This Week in Ford Racing August 9, 2005 NASCAR Busch Series The NASCAR Busch Series returns to competition at Watkins Glen International this weekend for the first time since 2001; however, the Zippo 200 marks the second road-course race...
This Week in Ford Racing
August 9, 2005
NASCAR Busch Series
The NASCAR Busch Series returns to competition at Watkins Glen International this weekend for the first time since 2001; however, the Zippo 200 marks the second road-course race for the series this season. The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City hosted the first road-course event for the series in nearly four years in early March. David Green, who finished 39th in the Telcel-Motorola 200, has experienced success at Watkins Glen, capturing the Busch pole there in 1991. Kenny Wallace, driver of the No. 22 Taurus, finished eighth at Mexico City and has multiple starts at WGI in NEXTEL Cup competition. Both drivers spoke about the series returning to road-course venues and the challenges it poses.
DAVID GREEN-27-Kleenex Racing Ford Taurus
YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED SOME SUCCESS AT WATKINS GLEN, INCLUDING A POLE IN 1996, SO ARE YOU EXCITED TO HAVE ROAD-COURSE VENUES BACK ON THE SCHEDULE THIS SEASON? "Yes and no. I am because in the race it's a lot of fun, but, as a driver, normally we have four corners and there we have 11 corners, so we basically have 22 times where we can mess up. That raises the odds of doing something wrong and tearing our equipment up. I like it because it's so much different than what we normally do. We have two road-course races this year and that's more than we've ever had. I still think it would help us all if we had three. But, it's fun and it's a whole different atmosphere and a whole different mindset."
A NUMBER OF ROAD-RACING DRIVERS HAVE ENTERED THE BUSCH SERIES RACE ALONG WITH A HANDFUL OF NEXTEL CUP DRIVERS. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE GETTING HIT FROM BOTH SIDES THIS WEEKEND? "Yes, and this year they took it another step: They put our race on as a combination race with Cup. So, now we're not only having the road-course ringers, we have the 'Buschwhackers.' We've got it all this weekend. What you're going to see this weekend is by far probably the most talented field of ringers and that makes it even more challenging because, as a Busch Series driver that doesn't get to do this very often, we go into a deal like that where if the ringers weren't there or the Cup guys weren't there, we would all have a little more of an easygoing attitude about the race. That's just the way it goes. They did a double-team on us this time."
THIS SEASON MARKED THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2001 THAT THE BUSCH SERIES COMPETED ON A ROAD-COURSE CIRCUIT. DID IT TAKE SOME TIME TO GET USED TO RUNNING ON A ROAD COURSE AGAIN, AND DID YOU DO ANYTHING TO PREPARE FOR IT? "There's rust when you don't run a road course in four years. In Mexico City, for most of us, we had a lot of road-course rust and we had a brand-new race track that no one had really seen before. The Glen, we were up there last week testing, and they really changed the look and personality of the track with the curbing and they added some more grandstands. To me, it looked like a totally different race track and I found myself as I drove around the track, I was driving it like I used to in 2001 with those big, old curbs. Now, all of a sudden, I noticed there were no curbs and I got to talking to Martin Truex a little bit, and I could run over the curbs now. I did that a little bit before I left, so it's like there's always rust. Now, as a team, we'll go there and Stewart's (Cooper, crew chief) strategy is going to be totally different than what we ever do. It's not about stretching everything, it's about doing it before the other guy does it."
KENNY WALLACE-22-AutoZone Ford Taurus
IT WAS ANNOUNCED LAST WEEK THAT AUTOZONE WOULD SPONSOR THE NO. 22 PPC RACING TEAM FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SEASON. BEFORE THAT ANNOUNCEMENT, DID YOU FEEL THAT THE CARPET COULD BE PULLED OUT FROM UNDER YOU AT ANY MOMENT? "I think every driver fears that all the time. I've been so fortunate that when those things went down, I had a lot of people wanting me to drive their car if something happened here. The fear level 10 years ago would have been devastating. I would have lost a lot of sleep and broke out in hives 10 years ago, but I'm a lot more experienced now and I think for some reason somebody blessed me. When my sponsor filed Chapter 7, for some reason we had sponsors lined up. I told my boys, 'Give us one week.' We had Freedom Roads, we had another sponsor that's on another top-running car here that was wanting to go with us and we had AutoZone, so there was never a time that we were in fear that we weren't going to have a sponsor, but that's because we're blessed. Ten years ago it might have been a different story, but we had three or four sponsors lined up. You never know and life's a journey, and that's the way I look at it now."
YOU POSTED A THIRD-PLACE FINISH AT PIKES PIKE INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, TWO RACES AFTER LOSING STACKER 2 AS A SPONSOR. DID THE LACK OF SPONSORSHIP SERVE AS A SOURCE OF MOTIVATION FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM? "When you're inside the car you don't see the color. I think that's the biggest thing. It's like when people ask you, 'What do you think about your paint scheme?' I'm like, 'I don't know, I can't see it.' I just had a wonderful experience because anytime you lose your sponsor you expect the worse, and it wasn't three days later that I knew we were going to be OK. I think it's because I have a good team that keeps me up front, that's the number one thing. And the number two thing is, and it's sad to say, but you have to sell product in this sport, and I'm fortunate to work on a lot of TV shows. But, if I didn't have a good team and didn't run up front like I am, then it might have been a little bit harder sell. It was a balance, it was running up front and all of my TV shows that I can sell my sponsor's product."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE SERIES RETURNING TO ROAD COURSES THIS YEAR? "I like road racing, but I'd rather see four of them to make my guys put more of an effort into it. Right now it's a pain for everybody because we have a good road-course car and our back-up is okay, but if they made you run four of them you'd have to put a competitive product on the track. You have to either get in or get out of the game, and right now we're just getting our toes wet and it's costing us a lot of money. I like running road courses, but two of them isn't enough to make it financially feasible for the teams. It costs the Busch Series a lot of money, and the budgets are outrageous to run two Busch road-course races."
THIS SEASON MARKED THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2001 THAT THE BUSCH SERIES COMPETED ON A ROAD-COURSE CIRCUIT. DID IT TAKE SOME TIME TO GET USED TO RUNNING ON A ROAD COURSE AGAIN, AND DID YOU DO ANYTHING TO PREPARE FOR IT? "You prepare, but I think the biggest thing for me is that you have to look at my stats and I have over 300 Cup starts, and I did a lot of road racing with those Cup cars. When you run Cup, you test everywhere, so when you'd test the road courses to get ready for them, I took a liking to it. You're always a little bit rusty, but then you're also worried about staying in front of the curve and whether you have the latest and greatest brake pads. Do I have the latest transmission? We got down to Mexico City and we found out there were a lot of cars that had thicker rotors than us. Then you get Robby Gordon and those guys that build a special car and test. We were fortunate enough to finish eighth and run good at Mexico City, but track position is everything. Watkins Glen is more of a speedway."
WERE YOU ABLE TO TEST AT WATKINS GLEN? "We haven't tested much this year. Our budget wasn't where it needed to be, so we cut back on all of our testing. We've tested four times this year including Daytona, California, Vegas and Richmond. Once we sensed Stacker 2 going away and knew the money flow was tightening up a little bit, we quit testing. It's $25,000 to test and that's a lot of money."