Phoenix: Ford Racing - Ben Leslie press conference

This Week in Ford Racing November 5, 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup BEN LESLIE, Crew Chief --6-- Viagra Taurus HOW DO YOU APPROACH THIS WEEKEND? "I believe we approach it like we did at Rockingham, we unload trying to sit on the pole and win the...

This Week in Ford Racing
November 5, 2002

NASCAR Winston Cup

BEN LESLIE, Crew Chief --6-- Viagra Taurus

HOW DO YOU APPROACH THIS WEEKEND?

"I believe we approach it like we did at Rockingham, we unload trying to sit on the pole and win the race."

MARK HAS HAD GOOD SUCCESS AT PHOENIX.

"We're hoping to come out of Phoenix with a real good run. Not to put too fine of a point on it, we just want to get everything that's coming to us this weekend and try to come out of there with a top five. If we find ourselves in a position like we were this weekend, maybe we can try to come out of there with a win."

WILL YOU BE MORE ATTENTIVE FROM NOW ON WITH THE SPRINGS AND EVERY OTHER PART?

"It was an unfortunate oversight on our part. At the end of the day it's our responsibility and my responsibility and it's something that we missed. It was from a spring manufacturer that we have dealt with for a long time and not had any problem whatsoever with. Much like you would see in a production car when they sometimes have recalls and problems with the cars, they had a problem with one of their windings and they just hadn't quite got the recall out. They didn't realize they had a problem until we brought it to their attention."

ISN'T THERE SOME LIABILITY WITH ALL THIS MONEY ON THE LINE AND A CHAMPIONSHIP?

"I don't know about all that. I'm not really pushing the blame off on the manufacturer, more than anything we're just giving everybody the circumstances of what happened. As far as responsibility, I take all the responsibility because at the end of the day it's our responsibility as the team to police what we're putting in the cars and not take somebody else's word for it."

WERE YOU TOTALLY SURPRISED?

"Yeah, like I said, we used a stock, off-the-shelf production spring because we had great success with that manufacturer and knew that they fit NASCAR's requirements to the tee on hundreds of springs that we checked before. We just got a little bit lax because as we checked so many of their springs and everything was fine, we signed off on that manufacturer and said it was OK. Unfortunately, we shouldn't have done that and we kind of paid the price for it."

DOES THIS SEEM UNFAIR?

"I don't know. I think that's all relative to where you're sitting. If you're sitting however many points we are behind the 20 car, yeah, it's unfair to take points. But if you sit back and maybe put somebody else's shoes on -- that's all in what perspective you're taking it from and I'd rather not pass any judgement on that because I'll be biased."

WILL YOU CHANGE MANUFACTURERS NOW?

"I'm not so sure. They've done us an awful good job. Our engineers were in touch with their engineers first thing on Monday morning and they realized they had a problem and realized they had a problem with a run of their springs. It's a bad thing to have happen. As much as we would have wished they would have caught it with their product line, we should have caught it also. I don't necessarily think it's something you can just blame on them. They make an awful good product for us, so I'm gonna say we're gonna continue using their stuff. But, also, as somebody said, we're gonna heighten our awareness and really double-check everything we put in the car from now on."

WILL YOU APPEAL THE PENALTY?

"I really don't know. That's probably more of a question for Geoff Smith or somebody like that, or even Jack. I'm not sure what their take is on all of it as far as what they want to do. I'm just worried about going to Phoenix and Homestead to be honest with you."

IS THE ROUTINE DIFFERENT GOING OUT WEST AND WHAT KIND OF UNSUNG HEROES ARE YOUR HAULER DRIVERS?

"They make a huge effort. I wouldn't trade positions with them for anything in the world. They for sure have one of the dirtiest jobs in Winston Cup racing as far as I'm concerned. They're the people that get the least amount of acclaim and get the most jobs dumped on them. They put in the most hours of anyone. As far as changing anything, everything is pretty much the same as a normal weekend other than the fact of flying out a little bit earlier on Thursday as opposed to late Thursday and then getting back later after the race. But, other than that, it's pretty much business as usual."

DO YOU HAVE TO PLAN IN ADVANCE AS FAR AS TRAVEL?

"Yeah, we obviously know the schedule so we try to make plans a month ahead. Our stuff usually stays a week ahead anyways, so it really doesn't change our plans a whole lot, but we do move everything up. The truck had to leave last night, so we moved some of the normal service work up from Tuesday and Wednesday to try and plan for it and get it all done in one day. We want to get him gone to where he has plenty of time to get out there and he's not killing himself to get out there."

IS IT A NICE CHANGE OF SCENERY TO GO TO PHOENIX?

"Yeah. I've always like going to Phoenix. There's a lot of places to go and see and a lot of things to do. It's nice to go out there. I think it's a good venue for us and good for Winston Cup racing to go to the southwest, especially this time of year. It's nice to get one last shot of some nice warm weather before it starts turning cold back east."

WHAT ARE THE COMPLEXITIES AND DIFFICULTIES OF THE PHOENIX TRACK?

"Phoenix is a little unique because both ends of the track take a little bit different setup. It's kind of like Darlington in some aspects because if you're good in one and two, you're normally gonna be off a little bit in three and four, and vice versa. If you're good in three and four, you might be off a little bit in one and two. That in itself is a little complex to deal with over some of the tracks that we run on, but we do run on tracks that have the same characteristics as far as the corners being differently shaped in both ends, or taking a little bit different setup. Other than that, as far as the desert and everything else, it doesn't really change a whole lot for us."

DO YOU THINK NASCAR SHOULD CHECK THESE SPRINGS BEFORE THE RACE INSTEAD OF AFTER?

"I don't know. That would certainly have changed the two prior incidents and ours. They, more than likely, would have caught the two prior incidents and for sure would have caught ours. NASCAR does an awful good job of teching everybody as it is. It's a pretty lengthy process what they go through, so I don't know for sure if it would be a huge gain. They for sure would have caught ours, I don't know if they would have caught the other springs that were in question. I'm kind of on the fence about that. I don't know for sure one way or the other if that's a great thing or a not-so-great thing."

-ford racing-

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup