Doug Yates, chief engine builder for Roush-Yates Engines, has had this weekend circled on his calendar for months. As a result of NASCAR's new gear rule, drivers will not shift during Sunday's Pocono 500 and that means more stress on the...
Doug Yates, chief engine builder for Roush-Yates Engines, has had this weekend circled on his calendar for months. As a result of NASCAR's new gear rule, drivers will not shift during Sunday's Pocono 500 and that means more stress on the engines. Yates spoke about how he and his organization have planned for the next three days.
DOUG YATES, Chief Engine Builder, Roush-Yates Engines
HOW STRESSFUL WILL THIS WEEKEND BE FOR YOU AND YOUR STAFF? "The question is, 'What are you gonna do for an engine for Pocono now that we're not shifting?' And my answer is that you better have the best engine you ever had because you need power everywhere here. It's obviously a long split between low and high rpm - probably like a short track coming off turn three and the longest straightaway we run going into turn one. We've worked hard on trying to get the most power we can across the board."
DID YOU HAVE ANY TEAMS COME AND TEST HERE OR IS IT JUST EDUCATED GUESSWORK? "We planned to test here and then the track had some things come up where nobody could come test, so we got a piece of paper and drew it out and estimated the rpm splits that we're gonna have. We looked at that based off of testing data from last year, but it is a guess because the tires and the spoiler are different, but we feel like we have an understanding of what we're gonna need. We have some tuning tools if we need them - manifolds and headers - that we can change around if we see in practice that we need more bottom end or more top end."
WHAT DO YOU TELL THE DRIVERS ABOUT THIS WEEKEND? "The first thing we tell them is, 'Don't shift.' They're all used to shifting and that might sound kind of simple or ridiculous, but habits can be hard to break. So the first thing is to not shift, and the second thing is to try and get around some other cars so we can see how we stack up, especially coming off the corner."
IS THE BIG CONCERN COMING OFF OF THREE AND TAKING THAT LONG FRONT STRAIGHTAWAY? "Yeah, we don't go anywhere with this much rpm split on a track of this length and that's the way we look at race tracks. We look at the high and low rpm's and we refer to that as the rpm split. At most tracks we race at, they're less then 2,000 rpm from high to low and we feel like our engines perform pretty well at those tracks. At this track it's gonna be about a 3,000 rpm split, so it's gonna be a real challenge of how to get off the corner and keep it running on the other end."
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PREPARING FOR THIS WEEKEND? "To put it in perspective, I think every driver that we build engines for has come up and asked, 'What are we gonna do for Pocono?' That probably goes back to March. After we left Daytona they started asking us what we were gonna do for this track so it's been high on everybody's mind. The thing is you build the best engines that you can and I'm actually looking forward to it because this is the way we used to race here. I looked back at my notes and the guys were kind of kidding me because some of the pages are turning yellow on them, but back in 1992 when Davey Allison ran here, we ran second to Alan Kulwicki. We were not shifting and he was at the time, so from that point on we've always shifted but I can remember when we didn't shift. It was actually more fun at that point because it was about who has the most power."
IS THIS IN SOME WAY FUN FOR YOU TO HAVE SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO TRY AND FIGURE OUT? "I look forward to coming to Pocono. Our teams have been fortunate to win races here and always qualify and run good here, so I always like this time of year when we go to Pocono and Michigan and Indy. I'm just getting excited about now and I'm looking forward to the challenge. It's gonna show how you stack up because now you're not gonna have the shifting and different gear ratios. It's not a case of what is this guy doing or what is that guy doing. We all have the same gear and we all have the same transmission, so it's really gonna show how we stack up. I think we're looking forward to the challenge. Besides, we come back here in about a month, so, if we don't do so good this time, we've got another chance in a few weeks."