This Week in Ford Racing 2010-09-21 When the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship heads to Dover International Speedway this weekend, the three Ford drivers in the 2010 Chase will hope to recapture the events of 2008 when they took the top...
This Week in Ford Racing
When the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship heads to Dover International Speedway this weekend, the three Ford drivers in the 2010 Chase will hope to recapture the events of 2008 when they took the top three spots with Greg Biffle claiming the checkered flag. Ford Racing caught up with the three Chase crew chiefs, to discuss the upcoming Dover race, the Chase and what they believe the winning ingredients are for each.
GREG ERWIN, crew chief, No. 16 3M Ford Fusion
WHAT DOES MAKING THE CHASE DO FOR YOUR TEAM MENTALLY KNOWING THAT YOU ARE IN AND CAN NOW REALLY FOCUS ON THESE 10 RACES? "Probably the best part of it is knowing that we have been there three years in a row. Up until the start of the Richmond race, we probably thought we were in better shape than we have been in the last two years as far as how the car was running and being competitive and challenging for wins. At the end of the day, we should be able to challenge for this championship. The winner of the championship will more than likely be the guy that doesn't blow engines or get flat tires with 20 laps to go or get speeding penalties. The guy that is going to dodge all the bullets is going to win the championship."
DOES YOUR APPROACH CHANGE BEING IN A CHASE RACE AS OPPOSED TO THE REST OF THE SEASON? "It really doesn't. We look at these races just like we look at the five or six races leading up to this. We spend a lot of time looking at what we did and what some of our teammates did at the first event at that track. Kansas is a bit of a wild card because we haven't been there yet this year, but we also think a few race tracks really apply to Kansas and also Homestead at the end of the year. There is nothing that we are really doing with the exception of a couple new race cars that we hope will be a little bit better and lighter. We bring those in to start the Chase. We hope to run those cars at five or six Chase events. Procedurally and personnel-wise, everything is the same. We have the same group of people here and we aren't bringing any more or less. We are paying attention to all the same things we have paid attention to since the start of the season. This is really just a culmination of how good are you at taking notes and learning from your mistakes. The magic bullets and magic set ups are hard to find. What you try to do is not make mistakes. That is what this is all about."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET OFF TO A GOOD START AND TO DO WELL ON SOME OF THE TRACKS YOU KNOW GOING IN MIGHT NOT BE YOUR BEST TRACKS? "Getting off to a good start is very important considering that this Chase season is only 10 races long and it is pretty hard to come back from a bad finish. Every one of them is important and we weigh them all the same. With five or maybe four to go, you will be looking at your top three guys as the serious Chase contenders, so that is where you go with it. I can't say that we flip a switch and this is playoff baseball or playoff football and everything we do is different from what we did during the course of the season. What we have been doing all year got us here and we need to play to our strengths and survive the places where maybe we aren't so strong."
YOU HAVE HAD SOME SUCCESS AT DOVER OVER THE YEARS, HOW MUCH DOES THAT PAST SUCCESS PLAY INTO YOUR MINDSET FOR THIS DOVER RACE AND WHAT DO YOU EXPECT AT DOVER THIS YEAR? "You go there knowing that with five laps to go you should be in a position to win the race. Greg knows it. We went through a stint there about five races over two and a half years where we didn't finish out of the top five. I think we finished sixth in the spring. We had some troubles early in the race that set us back and we had to come from a long way back. You go there knowing that if you are right and you don't make a big step in the wrong direction, you should have a shot to win the race. That is hands down that simple."
BOB OSBORNE, crew chief, No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion
LOOKING AHEAD TO DOVER, WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING FROM THAT RACE AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO DO WELL THERE TO BE OFF TO A GOOD START IN THE CHASE? "It is very important to get a good start to the Chase. Dover being so early in the Chase, we definitely want to run well there. Historically we have a pretty good record at Dover, so I am excited to get there and go run some laps and tune on the race car."
WHY DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE HAD SUCCESS AT DOVER OVER THE YEARS? "I think it comes down to the fact that it is a difficult race track to drive and Carl really excels with cars that don't necessarily handle well an entire race. It has a lot to do with getting the most out of what you have for a race car and he does that extremely well."
CARL HAS BEEN RED HOT OVER THE LAST 10 OR SO RACES. HOW DID YOU GUYS GET THAT MOMENTUM AND HOW DO YOU CARRY IT THROUGH THE CHASE? "There is no key. As a group we have been working on our race cars and working on our set ups and I think that is starting to show. It started to show about a month or so ago and hopefully with the diligence of preparing race cars and working on set ups, that performance will continue."
CAN YOU HAVE A PLAN FOR THE NEXT 10 RACES OR IS EVERYTHING A WEEK BY WEEK BASIS? "You look ahead with inventory things and deciding what cars you are going to run well and where and how to schedule those cars through the shop to make sure they are prepared properly for each event. As far as long term planning on set ups and things like that, it is not too difficult to just be patient and wait week to week. You might look ahead a week in advance or so, but there is not a need for long-term planning on actual set ups."
FORD AND ROUSH FENWAY'S EARLY SEASON STRUGGLES WERE WELL DOCUMENTED, HOW REWARDING WAS IT FOR YOU TO SEE THREE ROUSH DRIVERS GET IN THE CHASE? "It is very rewarding. We would have liked to have more, but there is a lot of competition out there that is very good. Having three is a very good feat for the Ford camp and hopefully we can finish one-two-three in the Chase."
FOLKS SAY THIS YEAR'S CHASE IS AS WIDE OPEN AS IT HAS EVER BEEN. WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE DECIDING FACTOR IN WHO WINS THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I think it will come down to who makes the least number of mistakes. Anybody who wins this championship will have had to run well, very well, but it is the teams that do that and also don't have any mistakes along the way that will ultimately come away with the championship."
JIMMY FENNIG, crew chief, No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS AT DOVER? "I think that is one of Matt's favorite tracks. Hopefully we will come out of there with a good finish, if not a win."
IT MUST BE A SENSE OF RELIEF TO BE IN THE CHASE WITH ALL THE CHANGES THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE WITH THE 17 TEAM. WHAT IS THE MENTALITY OF THE TEAM HEADING INTO THE CHASE? "I think everyone is fired up. Everyone at the shop is fired up and everyone with the 17 team in general is very excited. They are building us better race cars and everybody is getting involved. It is important to be in the Chase. I think that is a great accomplishment for all the guys that work on the 17 team."
WHAT DO YOU FEEL WAS THE TURNING POINT FOR THE ORGANIZATION FROM THE FIRST HALF OF THE YEAR TO NOW? "I think as an organization we stepped it up and got better race cars. The FR9 engine is better now and I think that was a big step. Everybody is working harder at everything right now."
THE PREVAILING THOUGHT IS THAT THE TEAM WITH THE FEWEST MISTAKES MIGHT TAKE THIS TITLE. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? "I agree with that. It is about consistency, so that is what it all boils down to. You are going to have to be about a top-five finisher every week in order to make it."
DOES YOUR MINDSET AS CREW CHIEF CHANGE FOR A CHASE RACE AS OPPOSED TO THE OTHER RACES? "Not really. As long as I have been racing, I have entered each race to win. I don't come to race, I come to win."
-source: ford racing