Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, November 1, 2019
TONY STEWART, Stewart-Haas Racing, Press Conference
A FEW DAYS AGO YOU DID DEMO LAPS AT COTA IN AUSTIN. HOW AS THE ATTENDANCE AND ATTENTION FROM THE F1 TEAMS AND DID YOU NOTICE THE BUMPS ON THE TRACK THAT THE F1 DRIVERS HAVE BEEN SO VOCAL ABOUT THERE?
TONY STEWART: “You know, it’s pretty cool because anytime you take a race car to a venue or with a series it’s never seen anything like that It draws a lot of attention and you know, this was a, I guess chapter two of what we did last year with Kevin Magnuson in North Carolina we took our sprint car and they did a Netflix special with Kevin and so we taught him how to drive the winged sprint car so he did really good with that. So guys at SHR build a two seat road course car that we took to Austin and obviously and made a couple apps. It was fun. I mean, the track I thought was a lot of fun to drive. But to watch Kevin get in there and make their laps, the smile on their faces was probably the best part of it. But the one part that I absolutely looked at both of them thought they were both insane is they chose to ride with each other in the car. And they rode with me which I mean, that’s their bad luck, they had to do that. But when they had the chance to drive, they, their teammate decided they wanted to ride with each other in this thing, which I thought was insane. All the teammates, I had in NASCAR coming to a NASCAR track in a cup car, I would not have rode with my teammates. So for those guys to do that, that was pretty cool. But it was fun. Like I said, the layout of the track. It’s a very technical racetrack. Watkins Glenn’s probably the road course that I had the most success at, but it’s pretty straightforward about where the line is what you need to do breaking this and that. The thing about Circuit of the Americas is that is very, very technical. And there’s a lot of different ways you can attack it. And, you know, I just I just thought it was a lot of fun but the bumps that you mentioned for sure I definitely know what those guys were talking about. We can feel them in the stock car as well and, and they were pretty substantial. So I would not discredit what those guys are saying about how bumpy it is there. The facilities going to have to I see them having to make some big changes in those areas that have those bumps. They are probably going to have to do a lot of really serious work to fix it. I didn’t get a chance to drive a Formula One car around there obviously but I mean for the stock car it was it was bumpy, much bumpier than Sonoma or Watkins Glen will ever be. And it was in it’s just in certain sections of the track.The whole track wasn’t that way 95% or 98% of the racetrack is absolutely smooth as class and perfect. There’s just sections where it seems like the ground underneath the asphalt has settled more. So it’s made the asphalt settle, creating a lot of bumps.”
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS DANIEL SUAREZ’S SEASON AND DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA IF HE IS IF HE WILL BE BACK IN THE 41 NEXT YEAR?
“We are working on it. I mean, the thing about Daniel that I love is that he probably studies and works harder than most people I know to be successful at what he’s doing and it’s just a matter of trying to get this deal done and see if we can put it all together but you know he’s working really hard we’re working hard at it we’re I think we’re getting closer but it’s not done yet, obviously.”
I WAS AT COTA ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE TRACK WATCHING YOU GO AROUND IT, TALK. THEY DIDN’T GIVE US CREDENTIALS. IT’S A LONG STORY.
“It’s all right. At least at a NASCAR track I can actually drive in the infield, I had to walk from outside in the parking lot like everybody else. So yeah, there you go. They can come get me in a car next time.”
GOING AROUND THROUGH THE ESSES AND THEN GOING INTO TURN 11 YOU WERE SMOKING THE TIRES PRETTY GOOD. WAS THAT WAS THAT FROM BREAKING? OR WAS THAT FROM ACTUALLY GETTING ON IT COMING OFF? AND TALKING ABOUT THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS, WHAT DID YOU NOTICE ABOUT THINGS THAT WOULDN’T LEND THEMSELVES GOOD OR BAD TO A STOCK CAR?
“Well, you know, turn one obviously, it’s that’s probably what it’s most visible to everybody and what everybody remembers about COTA and you know, then you go up hill and it’s a big breaking and then you turn and you start a four set sequence of right left esses, but every turn in that sequence of those eight corners, the radius gets tighter, each corner gets tighter, tighter, tighter, tighter, tighter, and that’s what makes it so technical. Because for a heavy stock car, I mean you have to be precise with your marks and you do in any kind of race car, but it’s a little harder if you miss your mark in a heavier car. And for a track that the corners keep getting tighter as they go through that sequence. I mean, that is that was what was really fun. A lot of blind over, off camber, cresting corners. I think we took the Sonoma tires what we had so may not be the right tire for the track. The setup that we had in there’s what we had to run for the whole hour that we were there. So I didn’t get chance to really work on the car. But yeah, it was, some of it was breaking and some of it was during acceleration as well, but we wanted to make sure that, you know, those guys had to get it in there, the F1 cars the next day, and the thing you don’t want to do is give them too much rear brake and have you know, have them have to worry about wheel hopping and crashing a car and, you know, getting dinged up for the next day when they got to get in their full time job.”
EARLIER TODAY, YOU WERE INDUCTED IN THE TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY HALL OF FAME. IT’S BEEN A BIG YEAR GOING TO BE A CONTINUED BIG YEAR A LOT OF POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE HEADED YOUR WAY. ARE YOU READY FOR THAT? IT DOESN’T SEEM LIKE YOU’RE THE POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE KIND OF GUY. HOW ARE YOU HANDLING IT?
“Well, too late. It’s already been happening. So I don’t know if you’re whether you’re ready for it or not. It’s already been going on but it’s very humbling. I mean, it’s, you know, North Carolina and Motor Sports Hall of Fame of American in January. So, you know, three of them this year it’s been pretty cool from that standpoint, but it’s, it’s kind of conflicting at the same time because to me, it’s like you think about Hall of Fame stuff after you’re done driving. And last night was my 67th race this year, I’m far from retiring. So it just kind of feels like it’s chapters that are overlapping in the book but at the same time it’s a really neat experience. It’s humbling. I don’t get embarrassed by much of anything, but this stuff kind of embarrasses me for some reason. I don’t know why but, but it is neat that they’re doing it.
HAVING DRIVEN A MCLAREN AT COTA, I’M KIND OF CURIOUS AS TO WHAT YOUR EXPERIENCE WAS GOING UP THAT FIRST HILL AND HITTING THAT FIRST TURN OFF OF PIT ROAD. “The thing that I did notice is you see it on TV and normally the game views from the top of that hill it’s the perspective of it isn’t even remotely what you see when you drive up the hill and and I think Wolfgang asked it not i’m not sure i actually totally answer his question. The first time we went down through there all the teams ran out from the garages and were lined up on the inside of the front stretch wall there and that was pretty cool. Everybody that had a camera was up there all the teams that were you know they weren’t on track at all on Thursday so to see those guys go, you know, they hear that thing coming down the straightaway and for those guys to run across like that. You’re watching guys running across pit road to watch the car go down there, but it was really cool climbing the hill the first time. The perspective doesn’t do it justice from the TV view.”
AND SECONDLY, CURIOUS ABOUT HOW THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE FORD ENGINE HAS GONE WITH WORLD OF OUTLAWS AND DONNY FACING ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP NEXT WEEKEND, CAN YOU KIND OF HANDICAP WHAT WE’RE LOOKING AT WITH HIM GOING UP AGAINST BRAD SWEET FOR THE TITLE? “I think I’m as nervous as the drivers are and as Kasey (Kahne) is as a car owner too. They’re literally eight points away from each other with the way that World Outlaw points are it’s two points per position. So we’ve got two races left. And they’re literally four finishing positions apart at this point. So I can promise you and having a weekend off this past, or I guess this weekend is their weekend off going into it. So they’re going to go for two whole weeks, thinking about what’s going to happen next weekend. So I’m sure Brad and Kasey and Donny are nervous. I’m not really that nervous, because it’s like we’ve been through this a million times and know what happens but I’m excited. I mean, I think the World of Outlaws sanctioning body is really happy that it’s that close going into the last two races. For us, I mean, getting Donny in the Ford Motor and finally getting a chance for him to run it. It really wasn’t necessarily the plan to get it in as early as we did, but we had a problem at Lernerville that got us in the deficit we were and it kind of opened the door, you know, we basically felt like, we didn’t really have anything to lose at that point. So we went ahead and decided to make the change and put the Ford in. But we’ve been extremely happy with it. The funny part is we’ve spent more time trying to figure out how to detune the motor, then try to push and get every little bit out of it. We haven’t even tried that yet. Literally the first run on the dyno was better than anything we ever had with any of the other motors and I’m on a different motor package than Donny has been on but both of our motors didn’t didn’t run as good as this one did. The thing with the World of Outlaws is their qualifying is at a premium. So you need that power for qualifying but the rest of the day you kind of need to be able to detune the motor and make it more drivable when the when the track conditions slick off and you don’t need quite the same horsepower. So we spent a lot of time at the chassis dyno at Tim Engler’s working on how to get more drivability in it where when the track conditions change that the motors still drivable and easy for him to drive. But the process has been fun. I mean, we’ve been able to work with Ford engineers and the whole process I don’t think you could ask for it to go smoother than what it has went through. It’s just a matter of we’re trying to figure out now what do we have to do to make it to where we can help sell that motor for Ford and get more of the Fords out there. So it was getting motors that we could actually get in a car and start making laps with and then getting him into Donny’s cars, getting our motor program for next year and getting the number of motors we need to compete next year up and then figuring out what we need to do for the consumer to get that motor ready for market. It’s still in those phases right now, but it everything that we’ve seen from the new Ford motor has been amazing to watch the process and how painless it’s been, you know, knock on wood. It’s been painless to this point. So if it keeps going like it’s going, this project has been a lot of fun.”
OBVIOUSLY THIS WEEK F1 ANNOUNCED THE CAP COST FOR TEAMS, NASCAR TEAMS AND NASCAR WORKING ON SOMETHING LIKE THAT, FOR THIS SERIES, HOW MUCH HOPE DO YOU HAVE IN CAP COST FOR CUP TEAMS AND HOW MUCH HOPE DO YOU HAVE THAT SOMETHING LIKE THAT COULD EVEN BE EFFECTIVE AT THIS LEVEL?
“It can be done. I mean obviously F1 talking about it, and I think NASCAR’s talked about it a little bit. I think it’s been brought up. I think it would be great for the sport. I mean realistically look at how many teams each week have a chance at running in the top three. There’s two maybe three organizations that have an opportunity to even run in the top three every week at an F1 race. IndyCar it’s not quite that bad and it’s not quite that bad again with NASCAR. But you see what we’ve all known the trend in motor sports. What happens in Formula One trickles down to IndyCar and then used to trickle down to NASCAR. Now you see it in Formula One, and then IndyCar and NASCAR see it at the same time anymore. So I honestly think it’s a good thing for the sport. I mean, obviously Gene has a very successful computer automated machine business with Haas Automation. But it would help bring the lower finance teams and make them more competitive if they can cap the budgets for the top teams and that would close that gap. I think it makes the racing better for everybody.”
WHY SHOULD IT MATTER?
“Do you want to watch the same four or five guys win races every week? I don’t think it’s worked so far for F1 necessarily, that’s the way it’s always been. I think why F1 has been successful for so long is just the innovation and technology in the sport. I think that’s what’s carried it. But, you know, fans of U.S. motorsports are much more picky than European fans about their racing. They just love watching the cars go around and watch how fast they are, how loud they are. There’s not a lot of actual physical racing. Fans in the US want to see good racing and their standard what a good race is versus F1 fans is drastically different. I think if you can help more under budget teams be more competitive. I think it’s better health wise for the sport.”
WHEN I ASKED SOME OTHERS ABOUT COTA AND BEING A POTENTIAL CUP TRACK, I WAS ALWAYS TOLD THERE PROBABLY AREN’T MANY PASSING ZONES I WANT TO SAY YOU SAID THERE FOR ABOUT FOUR OR FIVE PASSING ZONES. I MEAN, DO YOU THINK THAT THE CUP CARS COULD PUT ON A GOOD SHOW THERE IF TAKEN THERE?
“I think there’s five and potentially six passing zones on that racetrack for Cup cars. I think the area that it would probably be hard on is brakes, I mean, there’s three really long straightaways that are really heavy braking zones. But aside from that there’s plenty of passing opportunities. I’ve heard rumors that NASCAR is looking at potentially more road courses. I think it would be an injustice if they overlooked at least looking at COTA then the question is, obviously, you’ve got COTA here in Texas you have two races here at Texas Motor Speedway. The worst thing that could ever do is take one of the races from Texas Motor Speedway in my opinion. I think there’s other tracks on the circuit that you could take one away and I think everybody would think it was a reasonable decision. I don’t think taking a race from Texas Motor Speedway would be a wise decision at all.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOU THINK YOUR TEAM’S STACK UP RIGHT NOW AT STEWART-HAAS RACING AND HOW YOU LOOK AT THIS WEEKEND.
“You know, the hard thing It seems this year is it seems like the needles kind of been moving all over the place. It hasn’t been necessarily the year that we’re kind of used to seeing with our organization. But the one thing that has been consistent is how everybody at the shop, how hard everybody’s working, but it just seems like it’s been really hard to find a balance that they all like and find something that seems to be consistent. It just seems like what works one week isn’t really working the next week and seems to the needle is moving around. From our standpoint, as far as this weekend’s concerned, this is a track historically that Kevin runs really well at and likes, so that’s a plus. It’s kind of really hard to say at this point what you what you really expect till you see how qualifying goes and just see how they really feel about even qualifying with this package this year. You know, qualifying isn’t really an indication of how the cars are going to race. You know, everybody kind of picks a downforce package they like and kind of goes with it. So you might be on the front of qualifying, but it may not drive so well in the race. On the weekends that I’m not around the NASCAR tracks I don’t really get too worked up over where the cars qualified because I know there’s agendas. If we don’t qualify good, it’s like, well, maybe they had more downforce in it and which equates to more drag and it’s going to be a little slower but in the race is faster. You just gotta wait and see. It’s literally hard to predict going into race days what you’re going to have I mean, even days that I’ve talked to these guys in the morning and they’re like, yeah, I’m excited. I’m happy with what we got. They get in the race and all of a sudden they’re unhappy really quickly. It’s just weird how it’s been really hard to be consistent and find something that works everywhere.”