BUSCH: Nashville: This Week in Ford Racing

This Week in Ford Racing April 6, 2004 NASCAR Busch Series Stacy Compton, driver of the No. 59 Taurus, is in his fourth season driving for ST Motorsports and owner Tad Geshickter, but this off season was marked with progress.  The...

This Week in Ford Racing
April 6, 2004

NASCAR Busch Series

Stacy Compton, driver of the No. 59 Taurus, is in his fourth season driving for ST Motorsports and owner Tad Geshickter, but this off season was marked with progress.  The organization expanded to a two-car operation in 2004 with Robert Pressley driving the second team car, and the operation switched to the Ford Taurus model for competition in the Busch Series.  Compton, a veteran of all three major touring divisions in NASCAR, shared his thoughts on the team's early-season progress and the health of the Busch Series


STACY COMPTON -59- Kingsford/Bush's Beans Ford Taurus

ST MOTORSPORTS MADE THE SWITCH TO FORDS THIS OFF SEASON.  AT WHAT LEVEL DO YOU FEEL THE TEAM IS PERFORMING RIGHT NOW, CONSIDERING YOU MADE THE SWITCH LATE LAST YEAR?  "We're getting there as a team.  It has taken us a little longer to get used to the Ford's styling, but we still feel it's a better downforce car.  We're making strides every week and I think it's going to be a case where we are going to show up and run fast one week and just carry that for the rest of the year.  We're learning, and with the help we're getting from Ford, we're figuring out how to hang the bodies on the cars and the wind tunnel time we're getting is helping a ton to figure out what the Taurus needs to be fast.  We're working on generating the downforce we need.  We're going to get to the track one day roll off fast and at that point we'll know we're going to be contending on a weekly basis.  I don't necessarily think we need to win to have a successful season, but we need to be competing at the front every week."


YOUR TEAM OWNER TAD GESCHICKTER HAS A UNIQUE BACKGROUND COMPARED TO OTHER OWNERS IN THAT HE WAS TOP SALES MANAGER FOR PROCTOR AND GAMBLE.   DOES HE BRING SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO THE TABLE COMPARED TO HANDS-ON OWNERS?  "The thing Tad brings to the table that a lot of these owners don't have and wish they did is the ability to close the deal.  Tad may not be a hands-on owner like Jack Roush, who is involved in the mechanics of the car, but he is the most capable person I've seen to get a deal signed.  We've got two solid sponsors right now and Jack Roush is trying to get a sponsor for Jeff Burton.  He brings a smart business sense to the operation and has built the organization into a string two-car operation."


DO YOU FEEL THAT THE BUSCH SERIES IS BEING SUPPORTED AS AMERICA'S NO. 2 MOTORSPORTS SERIES?  "The Busch Series is sill the number two series in NASCAR.  NASCAR right now is working to rebuild the truck series after the past few years.  I raced in the truck series and it's probably the most exciting racing there is in NASCAR.  It's struggled over the past few seasons, and the schedule doesn't help that series much, but there is a big influx of successful drivers racing in that series this year and NASCAR is trying to build interest in series right now.  In terms of purse values, the truck races are lower than the Busch Series races and ratings-wise we're still ahead of the truck series, so I feel that the Busch Series is still the number two series in the sport." 


IS THE BUSCH SERIES STILL LACKING THE PURSE VALUES TO SUSTAIN THE GROWTH OF THE SERIES?  "I think we're in the Dark Ages as far as the purses go.  We've been racing in the series all season long and we've made $150,000, while drivers on the NEXTEL Cup side who are just making the races and running a few laps are taking home way more money.  We're out there entertaining the fans for the entire distance and guys on the Cup side who are there just to start the race make more money.  That to me is difficult to swallow, and if you're a Busch Series owner, at some point you're going to ask the question, 'Why am I doing this?'  From a business standpoint it makes more sense to run a few laps and park the car if you're taking home $70,0000 a week.  I fear that the disproportional purses may drive teams out of the Busch garage and we may start to have a problem like they do in the Cup garage of filling fields.  We're not seeing that in the Busch series right now, but we need to start looking at the purses."


THE RACE AT NASHVILLE IS THE FIRST STANDALONE WEEKEND FOR THE BUSCH SERIES THIS YEAR, BUT A HANDFUL OF NEXTEL CUP DRIVERS ARE SCHEDULED TO COMPETE.  WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON RACING CUP DRIVERS IN BUSCH RACES?  "I welcome the Cup guys coming over.  We know that in order to beat them we have to be at our best.  I know when I raced in Cup a few years ago I was eager to get in a Busch car whenever I could, so I don't blame them.  They do get double the track time and I think we need to somehow rework the Saturday morning practice for them to level out the playing field, though.  I liked it back in the days when Cup Happy Hour followed the Busch race, and I think we may need to go back to that, but I certainly welcome them in the series.  They figure things out quicker than we do with the new rules, or this season with the tires, in the beginning of the year, but we catch up before long."


LAST SATURDAY'S RACE IN TEXAS WAS RED-FLAGGED BEFORE THE FINISH TO ENSURE THE RACE ENDED UNDER GREEN-FLAG CONDITIONS, AND BOBBY HAMILTON, JR. SUFFERED A MOTOR PROBLEM AS A RESULT OF PARKING THE CAR.  ARE YOU IN FAVOR OF RED-FLAGGING A RACE?  "We both run Yates motors and we didn't have the same problem, so he could have an air lock in the motor from sitting on the track, but I've always said we've needed green-white-checkered finishes.  They have them in the truck series and it works great.  The fans want to see the race end under green, and if NASCAR is trying to give the fans better racing this year it's something that should be looked at.  Red-flagging the race in Texas rather than ending it with a green-white-checkered finish might have cost Bobby a second-place finish, and it might have been a better ending if he was able to give Matt Kenseth a challenge at the end." 


WOULD YOUR CREW CHIEF AGREE, KNOWING A GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISH COULD EXTEND THE RACE AND HAVE AN IMPACT OF FUEL MILEAGE?  "There will always be concern about that, but we're constantly working on fuel mileage and I don't think that would be an issue.  We're not running 500 miles and there haven't been a lot of races where we're close on fuel.  I think with the new tire compound you're more worried about keeping the tires under the car and fuel isn't an issue any more."


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Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Robert Pressley , Stacy Compton , Jack Roush