MOORESVILLE, N.C. ^Ã– It^Ã’s racing^Ã’s "chicken-and-egg" debate^Ã—whether horsepower or handling is the essential element for motorsports success. Other sports ponder similar dilemnas^Ã….pitching or hitting (Major League Baseball), offense or ...
MOORESVILLE, N.C. ^Ö It^Òs racing^Òs "chicken-and-egg" debate^×whether horsepower or handling is the essential element for motorsports success. Other sports ponder similar dilemnas^Å.pitching or hitting (Major League Baseball), offense or defense (National Football League), Shaquille or Koby (National Basketball Association).
Ask Dave Blaney, the 1995 World of Outlaws champion, about the relative significance of horsepower and there is no debate. You gotta have it, and can^Òt disguise it^Òs absence. The power made by the Penske-Jasper Engines that propel his #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford Taurus in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition was a huge selling point to join the Jasper team after leaving Bill Davis Racing last fall.
And despite the fact that none of the three cars (#2-Rusty Wallace, #12-Ryan Newman, #77-Blaney) that feature Penske-Jasper power-plants have won in 2002, the recent progress that the motor program has made has been the eye-opener of the summer among Winston Cup engine builders and crew chiefs.
Since the PJE program began with its two WC programs in 2001, its drivers have posted top-ten finishes in one-third of the 138 races run collectively by Wallace and Robert Pressley last season, and by Wallace, Blaney and Newman in 2002.
Since the California race in late April (42 races), the PJE program cars have been on a tear, posting top-five and top-ten finishes in 33% and 50% of their starts, respectively, as well as winning the pole-positions (Newman) at Fontana and Chicago. Newman^Òs five consecutive top-five finishes between Chicago and Watkins Glen, pushed his seasonal total to 10, best among all Winston Cup drivers. Were it not for a freak run of bad luck through mid-summer, Blaney would have also certainly added to the impressive top-ten totals, putting the #77 Jasper Ford at the front of virtually every race during the 14-race stretch.
"I come from a horsepower league (World of Outlaws), where I drove 1,200-pound race-cars with 800-plus horsepower, and the ratio between the two was as small as in any series you can race," said Blaney. ""For sure, you must get these big cars handling and get through the corners at every track we race at, whether it^Òs Martinsville or Talladega. But if you are lacking horsepower, and your engine program is behind, you cannot compete for wins weekly in the Winston Cup Series.
"I really feel that the Penske-Jasper Engine program is at the top of the list among the engine builders in NASCAR, and I felt that way before I came over here. I also believe that the fact we only build for the three teams that are part of the project is an important part of how far we^Òve come this year.
"We^Òre keeping all our gains and the concepts that got us there between the three teams. I^Òm sure they could come up with 3-4 other Ford teams that would contract for these motors, but that^Òs not what this program is about, and I^Òm glad that^Òs not where they^Òre going with it." The move to join forces with the existing Penske Engine operation 21 months ago was a natural evolution of Jasper Engines & Transmissions growth curve as a company, which was founded in 1942 in Jasper, Indiana. The business began because manufacturing and materials were devoted to the war effort, creating a lack of new vehicles.
Jasper^Òs growth has been consistent and progressive to its current status as the nation^Òs leading remanufacturer of gas and diesel engines, transmissions, differentials, marine products, performance products and alternate fuel engines. The company^Òs production facilities now encompass 18 acres under roof among four production locations including two 327,000 square-foot facilities.
The 60-year old company distributes its products through 30 company-owned and independent distributors and serves such markets as independent garages, new-car dealerships, fleets, municipalities and marine repair projects.
Jasper produces over 75,000 gasoline engines, 5,500 diesel engines, 55,000 transmissions, 2,500 differentials, and 1,000 stern drives annually. Jasper also builds performance engines and transmissions, remanufacturers engines for alternate fuel applications and rewinds and repairs electric motors.
Jasper began its racing involvement in 1989 through sponsorship of driver Ken Ragan in a three-race NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule. During the course
of its 14-year NASCAR history, Jasper established a successful engine-building operation in Mooresville, N.C.. At the end of the 2000 racing season, the Jasper NASCAR engine operation joined with Penske Engines in a combined venture that includes a new 28,000 square-foot facility. In addition to supplying engines for the #2, #12 and #77 Winston Cup programs, Jasper also builds the transmissions and differentials for the #77 team in it^Òs plant in Jasper, IN.
Through the PJE NASCAR-focused program, Jasper also gains a tremendous advantage in its research-and-development directed toward improving technology the company puts into the products it remanfacturers for both individuals and businesses end-users.
"We feel like we^Òre certainly have one of the top engine programs in the sport right now, and we seem to be gaining on it every week," said Bob Dodge, engine builder for the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions team. "With our cooperative relationship with Ilmor Engineering in England, our valve-train research-and-development has made big strides in the last 12 months.
"We can turn more RPMs right now than I ever would have believed a Winston Cup car could ever turn. That^Òs so important, given the fact that NASCAR instituted the one-engine rule this season, and none of us really knew how that was all going to play out, or where the eventual areas of big improvement were going to be as the season unfolded.
"So far, we^Òve had no reliability issues, and we^Òve shown significant boosts in our dyno readings throughout the summer. I really believe that all three cars will win races soon, that Rusty will stay in the championship race, that Ryan will continue his unbelievable summer stretch and that horsepower will be a big part of the equation for all of that."