This Week in Ford Racing October 4, 2005 Grand-Am Cup Series David Empringham is leading the driver's championship heading into the final race of the 2005 Grand-Am Cup class this weekend at Virginia International Raceway. Additionally,...
This Week in Ford Racing
October 4, 2005
Grand-Am Cup Series
David Empringham is leading the driver's championship heading into the final race of the 2005 Grand-Am Cup class this weekend at Virginia International Raceway. Additionally, Multimatic - with Empringham and Scott Maxwell as its drivers - has a chance to win for Ford the Grand-Am Cup GS Class Maufacturer's Championship. Both Empringham and Maxwell talked about the final race of the season and the performance of the Ford Mustang FR500C.
David Empringham - No. 05 Ford Racing/Multimatic Ford Mustang FR 500C
You're going into VIR with a chance to win the Driver's Championship. CAN YOU talk about the strategy for this weekend? "Certainly it's a good opportunity going in knowing we only have to finish 10th or better. VIR is a good track for us and it's a track that we have tested at in the fall. I think we are going into a venue that we should do well at, but obviously with the championship we are going to have to be as much focused on being smart as we are about leading. It's going to be a great opportunity. I feel really, really positive about it and it's a track that definitely favors the Mustang."
You've Won At VIR In the Past? "That's right. We won there in a Porsche in Grand-Am Cup. It's a track that both Scott and I like. There probably couldn't be a better venue for us with the championship the way it is. But, as you know, strange things happen, so we are just trying to be focused on just a staying out of trouble."
How HAS THE TEAM BEEN dealing with the weight penalty placed on the Mustang because of its performance EARLY IN THE SEASON? "Throughout the year we have been plagued with Grand-Am trying to slow the car down. So, we're always up against the politics of the series. It feels good to know we are really in the championship points-wise. I just hope we can come out on top."
Has the Mustang raised the bar in the Grand-Am GS class? "I think certainly it's a car that a lot of people are thinking about for next year for a customer car. It's been competitive almost every weekend, so it has raised the bar. There has been a lot of politics about it because of the strength of the motor, because the motor has been very strong. Grand-Am is just trying to keep parity in the series. Multimatic has done a great job with the handling of the car and it's been a lot of fun to drive."
Scott Maxwell - No. 05 Ford Racing/Multimatic Ford Mustang FR 500C
CAN YOU Talk about the team's Championship gameplan going into the last race of the year at VIR? "Well, it's a bit of a tough one because we've got three different championships we are in the midst of. The easy one is the driver championship because David is leading. I think all we have to do is bring it home in the top-10 even if Dave's archrival, the BMW driver Justin Marks, wins the race. If we are in the top-10, Dave wins the championship. That's one goal and it is easier to accomplish because it is pretty black and white on what we have to do. Unfortunately, to win the manufacturer's championship we have to try and win the race, basically. There are other Mustangs out there as well that are very competitive, but they will be relying very heavily on us to win the race with the BMW behind us. So, it's a bit of a conflict in goals. One is a super-aggressive strategy, the other is a sort of laid-back conservative strategy. A lot of it will probably just take care of itself. Whatever happens, happens. You just don't know. A lot of things can happen in the course of a three-hour race. And the team championship is much the same. I think we have to win, with the BMW behind us. It will be an ongoing strategy or change of strategy as the race progresses. I'm sure there will be a lot of conversation over the radio about what to do and what not to do. It's not as simple as it sounds because there are two different ways to approach it."
WHAT ARE the challengeS of running at VIR? "It's tough to pass there. It's a tight circuit, even though it's a long, flowing circuit. It's pretty difficult to pass so if you can get in the lead and have a reasonable car there are very limited passing opportunities. One of the advantages with our Mustang is that we have really good torque out of the corners. So if we can get our power down well, it should be really difficult for guys to get by us."
With you being on the front end of the development of the new Mustang, how do you feel it has peRformed? "I think it has gone way beyond our expectations. Right now, if you were to plan for 2006, I would have to say you would have to put the Mustang at the top of the list because the car is only going to get stronger. We have been very, very happy with the results. There is a lot of stiff competition with BMW, Porsche and Cadillac and Audi. It's held up well. Between the BMW and the Mustang it's been the car to beat every weekend. We have raced the Mustang from 1995 through all the latest and greatest introductions and the evolution of the car. This is by far my favorite car. Everybody always says the latest car is the best car, but I can soundly say that I have enjoyed racing this car more than any other Mustangs. With the whole look of the car, it's just a nice piece to work with."
Were you surprised at the success of the FR500C Customer Program? "A lot of guys have stepped into the car and done well. I think that will continue. The customer car won the very first race right out of the box. They have been competitive at every venue. Where we are strong, they are strong. At some of the circuits where we haven't got the best out of the car, we all have peaked and valleyed together. It's quite clear that a customer car with a well-run team and a couple of good drivers can jump in and be very competitive."
Has the Mustang raised the bar in the Grand-Am GS class? "Not only in car but in the level of preparation and the professionalism of teams. You can just see it by the pace in practice and qualifying and the race compared to a year ago or two years ago; the cars are so much quicker now. The series is just growing by leaps and bounds."