This Week in Ford Racing February 2, 2005 Grand-Am Series Speed Weeks 2005 is set to kick off this week at Daytona International Speedway with the running of the Rolex 24, and the entry list is a Who's Who of racing. The Crown Royal...
This Week in Ford Racing
February 2, 2005
Speed Weeks 2005 is set to kick off this week at Daytona International Speedway with the running of the Rolex 24, and the entry list is a Who's Who of racing. The Crown Royal Ford Multimatic "Team of Champions" is comprised of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champions Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth, NASCAR Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series champion Greg Biffle, and road racing champion Scott Maxwell. Maxwell, who is looking to add an overall win to his class wins at Daytona and Le Mans, will also be one of five drivers debuting the Ford Mustang in the Grand Am Cup Series on Friday. Maxwell discussed being teamed with three NASCAR drivers and his outlook for this weekend's races.
SCOTT MAXWELL -49-Crown Royal Ford Multimatic
TALK ABOUT YOUR ROLE WITH THIS YEAR'S TEAM, AND IS IT DIFFERENT FROM 2003?
"It is different in a lot of ways. Certainly with 2003, there were a lot of experienced sports car drivers and we were just dealing with a brand new car, so all three of us (Maxwell, David Emphringham, David Brabham) had similar roles. It's not that you didn't help the other guy, because there is a lot of exchange of information in the same way, but Greg and Kurt and Matt have a steep learning curve to overcome in a short amount of time. I've got a dual role this time, not only with the bulk of the setup development work falling in my lap, which is fine because I enjoy it, but I'm also trying to get them up to speed and help them as quick as I can to instill all of the right information and get the most out of them. I know they have a ton of natural talent, and that's all part of it, too, because that will help them get up to speed in the shortest span of time, so that they're getting the most out the car without taking too many chances."
WERE YOU ABLE TO OBSERVE NOTICEABLE IMPROVEMENT FROM BIFFLE, BUSCH AND KENSETH AT THE TEST EARLIER THIS MONTH?
"Oh yeah. I think very time that they get in the car they will get quicker and quicker. We wanted to try to get another test in before the Rolex 24, but with their busy schedules we weren't able to do that, so I think we'll see them improve even more as the race progresses. At the test in Daytona, each of them sort of had two proper sessions and the first session was a throw away. All they were trying to do was learn where the tracks goes and figure out the car, and I think the first session they were all fairly apprehensive, but by the second session you could see the smile start coming out on their faces and they were starting to study the data and figure out where they could go quicker. The first session was too much stuff to learn all at once, but by the night session they were studying data and trying to figure out where they could find a couple of seconds. It's a steep learning curve, but if you have that natural ability like they do, it's pretty predictable how they're going to handle it and where they're going to go with it, and so far so good."
YOU SCORED A CLASS WIN IN THE PROTOTYPE CLASS AT THE ROLEX 24 IN 2003, BUT YOU HAVE NEVER WON THE OVERALL CLASSIFICATION. WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU TO PUT THAT ON YOU RESUME?
"It would be huge, especially this year because it's so competitive. No one is going to sneak into the win this year; they're really going to have to work hard, drive fast and not make any mistakes for 24 hours. I think that this year's race, whoever wins it, it will be a classic. For me, especially having these three guys as teammates with their first time at time, if we could pull something off like that, it would be incredible."
YOU WERE TEAMED WITH TWO OTHER HIGHLY EXPERIENCED SPORTS CAR DRIVERS IN 2003. DID YOU EVER THINK YOU'D BE TEAMED WITH THREE NASCAR DRIVERS IN THIS EVENT?
"There had been talk about it about, especially when Tony Stewart and Earnhardt Jr. did it before. I knew that Ford wanted to do something similar, so I'm thrilled just to meet these guys. I see them on TV like everybody else every weekend, and their personalities, they're all different guys but we're having a great time. I think we all bonded and that's a big part of sports car racing - you have to get along and you have to like your teammates and cooperate. I'm having a great time."
YOU WEREN'T ABLE TO TEST THE CAR AGAIN BEFORE THE RACE THIS WEEKEND, SO DO YOU FEEL YOU ACCOMPLISHED EVERYTHING YOU COULD DURING THE THREE-DAY TEST IN EARLY JANUARY?
"I think it was excellent test and we accomplished everything we could accomplish. In all cases, any track time is good track time, so the more time we can get them on Thursday and Friday, the better we'll be. I'm not too worried about it. The worst is over and now they're just going to get better and better."
WITH THE RELATIVE INEXPERIENCE YOUR TEAMMATES HAVE IN OVERNIGHT RACING, ARE YOU WORRIED THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE TO PULL A COUPLE OF EXTRA SHIFTS THIS WEEKEND?
"I wouldn't be surprised if I had to do an extra couple of shifts, but I'm not worried about it. As a matter of fact, I'd quite like to do that, but if the guys are up for it and want to continue a straight rotation and it's working out then that's what it's going to be."
YOU DID NOT COMPETE IN THIS EVENT LAST YEAR, AND TOOK MOST OF THE SEASON OFF FROM RACING. DID THAT BREAK REINVIGORATE YOU?
"I took a year off because I probably only did a half-dozen races, but I was involved in a lot of testing and development programs, so it seemed as busy as normal, but I missed the racing. I love testing and sorting out the cars - it's a lot of fun- but the bottom line is that you want to race against somebody when it's all said and done, and I miss that. I'm hoping that this year will be a lot busier and it's looking like it will be."
YOU ARE PULLING DOUBLE DUTY THIS WEEKEND, COMPETING IN THE GRAND AM CUP RACE ON FRIDAY AS WELL. DISCUSS THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE FORD MUSTANG AS A NEW ENTRY IN SERIES' COMPETITION THIS YEAR?
"The big thing was getting the homologation done at Daytona when we were there in early January for testing. It's been a long process, and while I didn't do a lot driving in it during the test, I've done a lot of development work and it's a fast car. It's working very well in terms of handling, power and brakes, so I'm really excited about the prospects. We're doing a whole season in it, so we should be challenging for the championship if everything comes together for us."
IS IT REALISTIC TO THINK YOU CAN WIN THE GRAND AM CUP WITH THE FORD MUSTANG IN ITS FIRST SEASON OF COMPETITION?
"I don't expect to win it, but I think we have a chance to win it. It's a real competitive series and I think that any Mustang out there is going to be competitive, but there is a lot of stiff competition and good driver and car combinations, so whoever wins it, it's not going to be easy. I would put us in the eight or nine driver combination that can win it."