Jamie Slone, driver of the No. 6 FR500S, enters this weekend's Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup doubleheader at Miller Motorsports Park 67 points behind leader Andrew Caddell. Slone talks about finishing the inaugural season for...
Jamie Slone, driver of the No. 6 FR500S, enters this weekend's Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup doubleheader at Miller Motorsports Park 67 points behind leader Andrew Caddell. Slone talks about finishing the inaugural season for the series and what he has learned throughout the year.
ANDREW CADDELL HAS A LARGE LEAD, BUT HE HASN'T OFFICIALLY CLINCHED YET. DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO HAVE A SHOT? "I think he's got a 67-point lead and the most points you can get in a race versus somebody else - you get five points for qualifying first, you get 50 points for winning the race, you get one point for leading a lap and you get one point if you lead the most laps. So if you do all of that, you could theoretically get 57 points and then the other guy would literally have to - you get some points for finishing last. The bottom line is that I can't imagine for the life of me - he would certainly have to finish dead last for one of them and I'd have to be first or second and then he'd have to finish 14th or worse and I'd have to finish first or second. It's been over for awhile from that perspective. You just don't have situations here where you have debris all over the track and you cut tires. We're not in NASCAR circle-track racing where many of those things can happen. We're all working for the best of the rest."
HAVE YOU DRIVEN AT MILLER BEFORE? "Actually, I am fortunate to have tested there before I ran my first Grand-Am ST race last year in a Mazda RX-8. I know Andrew won a race there in the MX-5 Cup if I'm not mistaken. I was in the Grand-Am ST class, co-drive situation, and had to start last with Guy Cosmo and I went from 26th to sixth, so that was pretty fun. So, I've got a pretty good handle on the track. I just tested there a week or so ago in the school Mustang Challenge car."
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE INVOLVED IN THE INAUGURAL SEASON OF THIS SERIES? "For me, personally, it's a dream come true because it's the first time that I've been able to compete in a professional race series from beginning to end. While I have been in other professional races, I was never able to complete the full series and in an endurance racing scenario, you're dependant upon co-drivers, pit stops and stuff like that. The thing I like about the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge is that its fun and it fits with my goals, which was to measure myself. So with the sprint racing format and in spec racing cars, it gives me the best chance to see how well I could do. I was able to win a race so far and we've still got two more that I have a shot at. After it's all said and done, even though the championship looks like it's out of reach, winning races, in the end, is what everybody always wants to do. I've got two more shots to do that and it should be fun."
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST ADJUSTMENT THAT YOU HAD TO MAKE DURING THE SEASON? "I think for me, if you just look at the very first two laps of Road Atlanta, the reality is that it's just improving my skill of driving a race car at the limit. I think for me it's one of those things that you kind of know, 'Wow, I have talent to do this.' But it also takes some time to develop that into a skill. I have grown immensely over the year in terms of developing my skills. Specifically, I think that in the beginning I had to move in a hurry to be able to put that car at limit - turn for turn, lap for lap, consistently - and then good things start happening as a result of that. That was my focus after leaving Mosport for Mid-Ohio and the car was set up and I did exactly what I needed to do. When the car is not perfect, then you need to start making adjustments. The latest thing that I've been learning in the series is how to drive, how to race and how to get the most out of a car when it may not be perfect like it was at Mid-Ohio. New Jersey, for me, was all about that. This car was not going to get dialed in and yet I was sitting in third and I had to figure out how to get to second and at least give myself a chance in case he went off the track to win first. I look back at it, and while I didn't win that race and while he walked away from me, I did immediately put myself in second place and had a car that I could drive well enough to stay in front of the cars behind. From a learning standpoint, in the beginning it was about getting that car on edge constantly and being comfortable with that and not making mistakes. As we progress towards the end, it's about the car not being perfect and you better be able to make some adjustments to get a lot out of it."
DO YOU THINK THAT THE RACING WILL BE ANY DIFFERENT NEXT SEASON WHEN EVERYONE WILL HAVE A YEAR OF EXPERIENCE UNDER THEIR BELT? "I think it depends. You've got pretty much two different levels of drivers in this series - maybe three. You've got the guys that literally have come from club racing and want to try their hand. They bought a car, it's cost- effective, there's not a bunch of stuff you can do to it and they're back there in places 12 through 20 and they're learning a lot in a hurry. Their learning curve is different than you've got with a guy like myself, who had been in a few races before, professionally, and was maybe just at a little different level who's looking to run at the front. That would be guys like myself, Pratt Cole, Tony Buffomante, Mike McGovern - actually almost all of those guys have a lot more experience than me, quite frankly - nonetheless, we're that group. You've got that pack of five or six guys. Then you have the experience of an Andrew Caddell and then what shows up in the media cars, occasionally, or with what shows up like StableOne brought in with Terry Borcheller. With Vaughn Gittin, I've run with him before at Miller at the beginning of the year - Gittin was in one of the school Mustang cars and I was in another - he's got plenty of skill and talent to run. What you get is three different levels of races that are there.
"My expectation in terms of how that's going to change and what's going to happen next year is that you're probably going to get a continued influx - with the high profile of the series - of racers that have skill that want to get in there. I expect some more talented players wanting to get involved. Why? Tell me the series, right now, that you are going to do professional sprint car racing. Where are you going to do sprint racing in a sports car in a professional series that's not a significant investment? SPEED World Challenge? That's a ton of money to get into that. This is a perfect place for somebody who doesn't want to do the endurance racing and have it be affordable and compete. This is the series to do that in. It's the professional series that gives people of all different calibers a chance to compete and to grow. I expect that, the competition level will only get better because of the awareness factor of what an awesome opportunity it is."
-credit: ford racing