Ford Racing - Manufacturers' Panel notes

Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology, was part of a manufacturer's panel this morning at Daytona International Speedway in which a variety of issues were discussed. DAN DAVIS, Director, Ford Racing Technology YOUR THOUGHTS ON...

Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology, was part of a manufacturer's panel this morning at Daytona International Speedway in which a variety of issues were discussed.

DAN DAVIS, Director, Ford Racing Technology

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CAR OF TOMORROW? "It's on us already. As Lee (White) mentioned, we now know what we've got to build. Certainly, the safety aspects of the vehicle are something that we're all very interested in and our hats are off to those things. The car of tomorrow represents a tremendous amount of work. We're basically racing two different cars in the same season and there's tremendous amount of work to be done. In the marketing sense, it's a huge undertaking as well because there are lot so showcars that have to be converted, so there's a tremendous amount of work associated with the car of tomorrow. We're up for it. All of the manufacturers are up for it and we're looking forward to competing with it."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE BRAND IDENTITY ISSUE WITH THE COT? "If you were to ask Ford, we never get enough brand identity. The current car doesn't have enough, the car of tomorrow doesn't have enough brand identity. There are stickers. The hood is a little different, but we struggle with that with every car. We'll do our best to try to differentiate the brand. Clearly the engine package totally different between manufacturers and that, of course, is the heart of the car, so you've got that aspect going on. It's always a struggle. The cars look very similar to each other and we'll never be happy with brand identification. It'll be an ongoing struggle, but that's the way it is."

HOW HAS TOYOTA COMING IN IMPACTED YOUR PREPARATIONS FOR THIS YEAR? "Every year you work as hard as you can against all of the competitors and Toyota represents another competitor. They're all tough competitors. Chevrolet, Dodge -- very tough competitors. The teams that are all put forward here are very, very good teams so it's a struggle every year. I don't know that there's anything new this year in terms of preparation. You do the best job you possibly can every year. This sport gets tougher. Technology gets more important. A year doesn't go by that you don't have to step up your game, and I think you see the competition stronger and more even every year. It's just magnified by another competitor in here this year."

DOES IT MAKE IT TOUGHER WITH THE BAD NEWS COMING OUT OF DETROIT FOR TEAMS TO PUT AN EMPHASIS ON RACING? "I guess the way I would answer that question is that certainly from a marketing standpoint, any manufacturer is going to put money where you get your best return. In a marketing sense, we get tremendous return on racing in NASCAR. We've seen that in the past and it's still there. These days, for a company like Ford that is struggling, you really have to maximize that return, so you put your money where you can really make a difference and you can do that in NASCAR. It helps us sell product and we know it, so as long as we're able to see good returns on where we spend our money, we'll keep doing this and we'll keep doing it with vigor because you have to win and you have to do a good job. If there is ever a day where the return is not there, then we'll look elsewhere, but, right now, it's a really good return. You've got a fan base out there that's huge and growing and helps us sell product, so as long as we can do that, we're here and we're here with vigor."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR AND CHANGING DYNAMIC OF NASCAR? "To me, NASCAR is for our North American customers. There are already 36 races. The schedule is already full. We're already busy, busy, busy. If there's a situation where you have to take races away from the U.S. to take them somewhere else, and Ford is really interesting in NASCAR for the North American market, maybe there's some dilution going there. You don't want to dilute what we're doing. It's going really well here in North America. For Ford it's the North American market that we're after and with as much activity that's going on, as hard as it is to do this already, I just don't know how you add to the schedule and start going overseas and doing all that other stuff. It just seems to me that that would be very difficult and it would be sort of taking the eye off the ball, and that's doing a really good job as NASCAR is doing today in this market."

DOES THE TALK ABOUT THE CAR OF TOMORROW UNDERCUT YOUR INVESTMENT IN NASCAR? WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE CONVERSATION GO BACK TO YOUR BRAND INSTEAD OF THE TERM 'CAR OF TOMORROW?' "I'd rather they said the Fusion Car of Tomorrow. If we could coin that, that would be great. Anytime you have something new, there's going to be a lot of discussion about it, whether it's the car of tomorrow, whether it's some other rule, whatever, there's going to be that discussion and the car of tomorrow hasn't even raced yet. So I guess where I'm at is, let's do this thing at Daytona and do a great job and talk about our brands and all that sort of stuff. Yeah, there's going to be a lot of discussion about the car of tomorrow and this and that, but come Bristol time, let's talk about the brands and that car and the competition on the track and the fabulous drivers that are here and all that sort of thing. There's always going to discussion and, sure, it's not about manufacturer's cars at this point in time, but it will evolve to that when they start racing, in my opinion."

WHAT'S THE FEELING FROM MANUFACTURERS ABOUT THE PENALTIES HANDED OUT THIS WEEK? "Certainly as Ford, no manufacturer would condone cheating in any way, shape or form. It's not something that we condone. It's something that's occurring. Conformance to rules, cheating, I'm not sure where all this is, but, certainly, you've got situations where there are some issues going on. They are team issues. As a manufacturer, we don't condone cheating, we don't have any part of it. You've got some situations where there are some differences of opinion, in our view, between crew chiefs and NASCAR and there's a tug-o-war going on there. They've been there since day one and they're going to stay there, I think. To me, it's really a team-crew chief type issue and if the manufacturer is involved, then shame on us, but certainly we're not at Ford."

-credit: ford racing

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Series NASCAR Cup