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Jan 09, 2014 - 06:30 PM
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2014 Daytona Pre-Season Thunder Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Pat DiMarco, Bernie Marcus
Posted by: ASkyler on Jan 09, 2014 - 06:21 PM
2014 Daytona Pre-Season Thunder Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Pat DiMarco, Bernie Marcus

NASCAR got the 2014 season underway in earnest Thursday at Daytona International Speedway with the annual preseason testing. While mother nature delayed the start of the day, Ford Racing caught up with NASCAR program manager Pat DiMarco and Ford Racing aerodynamcist Bernie Marcus to discuss changes to the Fusion race car and how the new NASCAR rules package affects the Ford cars for 2014.

PAT DIMARCO, Ford Racing NASCAR Program Manager - CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT THE CHANGE IS TO THE FRONT NOSE OF THE FUSION FOR 2014? "There were concerns in 2013 about debris collection on the lower radiator inlet on the Fusion. We have addressed that by moving the radiator screen out to be more flush with the bumper. There is no performance advantage which has been verified in the wind tunnel with the other OEMs. This is purely for debris collection and to eliminate the need to pit in case we have a hot dog wrapper or something on the grille and it makes it easier to get the debris off from behind another car."


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WERE YOU ABLE TO QUANTIFY HOW MANY TIMES THAT WAS AN ISSUE LAST YEAR? "We never lost a race or lost positions on the racetrack because of it. We did have a harder time and there were concerns at points but just from a pure safety factor to be 100-percent sure that we don’t get into that situation since these cars will live on for awhile we addressed it early on with NASCAR and the other OEMs and it is a non-issue."

TO BE CLEAR, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE COSMETIC LOOK OF THE FUSION GRILLE? "The grille bars on the car are staying identical to what they were in 2013. It is only the lower inlet which is the dark black area on the car which will be flushed out. To the average Joe sitting and watching, they won’t even really be able to tell on TV what has changed."

BERNIE MARCUS, Ford Racing Aero Specialist - FROM AN AERO PERSPECTIVE, WHAT DOES THIS CHANGE DO TO THE CAR? "Nothing. It was purely done for debris purposes and the aero numbers did not change. Nothing on the aero side changed by doing this."

SOME SPECULATE THAT THE DESIGN OF THE FRONT END OF THE FUSION HAS LED TO POOR AERO, AND IN TURN, POOR PERFORMANCE. "All I can tell you is that we just had another OEM comparison test just before Christmas where we ran all the body kits, the entire body kits around the 2014 rules package with the spoiler and splitter packages and we were still in the exact spot we were before. We were right there with the other OEMs in terms of our aero numbers. There is nothing wrong aerodynamically with this nose."

PAT DIMARCO CONTINUED - CAN YOU EXPLAIN THIS NEW RULES PACKAGE FOR 2014 AND HOW IT WILL AFFECT COMPETITION? "The new aero rules add some downforce to the car which during Charlotte testing in December the drivers felt gave them a little more security in the car compared to 2013. Then there is a no ride-height rule in post-race inspection which will allow the guys to make the cars drive a little more comfortably for the driver. It lets the springs be the springs and the shocks be the shocks on the cars."

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE POST-RACE INSPECTION PROCESS? "The bodies will be inspected at a six and eight frame-rail height as they were last year to make sure the bodies meet all the rules but the post race inspection now the car does not have to come back up to those six and eight frame-rail heights. Once it leaves tech inspection to go onto the race track they can put it down to whatever attitude they want it on the race track and it can come off the race track at whatever attitude the car settles in at. The disconnect came in trying to meet the six and eight ride-height rule for inspection and then meeting it post race. The cars are so aerodynamic, so trying to get the cars in the attitude they wanted to was causing people to use the springs and shocks for other purposes than what they were designed for."

BERNIE MARCUS CONTINUED -- SO HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE AERO SIDE OF THINGS? "Again, it doesn’t really affect it. What I do as far from a design standpoint with the OEM equipment it really has no affect. It is more a team specific thing which enables them to be a little more free with their setup work because it is very difficult when you do your suspension settings and then have to have the car come back up to a certain ride height. Having eliminated that I think it helps the teams."

PAT DIMARCO CONTINUED -- DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS IS SOMETHING THE TEAMS WERE HOPEFUL ABOUT WANTING TO CHANGE? "I would say it was 50-50 in the garage. Some teams felt it was an advantage, some felt it didn’t do anything for the cars. The product on the race track will determine if it was the right move or not."

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING TO GATHER FROM THIS TEST? "To make sure the cars are in the realm where we want them to be in terms of speed, handing and drafting and knowing that there is more speed in the car that will come back for the race. The guys will take the cars back and whittle on them some more and whittle on the engine and then come back here and put on a good race."

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