Three of the five drivers competing in the EA Sports 500 as part of the Winston No Bull Five million dollar bonus this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway are behind the wheel of a Ford. Matt Kenseth, Todd Bodine and Ryan Newman spoke...
Three of the five drivers competing in the EA Sports 500 as part of the Winston No Bull Five million dollar bonus this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway are behind the wheel of a Ford. Matt Kenseth, Todd Bodine and Ryan Newman spoke about that opportunity during the NASCAR Winston Cup teleconference.
TODD BODINE --26-- Discover Card Taurus:
A MILLION BUCKS WOULD BE COOL, RIGHT? "Yeah, everybody can use a million bucks, especially a lucky fan. That's the cool part about this whole program, it's not just for the racers. It's a way for the fans to get involved and, like Matt said, Winston's involvement and what they've done for our sport, it's just another way to thank the fans. It would be awful cool to give a million dollars away."
CAN YOU DISCUSS SOME OF THE PROBLEMS YOU'VE HAD WITH THE YATES ENGINE? "First of all, Robert and Doug Yates and their whole group do a tremendous job and they have for a number of years. Really, we've had a lot of problems. We've actually blown eight motors this year and that's just unheard of. If there was a problem or something they were doing wrong, it would be the same thing every week. It hasn't been the same problem every week. It's been a cam shaft, it's been a rocker arm, it's been a head of a valve breaking, it's a piston burning. It's just different things every week that seems to be going wrong and that's just part failure. You can't lay blame for that. Certainly, I'm not gonna lay blame on the motor builders and the guys at the shop down there at Yates because they do a tremendous job, they really do. They make great horsepower all the time, it's just been part failure. It's just something you've got to go through. It's up to them to try to figure out what's wrong and why these parts are failing, but they buy these parts from a manufacturer and if that manufacturer has a defect in their casting or their machining process, unfortunately, it gets passed down to the Yates program, which gets passed down to us and we blow the motor. So, it's probably a much bigger problem than just something the Yates people are doing because I have all the confidence in the world in them."
DO YOU HAVE A MENTAL ROUTINE YOU GO THROUGH AN HOUR BEFORE THE RACE? "No, not really. Relaxing is one thing. We go to the driver's meeting and then go to church. I try to get a bite to eat before and then get dressed and go out to driver's introduction. I just try to be relaxed and not be hyped up. In a lot of sports it's a good thing to get hyped up and get all jacked up and ready to go. In racing, you can't get that way. You've got to be focused, you've got keep your concentration level very high, and if you get all jacked up, that's hard to do. So the main thing is just stay relaxed and be focused."
CAN YOU DISCUSS YOUR SITUATION WITH THE 92 BUSCH CAR? IS THERE ANY TRUTH TO THE RUMOR YOU HAVE PARTED WAYS? "No, no truth at all. We've been going through some struggles here -- getting caught up in crashes -- but we're still trying hard. The guys are working hard and we haven't given up. We're still getting ready to go to Memphis and try to put something together and get out of this little funk or rut that we're in. It's a great race team and we're still digging."
WHAT IS IT LIKE ON THAT BUS AT TALLADEGA GOING TO DRIVER INTRODUCTIONS? "I've actually only ridden the bus a couple times. I prefer to walk down, but when we all get in there, believe it or not, there's not a lot of racing discussed. It's just really a bunch of guys on there goofing around and having fun and joking and trying to keep light of the situation. We know what's gonna happen. We know it's a tough race and things happen. We ride a bus at New Hampshire also and a couple of other places and whenever the drivers get together, it's usually pretty light-hearted. There's not a lot of racing talked about."
IS THERE JUST AS MUCH WORRY ABOUT ENGINES AT TALLADEGA AS OTHER PLACES? "A Talladega-type motor is definitely not as hard to keep together. The main reason for that is we don't turn the RPM's with it that we turn with an open motor. Nowadays, guys are turning open motors at 9,400 RPM. With a restrictor motor, you can't turn 'em that fast because with the restrictor plate there's just not enough air-flow going through the carburetor and the restrictor to keep the motor going that fast. Consequently, you can't turn as many RPM's. It's a lot easier on the crank, the rods and the valve-train and everything, so you're not gonna see as many motor failures in a restrictor plate race. The biggest thing that would cause a motor failure is a part failure and that's unfortunately what we've been going through is part failures. In tune-up, maybe a little bit too much timing or not enough jet -- making the car or motor too lean -- that will blow it up, too. But you just don't see the RPM's with restrictor motors so you don't see the motor failures."
FOR THE FAN-DRIVER PAIRING YOU HAVE TO DRIVE A TRACTOR-TRAILER. HOW DO YOU THINK YOU'LL DO WITH THAT? "It's gonna be a lot of fun. I think all of us, maybe except for Ryan Newman, has driven their own race truck to the races -- hauling their race cars -- but Ryan is probably the odds-on favorite because he has already had this experience at Charlotte from what I understand and he did very well in it. So it's gonna be interesting and a lot of fun. We're not used to driving tractor trailers, we're used to driving four wheels and going straight ahead, so it's gonna be a lot of fun. The whole Winston No Bull Five weekend is a lot of fun and this is just a good way to kick it off."