TED FLACK (Manager, Dodge NASCAR Engine Development) NOTE: Flack responds to the engine bore rule that begins July 3, limiting the cylinder width of every Winston Cup engine to a maximum of 4.185 inches. "We can run a bigger cylinder bore...
TED FLACK (Manager, Dodge NASCAR Engine Development)
NOTE: Flack responds to the engine bore rule that begins July 3, limiting the cylinder width of every Winston Cup engine to a maximum of 4.185 inches.
"We can run a bigger cylinder bore because our bore centers are bigger than anybody else. One of the advantages we had was that we could run a bigger cylinder bore. With this rule we can't, yet we still have to carry the weight of the engine. It hurts us more than anybody else.
"Some Dodge teams chose to run bigger cylinder bores. The engines we deliver are under the maximum. They finish them the size they want. It's a personal preference. Some teams, it affects every engine they've got. It affects some engines on every team. That's for sure. The maximum bore size now is 4.185 inches. When we designed the engine, that rule was not in place. Had that rule been in place when we designed the engine, we might have asked for a little forgiveness on the bore spacing to make the engine the size, the overall length, the other guys have.
"The distance between the center line of each cylinder bore is a Dodge production number and a Chevy production number and a Ford production number, but they're smaller than ours and our engine ends up being longer because of that. But we could have run bigger bores, so you offset the weight penalty by running a bigger bore.
"This is not new news. That bore rule came out the same time the one-engine rule came out, the same time the piston weight came out, there were a bunch of rules that came out last fall and they allowed until July for the teams to use up their engine parts. In the truck series, where Dodge supplies engines, all our engines we built this year are under 4.185 because we knew July 3 we couldn't use 'em, so we just started out smaller.
"It's a big tear-up for some of the Dodge teams. It starts at Daytona. It would have been nice if the date were after Daytona, but now we can't use the engines we used in the Daytona 500."
TIM CULBERTSON (Program Manager, Dodge NASCAR Winston Cup Engineering)
"Bill Elliott qualified well and he runs well at this track. Unfortunately, Casey didn't get a chance. He had a good car and he got in some oil on his warmup lap and didn't get a chance to show what that car was capable of doing. Dodges have run well at this track. We almost won this race last year, and of course we won the August race. We're optimistic about tomorrow.
"Back in engineering, we're working constantly on aero and chassis. We've got a real good chassis program going on right now. We've reorganized. All the motorsports now is under one umbrella. We're able to have even more synergy with our truck people and that's working out very good. We've got a strong test program going on right now. The R&D center is coming on strong and the teams are getting comfortable with it. We continue to improve the product and work hard back at Auburn Hills.
"They put together a package they thought would work. They're a little concerned with that car right now. It seemed to do a couple of things that was a total surprise to Sterling. They're going over that car very carefully to see if there might have been something more wrong than the setup.
"I'll never forget that win last August at Michigan. This is arguably the second or third most important race on the calendar. This is in our backyard and our competition's backyard. I think there's more manufacturer competition for this race than any other, but it's good to be back. We've been blessed with running well here, and we expect to do that tomorrow. It looks like right now the Dodges tend to run best on the flatter tracks. This is considered a flatter track, but sometimes this stuff is random, too, why you run good at some tracks and not at others. Everybody is trying to run the best they can at every track we go to, and based on two races last year, this happens to be a good track for us."
BOB WILDBERGER (Senior Manager, NASCAR Operations - Dodge Motorsports)
"I think everyone, including ourselves, have to remember we're very young in NASCAR Winston Cup and we still have a lot to learn in order to continue to improve. To a good racer, nothing is as good as the next race. That's the only thing that counts. In terms of support of the program, the support continues to grow throughout our entire organization. As an example here at Michigan, we've got almost 300 guests of the dealers that will be in turn one. We've got a super relationship with our No. 7 Dodge Sponsor - Sirius Satellite Radios - like we do with all sponsors to try to build that relationship and make them part of our one team as well. They're sponsoring this race, and I think that's phenomenal. We're honored to have Dr. Dieter Zetsche (President and CEO DaimlerChrysler Corporation) as our grand marshal. Jim Schroer (Executive Vice President DaimlerChrysler Corporation) is going to be the official starter. Joe Clayton, the President and CEO of Sirius Satellites is going to be with Dieter in the pits. That's where he loves to watch the race. He's right in there with us. He's one of the team. He tends to stick in one pit for awhile, and then he'll move around some, but he's right there with the action. He's watching the computers, watching the track and he's as much involved with the operation of the race as any man I've ever seen. He's truly a member of our motorsports team. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Dealers are levergening it for retail sales. We go from here to San Francisco, and the Dodge dealers have the official vehicle of the track at Sears Point. We're sponsors there, and we just keep moving along. Everyone is behind us all the way. We need to keep digging and looking forward to the next race and never look back.
"Giving away the million dollar bonus for one of the Dodge teams winning the championship this year is absolutely huge to us. To have a team that's been able to do what Sterling's team has been doing, to be consistently up front at the end of the race, holding the points lead. We've had some good fortune along the way. It's a combination of the team doing an exceptional job and having some things work for you. You make your own luck in this game, and that's what they're doing.
"Kyle has absolutely done a 180 since last year, but if you look at the whole Petty program, and we've been saying this since last year. They have worked very hard to change the way they do their engine program. They've brought in some additional new people. They had a pretty good staff to begin with, but now they've added some very key people in the last 12 months. Twenty-four months ago they made huge expenditures in terms of new modern equipment, a modern R&D center of their own. They're doing other programs in a lot of different areas of the car. They're really doing what it takes to bring this into the new era. You're starting to see results on the track, particularly with Kyle, and I think you'll see that all along with every one of their cars.
"It's 7-24. I've never worked so hard in my life, and everyone in our program is the same way. This is one area of corporate life, maybe the only area where you can achieve instant gratification. You see a report card on the track every week. You need to be able to stand tall and do what you do best.
"A win does a lot for attitudes, confidence. It was the first win in the modern era for Dodge. It had been a quarter century. I think that was a pivotal point in our program. We had been startups and contenders and then we were winners. Now you look for the next step. How do you get more wins and go to a championship level? That's where our target is set. How do you win a championship in his program? We're trying. We don't take anything for granted. This is a long season and there are some very formidable competitors. If you stop to take a look at what you've done, the road will pass you by, so we're not going to look at what we've done yet."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Burton was second fastest in Saturday's Winston Cup practice session.
"The car was pretty good. We made some changes that really helped. We've got more grip here at Michigan today down low than we do up high. A few are running down low, but the rest of us are up high. It's going to be interesting. It'll be interesting to see how much the track changes tomorrow. We're still a little tight from the middle out. I think you're going to see everybody fighting that. We've got to make a few improvements in that area. You've got two pretty distinct corners here. One and two is really different than three and four. When you're tight, you can run lower in both corners. That really helps free the car because there's less banking down there when you're loose. You can run up high, too. Michigan is a good track for a driver to adjust to what his car is doing. It's a good track where if you're off a little bit the team can makes an adjustment that could really help."