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Jan 30, 2014 - 10:51 AM
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2014 NASCAR Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Jamie Allison, Doug Yates, Front Row and Wood Brothers
Posted by: newsla on Jan 30, 2014 - 10:47 AM
NASCAR News
2014 NASCAR Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Jamie Allison, Doug Yates, Front Row and Wood Brothers


The afternoon session of the Sprint Media Tour began with comments from Ford Racing Director Jamie Allison, Roush Yates CEO Doug Yates, and key members from Front Row Motorsports and Wood Brothers Racing. A transcript of their comments follows:

 

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JAMIE ALLISON, Director, Ford Racing – “If I can talk a little bit about the Ford teams, 2013 is certainly not the season we had expected and certainly not the season that shows the potential of the Ford teams. With the caliber of teams and championship drivers we have on roster, whether it’s at Roush, Penske, Front Row, the Wood Brothers or RPM, our strength is our team and teamwork. That’s our emphasis in 2014 – teamwork. Certainly we’re gonna be focused on the technical development in the area of aerodynamics, simulation and obviously with Doug Yates and engine development. But at the end of the day it’s teamwork and working together, collaboration, putting the strength of all the championship drivers and the championship teams together is what’s gonna take us to the next level. So we’re very excited about 2014 – 2013 is behind us, so let’s go racing.”

DOUG YATES, CEO, Roush Yates Engines – “First, I’m honored to be here today on behalf of Ford Racing. It’s great to see everybody and get started again and get ready for 2014. I want to thank Ford Motor Company. At Ford Motor Company it starts at the top with Edsel Ford, Jim Farley and Raj Nair. Racing is supported from the very top. Ford was founded on racing and we’re proud to carry that on. With Jamie Allison’s leadership, with Dave Simon and now Mark Rushbrook aboard leading the motorsports effort, we’ve got a really strong team and we’re looking forward to this year. To be able to have guys and teams like this is a real privilege and honor, so I’d like to make sure I recognize our teams that we do support with Roush Fenway Racing, Penske, the Wood Brothers, Richard Petty Motorsports, Mr. Jenkins and Front Row Motorsports, Frank Stoddard, Biagi-DenBeste and Brad Keselowski’s truck team, so we’ve got some great teams and great drivers we’ll be supporting this year and really looking forward to a great season. This is our 10th year and most of you guys in this room didn’t think it would last one year. Jack Roush has been a great partner, a great friend to our family and it was really nice when we put that program together. Since then, my dad has obviously retired and Jack and I are carrying it on, but since we started 10 years ago we have 187 wins, four championships and three Daytona 500 wins, so that’s something to be proud of. But I think the answer is gonna be today – the last Cup championship was 10 years ago, so the goal for this year is to provide race-winning, championship-winning engines for these guys to get back in victory lane.”

LEN WOOD, Co-Owner, Wood Brothers Racing – WHAT DOES YOUR 2014 SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE? “We plan on running 12 races again sponsored by Motorcraft and Quick Lane. We’re always trying to find more races. We had a couple deals working for two or three races, but nothing has really materialized yet. We’ll pretty much run the same schedule and the races where we feel we run the best. Obviously, speedways works really good with Trevor, so we’ll run those four and intermediates are the other part.”

EDDIE WOOD, Co-Owner, Wood Brothers Racing – HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET BACK TO A FULL-TIME SCHEDULE? “We would really love to be back full-time. With some much emphasis on the championship and the Chase and the changes that are rumored to be coming with the points and all that stuff, we work towards getting back to full-time all the time. My kids, Jon and Jordan, they do a lot of research and try to generate marketing strategies and we’re open to anything to find more funding. That being said, we’re very, very fortunate to have the partners in Ford Motor Company and Motorcraft/Quick Lane like we have forever. They’ve done their part. They’ve kept us in business and actually kept us going when things got tough for us, so they’ve done their part. It’s kind of up to us to find extra funding and find someone to partner up with Motorcraft/Quick Lane to finish it off – at least to get more races and then work towards finishing to where we can run all of them.”

DONNIE WINGO, Crew Chief – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion – WHAT KIND OF CHALLENGES DOES THIS YEAR PRESENT TO YOU? “As we go along here, some of the rules are out and we’re still waiting on some to see how the qualifying is actually going to shake out. But I think that’s gonna be a lot of excitement for the fans. There will be some strategy involved in that. You’ll basically have one set of tires to do your three runs, so teams will be focusing on making sure they get in the top 24. You’ve got to do that to start with and then play the strategy from there to make sure you have tires at the end if you wind up in the last group. I think NASCAR has put a lot of emphasis with the testing they’ve done over the winter at Charlotte, with a lot of the teams participating, in trying to improve the mile-and-a-half tracks and the intermediate tracks like that. I think one of the biggest rules the teams have been working really hard on is the no ride height rule. Now the teams can focus on trying to get more grip in the car without necessarily having to run bump stops all the time. Now we can go back to running springs because you can basically set the car where you need to set it, so I think NASCAR has taken a big step there to where we don’t have to focus on having the car come back up for the post-race tech and post-qualifying tech, so it puts more emphasis on trying to get the cars to drive better and hopefully the races will be better.”

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion – WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT 2014? “We’re excited to be here with a white shirt on now with Motorcraft and Quick Lane. I’m really looking forward to this season. Back to your rule changes and the qualifying method, I think that does have more of an effect on my Cup side than my Nationwide side, generally being a go or go-home kind of car, not running full-time, now if we’re locked into that top 24, that second session we can really get after it and if you make a mistake you’re still locked in, but you have that chance to go out and try to go for poles and not have to worry about going over that edge. Obviously in that first session you do, but we really felt like last year and the year before that at the tracks I could make two laps I could get in on the first lap and then on the second lap do a lot better. For instance, Michigan and Kansas – places like that with new pavement – so I think that does change my strategy a little bit. I think it’s gonna be good. I think right now we have about as many races as we have people with about 15-20 people at the shop, so if more races come on we have up to 16-20 races we could handle pretty strong, but if anybody is out there that wants to do a full season I’m sure we could get some more men on board and make it happen. I’m really thankful for this opportunity. When Jack and Eddie and Len came together and decided this would be a place for me in 2010 to get my Cup debut at Texas I didn’t know where it would lead me to, but here I am in 2014 again with this great group of guys and an opportunity to go out here with Ford and make a splash even as a part-time team. Like Jamie said, we still have an opportunity to win races. These guys really believe in our superspeedway program. We’re actually headed to Talladega as soon as I leave here pretty much, after stopping by Nashville for a couple days to go try to make our stuff better, and it’s kind of an even playing field there. The thing that Donnie and I will work out is just communication because we pretty much race once a month. That makes it a little bit more challenging, but we know that. We know what we’re up against. We know our strengths and our weaknesses and we’ll try to pinpoint those better and make more of this season to where we can contend for those top 10s and top 15s and that leads to those top 5s and wins that you’re looking for.”

BOB JENKINS, Owner, Front Row Motorsports – HOW DO YOU FEEL WITH WHERE YOU ARE NOW WITH YOUR PROGRAM? “I feel pretty good. People always say, ‘Were you shocked when you won the race?’ And to be honest with you, the answer is no. The good thing about David and David is they go every week trying to win a race, so I think they’ve had enough top 10s and top 5s on the speedways that we were almost due to have that day, but I’m very proud of the progress our guys have made. The good thing about us is we build all of our own cars, and that’s great, but our cars wouldn’t go without Doug Yates horsepower and I really want to mention that because that’s a great equalizer for a small team like ours. Just the partnership with Ford. They’ve been great partners and great fans of us. Jamie is the first guy to give me a hug when something good happens, so we’re pretty excited about this year. We’ve got a good group of sponsors in CSX and Love’s and Farm Rich and now with Hefty/Reynolds for the Daytona 500, so I’m really pleased that some of these partnerships are starting to work and mature. I couldn’t be more excited about 2014. The new Chase format really favors a team like ours. It’s certainly a long shot, but if we could figure out a way to win another race this year it elevates us potentially into the Chase and then we’d have to re-think everything. We’d obviously have to go out and do some crazy things to be more competitive in the Chase, but it does open the door to teams like ours to have some success and I think it’s good for the sport.”

DAVID GILLILAND – No. 38 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Fusion – HOW MUCH DOES IT HELP KNOWING YOU’VE GOT SOLID SUPPORT BEHIND YOU? “It helps a lot. Love’s Travel Stops have been a great partner for Front Row Motorsports. We obviously had a great run at Talladega with them and looking forward to trying to turn that into more races. They’ve extended their partnership with Front Row and that’s very exciting for all of us and all of the employees over there, and as our team continues to grow it’s a good sign for Front Row that a lot of our sponsors and partners are coming back and not only coming back, but expanding their partnerships with us. So I’m really excited and looking forward to this year. I feel like we’ve made some great strides with our race cars and making them better and faster. We’ve got a lot of the same guys that were working last year and they’re working in harmony and feel really good about kicking off this season.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 34 CSX/Farm Rich Ford Fusion – YOU WERE A FREE AGENT BUT DECIDED TO STICK WITH FRONT ROW. THAT SAYS A LOT ABOUT YOUR COMMITMENT TO THE TEAM AND THEIR COMMITMENT TO YOU. “Yeah, I couldn’t be more proud to be here on this stage today with Bob Jenkins and David Gilliland, Jerry Freeze in the audience, and Eric McClure, who is gonna be joining us for Daytona. We’ve not only had a great business and working relationship, but we’ve become really good friends over the last couple of years. Entering my third year at Front Row Motorsports have certainly exceeded some expectations that we set in 2012 and Bob has made a big commitment to growing this team. He makes up a lot of the shortfalls we may have at times when we don’t have some of the major sponsors that some of the other teams have, but I couldn’t be more happy to have CSX, Farm Rich, Love’s Travel Stops – a lot of good companies and a lot of good sponsors that represent what we stand for. It’s great to have their support this early in the year. We haven’t even made the first lap at Daytona at Speedweeks and we’ve already got a long-term commitment from some of the sponsors, so I’m definitely excited. To echo some of the things David talked about, we’ve got some of the same employees returning back to Front Row. We’ve invested in some of our race cars this off-season with the partnership we have with Roush Yates Engines. It’s been a big help, something that we can kind of lean on and is a consistent part of our team that we know is gonna be strong next year. We definitely have a lot of potential. It is fun to talk about the win last season and the Talladega experience that David and I had, but we can’t rest on that forever. We’ve got to move on. We’ve got to do it again to have something else to talk about, so there are gonna be more opportunities to win some races – not only at the speedways. Our short track program, David is a great road racer. We’re gonna be testing some at some downforce race tracks, so there’s a lot of potential. We’ve got some attainable goals for this year and we plan to work hard over the next few months in getting off to a good start for the 2014 season.”

ERIC MCCLURE – No. 35 Hefty/Reynolds Wrap Ford Fusion – YOU’RE GOING TO BE TRYING TO MAKE YOUR FIRST DAYTONA 500 THIS SEASON. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT? “It’s very exciting for me personally. For our family there is nothing bigger than Daytona and Talladega, but as far as we’re concerned growing up the Daytona 500 is the biggest race in the world. As a competitor, we’ve found a home in the Nationwide Series and plugged along and improved and been fairly competitive there, but as we looked at all of our options both from the driving standpoint and from the sponsorship side, we’ve tried to introduce new and exciting opportunities for our sponsorship partners that have been with us for a long time. As we evaluated those and I evaluate my career and phase out of the driving aspect, there are certain things I’ve wanted to accomplish, certain things I’ve dreamed about since I was a little boy and the Daytona 500 is the biggest thing that there is. It’s something I’ve never done and would love to have the opportunity to compete in that event. It’s just been a perfect storm of things for us. I’ve know Bob Jenkins for several years. I was with him in the beginning running the All-Star Race in 2005 and then in the Nationwide Series in 2008, so we’ve become very good friends and as I’ve watched his team grow it reminds me a lot of my dad’s team and his brothers. They built something really great out of nothing and to watch Bob where he started to where he’s at now, you look at the quality of people he has, the drivers he has, the sponsorship partners that are starting to join with him – they’re respected brands – and for us to bring Hefty and Reynolds Wrap over there and just join what they’re building is really exciting from both aspects. As a driver, I’m at the point now I can sit back and I’m trying to take all of this in – the anticipation of getting down there and really having a lot of fun. I want to finish my career with enjoyment and if we can go down there and qualify for the race, that would be a really big accomplishment for us.”

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