This Week in Ford Racing April 22, 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup After 17 years as one of the top crew chiefs in NASCAR Winston Cup racing, Robin Pemberton took on a new role in February when he assumed the position of NASCAR field manager for Ford...
This Week in Ford Racing
April 22, 2003
NASCAR Winston Cup
After 17 years as one of the top crew chiefs in NASCAR Winston Cup racing, Robin Pemberton took on a new role in February when he assumed the position of NASCAR field manager for Ford Racing Technology. Pemberton, who works with all Ford teams in the NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch and Truck Series, gave his impressions on the 2003 season in addition to other issues currently involving him and Ford.
ROBIN PEMBERTON , NASCAR Field Manager, Ford Racing Technology:
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS REGARDING THE 2003 SEASON SO FAR FROM A GENERAL STANDPOINT AND FROM A FORD PERSPECTIVE?
"In general, I think NASCAR has obviously closed the field up quite a bit and I think it's made for closer racing. From a Ford standpoint, I think we've missed some good opportunities by being taken out in wrecks but, for the most part, I'm pleased about the performance. Any part of any race we've had cars that were capable of winning, but couldn't close the deal for various reasons. Overall, though, I've been happy with what's happened so far."
SOME PEOPLE HAVE WONDERED WHY NASCAR HASN'T TAKEN THE CARS TO THE WIND TUNNEL YET. DO YOU FEEL THE CARS ARE AS CLOSE AS THEY'VE EVER BEEN?
"I think it's probably as close as it has ever been. From NASCAR's side of it, I think they believe the cars are close, but I believe the teams are going to continue to improve on them throughout the year. Right now, I think NASCAR is waiting for the teams to improve on them and then they'll get the best numbers when or if they decide to take them to the wind tunnel."
WOULD YOU JUST AS SOON SEE THOSE TEAMS THAT IMPROVE THEIR CARS THE MOST ENJOY THAT ADVANTAGE THROUGH THE YEAR?
"It depends on how many races we win (laughing). I think the Fords have to do a better job in the speedway program because our cars have a little bit higher drag. Everybody is working on it, but I think the fields are now more competitive than they've ever been across the board - Chevy, Ford, Pontiac and Dodge. I think we've got to let the teams work on the cars a little bit and let the chips fall for a little while. Everybody's basically got new cars with the exception of the Dodge that just got a little tweak on the nose and the Ford, which got a very minor thing from last year. I think we've got to let everybody work on them a little bit. I think the GM cars are going to make more gains through the year, so it's probably helping them by not taking cars to the wind tunnel right away."
SPEAKING OF NEW CARS, THERE HAS BEEN SOME TALK ABOUT A NEW TAURUS IN '04. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHERE THAT STANDS?
"Right now the templates are so tight that the goal would be to make sure that while we introduce new styling cues for the '04 car, we don't want to hurt some of the things we've got on the '03. It's as much self-defense as anything. You're trying to develop something to be at least as good. Hopefully, you might get a little something out of it, but as you introduce new cars, you don't want to set your teams back or anything like that. So that kind of research is going on right now and it's really still in the infant stages."
YOUR NAME WAS ONE OF THE FIRST MENTIONED FOR THE VACANT CREW CHIEF POSITION WITH DALE JARRETT. IS THAT JUST SOMETHING YOU EXPECT TO HAPPEN WHENEVER A SPOT LIKE THAT OPENS UP?
"I don't know. I haven't talked to them and, right now, I'm satisfied with what I'm doing by being involved with Ford Motor Company and all the teams. I'm new but I keep learning and understanding this side of the business, and I keep finding it to be rewarding and satisfying. There are new things every day because it's constantly changing, so right now I'm enjoying myself. At the end of the year you have to evaluate it again, but I'm committed to this and I'm enjoying it. I enjoy working with all the teams and all the people within Ford and the way I look at it is so far, so good."