Wolfe - Ford interview 2009-03-03

Brian Wolfe, Director, Ford North America Motorsports, has watched Matt Kenseth win the first two races of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, including the Daytona 500, and Greg Biffle capture last weekend's NASCAR Nationwide Series event...

Brian Wolfe, Director, Ford North America Motorsports, has watched Matt Kenseth win the first two races of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, including the Daytona 500, and Greg Biffle capture last weekend's NASCAR Nationwide Series event in Las Vegas. Wolfe spoke about what that kind of success means to Ford Motor Co.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE START TO THIS SEASON? "You couldn't ask for a better start. Obviously, we're so proud of Matt. He had a real rough season last year and he's just a fantastic driver with a great personality and great morals and ethics, and when you see everything come together for him and the whole Roush team being prepared with the right setups, the Yates engine shop working very diligently over the off-season to have really great motors coming out at the beginning of the year, we had a lot of preparation and then like in any of these races you have to have the right opportunities to exercise that preparation and I couldn't be more happy with the way things have turned out. I'm looking forward to a really good year. Even with some of the cutbacks we've had financially, it makes it - in my mind - all the more important that everything we do we question and understand the goals going in, so we think it will impact the way the teams perform. So far I've been real proud of everybody and they're doing it."

YOU TALKED ABOUT PREPARATION. HAS THE NO-TESTING POLICY BEEN A BENEFIT TO FORD AND ITS TEAMS? "I think overall it has been because, again, everybody is in the same boat. With the analytical tools that Ford has, which we've been working on for many years, we got much of that dialed in very well last year. I think we did really good at the end of the season, a lot in part to those tool sets."

WHAT DOES A GOOD START THIS YEAR, COUPLED WITH A STRONG FINISH TO '08 MEAN TO FORD? "There are a couple of things that are really important. The reason that everyone knows we're in motorsports is to help with the brand image and to help sell more cars and trucks and really make the company healthy. But the underlying assumption is you have to be championship capable and you have to have wins on the track. With money being as tight as it is, most all of our spending is signed off on at the vice president levels within the company, so it was kind of humorous because I had some money that was going for funding for further development on our new NASCAR engine. I walked in and Mark Fields was there and he started clapping and said, 'That's a great start to the season with two wins,' and then the controller handed him the document and said, 'Here's the bill.' So it was kind of cute, but there's no question that winning really does uplift the team. They see it and they're proud of it, but we have to make sure we follow through on the other side and bring them sales and service. The other thing that we really want to push more in the future is that we have great service within our dealers and with our warranty being so good, it's a double-edge sword. On one hand, it's great for the customers and it's great for Ford Motor Company, but when the dealers were used to a lot more warranty work in the past, it affects their cash flow and their profitability, so we've got to bring more service into the dealers. We've got the Quick Lane deals, so it helps us a lot on the foundation and making sure that people are excited about us, but we've got to follow through and make sure we're doing our part to get more car sales and more people using Ford dealers for their service."

-credit: ford racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle