Earlier today it was announced that the Penske South teams of Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman would be switching from Ford to Dodge beginning next season. Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology, spoke about that move and how it will have an...
Earlier today it was announced that the Penske South teams of Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman would be switching from Ford to Dodge beginning next season. Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology, spoke about that move and how it will have an impact on the Ford roster.
DAN DAVIS, Director of Ford Racing Technology
WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO SEEING THE PENSKE OPERATION SWITCH TO DODGE? "We heard all of the rumors about Dodge courting Penske, so it's not like this caught us off guard or by surprise. We began re-negotiating a five-year extension of our agreement around the middle part of last year and that had intensified over the past few months, so we're satisfied that we did all we could to keep both teams in Fords. I don't think there's any question that, from a financial and technical standpoint, our offer was competitive and rewarded the Penske organization for the outstanding job they've done for us since 1994. They've been an integral part of our success and, as everybody knows, played an instrumental role in getting Taurus from the drawing board to the race track in record time. I hate to see them go, but we realize this is a business and people have to make decisions that they feel are best for them. Rusty and Ryan have been great ambassadors for Ford Racing and we wish them, along with Roger, all the best and thank them for representing us in such a first-class manner."
THIS DECISION COMES ON THE HEELS OF CAL WELLS LEAVING FOR PONTIAC NEXT YEAR. ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT HAVING TWO OF YOUR TOP TEAMS LEAVE IN SUCH A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME? "Well, I think it's been obvious for the last five or six years that Ford has had more teams than any other manufacturer in the garage area, so it's only natural that we would be a target for manufacturers that are looking to expand. While we hate losing teams of this stature, we still feel that our remaining teams are strong and will continue to compete for race wins and championships on a regular basis. We'll be adding one team next year when Greg Biffle jumps from the Busch Series to Winston Cup and that will give us 11 quality full-time teams in 2003. Then again, that number might rise by two or three before we get to Daytona, you never know."
DOES THAT MEAN YOU WILL TRY TO FIND A REPLACEMENT TEAM? "We feel our program is strong and I think we've shown that our tier one teams are treated equally and fairly. With Penske's decision to switch to Dodge next year, at what I would call the 11th hour, it's kind of kept us from thinking too far ahead in that regard. When you have the quality of Jack Roush, Robert Yates and Roger Penske, it's hard to think of adding a fourth team to that tier one level and be able to keep everyone happy. Now that we've got a spot open, however, I think it would be wise on our part to see if there is anyone out there that might be willing to join us. Will that be next year? Will that be the year after? I can't answer that, but we would be very interested in talking to any other top-level teams that might be looking to make a change."
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THOSE TWO TEAMS FOR THE REST OF THIS SEASON? "As far as we're concerned, there's still a Winston Cup championship to be won and both Rusty and Ryan are right in the middle of that battle. We're going to do whatever we can to help them in that regard, and I can't think of a better way to end a relationship than with a series championship."