This Week in Ford Racing Ray Mason, co-driver of the No. 52 Ford Mustang FR500C, has his team in ninth place, just 11 points out of fifth, in the Grand-Am KONI Challenge standings. Mason will team up with Gene Martindale in this weekend's ...
This Week in Ford Racing
Ray Mason, co-driver of the No. 52 Ford Mustang FR500C, has his team in ninth place, just 11 points out of fifth, in the Grand-Am KONI Challenge standings. Mason will team up with Gene Martindale in this weekend's race at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J.
NEW JERSEY IS A BRAND-NEW TRACK. WHAT, IF ANYTHING, DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS FACILITY? "It's a brand-new facility and it's got to have great asphalt. We'll see when we get there. I prefer natural terrain tracks, but it is what it is. Everyone's going to be equal anyways, so we're obviously looking forward to it."
WHAT IS IT LIKE WHEN AN ENTIRE SERIES HAS TO EXPERIENCE A TRACK FOR THE FIRST TIME? "There's no one to go to, there's no video that I'm aware of that's available for the track. We were the first pro race at Barber in the Grand-Am Cup days and we were the first pro race, I think, at Miller Motorsports Park a couple of years ago, so we've been through this before. I'll bet you that there are some people that are much better and quicker at picking up a track than others are. Luckily we've got some real pros on our team with Dean Martin and Hugh Plumb. I'm going to co-drive with Gene Martindale this weekend and he's a well-known Ford guy so we'll have lots of help getting the track dialed in. Not only do we have the usual data acquisition that most people have, we also have cameras on the car and we do data overlay on top of the lipstick camera. That all helps and we'll get the big screen TV in Mike Canney's trailer and we'll go over all of this stuff. We do a pretty good job of analyzing what's being done right and what could be done better. I'm looking forward to that. I certainly don't have any fear of the new track."
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE BEFORE YOU EVER GET TO A TRACK? "You can look at the track maps all you want to. The track map just kind of tells you which way it goes left and which way it goes right and where the straightaways are. Those are very helpful once you've been on the track when you can go back and review. But until you see the track, it's just something to look at but it doesn't really do a whole lot of good. I don't know if New Jersey has this, but some of the tracks have nice elevation-change maps and those are helpful. But until you get on it it's a start, which is better than nothing, and that's about it."
YOU'VE FINISHED 12TH OR BETTER IN EVERY RACE WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE FIRST TWO. "I've stepped up and we've gotten some professional level co- drivers. They help me move forward whether I start or they start. I always look for a driver which is better than I am, which isn't that hard to find. The younger guys are well-schooled in data acquisition. They've come up that way. It's fun to talk to them and they understand it and they point out where I can do better. I'm looking forward to teaming with Gene Martindale for the first time this weekend. He is a Ford SVT development engineer. I worked with him at Barber, he was a car engineer for me there, he didn't drive. He was a delight to work with. He's easy to understand and easy to talk to and practical and we got some good stuff done down there.
"I've been working, too. I developed a reputation as a crasher a few years ago, which was probably well deserved, and I've managed to keep all four wheels on the asphalt this season and for the better part of last season as well. Towards the latter half of last season I decided what's the point of getting in the dirt. This is not Late Model stock-car racing. Just keep all four wheels on the black stuff and you'll do okay."
YOU'RE SITTING NINTH IN THE STANDINGS, BUT ARE ONLY 11 POINTS OUT OF FIFTH PLACE. "We can move further up. There's a bunch of good drivers. They kind of refer to it as a Street Stock series and I suppose, technically, it is. But these cars are all very well developed and they're all very fast. Grand- Am's done a great job of keeping them all very equal. But we can definitely move up with consistent finishes. The Mustangs, one thing about them is that they aren't always suitable to the tracks that we go to and often you'll get another car in front of us in qualifying. But these things run like locomotives and if you can keep them out of contact, because we're a little vulnerable to damage in our steering rack and our tie rod ends, but if you can avoid that, the engine, the gearbox and the rear axle will get you to the finish line."
-credit: ford racing