Charlotte: Jack Roush press conference

Jack Roush participated in a press conference to address the new Ford cylinder head and clarify its distribution process after Thursday's practice session. JACK ROUSH , Car Owner - 6, 16, 17, 97, 99 "To get a part approved through ...

Jack Roush participated in a press conference to address the new Ford cylinder head and clarify its distribution process after Thursday's practice session.

JACK ROUSH , Car Owner - 6, 16, 17, 97, 99

"To get a part approved through NASCAR, an engine part, is a laborious process. First of all, you've to be within the box. Until recently, there wasn't an understanding of what the box was. Somebody would look at the part and say, 'Yeah, it's inside the box or it's not.' If it's not, you bring us back another part and we'll tell you if that part is in the box or not. So it's been a real laborious part to, one, figure out what would be accept and then to go through all the hoops to be able to get it accepted. There was for sure a consideration of what everybody else had. There was consideration of how much power everybody else was making and there was a consideration of the thing that you were asking for was gonna give you an advantage that NASCAR didn't want you to have. John is right. This casting was first submitted three or four years ago, but, like many first-time submissions it was turned down at that time. When the horsepower numbers developed through the year for both Robert's programs and my programs and we were decidedly or 15 horsepower was the closest I recall that a Ford was to the competition all last year and on at least one other occasion the difference was more than that.

So, anyway, we had a problem and it was understood and we made the submission and it was approved for us to go working on it. So we had castings in the development for the rest of the development package before the end of the year. Before I stepped in here realizing that I guess I feel like I got a command appearance here from Mike and from Claire. Those two names came up that they wanted answers as to why we didn't have enough engines for our cars last weekend, but, anyway, we started working on the package and, yes, you put the cylinder head together with pieces we had been running and it made a bit more power. It certainly flows more air and has the potential to do more for us as we define the cam shafts for it, as we define the exhaust systems for it and as we work out an intake manifold for it. We Ford guys just got a half a loaf. In fact, that's really Jack's fault. When we went through and asked for the manifold I said, 'Gee, jolly, golly, whiz guys, if you just give me a head I wouldn't ask for anything else for at least another year.' Of course, when they got to working on it, we figured out that the manifold was the real problem - that the manifold we had didn't suit the package as well as it needed to, so it's been a real problem packaging the requirements for that cylinder head into the manifold that's approved. We worked our way through that. There are some technical things that are boring that nobody would care about, but the Ford block is historically taller than the Chevrolet or the Dodge block and NASCAR made the decision that they wanted to clean that up at the same time they approved the cylinder head. You could run the cylinder head, but with a block that was shorter. The company that made the Ford blocks went bankrupt last year.

We've got, I think, two brand new blocks out of new inventory this year. Happily, we had a lot of inventory from last year and we haven't run out of it yet, but we're waiting on fresh inventory. We're anxious to get our hands on that - seeing the bottom of the barrel and it's getting closer and closer to where we are in terms of being bare. But we started working on it the first of the year and initially it proved somewhat beneficial. We worked on cam shafts, worked on the manifold, had some more discussions about the manifold. 'You can't have a manifold. You have to make a submission, which is in the rule book. It's understood. You've got to make a submission. Stand in line and we'll think about a manifold, but you've got your cylinder head and that's what you said you wanted.' And I did. We've been working on it. There's a different cam shaft. There's a different valve spring. There's a different valve. There's a different cylinder block dimension. There's a different connecting rod. There's a different balance problem on the crank shaft and the crank shaft damper. There's a whole bunch of components that have to be tuned to this cylinder head that have to come on line together.

"It looked like a week before the event - Monday of that week - it looked like we were gonna have one engine that made good power that we had parts for. One engine. I talked to Doug and Robert about that. I said, 'Put it on the 38 car.' They did the initial track test and verified some amount of durability at Louisville and I said, 'Let's do that.' They said, 'We can get the other engines out there.' I said, 'Unless there's a power improvement with them. If they're not making more power and if there's a known reliability question, I don't want them. One is just fine.' Well, the guys worked all night and went back and forth and came up with six or seven engines - whatever it was - enough engines for all of my cars but one car. Robert's and my agreement and the logical thing that you'd come up with, I think, if you were faced with the same problem is if you have parts that are in limited supply that you think will benefit a program, you've got to find some way to distribute them that make sense. So our deal is if we have limited things that are known to be a problem that we think would be beneficial, we'll do it according to points. If we only have two parts and they wind up being in Robert's teams. If we only have five parts and they wind up being on my teams, that's the way they'll be.

But, anyway, we were limited by the number of engines that we could build that would make power that was better with an understanding we could get them off the dynamometer and not see some kind of problem with a bearing that was rubbing or there was something else that was happening. We were an engine short in our program for this week. In preparation for this I was looking over this week's NASCAR Scene and I'm glad Mark's here. Mark, you wrote this new Ford cylinder head plays role in Kenseth win, and about the third paragraph down there I'm gonna read, 'With new parts and pieces being built slowly, there won't be enough inventory for all the Ford teams until sometime in July.' It might be the case and it will very likely be the case that we won't be using the engines until July, but there are plenty of cylinder heads. I checked my inventory before I came in here. I've got 12 sets of cylinder heads that have been on engines. There aren't 12 entries I don't think in this field. There might be, but I've got 12 sets of cylinder heads that have been run.

I've got another 20 sets that are ready to go on engines and I've got castings beyond that we haven't worked with. So cylinder heads are not the problem. In going through the thing we expected issues with the engine. We had connecting rods that were scarred on the side due to the interface with the crank shaft on all the engines that ran and Mark Martin had a broken valve spring in his, so it's definitely not ready for 600 miles yet and it's not ready for all the teams for sure. It's not ready for prime time in a championship chase. We'll have to, as John said, the Chevrolet folks, we will not be less wise than they were. We will use the parts and the changes judiciously in a situation where we're willing to accept the risk. It's my understanding that there will be at least one engine in one of our Ford cars this race, but it will have the issues addressed that were known to be a problem last week and we only had time to get one engine ready that would address those issues, but it's not because we don't have parts from Ford. It's not because we don't have enough pieces in the inventory. It's because we don't know how to build a good engine yet."

IF THE NEW ENGINE HAS PROBLEMS, THEN WHY IS RICKY RUDD RUNNING IT THIS WEEKEND?

"I gave you the answer to that. We have addressed the valve spring issue. We've addressed the issue that scarred the connecting rod side, but we don't have a field test of it yet to know that the fix will be adequate. He was offered the engine as an opportunity to go run it, as was Jeff Burton, as was Greg Biffle, and Ricky was the one that decided to run it. There were actually two of them that were to that point and I would have been happy if two engines got run. Do I think they're high risk? You bet, I think they're high risk."

WHY GO THROUGH THAT?

"Did you ever go out for your first job? Chances are they asked you if you had any experience. How are you gonna get the experience if you don't have a job. That's the problem you've got. There's no way. We can do all the bench testing we want, but until we put these things in a race car, and that's what we did last Saturday night, until we put them in a race car and run them hard and get a chance to take them apart, you don't have the complete story.

"We're in a zero defect business here. Anybody that has problems that could be avoided, that could be predicted, that could be eliminated, that goes in the face of that is taking a big chance with the success of their program. The 21 - Eddie and Len - visited with Doug and they showed them the parts that were a concern and they showed them what they had done about it and they came to the conclusion that if they had that problem that the things they would have done would have been what they did. The question hasn't been asked. How much power is there? There's maybe 12 horsepower at the top and virtually nothing at the bottom, so you've got an average of six horsepower that you can draw from based on where the package is today. It's something, but it's not gonna make the difference between winning and losing. This whole development process we go through for the chassis and for the aero and for the engines and everything, there's no big piece left. There's no single thing that's gonna make the difference between a winner and a loser. You add up these little nickels and dimes - these little bitty pieces - and you stack them together so that you don't have any negatives and you've got something. If you make a lunge for life and reach too far or try to do something that has got an unintended side effect, then you wind up the loser. This business rewards a conservative approach and generally deals roughly with approaches that aren't conservative, either from the rule-making or the administration or the sanctioning body or the hardware development or even what happens on the race track."

ON THE ISSUE OF BEING ABLE TO BUY THE PARTS AND PIECES OF THE ENGINE.

"The new Roush-Yates engine building operation has had actually the opposite effect to the thing you were alluding to. There was a time when I was really careful as to who I would sell and engine to or who I would lease an engine to for the fear that it would make a pass through Robert's dyno room or Robert's assembly room and they would find a rocker arm, they would find our piston, they would find one or two or three of the things that we felt were special. He was the same way. His Ford operation and my Ford operation were distinct and the engine rooms were secure. As it is right now, we're partnered with Ford, holding hands, and we're anxious to build, sell, provide service for any Ford team that can have the sponsorship to pay for the engines what our teams individually pay for the use of the engines. Right now, the D-3 things are available. If somebody wants to take the risk, we'll sell you a D-3 engine or rent you a D-3 engine today. The only thing it takes is green stamps, the same kind of green stamps it takes for our teams."

ROBERT SAID BIFFLE WAS OFFERED THE 600 MILE ENGINE.

"Biffle was offered the 600-mile engine and Burton was offered the 600-mile engine and they asked me. They said, 'Jack, what should I do?' I said, 'You know, if I was Jack and I was making a lunge for life and I was running my own race team and I was about to stave, I would take that engine. If I was running for a championship and this race meant as much as any other race did and it was essential to my making the final top 10 in points, I would say, no.' That was my advice to them."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jack Roush