This Week in Ford Racing November 11, 2003 NASCAR Busch Series The NASCAR Busch Series kicked off its open test session on Tuesday morning, and with 89 points separating first from sixth, the newly reconfigured Homestead-Miami Speedway will...
This Week in Ford Racing
November 11, 2003
NASCAR Busch Series
The NASCAR Busch Series kicked off its open test session on Tuesday morning, and with 89 points separating first from sixth, the newly reconfigured Homestead-Miami Speedway will play an important role in determining the final standings with Saturday's running of the Ford 300. Jason Keller sits fourth in the point standings, 70 points out of the lead, while his teammate Scott Riggs sits in fifth, just 85 points behind leader Brian Vickers. In addition to Keller and Riggs, Jon Wood will attempt to qualify a third car from the ppc Racing stable. The 22-year-old Wood is attempting to make his second career Busch Series start after a successful sixth-place finish last year at Indianapolis Raceway Park behind the wheel of the No. 9 Roush Racing Ford.
SCOTT RIGGS-10-Nestle Nesquik Ford Taurus
"I think we will definitely be able to run side by side racing around here front to back because there is so much grip everywhere. It's not going to be all an all-aerodynamic flat track like it was before, so now you can really work on speed with mechanical grip as much as aero grip, too. It's going to be pretty good because I don't think you'll see many troubles. I think as long as the tires hold up and the track surface holds up, you'll see a lot of side-by-side racing, and I don't think you'll see a lot of people slipping and sliding around."
HAS TIRE WEAR BEEN AN ISSUE IN PRACTICE? "I think we'll see better tire wear for the race, but we're not seeing that bad of tire wear now after the trucks practiced all day yesterday. It's not that bad."
WILL THE PREFERRED LINE BE WHEREVER THE MOST RUBBER IS ON THE TRACK? "I don't think so. I think that you're going to see guys working their car all over the race track. Wherever the car works the best is where they're going to be running. I think you'll see some guys running the very bottom, some guys the middle and some guys will run the top."
DOES NASCAR NEED TO HAVE A PRACTICE SESSION WHERE CARS ARE FORCED TO RUN HIGH LINE? "I don't think so. I don't think so at all."
WHAT IS THE TEAM'S MENTALITY HEADING INTO THIS RACE? "We're going for the win. Right now there's not much difference between fifth and sixth as far as how that affects you on stage so we're throwing the points out of the window to try to see if we can win the race and redeem our pride that we lost at Rockingham last week."
THERE IS QUITE AN AGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE POINT CONTENDERS IN THE BUSCH SERIES. WITH A NEW TRACK LIKE THIS, WHO DOES THAT FAVOR, THE VETERANS OR THE YOUNG GUNS? "I don't think it favors anybody. I think we're all on about the same playing field, so whoever gets the feel that they want figured out with what it's going to take to be fast around the race track, whoever gets that figured out first will have a good race car. But, I think you're going to see packs of cars together. You might see one or two cars sprint out front that have a lot better car, but I think when you see racing, you're going to see herds of cars racing each other all day long on the race track. I think getting so much mechanical grip here, I think you're going to see people who have cars mechanically working the best, not so much worried about getting the slingshot aero-wise, those will be the guys to beat."
JASON KELLER-57-Albertsons Ford Taurus
"This isn't even the same place from years past. I really haven't got as good of a feel as I need. I'm still searching for where I need to be on the race track. This test is definitely going to be useful over the next half day anyway. I wish I had a little bit better feel for where I needed to be, but I haven't got there yet."
IS TURN ONE THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF THE TRACK WHERE EXISTING GRANDSTANDS WERE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT WITH THE RECONFIGURATION? "It seems like I know where I need to be on the race track, but I just can't get my car to do it. Even the wind affects you getting into turn one it seems like because you've got a tailwind getting into one, and as you try to turn away from that, it seems to affect the car across the center of one and two. I don't know if I'm a good one to ask about the race track because I need some more laps to really get where I need to be."
WILL TIRE WEAR BE AN ISSUE WITH THE NEW ASPHALT? "Well, they said yesterday in the truck garage that it was a pretty big deal, but we haven't run enough laps this morning to know. Usually as you go along through the weekend of a new race track, it gets better as more rubber gets down, so hopefully that's the case."
THERE IS QUITE AN AGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN POINT CONTENDERS IN THE BUSCH SERIES. WITH A NEW TRACK LIKE THIS, WHO DOES THAT FAVOR, THE VETERANS OR THE YOUNG GUNS? "I think some of the young guys figure it out quicker because they don't know any better. They're just wide open and they're not out there searching for feel, they're just out there going wide open. I don't know. I really liked the race track like it was, but that's from a selfish standpoint because I already knew what to expect. This is a little bit different for me and I haven't gotten as good of a feel as I need to."
WHAT IS THE TEAM'S MENTALITY HEADING INTO THIS RACE? "We definitely want to finish as high as we can in the points and we know hat we have a legitimate chance, but we have to have some luck. We can't really worry about that, and we need to come in here and do the best we possibly can. I probably should be more happy than I am because this is the first time ever in my career that I've gone to the last race and had a shot to win the championship, but after everything that has happened the last couple of weeks, I just want to get of out this slump so that we can have a good winter."
JON WOOD-15-Air Force Ford Taurus
"We're pretty good. I think running all day yesterday was a huge benefit. Just being with a good team like ppc, and knowing that I've got the best of equipment and the rest of it rests on my shoulders, that kinda gives you a good feeling. Having Cowboy (Kevin Starland) with the Busch experience that's he got helping us out, we're not trying to prove anything. I was just trying to help Scott (Riggs) out with the points deal and it looks like it may have fluttered, but nevertheless, we're still just going to try to run as competitively as we can."
YOU TESTED THE TRUCK YESTERDAY, BUT DO YOU THINK THAT ADVANTAGE WILL BE EQUALIZED COME SATURDAY? "Oh yeah, especially with guys like Harvick and Biffle who will be in a Cup car tomorrow. It will all even out in the end. I'm sure it helped me out this morning, but it will all even out by the time the race starts."
HOW WILL THE CHANGES TO THE TRACK AFFECT THE RACING THIS WEEKEND? "I don't know how it's going to make the racing different, it's kinda hard to tell so far. It is a lot faster and it seems like there are more grooves. Last year, the bottom was the fastest and that was it. Now, I can miss my marks and be all the way up at the top and still run the same lap times as I would if I was on the bottom of the race track."
YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO QUALIFY FOR YOUR SECOND BUSCH SERIES START THIS WEEKEND. HOW DIFFERENT IS IT RACING A BUSCH CAR HERE COMPARED TO IRP? "IRP is one thing, but this is a fast track. This is probably one of the faster tracks that these guys go to. I think somehow I have a handle on things. I don't know if it's me maturing or me just being in good stuff, but one way or another the end result seems to be there. Experience is everything and it's still hard to beat Biffle and drivers like that that have been doing this for so long. It's just a good feeling to be an up front Craftsman Truck Series driver and go over to the Busch garage and do the same."
HOW DIFFERENT IS THE HANDLING BETWEEN A CAR AND TRUCK HERE COMPARED TO A TRACK LIKE IRP? "They are night and day in terms of difference. It's like driving a 15-passenger van versus a Mustang. They are very similar at Martinsville and tracks that are small, but when you come to a place like this, aero is such a huge thing, it's night and day difference."
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE WEEKEND? "I need to come out of the truck race with a top-five finish in the points. To do that, I need to beat Hamilton or be around him. In the Busch race, just whatever happens. We need to race our way into the field and beyond that I'll take anything."
WITH 52 ENTRIES IN THE BUSCH SERIES RACE, ARE YOU CONFIDENT ABOUT QUALIFYING FOR THE 43-CAR FIELD? "I feel pretty confident, but then again, I've been fooled before."