Wednesday, May 25

Ford Performance NASCAR: Chris Buescher Darlington Media Availability

CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 Socios Ford Mustang – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT DARLINGTON AND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS WEEKEND?  “Dry weather, for one.  I’m excited to see that in the forecast for the weekend now, and always enjoy coming to Darlington.  Bristol is still my favorite, but this one is a really close second, so always enjoy coming down here.  I love the character of this place, the challenge of it.  It’s been a fun track for me through the years and I think we have a lot of questions with the new car coming in like we have about every racetrack this year, but I think there’s a lot we think will carry over from Dover last week, hopefully for us, and I think we’re ready to get into it.  I know it’s gonna be a decent amount cooler than we probably initially anticipated.  I don’t know if I’m gonna complain inside the car, but it’s always a fun track once it gets really slick out there as well.  I’m ready to get after it and see what we’ve got here in practice and qualifying this morning and be ready for the race.”

 

IS IT A DIFFERENT MINDSET OF RACING MAINTAINING TRACK POSITION AS OPPOSED TO TRYING TO GAIN IT?  “I would say not really for us.  You’re basically trying to get all you can every lap and whether that’s trying to get by cars or maintain it.  I guess one thing that was a little different is early on in the race when we knew there were some tire wear issues we were able to roll back just a little bit to try and make sure we weren’t one of those cars, one of those teams with those issues, so there’s a little bit of that.  You can kind of control some of how hard you need to push, but ultimately I think that we still have to get after it really aggressively.  You still have to work really hard to find that track position, whether it’s holding onto it or getting it.  It’s been something that we’ve used those words a lot this year already and then there have been places where it’s surprised us and it hasn't’ been that big of a deal.  It’s something that we have focused on a decent amount.  We’ve talked a lot and put a decent amount of focus on qualifying for the year, and I think that’s something that may have taken a little bit for granted in the past, that working on a race car we do have to work on our qualifying efforts very aggressively right now.  That’s harder to do than ever when it’s 20 minutes of practice and you don’t really have time to do any kind of mock run, but with this car also we’re not doing all the shenanigans of taping up and changing a whole lot to try and set up for a qualifying run.  We don’t have a big balance offset, so it is a little bit easier for us to get an idea where our car is gonna go for a qualifying run wherever we ended practice or what we’re aiming for typically is very close.  If you’re not P1, it wasn’t close enough, but we are putting a lot of focus into qualifying this year, especially in the last couple months.”

 

DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST TIME HERE AND HOW LONG IT TOOK TO FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WERE DOING?  “Yeah, I do.  It was 2011.  I ran two Xfinity races that year subbing in when Trevor Bayne got sick.  I ran Richmond and Darlingotn.  I remember coming down here and at that time in the Xfinity Series the rookies had an extra set of tires and so I remember unloading off the truck and everybody was just sitting still.  Nobody was going out on track and Chris Andrews was crew chiefing and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got an extra set of tires.  Let’s go out there and get used to it.’  I think the story I got is that Carl was up on top of our hauler watching and may have suggested to Chris that we should plug in the backup because this is a tough place.  We ended up making it through practice really well.  I was actually a pretty quick study to the place.  It’s just a ton of fun.  There was a lot of learning with the car.  That was my second race in a car with a splitter.  I think that’s what took me probably the most time to adapt to over the valances we were running in ARCA, but loved it immediately and ended up having a pretty good day going and got a left-front cut down on a restart and kind of just made it to where our day wasn’t near as good as it could have been.  I do remember coming in and seeing the place for the first time and the intimidation of it, but as soon as practice got started it was pretty much a fish in water.  It was a place very similar in all the character to a lot of the tracks that we’d been running on the ARCA side.  It just was a whole lot faster.”

 

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW THIS FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON HAS GONE AND THE IMPROVEMENTS YOU SEE GOING ON AT RFK?  “Time is flying, that’s for sure.  It’s been a really good start.  It’s not been all that we had hoped and I guess that’s always easy to say, but we’ve had a pretty constant progression, which is solid, which is good and we are seeing gains in different areas along the way.  I think we just hope that we’d be able to take a few larger steps early, but we’re getting there and we are finding our place.  We’re continuing to work on it.  I think that we’ve been able to start being a lot more consistent in our days.  Dover was obviously a good qualifying effort for us and it was a really good race start to finish.  It wasn’t everything we wanted.  We still need that last step to be able to compete for wins, but there’s been a lot of good things coming down the line.  It’s been really neat to see Brad and a lot of his insights from whether it’s his truck team, whether it’s his manufacturing business, or some of the people that he has put into place and some of his ideas, coupling that with Jack’s experience.  They remind me a lot of each other.  It’s been neat to see it progress and keep building up and as we keep learning this new car, what we’re able to accomplish, so at the end of the day we have more work to do and if we can make half the progress in the next 12 weeks as we did in the first, then we’ll be in a really good spot.  We just have to keep after it.”

 

AFTER LAS VEGAS, WHAT KIND OF RACE DO YOU EXPECT WITH THIS NEXT GEN CAR AT KANSAS?  “I have not gotten there yet.  I think Kansas has been a lot of fun being able to move around there in the past and I think that is definitely a hope that we’ll be able to move around and try and see what we can do for clean air out front, what we can do for multiple grooves.  I think that we’re getting ready to find a pretty defined durability test here this weekend on what that right side can take.  I think we’re pretty confident in the body’s ability to handle it.  I think it’s suspension we’re starting to think about.  I know there have been some updates made to the car since early in the year and it seems like it has been better and it probably will be.  We just have to make sure that we don’t get too aggressive with that, and when we get to Kansas if that’s something that allows you to go up there next to the fence and be a little bit more aggressive with it, then you might be able to instill a little more confidence than you would have when you had a metal body and was sitting there rubbing on a tire as soon as you barely scrubbed it.  That’s my initial impression on it.  I don’t have a whole in-depth conversation, but I am hopeful that it will widen out and we’ll have multiple grooves to work with and be able to find some speed there and find a way to put on a good race, too.”

 

RODNEY CHILDERS MADE SOME COMMENTS ON THE RADIO ABOUT HOW THE FORDS OVERALL HAVE SOME WORK TO DO AND MENTIONED SOME SPECIFIC THINGS.  HOW CLOSELY DO THE FORD TEAMS WORK TOGETHER?  “I would say Brad would have a better answer to this because I am not in those trenches.  From where I’m at, it definitely seems like I hear about ongoing communication and efforts to be together, but to what depth that is I’m not sure.  I say I hear a lot about it, but I don’t see a whole lot directly from where I’m at.  That’s not saying that it’s not happening in different ways, but for me and what I see it’s very much more RFK and a little bit of Front Row.  I think that we have recognized that we have a little bit of catching up to do and probably got a little bit of a false sense of security after Daytona, but I think that we’re still after it.  We’re still trying to figure out what it is that we need.  I think for a little while we were all off on our own islands for how we unloaded every week that we may not have known as a collective manufacturer where we stood.  I think some of the drivers are very similar, but I think that we were just all doing our own thing and we didn’t really know how to compare to the others at that point, and I think we’ve been able to hone in on some better baselines and some better unloads and I think it’s pointing out that we have a little bit of work to do yet.”

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