Team Rensi teammates Jason Keller and Ashton Lewis, Jr., along with ST Motorsports driver Stacy Compton took some time during Sunday's lunch break to share their thoughts on testing for next month's Busch Series season-opener. STACY ...
Team Rensi teammates Jason Keller and Ashton Lewis, Jr., along with ST Motorsports driver Stacy Compton took some time during Sunday's lunch break to share their thoughts on testing for next month's Busch Series season-opener.
STACY COMPTON -59-Kingsford/Bush's Beans Ford Taurus
WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE TEST SO FAR?
"We're a little disappointed actually. We came here thinking that as good as the 47 car was last year and to finish as well as they did down here and qualify on the outside pole that we were going to be pretty good. Both cars are struggling just a little bit. In drafting practice I think we were third quick, so drafting-wise I think we're going to be better. It's a little bit different for us not being in qualifying mode per se, and not being able to do some of our tricks to speed the cars up. But, once again, in race trim we were third quick. I'm a little disappointed we're not any faster than we are in qualifying trim, but we have another day and a half, and we've got some pretty good ideas of some things we want to change. I think we can get better. We know that we've got some things left for when we come back, but we certainly need to pick up a little bit before we leave."
ISN'T IT ALL ABOUT GETTING THE CAR TO DRAFT WELL HERE?
"I think we need to get some more speed out of it. Granted, we ran a good lap in race trim, and I told the guys that we're OK, but to win this thing or run with some of the Chevrolets we're going to have to be a little bit better, and better in a couple of different spots and not just one spot. We need to draft up a little bit better. I think it's a combination of things. I think we're OK. I think we're a very competitive team right now, but we'd certainly like to be a little bit better. We'd like to leave here in the top 10 in single-car runs, and if we can do that then I think we can compete."
A LOT OF TESTING GOES INTO ONE RACE IN A SEASON OF 35 EVENTS.
"This is a very small part of our season, but it's still Daytona. We'd like to start the season out on a good note. I'm probably as excited about this season as I've ever been. We're so much further ahead this year than we were last year with so many more Fords being built. We've got a lot of good people in the shop and we changed a lot of things around, and I feel like we've got as good a group of people right now as we've ever had. And, we're probably further along than this team has ever been. We've got a ton of support from Ford; we're getting a lot of wind tunnel time. We're all very excited about going to California and Vegas and doing some downforce testing because we feel like our downforce stuff right now could possibly be as good as anybody's out there. With the new heads coming out with Ford, I certainly feel like that's going to be a big advantage and get us a lot closer than we were last year. This is small a part, but it is Daytona, and if you leave here with a good finish you've got yourself in a decent place in points to start the season. If you leave here with a bad finish then you've got yourself in a little bit of a hole. You put a lot of emphasis on the speedway races. Granted it's not but three races a year, but it could potentially be three of the most important races of the year because if you can get out front and stay out front or stay in the top five, usually you can miss the big wreck and come away with a good finish."
HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO SEE ALL OF THE IMPROVEMENTS MADE TO THE TRACK, AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
"I made a quick tour this morning, and it's pretty impressive. I'm still getting lost, but there's so much stuff down here now. There are so many buildings and the way that they've opened it up, it's not like the Daytona I've known for 20 years. It's pretty neat looking. If you look and see what's been done, it's so fan-friendly right now. It resembles some of the other race tracks we go to, some of the newer tracks that have been built, plus some. I think it's designed a little bit better than any of the places we've been as far as being fan-friendly. We came out here last night and we did the Fan Fest and it's very interactive with the fans. Bottom line, if it wasn't for the fans we wouldn't be here, so I think it's a good thing. The Cup garages are pretty neat the way that they've got the windows where people can view what's going on. For people to see what goes on in the sport, I think it's pretty interesting for them because race fans are great, but if they ever really realized what went on behind the scenes and what went on in the garage and how busy everybody was, I think it enlightens them a little bit more."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SOME OF THE NEW, YOUNG FACES AROUND THE GARAGE?
"It's a sign of the times. You see it every year. You see young kids come in every year, and I was that young kid at one time so I invite it. The more competition the better."
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF VETERAN DRIVERS IN NEW SITUATIONS THIS YEAR. DOES THAT HELP YOUR CONFIDENCE KNOWING THAT YOUR TEAM HAS HAD NO MAJOR CHANGES IN THE OFF-SEASON?
"I think the Busch Series is going to be as competitive this year as it has ever been. I think it's as strong of a field as it has ever been. You look at the Cup teams that are coming back and running Busch, they're running for a reason and it helps their Sunday program. The Busch Series is once again growing by leaps and bounds and everybody wants to be a part of it, and it's from the young guys coming in to the veterans coming back. Everybody likes to race, and if you're racer and you could run seven days a week, you would."
IN PAST YEARS, DRAFTING PRACTICE NEVER TOOK PLACE BEFORE THE LAST SESSION, BUT CARS WERE DRAFTING YESTERDAY. HAS THE NEW IMPOUND RULE CHANGED THE FACE OF DAYTONA TESTING?
"It's made it interesting and this morning when we had our safety meeting, I know it was brought up a couple of times with the entire Busch field being here that there have been some pretty lengthy waits. I think next year it will probably change back to being split up. With the new layout of the schedule where we get to qualify and then be impounded, the drafting helps. Once again, you're in a whole different mindset now. You're in the mindset of getting the car driving good and racing good. With the new qualifying rule and knowing that if you're in the top 30 in points you're locked in the field, it changes a lot. It puts a priority on the racing rather than the qualifying."
THE YATES-ROUSH ENGINE PACKAGE MAKES ITS DEBUT THIS YEAR IN THE BUSCH SERIES AND TRUCK SERIES. DO YOU EXPECT IT TO HAVE AS BIG OF AN IMPACT AS IT HAD IN NEXTEL CUP LAST YEAR?
"I think it's one of the best things that could have ever happened to ST Motorsports. We're excited. With the people that they have in there now, it has the potential to make this motor program as good as anything out there. Obviously, they are as good as anything out there in Cup, and I feel that they can be that way on the Busch side. That's one reason why we decided to go back with them this year. I think it's got potential and I think ST Motorsports has the potential to be one of the best Busch teams out there. We've got great sponsors with Kingsford and Clorox and all of out associates that came back, and we added Ball Park, so we've got a lot of good things going on right now, and when Roush and Yates joined up with Ford and some of the Busch teams, I think it's going to be a big plus."
DO YOU FEEL THE FORDS ARE CURRENTLY AT A DISADVANTAGE HERE WITH THE RULES PACKAGE?
"I think if you look at the time sheet, I think they do. I really wish we had a gear rule here because I hear some of the gears that some of the Chevrolets are running versus what the Fords are running, and it makes no sense to me whatsoever not to have a gear rule here. We did it for competition and we're not doing it here, so what does that mean? I was a little confused as to why they didn't do it here. I know it's high RPM, but you're still seeing the Chevrolets turning a lot more RPMs than the Fords, even at Daytona. I'm pushing for a gear rule. If we're going to have one at one race we need to have one at every race. I think it would help the Fords and I think it would make the racing a lot better, and if you look at the time sheet I do feel like the Fords need a little bit of help right now."