This Week in Ford Racing On Sunday, Krohn Racing won their first Grand-Am Rolex Series race of the 2009 season at a rain soaked New Jersey Motorsports Park. Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta, drivers of the winning No. 76 Proto-Auto Ford Lola ...
This Week in Ford Racing
On Sunday, Krohn Racing won their first Grand-Am Rolex Series race of the 2009 season at a rain soaked New Jersey Motorsports Park. Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta, drivers of the winning No. 76 Proto-Auto Ford Lola along with team owner Tracy Krohn talked with This Week In Ford Racing about what the win means for the team and their hopes for the rest of the season.
NIC JONSSON - No. 76 Proto-Auto Lola Ford
CONGRATULATIONS ON WHAT WAS A VERY WILD AND WET WIN SUNDAY IN NEW JERSEY. "Thank you very much. It was a wild and wet Sunday in Jersey as you said. It's been a victory we've been looking for, for a long time ever since we've started running the Proto- Auto Lola in Homestead last year. We've been very close a few times last year, but the luck really hasn't been there with us. This weekend everything seemed to fall right in place and we were able to climb to that top step on the podium."
HOW TOUGH WAS IT? THERE WAS A DOWNPOUR FOR A WHILE AND LOT OF TEAMS WERE HOPING THEY WOULD RED FLAG IT BUT THEY DIDN'T. FINALLY THE RAIN SLOWED DOWN AND YOU GUYS WERE ABLE TO MOTOR ON AND HAD A COMMANDING VICTORY. "Yeah, you're right. In the middle of the race there, it actually started pouring down quite heavily. They actually put the pace car out at one point and we ran behind the pace car under yellow for about 20-25 minutes just because they wanted to do a track inspection. I think that was a very good move on Grand-Am's part because it got very treacherous out there about an hour into the race with that whole track basically floating underneath the water. Even with the treacherous conditions, the Proto-Auto Lola Ford ran really well for us the whole day."
IT'S THE SECOND YEAR FOR KROHN RACING WITH THE LOLA CHASSIS AND NOW YOU'VE BROUGHT THE FORD ENGINES ON BOARD SO IT'S REALLY STILL AN ADJUSTMENT YEAR FOR THE TEAM. "Yeah it is, last year was a real development year for us because we ran a different power plant. This year we felt we got the car a little bit more competitive and it was time to make a move on the engine side and we decided to go with the Ford power plant this year. We have had great support from the Roush-Yates power plant team and it's been a great step forward. I feel like we have a very competitive package and we should be able to contend for more wins this year hopefully."
I THINK AT THE END OF LAST YEAR THAT IT WAS VERY NOTICEABLE THAT THE MACHINES POWERED BY THAT ROUSH-YATES FORD ENGINE WERE REALLY UP AT THE FRONT OF THE PACK. THEY WERE COMPETING EVERY WEEKEND FOR A VICTORY, IF NOT BEING VICTORIOUS. "Absolutely. John Maddox, who was in charge of that whole Roush-Yates Ford engine program for the Grand-Am Series has done a fantastic job. We actually ran the Ford power plant back in '06, so we're not completely new to the engine but I think that's one reason we went back to that because we had a working relationship with Roush-Yates and John in the past, and had a very good experience. So far everything seems to have worked very well."
WE'RE VERY EARLY IN THE SEASON FOR THE GRAND-AM ROLEX SERIES BUT DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU'RE COMPETITIVE ENOUGH AND ALL THE PIECES ARE FALLING INTO PLACE THAT YOU AND RICARDO ZONTA CAN COMPETE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP AND HAVE A VERY GOOD SHOT AT WINNING THE TITLE? "I have no doubts that we have the package, the strength and the speed in our team to compete for the championship. Unfortunately we started out with a DNF in Daytona and VIR the first two events. At VIR it was because of contact and in Daytona because of a mechanical failure, so we fell pretty far behind in points in the first two events. Now with a win this past weekend at New Jersey, hopefully we're back in the hunt. If one of the teams who did really well in the first two events will have bad luck we'll be right back in it. I definitely think we have the package, we have the team and the line up to definitely be up there running for the victory every week and hopefully that will be enough for the championship as well."
IT'S SUCH A TOUGH SERIES WITH THE DEPTH THAT'S THERE. WHAT IS GOING TO BE THE KEY FOR YOUR TEAM TO COME OUT ON TOP? IT LOOKS LIKE YOU GOT THE RELIABILITY IN THE ENGINE IS IT JUST TAKING CARE OF THE MACHINE IN THESE RACES THAT YOUR RUNNING AT THE VARIOUS RACE TRACKS? "I think there's a very fine line there. You have to balance being aggressive and taking care of the equipment at the same time because as you mentioned earlier there are so many competitive cars out there that you can't be too cautious, you have to be attacking the whole time. While you have to be aggressive at the same time in the back of your mind, make sure you don't make any mistakes, or make a move that you can be caught up in anything out there that will sideline you. Points are very important in every event if you're going to win the championships you can't have DNF's in order to be in there in the end. It's a very fine line in the balance act between the two. I think again we have a lot of experience between the drivers, management and the engineers so I do believe we are one of the teams that can definitely be in there at the end, but there's a handful of very strong teams out there that will give us a hard time for sure."
RICARDO ZONTA - No.76 Proto-Auto Lola Ford
YOU WON YOUR FIRST RACE IN THE GRAND-AM ROLEX SERIES THIS WEEKEND. HOW DOES IT FEEL? "I feel very happy especially after one year of working so hard with the new Lola chassis. We were so close so many times to winning but every time there was something not perfect. I think one thing that helped a lot on the performance and helped us to achieve what we want was the new Ford engine. I think it helped a lot for this year. I'm really happy about the Krohn Race Team and the work they did this past weekend. I think everybody needed this to use as motivation for the team."
WHEN YOU TOOK OVER YOUR CAR WAS IN SIXTH POSITION. HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO COME BACK FROM THAT AND WIN THE RACE IN THE RAIN? "It was quite difficult for me because we didn't have radio communications so the only thing I knew was that I was very behind and maybe they would call the race at that point because of the amount of the rain. So I tried to push as much as I could because I didn't know when the race would finish or the circumstances of the other drivers, like if they were going to stop for refueling or not, but I just knew I had to push and finish the best that I could."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO DRIVE WITHOUT RADIO COMMUNICATIONS? "It was very difficult because communication is everything in a long race. I went and hour and forty-five minutes without any communication and I was just spinning. I didn't know how many laps to go, what to do, if somebody would catch me or not and things like that. I just knew I had to push and finish the best that I could."
TRACY KROHN -Owner of Krohn Racing
Sunday was your first victory of the season, what does this win mean for your team? "I think there's a little vindication here. We've struggled a little bit in the last year or so to produce a top of the podium finish, but I will tell you, it certainly adds a little bit to the team and gives them a little more motivation. There's a little vindication there that we were able to do it in the rain, and I think that's a statement on the quality of the team, the drivers, the car and everything."
RICARDO HAD TO RACE WITHOUT ANY RADIO COMMUNICATION. HOW DOES THAT AFFECT YOU AS A DRIVER? "It gets a little lonely out there. It actually shouldn't affect you that much, the only time it can get a little confusing is when you have a yellow flag situation and you're trying to figure out whether you need to bring the car in or not. It makes it a little bit harder in the rain because you're looking for signs from the team, some sort of billboard or something that the team might put out for you that you might miss in the rain. Other than that I actually thought about it a little bit and thought 'why would this not be a problem.' Sometimes, particularly when you're ahead and the engineers are getting a little bit worried about you making a mistake they'll say 'hey just slow down, relax a little bit' and I guess in this case Ricardo didn't really know where he stood with everybody behind him so he kept he driving his own race. I thought that was a pretty good answer to the radio problem, at least the result was pretty good."
HE HAD A COMMANDING WIN. HE WAS 44 SECONDS AHEAD OF THE NEXT CAR OUT THERE. "Yeah and he didn't know he had that much of the lead, he just kept grinding and he knew he needed to keep the car out there on the track since no one was really challenging him. He did the right thing. Ricardo is a very professional, experienced driver and he did all things he needed to do."
COMING OFF THIS WIN, HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING INTO THE RACE OUT AT THE MAZDA RACEWAY LAGUNA SECA? "Well, anytime you win you puff yourself out a little bit and think you can beat anybody in the world, but I think all in all you have to be practical about it. Different tracks demand different things. We're pretty quick in the wet, but we weren't that quick in the dry so the books are still out on us. We're still out to prove some things and we're certainly going to give it as much of an effort as we can. The team was pretty pumped up after getting their first win out there Sunday, and I was too."
YOU PARTNERED UP THIS YEAR WITH ROUSH-YATES RACING. HOW HAS THE SWITCH BACK TO THE FORD ENGINE BEEN FOR YOUR TEAM? "The first race in Daytona was a little disconcerting. We had a $40 part fail on the car, and unfortunately those things happen. Space shuttles and rockets have had similar failures with much worse results, so I'm not going to complain too much. I would like to have seen a different result, but I think we were pretty strong for that race. Then the next race we got taken out by a car from behind, so not much you can do to control that but I think overall the Ford engine has performed pretty well. We've run with Ford before, we've won with Ford before and I expect to see more wins this season as a result of that decision. We're pleased to be associated with Ford, and we're pleased to be back in the car. Certainly the guys at Roush-Yates have done a very good job at getting the motors tuned. They've worked with us before and we enjoy working with them. They've always been very helpful and very supportive. The track support is fantastic."
IN 2007 YOU CREATED THE PROTO-AUTO PARTNERSHIP TO CREATE A NEW PROTOTYPE CHASSIS. HOW IS THAT PARTNERSHIP COMING ALONG? "The chassis is always a development project no matter what it is. Riley has got a lot of cars out there and everything else, but they're always in the development scenario and so are we. We're trying to make the car better. I think we've learned a great deal the last couple of years. We started out with a chassis that I think was not as strong as we had hoped it would be out of the box, but that's putting it mildly probably. We've done a lot of work to get this car in competitive condition and hopefully we can start reaping some benefits pretty quickly. We know we can do well in the rain, and of course I want to emphasize that we had two really excellent expert drivers out there in the rain and I couldn't think of anyone else I rather have in the cockpit. Obviously it was a good decision for us. I'll tell you the chassis is coming along, it's probably not where we'd like it to be but hopefully in a while it will be."
-credit: ford racing