raced and wore cowboy boots all the time, so that’s kind of been my thing is just following after what dad has always worn. I wore them for a while and then kind of got away from them, but now I’m back wearing them because they’re just really comfortable. I can wear mine all day and really enjoy them.”
DAVE MARCUS HAD THE WING-TIPPED SHOES, SO MAYBE YOU CAN START A NEW TREND. “I think so. When NASCAR first started I’m pretty sure every guy in the garage just about wore them, so hopefully we can get back to that.”
FROM THE GRANDSTANDS
Dale Kunst of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia had two questions for fellow countryman Marcos Ambrose:
Q: What is it like to drive a NASCAR stock car compared to a V8 Supercar?
A: “I thought they were going to be closer than what they actually are. They’re similar in weight at 3,500 pounds and both are push-rod V8s. I would say a Supercar is more like a sports car than a NASCAR stock car. They handle better and have a nicer suspension with better weight distribution, but they don’t have as much horsepower. A NASCAR stock car is like driving Tyrannosaurus Rex and a V8 Supercar is like driving Miss Daisy. They’re really nice cars to drive. They’re a lot of fun to drive, but a NASCAR Sprint Cup car is just a brutal machine. It’s all about shaking and noise and power and heavy-handling. It’s pretty hard to get around these tracks in NASCAR.”
Q: Do you think when the V8 Supercars come to Texas in 2013 they should use NASCAR drivers as co-drivers?
A: “It would. They haven’t set the calendar yet so it’s still two years away, and until we see if there’s a date clash I can’t really comment more, but it would be fun for some NASCAR guys to drive those machines. I know they would have a tough time because they’re a unique car. You’re driving on the right-hand side of the car and not the left. It’s a six-speed sequential box and NASCAR drivers aren’t used to that, so it would be difficult for those guys to adapt, but it would be fun to see how they go.”