Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology, was part of a manufacturer's panel discussion after NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. Davis spoke about a variety of issues. DAN DAVIS, ...
Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology, was part of a manufacturer's panel discussion after NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. Davis spoke about a variety of issues.
DAN DAVIS, Director, Ford Racing Technology
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE 2008 SEASON? "It should be a good season. I have to agree, it seems to me that the cars that we see on the track, there's passing and it seems like they can accelerate harder. It looks like finally at this place we're gonna see a little bit more sportiness going on on the track and that's a really good thing. Certainly, we feel we'll be very competitive at Ford. This race probably won't tell us what the season is going to look like because it's a special place with special circumstances, so we're gonna come out of here competitive, I think. Then starting in Fontana, we're gonna see a real slugfest. I think we're gonna have a really competitive slugfest down to the wire kind of year this year with probably three top teams beating up on everybody all year. It ought to be a lot of fun and I just hope the fans enjoy it and I hope everyone here enjoy it because I think it is gonna be a bit of a war and it'll be fun to watch."
DO YOU TALK TO YOUR TEAMS ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER SPECIFICALLY WITH THE OTHER FORD TEAMS IN RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES? "We've always encouraged it. In the beginning of the race it seems like it's probably easier to get that done than it is toward the end, but when you get toward the end and the real fast cars are made known, drivers have a tendency to go with those fast cars because that's how you work your way through. So there's a balance here between your teammates and that sort of thing and certainly we at Ford have pushed that for quite a while. We've seen more in the last couple years than we've seen in the past quite frankly as far as the teamwork, so I love seeing it happen. But at the end of the day when you've got a couple of fast cars in the front, it seems like it's everybody for themselves. That's just the way it works."
IS THE PICTURE FOR FORD A BIT MORE GRIM NOW THAN A FEW WEEKS AGO AS FAR AS THE NUMBER OF TEAMS YOU HAVE? "It's not really grim. I think that we feel like you need seven or eight championship quality cars. Realistically, you could have half the field here and if they aren't championship capable, it isn't doing you any good. In our minds, we really need seven or eight championship quality cars -- no matter how you work them out team-wise. We've got Roush with five going to four, and you've got Yates doing some things, so, to me, you need that quality. Nowadays, and Robby (Gordon) is a great example of an individual car owner. It's really hard to make it work as an individual car owners, and the Wood Brothers, it's hard to make it work when you've got a single-car team because you just need to share and you need to help each other. I'm always gonna be looking for seven or eight championship quality teams and if we can get that, then, in my mind, our program is totally solid. That's what we're really, really pushing for. You go back a couple of years and the Roush organization had five in the top 10, right? I'll take that anytime. I'll take those five and we'll go, but probably is more like seven or eight with the attrition you get and all the kinds of things that happen. We're always gonna try to do better, but I'm not disappointed in any way at this point."
DO YOUR MARKETING GUYS FEEL YOU'RE STILL GETTING ENOUGH BANG FOR THE BUCK WITH THIS NEW CAR AND IS THERE ENOUGH IDENTITY ON THE CARS? "I can tell you just flat out that we're never happy with the look of the car because it's never close enough to what we make, so we're always gonna be pushing on that constantly. There's a dilemma here. How do you have race cars, we're seeing here some equalities that are very good in terms of all the cars on the track and yet there's not enough identity. So it's always gonna be a balancing act. As a marketing department, as the Ford Motor Company, we're never gonna be happy. We're always gonna want more and we're gonna keep pushing for more and we'll take what we can get."
WHICH MODEL CAR ARE YOU LOOKING AT FOR THE NATIONWIDE SERIES AND DO YOU WANT TO SEE IT ROLLED OUT IN EVERY RACE NEXT YEAR? "We're not ready to announce our model, but certainly the economics is a big issue, so whatever we do, we need to do it once and get it done and get it right and not do it again in a couple years. If we burden these teams that are already stretched with the change now and then come back a couple years later and say we're gonna do something different again, I think would be a real problem. So let's get it done, get it done right and do it as economically as we can possible do it and be on with it."
WHAT'S THE HARDEST PART ABOUT DEALING WITH YOUR TEAMS EVERY YEAR? "To me, a manufacturer and a team is a partnership, so it's not so much difficult as it is prioritizing what you're gonna do, agreeing on how you're gonna do it, just going through the motions. It's just like any business, you've got a couple of teammates that are gonna go prepare for the following year and you've got to figure out what are your priorities and what are you gonna work on and who is gonna do what. You plan it, you write it down and you just work it. I don't view it as difficult, it's just something that needs to be done. There's always gonna be a little bit of disagreement probably on priorities of things to work on, but you work that out. Partners work it out, so, to me, it's not so much difficult, it's just something that, to me, you need a good process and you need a good partner and then it's fine."
WHY NOT RUN THE MUSTANG MUSCLE CAR FOR NATIONWIDE AND GET THAT 18-34 DEMOGRAPHIC? "It's not that simple in that if you've got a car that's selling really, really well, do you have to go pump up and spend a lot of money and effort and time on a car that sells itself? Why would you do that? In a lot of cases, what you're trying to do is get your vehicles out there that may not be as well known and put those nameplates in front of you. If you've got a car that's sold out, every one of them you make is sold, why would you spend extra money, time and effort and all that trying to build up the brand just to disappoint the customer? So it is a complex thing when you look at it, and you have to look at what's happening in the future and what your plans are for new models and that sort of thing, so it may seem real simple at the beginning, but when you start to peel that onion back, it's not all that easy."
-credit: ford racing