The final day of the Lowe's Motor Speedway media tour featured Ford Racing officials, drivers and car owners from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The Q&A session, which took place at Roush Fenway Racing, was the last stop on the four-day ...
The final day of the Lowe's Motor Speedway media tour featured Ford Racing officials, drivers and car owners from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The Q&A session, which took place at Roush Fenway Racing, was the last stop on the four-day event.
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK THIS YEAR WITHOUT ROBBIE AS YOUR CREW CHIEF?
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion: "It's gonna be a little bit different, but I don't think overall it's really gonna be that different. I'm working with Chip (Bolin), which is somebody new to that position, but he was our original engineer in '99 when Jack put this five-race deal together for us, so I've been working with him a long time. So communication is definitely not gonna be a problem. I think the good thing about Robbie going into the role that he's in is I think he's gonna help all these guys and all the teams and everybody that's getting help from Roush Fenway Racing. Robbie is a great organizer and a great motivator and he's already done a lot of great things over there, and I think we can already see a difference in the shop. I think for everybody it's gonna be better."
HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP RACING?
BILL ELLIOTT -- No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion: "I look around in the audience here and I figured I'd retire when most of these guys retired (laughter). That's kind of the way I look at it. Len and Eddie keep twisting my arm. They're a great bunch of guys. Kim, their sister is here, and Glen and his wife, and they're just a great bunch of people. It's hard to say no to these guys and being back with Ford is a fantastic opportunity and I've enjoyed the last year. Believe me, I don't want to do it full-time, but I've enjoyed what I've done the last couple of years."
MATT KENSETH: "He's gonna retire the same year (Brett) Favre does."
WHY DIDN'T YOU GO TO THE PACKERS GAME LAST WEEK?
MATT KENSETH: "I went two weeks ago, but I didn't go last week. I have a whole bunch of excuses, if you really want to know the truth. It just wasn't very convenient and wasn't gonna work out. I was gone most of the week and the pilot was out of town on vacation in the Bahamas. I have all kinds of reasons and, actually, I'm glad I had that many excuses when I watched it on TV. It was pretty cold. Even for a hardcore fan, I think it would have been pretty cold for me to sit out there."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT BEING THE SPOKESMAN FOR SPEEDWAY CHILDREN'S CHARITY THIS YEAR?
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion:
"That's gonna be a lot of fun. They asked me to be the spokesman for Speedway Children's Charities and I'm excited about doing a lot of that this year."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON NASCAR SAYING IT WANTS TO GO BACK TO THE BASICS AND EMPHASIZE THE GRASSROOTS FAN?
BILL ELLIOTT: "You're gonna put me on the spot for this question (smiling). I kind of felt that NASCAR has gotten away from the grassroots fan. There are a lot of grassroots fans that have gotten off in other directions for whatever reason, and I think that they need to get back on that. I think losing some of the race tracks they've lost in this area hasn't helped that. We go to California and it's hard to get the fan base that we have in the east and southeast especially and for whatever reason, I have no idea, but, still, we need to get back and try to get that grassroots fan back to the race track however we can. I totally agree with them."
HOW DID YOUR WIN IN THE DAYTONA 500 CHANGE YOUR LIFE, ESPECIALLY WITH THIS YEAR BEING THE 50TH RUNNING OF THAT RACE?
BILL ELLIOTT: "I'll tell you guys, it was more than a dream come true for me because if I looked back on my career, and to have the opportunity we had at that point in time, there was no way I could have made it today like we did back then. You couldn't have done it. A, we didn't the money. We didn't have the people. In 1985, I keep going over this, there were 11 of us total in the shop. That counted the engine shop and the chassis shop and I was one of the 11 guys that worked their 24/7 -- whatever it took. I know some of us had run-ins back then, but you didn't realize how hard we worked and how tired we were when we showed up at the race track to try and do what we did. But, still, the proudest thing of all our accomplishments was what the family did at that point in time -- was able to go to Daytona and compete in the Daytona 500 and then come away from there winning the Daytona 500. I think that says a lot for the effort and the dedication and all that we put into it. It's so funny. You look at it twenty-some-odd years later of how much different it is because everybody's goal all winter long is to go win the Daytona 500. That's what you strive and work for. That's what all these guys want to do. But yet for reality to come in, once Daytona is gone, then you've got to go to California and so on and so forth on down the schedule. It is so hard to put it in perspective and it's so hard for anyone being on the outside looking in to these guys' race teams and seeing all the dedication that all the team guys play -- not only the drivers. The drivers are the ones that kind of get put up on a pedestal, but from everybody else's standpoint, there are so many people that put so much dedication into what they do and giving them an opportunity to do it. But, yeah, that is a proud part of our family and a proud part of what we did, and looking at this going to be the 50th Daytona 500, that's gonna be an awesome event."
HOW FAR CAN YOU GO THIS YEAR?
DAVID RAGAN -- No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion: "We need to continue to improve week-in and week-out. As a rookie, you're expected to make some mistakes but you can't make too many. As a second-year driver coming into the series again, we've got to continue the progress week-in and week-out and show all of you guys and the fans and my teammates that I can come out and not make that mistake for the second time. We need to find Victory Lane pretty soon and I think we're ready to do that. We've got a lot of the same AAA guys coming back this year and I feel that Jimmy Fennig has put a strong team together. We've just got to continue to work hard and lean on some of my teammates some for some more information. But it's very important to keep getting better. We can't stay idol and stay in a straight line. We've got to keep climbing the uphill battle and eventually we'll find Victory Lane and be where we want to be and that's in the chase for the championship and making improvements week-in and week-out."
WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN AT ROUSH FENWAY TO CHALLENGE HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS?
GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 3M Ford Fusion: "I think we've made a lot of steps in the right direction. One, is the addition of Robbie Reiser as kind of a team manager so to speak and taking over that role that's gonna try to integrate all the tests and organize all the things that need to be organized together. I think Robbie is gonna be a key ingredient in catching up to these other teams. Robbie is a very smart person. He's a very, very good organizer and we've lacked that position, so to speak, in the past. We've had people, but not of Robbie's caliber of understanding the race cars, the race teams and how the operate and what we need to do technically behind the scenes. I think Robbie is gonna help bridge that gap and close up quickly to the rest of the teams. All of our teams have worked so hard. Carl was at yesterday testing different stuff and we just have been hitting it hard. We've got a lot of new engineers and I think we've made big gains over the winter. Obviously, they had too and other teams have, so we'll have to wait until we get to California and Vegas to see how we stack up to all the rest of the teams. Obviously, they're a little better than us in Daytona. The Hendrick cars were the fastest there. We weren't gonna catch up in a month-and-a-half, but given the first quarter of this season, I think that we'll be able to close the gap to that team."
-credit: ford racing