Fuel mileage is expected to be an issue during tomorrow's Gatorade Twin 125s, something that hasn't been prevalent the last few years. Ford personnel spoke about that variable, along with other issues concerning the qualifying ...
Fuel mileage is expected to be an issue during tomorrow's Gatorade Twin 125s, something that hasn't been prevalent the last few years. Ford personnel spoke about that variable, along with other issues concerning the qualifying races.
ROBIN PEMBERTON, Crew Chief --2-- Miller Lite Taurus
"There are some concerns with the new fuel cells and safety bladders that they're (NASCAR) using because they're about a gallon-and-a-half less than what they were last year as far as what we could pick up. Some are worse than that, so if you're averaging six miles to the gallon, then all of a sudden you're looking at being maybe four laps short. With running three pace laps and a 50-lap race, it figures out that we could run 52.8 laps. That means it runs out off of four if you don't get a break." WHAT HAVE THEY CHANGED WITH THE FUEL CELL?
"They've gone thicker on the cans and tightened up the gauges. They've got a new gauge that goes over the can and keeps it from blowing them out and getting the sides all round. All of that is well and good, but in the long run when you look down the road at a place like Michigan -- which was always a problem with fuel mileage -- now it's gonna put an extra fuel stop in at a lot of places."
WHAT DO YOU FORESEE AS FAR AS THE RACING GOES?
"There are a lot of teams that are gonna have to look at the race with a different approach. You have a fuel mileage deal to think about. If a caution comes out, it might put you over the edge where you can make it on fuel, but if you're in the back and you think handling is anything in the draft, you're probably gonna come in and put tires on it so you can make that late charge. It's gonna be a very high stressful day for a lot of teams."
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE DODGE IN RACE TRIM?
"The Dodge has a good car and whether its in qualifying or race trim it's gonna be a good car. Everybody is the same way -- blocked off in qualifying -- so when you open it up that doesn't make them come back to where we're gonna be either. They've built a superior car to everybody, somehow, but handling is still gonna come into play. When you have an advantage like they have drag-wise, you can't build enough horsepower and enough handling to overcome that."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR WILL MAKE ANY CHANGES BEFORE THE 500?
"I seriously doubt they'll make any changes. We've got a car that we've got to work with here and do what we can do to make the very most of it. That's what we have to deal with right now."
WHAT ABOUT THE 125s?
"We're gonna race hard and see what we've got. I think it will be somewhat of a good idea of what's gonna take place on Sunday. It's really just kind of a tune-up for everybody to get their cars and work on 'em and make the most of that, to get a good starting spot and make sure you keep your car intact."
HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT TO KNOW THE FORDS HAVE AN AERO DISADVANTAGE?
"The frustrating side of it is and it's been brought up a number of times. People say, 'Well, it's no different than the Chevrolet last year.' Last year Chevrolet built their car. They created their drag problem. This is mandated by NASCAR to us. This isn't something that we created. We have a very good car, but because of the rules that they have mandated, that puts us at a disadvantage. So, that's the frustrating side of it. But, on the other side, we can't do anything about it so we'll just deal with what we've got and make the most of it. We'll try to get our car driving as good as we possible can and, hopefully, that will be enough whenever it comes down to Sunday."
MAYBE IT WON'T BE A BIG DISADVANTAGE IF A LOT OF FORDS ARE UP FRONT
"Maybe not. If we can get to the front that'll be a good thing, so we'll just have to work hard and work together as much as you can. You talk about working together, but you never know what's gonna happen when it comes down to the end, and at that time everybody is trying to improve their position."
IS FUEL MILEAGE A CONCERN FOR YOU TOMORROW?
"Yeah. In the past few years it hasn't been anything to worry about, but with the new fuel cell rules you can't pick up quite as much as what we did before so fuel is a problem. We have a bigger restrictor plate and we're using more fuel now, so it is a concern. What I'm gonna do at the beginning of the race, I certainly don't want to drop back, but on the other hand I don't want to have to make a pit stop in a 50-lap race. That's gonna be something we look hard at. We've gotten some pretty good indications in the two practice sessions so far. Hopefully today will give us an even better indication of exactly what we can and can't do."
SOME GUYS TOOK TWO TIRES AND SOME TOOK FOUR IN THE SHOOTOUT. WILL TIRES BE
A CRITICAL FACTOR?
"I don't think it's any different than what it's been. Over the last few years there have been people trying to take two tires and that hasn't worked out. This is a very old and worn out racing surface that we're on and even though the speeds maybe have dropped, handling is still the key to winning. Two tires just doesn't work. We've won this race by putting on four tires when other guys took on two and that's not gonna be any different. Somebody might do that and they may be able to stay up there. To be quite honest, I was surprised that Dale (Earnhardt) could stay up there the other day. That just shows his ability, that he could stay up there with just two tires on. Again, there are gonna be people that try two tires to get track position and get themselves in a position to win, but I certainly believe in the end that four tires are gonna win out."
IT SEEMS THE CARS ARE JUMPING AROUND MORE. ARE THEY?
"If you could see in the wind tunnel what these roof flaps and strips and the spoilers do to the air, you would be amazed. We have disturbed the air greatly and that's what's making the cars move around. Whenever you get in a pack of cars, you literally can be holding the steering wheel straight and that's not where you're going. There's a lot being put on the drivers with this and that's probably a good thing, other than the fact the car can just move -- especially through the tri-oval -- without you really doing anything."
THERE HASN'T BEEN A BIG PROBLEM IN THE TWINS RECENTLY, BUT WITH THE CARS SO
CLOSE TOGETHER COULD THAT HAPPEN?
"If anything happens it's gonna be big because we're all right there together. Hopefully, everybody is gonna use their head. I know there are people that have to race really hard to get into the 500, so you're gonna see that side. Hopefully, everybody is gonna use their head and realize that it's only gonna take a little bit of a mistake and there's gonna be a big huge wreck because of all the cars running together."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus
IS THE DODGE ADVANTAGE GOING TO BE HARD TO OVERCOME?
"We'll just have to wait and see. I don't think you're gonna see the full hand of the Dodge until we get to Sunday and not only Dodge, but Tony Stewart was pretty strong the other day in that Pontiac. If you look at the wind tunnel numbers from the other day, it's pretty easy to see why these cars are so dominant. A lot of that is strictly dictated by the size of the spoiler that NASCAR has on the Ford. We have to run a bigger spoiler, therefore we make more drag so we're sort of unfairly penalized but we're not gonna give up. We're gonna go out there and run as hard as we can and try to win this thing."
IS DAYTONA LIKE A MARTINSVILLE SHORT TRACK RACE NOW?
"I think the racing is definitely better we're closer together, a lot more passing, a lot more action than we've seen in the past at Daytona. I think the Bud Shootout is just sort of an indication of what's gonna be coming."
DOES THAT MEAN THERE'S A BETTER CHANCE OF A BIG WRECK?
"We thought there was gonna be some big wrecks in the Bud Shootout just based off practice leading into it because there were a couple of practices and couple of wrecks. It seemed like by the time everybody got to the race, though, that things settled down. A lot of guys found out what they could and could not get by with. Once they learned the limits of the cars with the new spoiler rules we have at Daytona, it settled into just good hard racing."
IS YOUR REARVIEW MIRROR THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF EQUIPMENT IN YOUR CAR?
"To be honest with you, ever since these new rules we probably spend more time looking out the rearview mirror blocking people more than we have ever done at Daytona before. Again, if you happen to be leading the pack and they decide to slingshot you, there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. You can't make your car wide enough."
WHAT ABOUT FUEL MILEAGE TOMORROW?
"That used to be an issue for many years down here and now it's back to being an issue with the bigger restrictor plate we're running. I guess the motors suck more fuel and it's gonna be borderline for a lot of guys as to whether they can make it or not."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE RACES TOMORROW?
"I'm not really sure. I think you'll see good, hard racing. We came here last year and it was a really neat race. We sat on the front row for the 500 and won 125-mile qualifying race and led every lap. We kind of got spoiled a little bit, I think. But this year I'm sure we'd be right there if we were on an even playing field. Right now we're not and there's not a whole lot we can do about it because it's NASCAR's call. Those are the rules given and, if you noticed, there were only three Fords in the top 20 cars the other day, so we've got our work cut out for us. We're not giving up, but it sure would be nice to play with an even deck."
WHAT CAN YOU LEARN TOMORROW?
"I think we've learned it now. We've had the Bud Shootout and a lot of practice and drafting. We know there is gonna be a lot of action going on and we have sort of learned what you can and cannot do. You want to be sure not to place your car in certain positions because if you do, you're gonna go backwards. You learn, especially driving a Ford this year, how to play defense quite a bit."
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Kmart Taurus
WHAT DO THINK ABOUT TOMORROW?
"I don't know how much of a disadvantage there is because I don't know all the statistics of the cars, but I don't think the Fords are as good as they need to be. I know our Kmart car isn't. There's been a lot of practice time and we're still not where we want to be. We're just gonna try to get it as fast as we can get it and try to hang in the draft. Right now we don't feel like we can lead the draft and that's something that we need to try to work hard on. I don't know if we can get it done before the end of the weekend, but that's what we're gonna try to do before the 500."
ARE YOU ABLE TO PASS AND SUCK UP IN THE DRAFT DURING PRACTICE?
"That's the thing our car won't do, it won't suck up like some of the other cars will and that's what we're working on. I also noticed that a lot of the cars are pretty free or loose, so to speak, especially with a lot of cars around them. With the spoiler and aero package, I think it's causing them to be loose but yet it's also causing them to be tight, so it's almost a tight-loose condition that I've been noticing from a lot of cars. I think it's a characteristic every car has. I think you just have to worry about yourself and get your car as good as you can get it."
WHAT ABOUT FUEL MILEAGE TOMORROW?
"I think the car should be able to make 50 laps, even with the three pace laps before the race. If your car isn't handling good, you're not gonna get good gas mileage. If you're leading the draft, you're not gonna get as good gas mileage as if you're following the draft. There are so many variables that I think you're just gonna have to take that and address it as it comes as the race progresses. Your fuel people are gonna have to figure the mileage out right and, hopefully, finish the race without having to stop."