Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Weekly NASCAR Q & A · Mike Neff · Thursday September 13, 2012
After speaking with Doug Yates last week about growing up around racing and how he ended up in the engine business, we’ll explore the technical side of building engines that go very fast. Fans always hear about finding horsepower and helping cars gain speed. Yates will give fans a glimpse at what it takes to make a car produce horsepower, talk about his role in the EFI program for NASCAR and settles the direct fuel injection vs. throttle body injection question. He also touches on Hendrick’s engines woes at Michigan, building engines for drag boats and aftermarket performance nuts.
Mike Neff: EFI was a big initiative for NASCAR and it was a big initiative for you too. How did it come about that you were selected to spearhead the whole EFI effort?
Doug Yates: For one, we kind of raised our hand. I think a lot of it goes back to our history; how passionate we are and I am about our sport. Somebody needs to stand up and try to help promote the fact that these are arguably the highest tech engines in racing, in the world, and they have a carburetor sitting on top of them. It really doesn’t make much sense.
We have been fortunate enough to work with some Formula 1 engine suppliers and suppliers of components of engines around the world and every single one of them, when they see our facilities and they see our technology and when they look at our people and what we can do — they are blown away by what happens here every Sunday. However, when you look at pushrods and carburetors, that part is pretty low tech in the grand scheme of everything and it is not relevant to the manufacturers who support our series.
We are Ford, and Ford Motor Company wants us to be racing something that is relevant. When fans are sitting in the stands, it is a great story that they can see something that resembles Ford Motor Company. Even when the hood is shut, guys are still up there pulling for Fords, and Chevys, and Toyotas, and they want that power plant to be something that is representative of Ford. The NASCAR piece to become more high tech, the Ford piece to become more relevant and the right thing for the environment in the fact that we can cut fuel off when it is off throttle saves a lot, were all benefits to this program. These engines are 10-15% more efficient because of fuel injection. That is a big leap. It is hard to get an engine that makes 900 horsepower and turns 9,600rpm to make very good fuel mileage. A 10 percent improvement was pretty big.
Anyway, we put ourselves out there and wanted to help and wanted to be proactive. The best thing in my opinion, that I think NASCAR did was take their time and selected world-class suppliers to be part of the equation. I have had the fortunate availability to work with Freescale Processors who provides the chips that go into the ECUs. They’re a huge semiconductor distributor across the world, they do a lot of work with Ford, the Sync system, and their airbags. I got to go to a Freescale technology forum earlier this year, and we tend to get trapped in our little bubble here inside of racing and don’t realize a lot of other stuff is going on in the world.
There were 3,500 engineers and customers and suppliers of Freescale at this conference. I was up on stage talking about racing and what we do to these things, and it all hit me when someone noticed the Kenseth show car sitting outside the hall that had a carburetor engine in it and beside it was a mock up engine of our fuel injected engine. They asked, That car doesn’t really have a carburetor on it does it? (laughs). It kind of hit home then. I am proud of the sport and I’ll tell you what it has done. It has made a lot of these young engineers and some of these guys working on this have a new energy that we never had before.
We actually have data off of the cars now which we never had before. The more you know, the more you realize what we didn’t know before. The crew chief and the driver would give you information after the race, what their temperatures were and what their max RPMs were . That was actually a very small snapshot of what happened during the race. I think that is a big deal.
MN: Here’s the big question, and I get so many fans arguing with me about it: I went to your presentation when it was first rolling out. Is it throttle body injection or direct injection? The presentation said direct but I have a lot of guys tell me it is throttle body.
DY: That is true. It is a throttle body with port injection. The injectors are in the manifold. It is not direct injection. If I misrepresented that I apologize. We are racing a direct injection engine next year in the Daytona Prototypes. We’re taking the EcoBoost engine that is in Ford’s current lineup and we’re going to be racing that next year. It is a direct injected, turbo engine.
MN: Where did you go to school?
DY: N.C. State
MN: Sorry to hear that.
MN: You’ve talked about the technology that has been around since Henry Ford put it in a Model A, and yet we still hear about guys and teams finding horsepower. It boggles the mind that we’re still dealing with the same hunk of metal that you’ve been dealing with for 100 years, and they’re still finding ways to get more horsepower out of it. Without giving away trade secrets obviously, what are the things people work on to be able to find horsepower.
DY: It amazes me as well. When I graduated from NC State in 1990, these engines were making about 650 horsepower. At that time it was unlimited compression, same cubic inches, same carburetor, a lot of the same rules. Today they are making 900 horsepower. Every year we seem to make 10-15 more horsepower.
The things that have advanced that technology are, in the end it is an air pump. The things that really count are friction and airflow. If you can decrease friction and increase air flow, you’ll make more power, so those are the main things we work on. With material science getting better, the valve spring is a highly stressed component, so if you can make a better valve spring you can accelerate the spring faster which gives you more air flow, and in turn more power. Also, the frictional side of things, there are coatings and other materials that are continuously reducing friction between parts. So those are the things that we continuously work on to try and advance this engine. It is my hope that those technologies will get back to our manufacturer and other manufacturers in this garage, and I’m a big supporter of just that so hopefully that will be more relevant like it used to be.
MN: Hendrick had their issues at Michigan with valve springs and it harkened back to 2002, which I looked up after the race and was surprised how long ago that was. Valve springs are made in a batch off of a wire on a big coil. Is there anything that an engine builder can do, x-ray technology or whatever, to be able to analyze these things and get some advanced warning to cut this off before it makes it all of the way into the engine?
DY: There absolutely is. The way we go about it, the valve spring will be the highest stressed component. Valve springs and pistons are the two things that you’ve going to have a problem with. All of these manufacturers out here have valvetrain test rigs. When we get a new batch of springs we’ll load up and run a race simulation and there is a certain criteria that those springs have to pass to be able to go into race engines. That’s one, the other is visual checks. A lot of people use different types of microscopes if you will, to look at the surface of the springs, and that is kind of how you do it. It is a very intense process and it never stops. We build lots of engines and every spring is critical.
We use a lot of similar suppliers, so if you see someone have a problem, the first thing you think is ‘oh man, what batch were we in?’ We’ve got to go back and check more thoroughly. There aren’t many people who supply valve springs to racing teams because it is so hard. It is really difficult. That Michigan race, the cycles were really high; you might have been able to go to a different track and not have a single problem. It is a tough business and I don’t ever like to see someone have an engine problem because you feel their pain. Engine problems are like deaths in the family for us.
Those guys were pushing hard. You also don’t know what was going on behind the scenes. Everyone is speculating, but they were locked in the Chase so maybe they were pushing some limits trying to test some parts or take a win.
MN: There may have been something completely different and they just said spring to divert the attention. Like the old story of the crew chief that covered up the part of the car that was good so they wouldn’t look at the part at the other end which was actually cheated up…
DY: Oh yeah, that was famous in drag racing. Ask Jack Roush about that sometime; they would cover up things with fender covers and blankets and stuff just to mess with the minds of their competitors. It was as much of a mind game as anything else. Building engines is a tough job because of all of the details; it is all about the details.
MN: After the discussion of springs and valves, I wonder if you could touch base on float. Somewhere around 11,000rpm or so I believe it comes into play. What is valve float?
DY : It depends on your system as to what the max RPM is. Float is when the system becomes disconnected; the valve has reached its peak lift and the valve just hangs open. There are all kinds of technical terms for it. We do some ultimate stability testing now that we have data, we get to see what drivers are doing. Some drivers are pushing the valve train beyond its limits just warming up the tires, and you never knew that before.
The way we limited engines, if we had a driver who was rough on engines, we would build the engines more durably even if it caused it to give up horsepower so it will last. Now we know what a driver is doing and we’ll drag them into the shop and explain what they’re doing and how the engine can’t handle it. The EFI system has allowed for a lot more data collection.
MN: We hear stories about Formula One engines turning 19,000 RPMs and I think that is with hydraulic lifters. I assume using the fluid allows the valves to keep up with those extensive numbers.
DY: They’re air springs, pneumatic stuff, it is different, but they still have valves bounce from time-to-time. It is a different system, it is overhead cam and is a lot more controlled than NASCAR engines. They started where we were today and they’ve worked themselves up. The beauty of F1, they want to be the highest tech racing in the world; NASCAR wanted to be the best racing.
MN: You talk about diversifying your portfolio of business and I know Roush Yates is getting down more and more to the local level. I know Scott Bloomquist runs Roush Yates as does Burt Myers. What was the impetus for that? Was it to diversify because Cup was saturated or was it just to broaden your horizons?
DY: In 2008 our business dropped off significantly. It was pretty eye opening. The world felt like it was crashing with the economic crisis, so we decided to diversify and focus on what we do well. We’re engine guys and we like competing, so we went out into the market to see if we could find a home for some of our older engines.
The 452 engines were takeoffs that you could take off and bolt onto an engine and make a pretty good dirt late model engine. We wanted to get in that market but we had to convince the market to run Fords. The local markets are almost exclusively Chevrolet engines. We decided that we would align ourselves with someone who could win and go win. That is what we’ve done with Scott. He’s been a great ambassador for our company.
The trap that you can fall into is building it like a Cup engine. It is not a Cup engine. You have to really tailor the power band to the individual driver. You can’t say go turn it 9,600rpm because they don’t want to do that and they won’t do that. So we’ve learned a lot by working with Scott. The 360 sprints were another obvious fit. Ricky Stenhouse and Jason Johnson have a team and Ricky is running in the ASCS. He’s won a bunch of races this year and is competing for the title. That has been a great place for us as well.
We even have drag boats racing down in Australia with the 452 competing with big block engines and beating them up pretty good down in Australia. They are all over the world and this year we’ve had over 100 wins so far. It has been a lot of fun and I think we’re doing a good service for the people we’re partnered with.
MN: Any interest or desire to branch out beyond engines and start doing Roush Yates components like tires, shocks or other items?
DY: It is interesting you mention that. Obviously the street market is a huge market. We’re looking at doing engine upgrades for the street market , primarily focused on the Ford EcoBoost engine platform that is Ford’s global platform of the future. I think we’re going to see some neat things out of the Roush Yates shop for the street performance market in the near future.
Yates’ name is synonymous with speed in NASCAR and it is beginning to infiltrate the lower tiers of racing as well. Yates has two engines in the Chase and it is a safe bet that engine woes will not befall either of the drivers chasing the title. Like his father, Yates will most likely own a racing team sometime soon and it will be interesting to see if he can have the success his father did.
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Wished Robert Yates still had a race team. I was one of his biggest fans.
Shoeman, agree. They were a powerhouse.
Great article, BTW. I enjoy technical pieces like this.
Interesting article! Give us more technical q&a articles in the future. Component mfgs. would be a good start.
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