Tuesday, Dec 05

Ford Performance NASCAR: Matt McCall Pocono Media Availability

MATT MCCALL, Crew Chief, No. 6 Kohler Generators Ford Mustang – HOW FAMILIAR ARE YOU WITH THE NEW TIRE CONSTRUCTION YOU HAVE STARTING AT POCONO AND HOW IT MIGHT CHANGE THINGS?  “I think obviously just the data that we’ll receive and the stuff that they’ve done at the wheel force test.  It’s not the exact tire, but similar construction.  The left sides, they basically moved the label to the inside, but hopefully I think they’re thinking a little bit of durability help from both sides, just from a pressure standpoint, so I guess we’ll see.  I still feel like there’s some pretty big nervousness from the left side durability for this weekend, but they didn’t have any issues at the test from what I understand, so I guess we’ll see when we get there.”


DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM MAY HAVE TO WIN TWICE THIS SEASON TO BATTLE FOR A PLAYOFF SPOT WITH 14 DIFFERENT WINNERS THIS SEASON?  “Yeah, I would say that’s the way it’s lining up, for sure.  Obviously, we need to get the first one and then you would look for the second one.  It’s definitely getting tight.”


IS THERE A TRACK COMING UP FOR THE REST OF THE REGULAR SEASON OUTSIDE OF DAYTONA WHERE YOU COULD HAVE A CHANCE AT WINNING?  “Brad is really good at Richmond, so that stands out as being a good track.  We were OK for the first race there.  We didn’t have a winning car, but had decent speed.  We’ve got a little bit of a notebook to go back there, so I would say there and honestly the road courses.  We haven’t been able to put all the finishes together, but we’ve been pretty solid so I think either one of those there’s a possibility if the strategy works out and our car is good Brad can make it happen.” 


THOUGHTS ON THE CHICAGO STREET COURSE.  “I think there’s no negative to change it’s just understanding and adapting to that.  I think it’ll be a new adventure and we’re ready for it.”


WHEN DO YOU AS A CREW CHIEF START LOOKING AT THAT RACE AND TRYING TO MAKE PLANS?  “I would say it would be later in the year most likely, but probably sooner than what you would normally look at just because it is so different from anything we’ve ran before in this series.”


HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE CORNER TO A NON-TECHNICAL PERSON WITHOUT INVOKING THE WORDS ‘LOW TRANSFER’?  “I think the biggest thing with this car anyway, probably the best way to describe entry a lot of times is almost like a hydroplane.  You’re not necessarily in full control, so I would say that’s the biggest part with this car – the entry stability seems to be on edge.  I would say that’s probably the easiest way to describe that.  The middle, it’s the same at every track.  You’re turning the wheels to the right on entry, turning back to the left in the middle and then to the right on exit, but I think the easiest thing to describe that is there’s definitely less stability with this car and then less forgiveness when you’re breaking the corners down.  The exit seems to be better from the start of the year.  All the drivers have learned and figured it out and setup stuff has evolved, but it’s still completely different from the perspective of what we’ve had before is when the rear of the car comes out further than the front, there’s not near the extra side force to help the stability and feel comfortable to keep driving it sideways.”


DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM IS MAKING THE PROGRESS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON?  “It’s not fast enough because if you’re not winning, you’re not where you want to be, but I feel like we have definitely made some strides.  The thing is that everyone else is, too.  If you think you’ve gained five or 10 spots, you’ve probably only got a couple because everyone is working all the time to get better.  I do feel like we have been able to put together some better cars for Brad to drive as far as overall balance. We still have some work to do to get some more speed out of the cars, but, yes, I feel like we’ve definitely made some small gains.”


HOW HAS THIS FIRST SEASON GONE PAIRED WITH BRAD?  DID CHEMISTRY SWAY ONE WAY OR THE OTHER BEFORE OR AFTER THE PENALTY?  “Not really.  I feel like Brad, honestly, is really easy to work with and he’s working hard all the time trying to get better, no different than we are and I think we all just adapted a little bit slower than we wanted to this car.  I feel like now we’ve been a little bit more comfortable unloading at some of the tracks just from a setup standpoint, but I think communication-wise it started off pretty good in the off-season and he’s done a really good job of keeping that communication really high with me and the team.  That’s the plus side of it, but obviously we don’t have quite the results that show for that.”


YOU TOLD BRAD TO SHAKE OFF THE AUSTIN DILLON INCIDENT LAST WEEKEND.  DO YOU VIEW THAT AS PART OF YOUR ROLE, TRYING TO KEEP THINGS CALM AND STAY FOCUSED ON GETTING A TOP 10?  “For sure.  That’s a big part of it, communicating with him and T.J. to just make sure we relay the information that the race isn’t over.  It’s so easy to be distracted if your day is going OK and we lost a little track position on the two-tire deal, but fortunately you don’t always know what he’s thinking because he’s very good about not speaking out loud, but overall that was the biggest thing was just trying to put us back in a spot to stay focused because he’s obviously really good at Loudon, so we needed to keep trying to march forward.”


WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE CHICAGO STREET RACE?  “I think that’s intriguing.  Anytime there’s change I feel like there’s a chance for opportunity for everyone.  A different market.  A street course is definitely interesting.  I’m curious to see how it all works out for us, but I’m definitely interested to get there.”


HOW MUCH WORK IS DONE FOR THE SETUP FOR THAT RACE?  “That will be a big part because it’s substantially different for us in trying to understand with the way this car works and as far as the travels and the types of limitations we have from NASCAR with the internal bumps stops, it’ll definitely turn into trying to understand the track roughness and that type of thing, so a lot of work will go into it trying to maximize performance.”

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS WITH BRAD FOR THE REST OF THE REGULAR SEASON?  “I feel like this weekend we have to keep building on what we’ve been able to do the past couple of weeks.  Someone asked earlier about winning two races, I still think we need to win one first and then figure out where we’re at.  I think there will be some opportunity there, some strategy for some of these races to get a little bit more aggressive – maybe put us in position and hopefully we can be fast enough where you don’t have to do something like that, but I feel pretty good about it.”


BRAD HAS HIGH EXPECTATIONS, BUT HOW MUCH AS THIS BEEN ABOUT BUILDING A RACE TEAM IN YOUR FIRST YEAR TOGETHER?  “That’s some of it, for sure.  I think we’re fortunate that the team we have is really good, it’s just adapting to all the tools and everything we have to keep trying to maximize what we have.  Everytime you go to the track you want to put yourself in position to win, but if you really don’t have that, that’s the hardest thing to go to the track and then feel like, ‘OK, we’re racing for 10th.’  At the same time, that’s what we probably didn’t do there for a few races and got put in a bad spot, so we’re trying to clean that up a little bit and just build on what we have to continue to get better.”


HOW FRUSTRATING HAS IT BEEN TO NOT BE ABLE TO CAPITALIZE ON THOSE RACES WHERE YOUR CAR HAS BEEN GOOD, BUT SOMETHING HAPPENS?  “That’s the nature of the business.  It goes in cycles.  Yes, the frustration levels can get high, but you’ve got to be a realist and understand that you’ve got to keep working and approach next week the best that you can.”


COMING INTO THIS YEAR RFK WANTED TO HAVE A DEDICATED COMPETITION DEPARTMENT.  WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON THAT AND HOW HAS IT GONE?  “Our structure here is a little bit different than what I was accustomed to.  I think there are benefits for sure and I still think it’s trying to put it all together.  The toughest thing is that we only have two cars and our notebook build is a little bit smaller than other guys, but then if I use Trackhouse as an example they’re the fastest cars almost every week.  We have not been able to maximize as much as what I feel like we should be able to from that side of building our notebook, but it’s slowly but surely getting better for sure.”


YOU HAVE SO MUCH SMT DATA.  HOW DO YOU USE THAT DATA IN WORKING WITH YOUR DRIVER?  “That’s a good question because the data we do have is a double-edged sword because if there’s a car faster than you, you start analyzing what line they’re running and what their inputs are.  The sampling rate we get is still pretty small, but from a driver perspective it gives a good idea if someone is doing something different and with the shifting stuff now it definitely allows you, if someone is using a different gear and they seem to be making lap time, a chance to try that or relay that information, but also, at the same time, the adage used to be the driver would tell you they held it wide-open in qualifying and now they’re much more truthful now when it comes to that information.  But it’s a good tool.  I think it’s what drives competition because the drivers get out and study that data, trying to get ready, especially with the practice sessions we have.  They happen pretty quick and then you line up and go qualify, so just trying to maximize as much as you can to increase performance each time on the track.”


CAN THEY DIGEST THE RAW DATA OR DO YOU HAVE TO TRANSLATE IT FOR THEM?  “The visual and just the SMT app itself is pretty nice because it basically has the car on the track.  The lines aren’t perfect, but it does overlay the lines to the other cars, so the visual is pretty good but still you definitely try to break it down a little bit to find the right cars and the certain laps you need to be looking at as quick as you can.”

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