Andy Slankard - Ford interview 2010-11-09

This Week in Ford Racing November 9, 2010 Andy Slankard is approaching his sixth-month anniversary as Manager of NASCAR Operations for Ford North America Motorsports. Slankard has been with Ford for 17 years, engineering many of Ford's...

This Week in Ford Racing
November 9, 2010

Andy Slankard is approaching his sixth-month anniversary as Manager of NASCAR Operations for Ford North America Motorsports. Slankard has been with Ford for 17 years, engineering many of Ford's performance vehicles. He spent the last five years as the engineering manager for Ford Racing's parts business and production-based racing programs. Slankard sat down to discuss the new NASCAR-approved nose change for 2011, a progress report on development, and how Ford has prepared for a better short track program beginning this week in Phoenix.

ANDY SLANKARD - Manager - NASCAR Operations, Ford North America Motorsports

NASCAR HAS COME OUT AND ANNOUNCED THE APPROVAL OF CHANGES TO THE NOSE DESIGN OF THE CARS FOR DODGE AND FORD FOR 2011. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN EXACTLY? "Well, there are a couple of things. First of all, NASCAR redesigned the lower nose for all OEMs. This is a mandated part and gone are the long splitters and stanchions. NASCAR also allowed us to re-do the upper nose area, where we tweaked the look to bring more brand identity for the Fusion. Finally, we did a few wind tunnel tests to make sure we have a competitive aero package. Overall, the front of the Fusion will look more like the road car and I think it is a nice improvement. Also, in the back of the car, we are excited because we are going to do graphics like we did with the Nationwide Mustang and add the tailpipes, trunk line and a lower grille that makes the rear more representative of a production Fusion"

CAN YOU GIVE US A QUICK PROGRESS REPORT ON THE DEVELOPMENT SIDE OF THE PROGRAM? "I have been in the job now coming on six months and have learned a lot here in short time. The bottom line is, we have some of the smartest people in the business on the teams, our suppliers and at Ford Racing. What we have tried to do so far is break down a lot of barriers and make communication better. We talked a little bit about the aero for 2011. Everybody came together and worked well, the team, us and our aerodynamicists, to give us the best shot we can for 2011. The FR9 engine came on board about halfway through the season and now we are running it at every race. We are on a great part of the learning curve with that engine. Every week we are finding something new, something to either give us a little more power or cooling or fuel economy. I am so excited about the engine potential and you could see it in Texas with how we performed in qualifying and the race. With no testing allowed by NASCAR, simulation is a big thing. We have really made some big strides lately. Our Ford engineers, the Roush engineers and all the guys in charge of simulations, including the crew chiefs plus the drivers, giving us feedback has really helped. You can see we are coming off the truck faster for the first practice and we are qualifying much better. That says a lot about simulation. Finally, some chassis stuff has worked well. The marriage with RFR and RPM has given us a good snapshot of some technology to make us go faster."

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THING YOU HAVE LEARNED IN YOUR FIRST SIX MONTHS ON THE JOB? "With my road racing background, I have always looked at the stock car racing with maybe a little jaundice-eye, but I am fully addicted now. What gets me is the competition. I can remember my first race at Charlotte watching Greg Biffle pass Jeff Gordon for like 23rd spot and thinking, 'Wow, it is tough to win in this series!' NASCAR Sprint Cup is by far the most competitive series in the world. There are 28 to 30 guys that can win on any given day. It is fascinating and that gets my competition blood flowing The level of detail to make the cars go faster is very high tech and that is surprising. There is world class testing, development and engineering behind these cars. "

AS WE LOOK TOWARD PHOENIX THIS WEEKEND, FORD HAS ADMITTEDLY STRUGGLED ON THE SHORT TRACKS AND FLAT TRACKS SUCH AS PHOENIX. WHAT HAVE YOU IDENTIFIED TO HELP THIS WEEKEND AND INTO THE FUTURE ON THESE TYPES OF TRACKS? "First of all, we haven't had that many short track races with the FR9, and now we are starting to do that. Those are the last tracks we went to with the rollout of the FR9. Understanding where the power comes on, the torque curve and trying to understand how to optimize that with the teams, along with the feedback from the drivers, is important. Also, it comes down to the simulation again. I think you are seeing that at the other short tracks we were fairly quick coming off the truck, now we have to learn how to race and stay up there the whole race. We will make a better stab at it. I am sure we will do a lot better at Phoenix than we have in the past. We are making strides in the right direction."

-source: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Greg Biffle