Thursday, 08 December 2022

Brad Keselowski talks Michigan Speedway, as Ford refocuses on helping its NASCAR teams

Posted On Saturday, 13 June 2015 20:00 Written by
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DAVE PERICAK, Global Director, Ford Performance – THERE WAS BIG FORD NEWS OUT OF LE MANS FRIDAY WITH THE NEW FORD GT SPORTS CAR PROGRAM, THOSE CARS WILL DEBUT AT THE ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA NEXT YEAR. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE WHEN THOSE CARS ROLL OFF THE GRID?
“Hopefully some of the best race cars you have ever seen. We are really excited about returning to Le Mans and returning to sports car racing. The EcoBoost powered sports car is going to be over 600 horsepower and will be state of the art in terms of aerodynamics, light-weighting and the powertrain itself. We are very excited. We are going to have one fantastic race car. Everybody keeps asking, ‘Are you guys going to go win?’ and I say that we don’t race to lose. All I can tell you is that when we show up that day we are going to have one heck of a race car and I hope everyone else is ready.”

THERE WAS ALSO NEWS A FEW WEEKS AGO PERTAINING TO YOU AND YOUR ROLE IN THE NASCAR PROGRAM WITH FORD. CAN YOU TOUCH ON WHAT THAT HIERARCHY LOOKS LIKE FOR YOU GOING FORWARD?
“We did a reorganization called Ford Performance and I am the director of Ford Performance. Whether it is performance vehicles inside our company or whether it is racing, it is all underneath me. So you will see me at the race tracks more often. I have been here already quite a bit and engaging with the teams. More importantly what you will see and why Ford Performance is so important, and Brad (Keselowski) can hopefully support me on this, we are taking all our resources inside of Ford and we are reorganizing them in a way we can be more efficient and effective to help our teams perform better on the track. I think Brad has seen the results of us doing this Ford Performance, stepping up our technical supports and then applying it to the team.”



BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion
“Yeah, it is an exciting time at Ford and for us as drivers and teams specifically. It is our job to make the most of every resource we have and Ford is doing an outstanding job of trying to push us to the next level which I think is always something to be proud of. I look at the manufacturer side and coming here to Detroit is a key indicator of just how integral it is to our race fans and their experience. Not only that, but how much they have to offer for us as race teams to perform. It is interesting to me to see it change from Ford Racing to Ford Performance because as someone told me when the change was done, anyone can race, but you have to be good to perform and that is what we are out for.”

MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY IS YOUR HOME RACETRACK BUT YOU ARE STILL SEARCHING FOR YOUR FIRST SPRINT CUP WIN HERE, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO COME HOME AND WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO PULL INTO VICTORY LANE HERE? “Those two wins at the XFINITY level felt like the biggest wins of my career at the time. That was certainly not at the Cup level and before winning the championship over here. I would say that for almost every driver this is the case, winning your home race, at your hometown track is its own Daytona 500 for you. It is your biggest race. It is where all your family and friends are. For me it is bigger than that with Ford and Roger Penske having his headquarters here. This is a huge race for me personally and a huge race for my team and for Ford and a win here would mean so much. We have been so close finishing second here previously and I just want to get that one more spot.”

DAVE PERICAK CONTINUED – HAVE YOU BEEN IN COMMUNICATION WITH JACK ROUSH TO DISCUSS WHERE THEY ARE IN TERMS OF PERFORMANCE THIS SEASON? “We are with Jack all the time and we spend a lot of time with Jack’s team and we are making all the right, I believe, changes within not only the Roush Fenway organization but as we apply our technical resources within Ford Performance assisting Jack and his team to get to a better place. We have seen progress. We are excited about what we have seen so far. Obviously we need to see more but we are confident that Jack is dedicated with his team to do that. We are partners in this and our goal is to make them perform better and we are expecting a better performance today.”

ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR YOU ARE WORKING WITH THEM ON? “We are working with them on all aspects of the race car and not only the car but driver training or just everything that is involved in getting a race car to perform on the track. It is all aspects. There is nothing that is not on the table. Jack has welcomed all of the support and help and we have seen some significant improvement as a result of that. We are hoping for a good outing today from the Roush Fenway team.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE POSSIBILITY OF GOING TO KENTUCKY AND RACING A PACKAGE THAT HASN’T BEEN TESTED BEFORE AND DO YOU THINK THAT IS THE RIGHT STEP? “Honestly I haven’t put a lot of thought into it. The rules kind of are what they are from week to week. I kind of try not too much to get caught up in some of the pandering for what the rules should be at times and try to focus more on how to make the most of them. All in all, I am open minded. I just want to see the racing continue to improve and the thing about this sport that I think is hard to explain to people because they ask me all the time why we change the rules so much. I think it goes back to the constant tug of war between NASCAR and the teams and the teams continually innovating and NASCAR continuously trying to make the racing as high quality as possible. In that tug of war, anytime NASCAR changes something to try to make the racing better, whether that is aerodynamically or engines or some other change, we seem to have the resources, whither it is someone like Ford or internally to gain that back, whatever they might take away with a rules change. Over the last decade or so we have significantly outpaced NASCAR and their changes to the car to try to keep the racing to where you can pass and do things. We have done that all with the aerodynamic category. We have seen the cars gain 200-300-percent in downforce the last 10 years. At some point NASCAR is trying to get out in front of that and that is their job, to keep the racing as good as it can be. In that sense, I completely agree that you have to continuously change the rules to keep up with the teams and the iterations that we come up with to make our cars perform that aren’t necessarily in the best interest of the sports. To me it is a good sign to see them trying to do just that.”

DAVE PERICAK CONTINUED – THE NAME CHANGE FROM FORD RACING TO FORD PERFORMANCE, I AM ASSUMING YOU HAVE ALWAYS PROVIDED TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE, SO HOW IS THIS CHANGE ACTUALLY GOING TO HELP TEAMS IN NASCAR?
“We have obviously supplied support in the past. The big shift within our company is not just the name change but functionally how we operate. We were supporting our race team’s 100-percent nearly out of the marketing group in the company and now that has shifted to our product development team. Our product development team has much more resources available, whether it is aerodynamics or engine or no matter what it is. Realigning everything under product development within Ford actually adds to a much larger team than what we had before in order to support the actual race teams themselves. It really is a major shift inside our company on how we are approaching racing. As Brad mentioned before, we don’t just go racing, we race to perform. We are going to go out on the track and perform and test new technologies and innovations and bring that into the rest of the product line in the company. From a resource perspective and how we support them better now than ever before, it is that because now that it is aligned under product development we have more resources to do that. Also the core team that works underneath me now that is directly supporting the race teams went from about seven people two years ago to 21 and growing two years ago. We are putting more resources on board to better support our teams.”

IS IT MORE OF A HANDS ON APPROACH THAN IT WAS?
“It is very much a hands on approach and Brad can attest to that. We are absolutely 100-percent hands on with the teams and side-by-side. I have engineers that work inside the Penske and Roush buildings much of the time and we are absolutely more hands on that we have ever been before.”

ARE YOU GUYS SATISFIED WITH YOUR CURRENT ROSTER OF TEAMS AND HAVE YOU GUYS TALKED TO FURNITURE ROW?
“What I would say is that we are very happy with the partners we have today and we have an approach where we are working to get everybody’s performance up and we are committed to doing that. We believe in long term partners and believe we have the right people that we are with currently.”

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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