This Week in Ford Racing June 15, 2004 NASCAR Busch Series Stacy Compton, driver of the No. 59 Taurus, has high hopes that this weekend's race at Kentucky Speedway will jumpstart his season, and with good reason. Compton won the pole in last...
This Week in Ford Racing
June 15, 2004
NASCAR Busch Series
Stacy Compton, driver of the No. 59 Taurus, has high hopes that this weekend's race at Kentucky Speedway will jumpstart his season, and with good reason. Compton won the pole in last year's Meijer 300 and finished fourth in the 200-lap race. Compton discussed the growing pains his team has endured this season and views on the health of the Busch Series.
STACY COMPTON -59-Kingsford/Bush's Beans Ford Taurus
YOU POSTED A 10TH-PLACE FINISH LAST WEEKEND IN NASHVILLE AND HEAD TO KENTUCKY THIS WEEKEND WHERE YOU ARE THE DEFENDING POLE-WINNER. HOW MUCH OF THIS SPORT IS ABOUT ESTABLISHING MOMENTUM?
"It's a lot, we just need to get a little momentum going our way. We just can't seem to shake the monkey off of our back right now. We had a decent run at Nashville, but not what we were hoping for because we were so good there in the spring. We worked on the car and got it better the whole day, so it was definitely a positive. We just can't shake that monkey right now and it's just one thing after another. We had transmission problems in practice and lost some practice trying to get that changed and didn't really get the car the way we wanted to. But, it is a momentum thing and we have a stretch of races coming up that we feel like we have a shot a winning every one of them. The two teams are starting to jell together and be able to work better together. It's a lot of momentum, but it's a lot of just getting our ducks in a row and not shooting ourselves in the foot either. This year with starting basically two new teams and the switch to Ford and everything that went along with it, we figured it was going to take a little while to get things going. We have a stretch of races coming up now that we feel like we can certainly go out and win races at every one of them."
TAKING THE CHANGES THE TEAM MADE IN THE OFF-SEASON INTO CONSIDERATION, WOULD THIS SEASON BE A DISAPPOINTMENT IF YOU DON'T WIN A RACE?
"I think so. You certainly never want to go backwards in points. Any time you start a season, you want to improve on the season before. We've done a lot of stuff over the winter and made some wholesale changes, but I still think that if you don't move forward in the points and have a better year than you had the year before, then it wasn't the season we were hoping for. To this point it hasn't been, but once again we see a big light at the end of the tunnel. And this is what I've been telling the guys. What's going to happen is we're going to go to the race track one weekend and we're going to be good, and we're going to be good for the rest of the year because we're doing everything and putting everything in place to where that can happen. With Kentucky coming up, and Milwaukee, Daytona and Chicago, all of the tracks that we ran good at in the past, we feel that this could be the weekend that we turn things around."
THE RACE IN KENTUCKY THIS WEEKEND IS ANOTHER NIGHT RACE. BASED OFF OF THE OCCURRENCES LAST WEEKEND IN NASHVILLE, ARE YOU STILL IN FAVOR OF RACING UNDER THE LIGHTS?
"I think it's longer for the guys than the drivers. We don't spend the time in the garage that the teams do, so I think it's tiring on those guys. Granted, we get in the car and race at night, but they're changing tires and getting ready for pit stops. They've been there for four or five hours before we are a lot of times, so I think it's tougher on the guys and the teams than the drivers. A lot of us have the benefit of having motor homes there and being able to relax a little bit more than those guys. I still think every one of us would like to see more night races. We know there's a chance we could get rain, but if you have lights, there's a good chance you can get it dried up and finish it that night. It makes for long days, but I'd like to see every race we run at night."
THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK RECENTLY ABOUT TAKING NASCAR RACING OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES OF THE UNITED STATES. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON RACING IN FOREIGN MARKETS?
"They've talked about Mexico City and a lot of different stuff. I like road courses. We won in the truck series on a road course, and I like them. It's pretty expensive on the owners to build a road-course car and do that. For money reasons, it would be better to see us race on a three-quarters-of-a-mile track like Richmond. I think that might put on a better show and be cheaper on the owners than to go out and build road course cars, but if that's not available and they want to go up there, I don't think it can hurt. I think any time you can broaden your horizon and go to different markets, it's nothing but a plus."
YOU RACED IN THE TRUCK SERIES WHEN IT WAS USED TO BREAK OPEN THE WEST COAST MARKETS. DO YOU FEEL THE BUSCH SERIES SHOULD BE USED TO GAUGE FAN INTEREST AT VENUES OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES?
"I think they need to test the market, and before someone is going to spend the money that it takes to bring a Cup race in, I think they need to test the market and see if there is interest. I think the truck series and the Busch guys will be the guinea pigs for a lot of different markets in the near future. Also, you have to think about what NASCAR is doing. NASCAR is leveraging the tracks. They'll bring the Busch or truck series in and say, 'What kind of weekend can you have with a Cup race?' I think NASCAR is using that to leverage the tracks as well as the states to say, 'Look, we can bring some huge revenue into this market.'"
DO YOU HAVE A SENSE THAT THE OWNERS ARE WILLING TO SHOULDER THE EXPENSE OF TRAVELING ACROSS NORTH AMERICA?
"I don't think they're willing to, but because of the points you almost have to go. I don't think it's fair for the owners. I think the Busch owners are taking as bad of a beating as anybody out there right now. I don't think the TV money is being spread around like it needs to be. The Busch owners are losing money hand over fist. Even with great sponsors, the Busch owners are losing money. It costs so much money to go to these events and races that something doesn't add up when you look at last place on the Cup side and what you win when you win a Busch race. I think some of the owners are looking at that and saying, 'Hey, it doesn't make sense.' I think NASCAR needs to look really hard, and the tracks need to look really hard at how they can help the owners in the Bunch Series to offset some costs."
THERE HAS BEEN LESS TALK THIS YEAR ABOUT LAPPED TRAFFIC BEING A PROBLEM. IS THAT THE CASE THIS SEASON?
"I think it's gotten better. I think the competition has gotten better, number one, because people can't afford to go Cup racing. The sport has gotten so expensive that I think you're seeing more quality race teams in the Busch Series because they can't afford to go Cup racing. There aren't that many $20 million sponsorships laying around. Granted, any sponsorship is tough to get, but it's a little bit easier sometimes to get a $5 - $7 million sponsor than a $20 million sponsor, and the exposure is still there. I think last year was a little bit like Cup is this year. We didn't have full fields at places and people just showed up and made the shows. This year, we're sending a handful of cars home every week and the Busch Series is stronger. You've got more problems with lapped cars on the Cup side this year than you do on the Busch side because I do feel that there are more quality cars. On the Cup side, don't get me wrong, there is a group of quality cars, but it's basically 35 of them. Then you've got 10 more that don't have the sponsorship to be able to race competitively like the few multi-car teams can."
ARE WE SEEING MORE TEAM OWNERS USE THE BUSCH SERIES AS A DEVELOPMENTAL SERIES FOR YOUNG DRIVERS, BYPASSING THE TUCK SERIES ALTOGETHER?
"No doubt, because the cars are so similar. The cars drive so much alike that I think you are seeing it. It's also exposure. If you look at the exposure that the Cup teams are getting on the Busch side, it's a no-brainer. If they're looking to go Cup racing in the future, the Busch cars drive so similar to the Cup cars now that it's a great place to start a developmental program. I think the truck series right now is probably as strong of a series that is out there. I think it's a very competitive series, and I think the reason that you're not seeing as much development on the truck side is that the trucks don't drive like Cup cars. That's been noted and people don't use the trucks series as a developmental series anymore. The truck series is a series in itself that people use now because it's a good series rather than a development series."