This Week in Ford Racing August 6, 2002 NASCAR Busch Grand National Ford Racing is in the midst of its most productive Busch Series season in history. While there are still 12 races left in the 2002 season, Ford Racing drivers currently hold...
This Week in Ford Racing
August 6, 2002
NASCAR Busch Grand National
Ford Racing is in the midst of its most productive Busch Series season in history. While there are still 12 races left in the 2002 season, Ford Racing drivers currently hold the top two spots in the point standings and have been distancing themselves from the rest of the contenders since mid-June. Greg Biffle and Jason Keller, Ford's dynamic duo, are currently first and second in the points, 287 and 205, respectively, ahead of third-place Jack Sprague. Biffle, with his fourth win of the season last weekend in Indianapolis, also helped Ford eclipse its greatest single-season win total, bringing the total numbers of wins in 2002 to 13. Besides setting the new single-season mark at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Biffle also made Ford Racing history by becoming the first Ford driver to win at the historic .686-mile venue in 21 Busch Series races.
GREG SPECHT, Manager, North American Racing Operations, Ford Racing Technology
HOW BIG OF AN ACCOMPLISHMENT WAS IT FOR FORD RACING TO NOTCH ITS 13TH BUSCH SERIES WIN OF THE SEASON LAST WEEKEND IN INDIANAPOLIS? "I guess it shows what you can do when you set goals for yourself, and get to work. We knew that historically we at Ford had not done much in the Busch Series and decided it was time that we did something about it, so we went out and recruited the best teams that we could find and we've been working with them really hard, and when you get good people that work really hard, you get good results. Obviously, we're just thrilled with the whole thing."
WHAT DOES FORD'S INCREASED INVOLVEMENT IN THE BUSCH SERIES INCLUDE? "Frankly, it includes some financial support, but beyond that it includes a lot of technical support in that we spend a lot of time with the Busch guys in the wind tunnel, we spend a lot of time going over chassis developments and we also stepped up the motor program in the Busch Series."
IS THERE ANY TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER FROM THE BUSCH SERIES TO WINSTON CUP, OR VICE-VERSA? "A lot from the Winston Cup car applies to the Busch car -- a lot aerodynamically. That's very important. And, we get a lot of crossover benefit from that. To a lesser extent, there's some chassis development applied, but because the wheelbase is not quite the same, there's not a whole lot of transfer lot in that area from the Cup cars to the Busch cars. But, it's still solid engineering fundamentals applied, and that's the basis for a lot of the development in both garages."
WHO TAKES THE LEADERSHIP ROLE IN THE BUSCH SERIES, THE TEAM OR THE MANUFACTURER? "I think in the Busch Series, the manufacturer does have more of a leadership role as compared to Winston Cup. There are fewer resources in the Busch garage and we can just make better uses of the resources that we have by everybody working together. And the other thing that helps is just having top-quality teams that can learn from each other, and not necessarily even in a formal sense. You just have another Taurus to go look at and say, 'What's he doing?' That's pretty much the way it works in any NASCAR series. It's very open and they really promote it that way. I think that helps, too. The teams kind of build on one another successes and I think that's why we're seeing the Ford teams get stronger each and every week; they're trying to top one another and using what they see form one another to achieve that."
IS SUCCESS MEASURED BY WINNING THE MANUFACTURER OR DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIP? "We want to win the team title. We like the driver's championship. It's the same for Winston Cup and all of the series that we participate in. The fan identifies and connects with the driver first, and the connection to the manufacturer is secondary. So while we are making an effort in both areas - we want to win both - we certainly want to make sure that we wrap up the driver's championship."
WITH ONLY A HANDFUL OF FULL-TIME FORD TEAMS PARTICIPATING IN THE SERIES, IS THERE A QUALITY OVER QUANTITY MENTALITY? "Absolutely. We did not have a strong presence in the Busch Series, and a few years ago NASCAR came and said that they really wanted to put more emphasis on the Busch Series and wanted to promote it more and make it more interesting, and they thought that if Ford had a greater presence there that would help. We decided to go ahead and do that and our objective in racing is to win. That builds loyalty to our brand. What the fan identifies with is winning drivers. So we went in there and worked with the teams that were already with Ford to improve their performance on the track, and we thought that we needed a greater presence there, so we went after what we thought were the best teams in the series and recruited them to come over to the Ford program, and we were successful with that."
WHAT IS THE STRATEGY BEHIND FORD'S GREATER INVOLVEMENT IN THE BUSCH SERIES? "It's two-fold. One is a marketing objective. The Busch Series is very popular, and we think it's very important for Ford to be there and display our technical expertise and have a presence. Second, it's a training ground for young drivers, crew chiefs and teams that will ultimately end up in Winston Cup. Up until now, with our limited presence there, we really didn't have a place for up-and-coming drivers to stop over before going to Winston Cup. As a result, I think we missed out on some opportunities because people got placed with a GM team and got into the GM fold. So that's why we wanted to have some really competitive teams, to have a seat for some of these drivers and crew chiefs."
COMPETING ON THE WINSTON CUP LEVEL IS THE ASPIRATION OF ALL DRIVERS, SO IS THERE MORE OF A COMMITMENT TO AN ORGANIZATION THAN A DRIVER, KNOWING THAT THE DRIVERS MAY MAKE THE JUMP? "Part of the equation and part of the value that Ford derives from the Busch Series is that it is a training ground for up-and-coming drivers and team members, not just drivers, but crew chiefs, engine tuners, chassis people and body people. The Busch Series is the place that a lot of people cut their teeth on and get a lot of experience on. It even starts before drivers and crew members start competing at the NASCAR level, just driving stock cars in at the Saturday night tracks, the Modified Series, the Winston West Series and ARCA and so forth."