This Week in Ford Racing April 12, 2005 NASCAR Busch Series Ashton Lewis' Busch Series career has flourished despite the lack of ties to a NEXTEL Cup organization. From 20th-place finish in the final point standings in 2001 to a...
This Week in Ford Racing
April 12, 2005
NASCAR Busch Series
Ashton Lewis' Busch Series career has flourished despite the lack of ties to a NEXTEL Cup organization. From 20th-place finish in the final point standings in 2001 to a career-best eighth-place finish last year, Lewis has been able to overcome the information and technology gap associated with a standalone Busch organizations. Lewis, who joined Team Rensi in the off-season, is currently sixth in the driver point standings as the series heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the O'Reilly 300.
ASHTON LEWIS, JR.-25-Team Marines Ford Taurus
YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED SUCCESS IN YOUR CAREER WITHOUT THE AID OF A NEXTEL CUP ORGANIZATION. HOW HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO OVERCOME THAT OBSTACLE? "I think the Cup ties definitely have an advantage to them simply because you're able to pool all of the wind tunnel data, the test data and the tire data. That money generally spent by a Busch team with Cup ties, that's budgeted to the Cup side and the Busch teams get to feed off of that free. That to me is where they get a competitive advantage. One good thing we have here that Charlie (Lewis, crew chief) and I never had access to at Lewis Motorsports is that with Ford's help we've been to the wind tunnel quite a bit already this season, so we have a good understating of the aero balance of our cars. The cars themselves from a chassis standpoint, we're just building off of the success that Rensi has had the last two years. I think that's how we're able to keep up with them and keep them in sight. We still need to work on certain areas of it, but I think we have a very good base to work off of."
WHERE DO TEAMS LIKE RENSI HAVE THE HARDEST TIME KEEPING PACE WITH THE CUP-BASED ORGANIZATIONS? "The discrepancy comes into play at the biggest tracks, Daytona and Talladega. That's where they have a huge advantage over teams like us. I certainly think that as you go up the ladder in terms of track size, the advantage they have does increase, and I think that escalates even more at Daytona and Talladega just because as the tracks get bigger you add more and more aero into it and then you work the aero balance with the tires, and if you can work that together, which they have tons and tons of testing doing, that's where their advantage comes in."
IS THERE MORE OF A SENSE THAT IT'S THE CUP DRIVERS VERSUS THE BUSCH DRIVERS THIS YEAR? "Just look at Carl Edwards, who's running the 60 car full time, and it's closely tied to his Cup team. Week-in and week-out we always know we're fighting against the Cup programs, and going into Texas you add the Cup programs with the Cup drivers and you know it's going to be that much more difficult when you combine the two together, instead of just a Cup program with a developmental driver. I really feel that as long as we work with what we have access to, and I think we have all of the resources here to compete with them. Unfortunately, right now we haven't been able to go to the track and test a lot, but that's why I'm even more excited than I've ever been because we're competitive as we have been this year without any track testing, and once we get caught up enough where we can go track test, I think we're really going to be able to fight with those guys on a weekly basis."
THERE ARE 13 FULL-TIME CUP DRIVERS SCHEDULED TO COMPETE IN THIS WEEKEND'S EVENT. DO YOU EVER HAVE AN ISSUE WITH CUP DRIVERS IN BUSCH RACES? "The only problem I ever have with them is when they treat it like they're just out there having fun. They're using it to learn off of for the next day, but if they have a bad race or they get caught up in a wreck, their championship hopes aren't dashed. They don't take a big hit in the points where we've had several incidents this year where a Cup driver maybe pushed the envelope too far and caused an accident and took out a bunch of Busch regulars, and that's where my patience gets worn out with it. As far as competing with them week-in and week-out, I enjoy it and look forward to it. To me, that's the biggest challenge. There are just certain times where I think they need to try to sit back in their mind and understand that this means a whole lot more to us as far as the championship and us getting the opportunity to go up there and race at the next level against them, and I think that's what all of us Busch drivers are trying to do. If they take us out of the race or cause us to have damage and hurt our finishes and hurt our points, that kind of hurts our careers."
HOW FAR AWAY DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM IS FROM RETURNING TO VICTORY LANE? "I'd be very surprised if we don't win races this year. Our biggest hurdle right now is just getting to where we can go to the race track and get caught up with the testing and get a much better understanding of where we are tire-wise and where we are body-wise and getting everything mixed together. One of the areas a Busch organization like ourselves always fights is on pit road. They guys are working very hard at getting to where they are more competitive on pit road, and I think once everything jells together, we made a lot of changes over the winter and I think they're all positive, but we knew for a little while that we were going to struggle with some of the smaller things. This break helps us to get everything caught up and get everybody back on the same page and situated. I'm expecting any weekend that we could get that first win. If everything falls in place and nothing stupid happens this weekend, we can win at Texas."