BUSCH: Preseason Thunder: Ford - Robert Pressley interview

Robert Pressley, driver of the No. 47 Ford Taurus, is making a return to the series were he experienced his greatest success. The 10-time Busch Series winner is part of a two-team operation with ST Motorsports that will team him with series...

Robert Pressley, driver of the No. 47 Ford Taurus, is making a return to the series were he experienced his greatest success. The 10-time Busch Series winner is part of a two-team operation with ST Motorsports that will team him with series veteran Stacy Compton as the organization makes the manufacturer switch to Ford in 2004. Pressley, who won a series-best five races in 1992 and finished third in the 1993 Busch Series final point standings, has also experienced success a the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. Pressley won the 2002 Florida 250 Craftsman Truck Series race and was involved in a wild three-wide finish in last year's truck series event where Rick Crawford and Travis Kvapil edged him out across the finish line. Pressley spoke about his return to Busch Series competition and the rigors involved with getting a new team up to speed.

ROBERT PRESSLEY -47-Clorox Ford Taurus

DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU'RE IN THE MOST STABLE ENVIRONMENT IN THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS? "Back when I was with Jasper we had five pretty secure years there with sponsors and I was fortunate enough with Bobby Hamilton's truck deal to have a secure sponsor, but what I'm excited about is to be back in the Busch Series with somebody like Tad Geschickter as an owner. With Stacy (Compton) being a teammate and the security of the sponsorship, because nobody works them the way Tad does, I'm excited about the future, the big picture."

YOU MADE MENTION OF THE BIG PICTURE. ARE THERE ANY SHORT-TERM GOALS WITH THIS BEING A NEW TEAM? "It's going to be very tough, and that's one thing, I don't want to set any goals of what we want to do. The thing we're looking at, we want to get better every week. We're with a new manufacturer, and I'm happy to be back with the Blue Oval, and I think it's going to take a little bit of time, but the big picture is by midseason to be strong."

YOU WON THE TRUCK SERIES RACE AT DAYTONA IN 2002 AND CAME CLOSE TO WINNING IT AGAIN IN 2003. DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN THE BUSCH RACE EVEN THOUGH IT'S YOUR FIRST RACE WITH A NEW TEAM? "It can be done. The Busch Series is going to be very, very tough to win a race the first time out looking at the competition, but it can also be very easy to do at a superspeedway. The thing about Daytona and Talladega is that it's a chess game and you have to set yourself up and be in the right position at the end. Last year in the truck race, we thought we'd made it two in a row, but we made the move a half of a corner too early and got beat with 60 feet to go. It's so fun to race here because you have to set yourself up in a position to win the race at the end."

THE BUSCH CARS HAVE A NEW AERODYNAMIC PACKAGE FOR THE SUPERSPEEDWAYS THAT SOME DRIVERS HAVE COMPARED TO HANDLING LIKE A CRAFTSMAN TRUCK. DO YOU SEE ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE BUSCH CARS AND TRUCKS HERE AT DAYTONA? "It's probably a little like the truck, but the truck is so big and boxy and you have a lot of throttle response there. In the trucks you can actually roll out of the throttle a little bit and go back. Here in the Busch cars now, it's just like the Cup cars back several years ago when we had the roof fins and wickers, you still cannot let off of these things. Whenever you get going you better use everything that you've got."

YOU HAVE A VETERAN TEAMMATE THIS YEAR, SOMETHING YOU HAVEN'T HAD IN THE PAST. WILL STACY'S RECENT BUSCH SERIES EXPERIENCE HELP GET YOUR TEAM UP TO SPEED QUICKER? "The thing was I had a rookie teammate so there was nothing that I could learn. Now I have somebody like Stacy who has been in the Busch Series for a couple of years and has been through what I call 'the new generation of the Busch Series' with the cars getting more aerodynamic from what we used to be. I've go so much feedback to work with this year having a teammate - we're going to be competitors - but it's a two-car team and one total team effort."

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF VETERAN DRIVERS RETURNING TO THE BUSCH SERIES AND TRUCK SERIES TO COMPETE ON A FULL-TIME BASIS THIS YEAR. WHAT HAS PROMPTED THAT TREND? "Years ago in NEXTEL Cup, the Busch Series and the truck series when it was new, you went out there and you had drivers that had to everything. They had to know what made everything work from being able to build their first race car to winning their first race, to driving their own hauler to the race track to having a crew chief that you depended on doing all of the work. Now I see in the truck series where you still have a little bit of the hand's-on driver, and in the Busch Series you still have a driver-crew chief relationship with a little bit of technical help, but in Cup today you have a driver and he has a lot of input from engineers and chassis and shock specialists that have taken all of the mechanics out of the driver's hands, so now you don't want a driver who is as hand's on. You want a driver to drive the car and let the engineers and specialists make the decisions."

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF WINSTON CUP DRIVERS THAT ARE SCHEDULED TO RUN THE FULL BUSCH SERIES SCHEDULE THIS YEAR. DO YOU SEE A PROBLEM WITH DRIVERS PULLING DOUBLE-DUTY? "I don't think so. I still go back to 1991 and '92, what got me into Winston Cup racing was being able to win 10 Busch races racing against the Cup guys. I feel like out of the 10 races I won, seven of them were companion events where I raced Earnhardt, Waltrip, Mark Martin, Sterling Marlin and Ernie Irvan. I think that was a springboard for me. You get somebody like Mark coming back, it's just going to step everybody up one more level, and I think guys like Casey Mears, if you're going to win in Cup you better be able to win in Busch against these guys first."

ARE YOU EYEING A RETURN TO NEXTEL CUP COMPETITION IN THE FUTURE? "There is probably no way that I would ever go back Cup racing. If I was to go Cup racing, it would maybe to do a limited schedule, five to 10 races. The truck series, getting back there, it really helped me a whole lot knowing there is a difference between competing and winning. It gives you the urge to want to win again. You get in NEXTEL Cup and if you're not with a fully funded team that's not capable of winning races, then you just take what you've got and make the best out of it every week. That's not fun when you're racing for a 10th-place finish on a weekly basis. You get back in a competitive situation like the truck series, I knew I was capable of winning any week that I went out, and I'm looking at it the same way right here with the Clorox, Ford, and Robert Yates power. I know when we come to Daytona, Rockingham or Las Vegas, we're not worrying about where we finish because we know we can win the race. It will take some time to get all of the parts to work together with this being a new team, but we know we have the right components and getting them to work together is our task this year." HamHh

-ford racing-

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Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Ernie Irvan , Sterling Marlin , Robert Pressley , Stacy Compton , Casey Mears , Rick Crawford , Robert Yates , Mark Martin , Travis Kvapil