This Week in Ford Racing Ben Leslie is a former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief for Mark Martin and Ricky Rudd, so as Ford Racing's NASCAR Field Manager, he has a good understanding of what it takes to compete for a championship.
This Week in Ford Racing
Ben Leslie is a former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief for Mark Martin and Ricky Rudd, so as Ford Racing's NASCAR Field Manager, he has a good understanding of what it takes to compete for a championship. Leslie recently put on his crew chief hat to discuss what they are thinking at this point in the season with a championship on the line.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES A CREW CHIEF FACES AT A TRACK LIKE DOVER? "Dover is pretty tricky. The biggest thing is not to overdrive the corner and to work with your driver on the car being loose in, and then Dover is a tough race track just from the standpoint of survival. The Dover race was shortened many years ago, but 400 laps still makes it a game of survival. The race is still long as far as time in length, so there's a lot of different scenarios that play out as far as pit road, pit strategy and pit sequency - if you get caught on pit road with cautions and what-not. So there's a reasonable amount luck that goes in with Dover. There's a reasonable amount of luck that you make yourself by putting yourself in positions to either get caught on pit road when a caution comes out or get caught in somebody else's wreck. And the track is physically demanding on the driver and it's physically demanding on the car."
SOME REFER TO DOVER AS AN OVERSIZED BRISTOL. IS THAT ACCURATE? "I think so. I like Dover. I was fortunate enough to have some success there and had some pretty good runs, and had some runs that should have been a lot better than what they ended up being based off of getting caught up in other people's wrecks, but I would say Dover is a lot like a big Bristol. I think it's a fun place to race at and I think it's a challenging place, but it's not a place that's so challenging that you don't have enough tools to work on it."
AS A FORMER CREW CHIEF WHO HAS BATTLED FOR CHAMPIONSHIPS LATE IN THE SEASON, WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON? "From my perspective you didn't want to change what you did to get you there to start with. Now that's kind of hard to take that position because this sport is ever evolving, so at the same time you're telling yourself, 'Don't change what got us in this position,' you're trying to make sure that there is no stone left unturned. It's kind of a balance. You don't want to really get off on a tangent and chase the next trick that's rumored around the garage, but you still have to listen. There are things you have to at least keep in your peripheral vision, but that's tough because in one sentence you say you don't want to change what got you in this position, but the next sentence is that this sport changes week by week."
-credit: ford racing