Today not only marked the first day of Craftsman Truck Series practice for Friday night's Daytona 250, but it also marked the debut of the Ford Racing D3 cylinder head in truck series competition. The D3 cylinder head was introduced into NASCAR...
Today not only marked the first day of Craftsman Truck Series practice for Friday night's Daytona 250, but it also marked the debut of the Ford Racing D3 cylinder head in truck series competition. The D3 cylinder head was introduced into NASCAR competition last year in the Nextel Cup Series, and it was approved for Busch Series and truck series competition this season. Rick Crawford, winner of the 2003 Daytona 250, and Robert Brooks, Ford Racing program manager, spoke about the impact of the D3 cylinder head following this afternoon's practice session.
ROBERT BROOKS, Ford Racing Craftsman Truck Series Program Manager
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HAVING THE D3 CYLINDER HEAD IN THE TRUCK SERIES THIS YEAR? "The biggest thing is that it puts us back on the same playing as the other manufacturers because we were at a horsepower deficit the last few years, and now we're comparable to where they are and it allows our guys to be able to race with something that they know they're going to be able to match the other manufacturers with."
FORD DRIVERS HAVE WON THE PAST TWO TRUCK RACES AT DAYTONA IN SPITE OF A HORSEPOWER DEFICIT. "Obviously, it's about having the total package and we were working in other areas to make up for the deficit that we had in terms of horsepower. Daytona is a quite an interesting race. You have to be very smart the way you drive Daytona, and you can be at a horsepower deficit and be competitive just because these trucks are so big and punch such a big hole in the air that you get sucked in the draft and you're able to keep up. The truck race here is a totally different type of race compared to the cars, but you also have to be quite smart about how you race. Strategy is paramount in the truck races here and we've seen that the last two years with Rick Crawford's win in 2003 and Carl Edwards' win last year. It requires a lot of discipline and a lot of patience. You can't go out of line and pass somebody on your own. Many of these drivers tried that last year, and they went out to try to pass him (Edwards), but they didn't have the horsepower to finish the deal. It takes a considerable amount of horsepower to make up for the drag that these trucks have, and that's why you have to get out front early or wait until the last lap to make your move."
WILL THE GAIN IN HORSEPOWER FORM THE NEW CYLINDER HEAD BE MORE EVIDENT IN QUALIFYING THAN THE RACE? "We got the pole here last year, so it's hard to do better than that. You should see it here in qualifying with more Fords qualifying in the top 10, where we only had two last year. You'll see the gains more at the intermediate tracks, where we had our struggles last year because there's less emphasis on the draft. If you have a lot of horsepower you don't have to put all of your resources on the aero or chassis side of it, and you can allocate your resources more equally and that makes you more competitive at all of the tracks. When you're underpowered you're doing a lot of things aero-wise and chassis-wise to compensate for horsepower and that's only relevant at a few tracks. We feel the this will make us a more competitive truck at all of the venues this year from Daytona to Texas to Mansfield."
WILL THE FACT THAT THE D3 CYLINDER HEAD WAS USED IN NEXTEL CUP COMPETITION LAST YEAR SHORTEN THE DEVELOPMENT TIME IN TRUCKS? "I think it helps tremendously knowing what they needed to do to make the power and not sacrifice reliability. We don't expect to have any reliability issues at the start of the season even with the new head. This motor is basically the same motor they have on the Cup side; we just had to change the cams and change the carburetor."
RICK CRAWFORD-14-Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford F-150
YOU WERE ABLE TO POST THE FOURTH QUICKEST TIME OF THE SESSION. "We've got our new D3 Ford engine from Yates-Roush and we did our clean kill first and when we went out for our final drafting session of practice, it's in the top five on the board. I'm pretty pleased with "Cowboy" Kevin Starland, our new crew chief this year, and it's a total team effort, and I'm having fun driving it."
HOW MUCH EMPHASIS IS THERE ON QUALIFYING HERE THIS YEAR? "Qualifying doesn't mean much here. We're going to put it in the field. The one we won here, we started 26th and last year we finished fourth after starting at the tail end of the field because we had to go to a backup truck after a Happy Hour practice crash. I think this is the best truck that I've ever had here and it's sure proving to be."
TALK ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THE IMPOUND RULE THIS YEAR? "When the impound rule came into being, it puts you in race mode right off the bat. You qualify to get what you can and with the minor adjustments you can do to vehicle, but as soon as they impound them after qualifying, you can't do your tricks for qualifying because you have to race them. It just gets you in the mode to race right off the bat. You have to see how it is in race trim, so that's the reason everybody is drafting right off the bat."
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF THE NEW CYLINDER ON THE TRUCK HERE AT DAYTONA? "This D3 engine package from Yates-Roush is what I call a deep-toned engine. It's just pulling all the way down the straightaway and it gives you something to work on your chassis a little bit now and keep it wide open. The engine under the hood is doing a great job and we're working on the gearing right this minute and the jetting - the mixture in the carburetor."
WHAT DOES THE ADDED HORSEPOWER ALLOW YOU DO NOW THAT YOU COULDN'T DO IN PREVIOUS YEARS? "We've out ourselves in position to win two years ago because of the drafting situation you always have here, but back then we had a Roush powerplant and it did it's job. It's not as critical at Daytona for the power as it is for Texas, Charlotte or California, but we're trying to sell Monday what we're racing here Friday night and Ford Motor Co. sees how important it is to keep trucks number one."
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO WIN A RACE AT DAYTONA? "It's awful special. It'd probably be like a quarterback winning the Super Bowl for the first time. It's a total effort. A lot of these guys on the team this year won that race two years ago, and, then, Cowboy came in after winning last year with Carl Edwards, so maybe him and me can win this thing together this year.
Todd Kluever, driver of the No. 50 Roush Racing Ford, was involved in a multi-truck incident during Wednesday's only truck series practice session. The truck suffered significant front-end damage and required the team to unload the backup truck.
TODD KLUEVER-50-Shell ROTELLA T Ford F-150
WHAT HAPPENED? "I really don't know. Somewhere between the 15 and the 62, somebody got together and got turned in the wall. Once the 15 truck got in the wall, it came back across the track and there was no place to go. He just came right in front of me and collected me."
THIS IS THE SECOND TIME IN LESS THAN A WEEK THAT YOU'VE BEEN IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME. "Saturday night in the ARCA race, I had almost the same situation. Getting off of two I saw a car spin and I tried to leave it on the floorboard there and steer away from him, and I got bit there really bad. This time I saw him spinning and I tried to lift and get around him, but it bit me here, too."
WHAT DID JACK ROUSH SAY TO YOU IN THE GARAGE AFTER THE INCIDENT? "I think he said that the first time Kurt (Busch) came here he drove down into turn one and looped the truck and crashed it, too. He doesn't seem that upset. I feel bad for him. I feel bad for all of my guys. We've had a really good couple of tests and it just seems like something bites us. We had a really good ARCA car and thought we were going to have a chance to win that race and got in that bad wreck on the back straightaway, and here we had a really good truck when we tested here in January and was really excited to get it back. We've got our new motors, and the thing was phenomenal, and here right away we get struck in this kind of situation. We'll have to battle through it. I'm still not worried about the horsepower. We're going to get the motor out of that truck and put it in our backup truck, which I don't know if it will be as good or not, I've never driven it. We'll find out soon enough."