THIS WEEK IN FORD RACING Tuesday, April 27, 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup After nine races in the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup season there is a lot to be happy about from a Ford Racing perspective. After all, the top three drivers in the point ...
THIS WEEK IN FORD RACING Tuesday, April 27, 1999
NASCAR Winston Cup
After nine races in the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup season there is a lot to be happy about from a Ford Racing perspective. After all, the top three drivers in the point standings all sport the blue oval and the manufacturer's standings also have Ford sitting on top of Chevrolet and Pontiac. Here are some Ford Racing notes going into this weekend's California 500.
* Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett and Mark Martin are first, second and third, respectively, in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. Burton, who took over the points lead for the first time in his career after winning at Darlington on March 21, has a 40-point advantage over Jarrett while teammate Martin is only 84 points off the lead.
* This marks the first time Ford has held the top three spots in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings since 1996 when Dale Jarrett, Jeff Burton and Ricky Rudd were all separated by only 89 points after three races.
* Even though they have finished second or third in the point standings each of the last two seasons, Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett haven't led the circuit for quite some time. The last time Mark Martin held the points lead was Aug. 23, 1997 after a second-place finish at Bristol put him 13 points ahead of Jeff Gordon with 10 races remaining. Jarrett's drought has been even longer. The last time he sat atop the series heap was May 5, 1997 when he led Terry Labonte by 40 points after nine races.
* The last Ford driver to win the NASCAR Winston Cup championship was Alan Kulwicki in 1992 when he edged Bill Elliott by 10 points. That remains the closest finish in NASCAR Winston Cup history.
* Ford leads the 1999 manufacturer's standings by six points over second-place Chevrolet. Ford has 64 points while Chevrolet has 58 and Pontiac 49.
* Ford is once again dominating the circuit in terms of top five finishes. Through nine races this season, Ford has captured 24 of the 45 top five spots (53 percent). Burton, Jarrett and Martin lead the way in that department with six top-fives apiece. Last season, the new Ford Taurus had 100 of the 165 top-five finishers for an eye-popping 61 percent.
* Ford has led twice as many laps as any other manufacturer in 1999. After nine races, Ford has led 1,618 laps compared to 805 for Chevrolet and 448 for Pontiac.
* Did you know that Ford is the winningest manufacturer in NASCAR history? Jim Florian won Ford's first NASCAR-sanctioned race in Dayton, Ohio on June 25, 1950 and going into this weekend's California 500, Ford has a total of 483 career triumphs. Chevrolet ranks second with 465 wins while Plymouth is third with 190 and Dodge fourth with 162. Pontiac rounds out the top five with 124 victories.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Five races into the 1999 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, Kevin Cywinski, # 31 Auto Trim Design/Brevak Racing Ford F-150, sits in fourth place in the points standings, the highest ranking for a Ford NCTS driver. Cywinski is coming off his season-best fourth-place finish at Martinsville on April 17. The fourth-place finish was the best ever finish for Brevak Racing. Cywinski comments on the team's impressive start and what he expects for the rest of the year.
KEVIN CYWINSKI - 31- Auto Trim Design/Brevak Racing Ford F-150 - "YOU'RE CLOSING ON THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF YOU JOINING BREVAK RACING. COMMENT ON THAT. "We're really pleased at how well the team has gelled together this past season. The off season has brought us sponsorship from Auto Trim Design, which has helped us tremendously, and we've added a couple of new employees. Everyone just gets along so well and is having so much fun. NASCAR added the pit stops to the truck series and that really made our guys enthusiastic. The guys love doing the pit stops and love the competition that it brings out of all the guys in the pits. It's been a real fun learning process over this first year."
FIVE RACES INTO THE SEASON, ARE YOU ON TRACK WITH WHERE YOU THOUGHT YOU'D BE AT THIS POINT? "At the beginning of the season, we sat down as a team and set some goals for ourselves. One of the goals was to be a little more consistent. We had a few DNFs last year after I came to the team. We thought that those were things that shouldn't happen, so we addressed them. We set a goal to win a race this year and to try and run in the top 10 in points. Right now I would say that we're on track for that. We had a real good truck at Martinsville, I think a truck that was capable of winning but we might need a little more experience in some areas to get us there before the end of the season."
HOW HAS THE SEASON GONE SO FAR? "We've had an excellent year so far. We've had four top 10s out of five races and one top-five. We really feel proud of that. We are right on track to hopefully run in the top 10 in points this year."
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START WITH THE BREVAK RACING LAST SEASON AND WHAT WERE YOU EXPECTING? "Basically how we got together was that their driver Tony Roper left and went to another team. Everyone on this team including Bob and Shelly Brevak (team owners) are originally from Wisconsin, so one of the guys came down and asked if I'd be interested in doing some racing with them and of course I accepted. The team had a real good start to the year last year. Tony was up to 11th in points and we came in and ran our first race at Bristol and did very well. We thought that we had a shot at winning a race last year. Unfortunately we had some bad luck and some engine problems that kept us from finishing races. And that was one of the things that we had to address this year."
THE ENTIRE BREVAK RACING TEAM IS FROM WISCONSIN; DOES THAT MEAN THE WHOLE TEAM SPEAKS THE SAME LANGUAGE? "I guess you can say that we all have the same accent (laughing). It's really neat though. I've raced against my crew chief's (Joe Shear Jr.) dad for many years and have seen him grow up while I've grown up. To finally be on the same side with him instead of always competing against him actually helps us a bunch."
YOU'VE SWITCHED TO A NEW ENGINE SUPPLIER THIS YEAR. COMMENT ON THE CHANGE. "Yes we've switched to Tri Star motors. They are building all of our Ford motors and doing a fantastic job." HOW MUCH HAS THE IMPROVED HORESPOWER AND RELIABILITY HELPED? "As a driver, it has helped a lot. On many of short tracks, we've needed a lot of horsepower. Reliability-wise, I don't even think about having to look at the gauges or think about the truck starting to smoke or developing any problems. Just from the standpoint of confidence in the vehicle, it's helped tremendously."
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST LEARING CURVE FOR YOU IN THE NCTS? " I would have to say the heavier vehicle and driving on radial tires. Where I come from in short track racing in the upper Midwest, we ran 2,800 pound cars and now the trucks are 3,400 pounds without the driver. The weight difference and the tires and the way it reacts in certain situations makes the vehicle respond differently. Once I got comfortable and got to know Joe (crew chief) a little better and learned what to look for in the vehicle, things have been great."
HAS YOUR ASA SERIES EXPERIENCE HELPED YOU ADJUST TO THE NCTS? "Every driver drives with a little bit different style. So getting to know some of the different drivers and what they do in different situations has helped over the year. People act different in different situations and I tell you that it's been fun learning about all the great drivers in this series. We put on a heck of a show."
WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING FROM THE MEMPHIS RACE (MAY 8)? "We have an open test on Thursday before the race that will be beneficial to all the teams. The track is still relatively new. Last year was the first year for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to visit that facility. I'll tell you, we had a whale of a race there last year. I think that we stand a really good chance there. It's kind of an intermediate-size track, which is something that I'm really comfortable with. Memphis is a high braking track. You can run down in the corners pretty fast but you have to get the truck slowed down. Last year some guys were popping tires because the tires were getting so hot. Everyone has learned from last year. We qualified well there but unfortunately had some engine problems. But we're looking to this year and the fans are great there."