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Ford Racing NASCAR Nationwide Drivers Eager to Race South of the Border

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Colin Braun drives the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race this weekend at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.  Braun calls the two-and-a-half mile, eight-turn road course on of his favorite road course tracks.  Before joining Roush Fenway Racing, Braun had five years of road course racing experience.  While racing in the Rolex Grand Am Daytona Prototype Series, Braun earned one pole and two second-place finishes.

 

Braun posted the third fastest time (89.868 sec., 100.868 mph) in Friday’s first practice.  He turned a lap time just two-tenths off the pace of the leader, Kyle Busch (89.661 sec., 101.101 mph).

 

COLIN BRAUN – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – ON RACING AT THE ROAD COURSE IN MEXICO CITY. “I’m really excited to be here. The 3M Ford Fusion Nationwide car is pretty cool.  We tested at VIR and it went really well. We had a lot of fun up there.  Boris Said and Carl Edwards helped me out quite a bit out there.  It was a lot of fun.  I know Eddie [Pardue, crew chief] has a good starting set-up here for this weekend, so I think we should have a good car right off the bat.”  OUT OF THE FORD DRIVERS, YOU’RE THE ROOKIE IN THE TRUCK SERIES, BUT HERE, YOU COULD BE CONSIDERED A VETERAN. “I think Boris and Carl probably have it figured out more than I do, but certainly I’m trying to help Erik [Darnell] out as much as I can.  He did a great job down there at VIR.  This should be a lot of fun.  I’m looking forward to learning a lot from Carl and Boris and hopefully we’re going to have a good run.”  DO YOU HAVE A COMFORT LEVEL HERE? “Yeah, I’m very comfortable here.  This is one of my favorite road course tracks I think I’ve raced at back in the sports car days.  I really enjoy coming here, it’s just a cool place with a lot neat fans and kind of different, so it makes it a lot of fun and really interesting.” WHY IS THIS YOUR FAVORITE ROAD COURSE? “It has such a good flow and good rhythm, you can really get into a good rhythm and just kind of cruise around the race track and be incredibly fast, but feel like you’re not going fast at all.  That makes it a lot of fun.”  WILL BRAKES BE A FACTOR HERE? “I think the guys at PFC have told us that we don’t have to worry about the brakes too much. They’ve done a really good job getting us a good package we tried at VIR; it lasted awhile and really worked well.  I think we’re going to be in good shape here.  I don’t think we’ll have to conserve much.  The Goodyear tires should hold-up pretty well.  It’s going to come to us saving our car and not getting into lapped track or hitting the curbs too hard.   Just saving the car to the end of the race and see what we’ve got in the last 10 laps.”  IS QUALIFYING KEY? “I don’t think it is.  I watched the race from last year here with my crew chief Eddie and it looks like you can qualify anywhere and still be pretty quick because pit strategy is so different.  When you fall into the race, the race pace really comes out.  How could of a race car really comes out.  I think the guys who have a strong race car will run to the front.  Obviously, last year the Ganassi cars were just so fast that nobody could really touch them.  They qualified first and third and just kind of ran the whole race that way.  I think it comes down to a little bit of qualifying to see how fast you are.  But once you fall into the race, you can still pass pretty easily here.  There’s such a big difference in the cars and drivers’ abilities and stuff like that, that it should be easy to pass.”  IS THE TRACK WIDE ENOUGH TO PASS? “Oh, yeah, for sure.  There are two or three really good passing opportunities places that we’ve talked about.  I’m looking forward to trying some of those out.”

 

  

Erik Darnell makes his NASCAR Nationwide Series and road racing debut this weekend at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.  Darnell talks about working with teammate Colin Braun and road race expert Boris Said before taking to the track for this weekend’s race.  Darnell is the fulltime driver of the No. 99 Northern Tool Equipment Ford F-150 in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

 

ERIK DARNELL – No. 17 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion – HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THIS WEEKEND? “I don’t know.  It’s kind of difficult.  Not only is this my first Nationwide Series race, it’s also my first real road course race.  I’ve run a couple [road course] races in a Late Model, the former NASCAR Southwest Series and the NASCAR Midwest Series.  I ran one road race a piece in those series, so I have a little bit of experience doing it, but nothing in a heavy car.  This is going to be totally new to me.  We did go to VIR and tested about a month ago.  I thought the test went pretty well, for me never really having been in one of these things before.  Hopefully, that will carry over to today.” DO YOU LIKE ROAD RACING?  ARE YOU COMFORTABLE? “This is something I’m not really used to, but the two races I did in the Late Model, is probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a race car.  It’s just totally different from the normal oval track experience, turning left and right, braking, shifting.  It’s something that’s completely different from what I’m used to, but it’s a lot of fun.  So, I’m looking forward to running the race this weekend.”  HOW DO YOU ADJUST FROM BEING IN THE FORD F-150 TRUCK TO THIS RACE FUSION? “The big difference between the two is the aerodynamics or the way they go through the air on the bigger tracks.  On short tracks you don’t really notice a difference too much.  We have the same engine and the same spacer this year, so we’re both down in horsepower, so that aspect of it is not too much different.  If we ran here in the truck or the Nationwide car, I don’t think you’d really be able to tell the difference on a road course or a short track.  There is not a whole lot to adjust to other than vision and being able to see out of them, is a big thing.  You can see a lot out of the trucks and not so much out of these Nationwide cars.”  TALK ABOUT HOW YOU WILL USE THE SPOTTER? “We’re going to have two spotters here.  We’re going to have one down at one end of the track and one at the other.  I should be covered as far as the spotting goes.  It will be a fun experience.”  CAN YOU TAKE ANYTHING FROM THIS WEEKEND BACK TO THE TRUCKS? “Probably not.  I don’t think anything from this race is going to carry over to any of the truck stuff, but it will help me out down the line should I move up to Nationwide or Cup series.  I think this will give me a little bit of experience doing this stuff because you do have to do this a couple of times a year.  It’s not going to be a bad thing by any means.  It’s just something that I’m going to have to get used to and it’s going to be new to me.”  YOUR TEAMMATE COLIN BRAUN IS USED TO BE A ROOKIE IN THE TRUCK SERIES.  HE HAS A LOT OF ROAD COURSE EXPERIENCE AND NOW YOU’RE THE ROOKIE, WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM HIM? “He helped me out a little bit when we went to the VIR test and actually Boris Said helped me out quite a bit too.  I got to ride around in the two-seater car with him.  They helped me out with braking points, lines out there.  This stuff is completely different than oval racing.  Something I can help Colin with on the oval track, obviously isn’t going to apply here.  But he has so much experience with road courses that he can kind of help me out with the deal like this, which he has been able to do.  Him and Eddie [Pardue] and the guys on the 16 car, they were fast when they tested at VIR, so I did learn a little bit from him.  Hopefully, some of that will carry over into today.”

  

 

Boris Said takes to the wheel of the No. 25 No Fear/Team Smithfield Ford Fusion debut this weekend at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.  Said an established road racer talks about mentoring Roush Fenway Racing’s Colin Braun and Erik Darnell and what it takes to win the challenging road course.

 

BORIS SAID – No. 25 No Fear/Team Smithfield Ford Fusion – BOTH COLIN BRAUN AND ERIK DARNELL GIVE YOU A LOT OF CREDIT FOR HELPING THEM GET READY FOR THIS RACE. “Yeah, I’ve been working a lot with all the Roush guys, I’m kind of contracted to do that to help the road racing.  I personally don’t think Colin is going to need any help from anyone.  I think he is going to be probably one of the guys that are going to battle to win this race.  They were great to work with and good kids.  I hope I can beat ‘em.  I want to beat my pupil.” YOU’VE HAD SOME SUCCESS HERE IN THE PAST. “Yeah, I’ve been on the pole and I’ve had three top-five finishes, I think second, third and fifth, I’ve finished.  I’ve never raced a Ford in the Nationwide Series, so maybe the first time will be a charm.”  WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO WIN HERE? “Patience.  You’ve got to be there with 10 laps to go and have your car in one piece – that’s the hardest thing on a road course in this series.  You’ve got to make the right calls when to pit and if you can do all of that and your car is set-up right, then you have a chance.”  WHAT ABOUT BRAKES? “Brakes are critical on a road course.  You’ve got to have good brakes.  We switched over to Performance Friction Brakes this year and I think that’s made a big difference in our program.  I don’t have any worries there.  But on any road course, that probably the key ingredient to your car’s performance.”  ON DRIVING THE NO. 25 THIS WEEKEND.  “I’m just glad that Ed Rensi and I were able to put a deal together.  I know he was a long time McDonalds exec and I feel like I own stock in that company because I eat there so much.  He was really easy to work with and we put a great deal together.  I’m just excited to do it and hopefully we can help their team stay up there in the points.” ARE YOU WORKING WITH YOUR NO FEAR CREW THIS WEEKEND? “Basically what happened was that Ed Rensi contracted Frankie Stoddard to put the whole thing together for the two races outside the country because they were a little short on people.  In making my deal with them, I brought the sponsorship with our No Fear Racing team and I wanted to work with Frankie.  So he had all the confidence in the world that Frankie could put a deal together, prep the cars and do all that.  That’s all Frankie.”

 

 

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 60 Scotts Water Smart Ford Fusion has three top-10 finishes at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.  The NASCAR Nationwide Series defending champion talks about racing this weekend and his expectations of the race.

 

CARL EDWARDS – No. 60 Scotts Water Smart Ford Fusion – WHAT WILL WE SEE DIFFERENT THIS WEEKEND WITH THE NEW SPACER?  “We’ll see some different shift points.  I don’t know how it’s going to affect it.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot and kind of wondering what exactly is going to happen.  I think we’ll definitely be shifting in different places.  The set-up will be a little different because you won’t have as much power of the corners so you don’t have to worry about wheel spin as much.  The number one thing that I’m interested to see is if it rains.  What that’s going to be like, running in the rain.  We’re all kind of holding our breath and just kind of wait and see what happens.”  DO YOU LIKE TO RACE IN THE RAIN?  “Yes, I like to race in rain.  That would be a blast.  I got to race one time in the rain in a baby grand stock car.  That was really fun so, I’m sure it would be a nightmare for all the crew chiefs, but it would be fun for us, I think.”  ON THE FANS.  “The fans are great here.  I believe this is one of the neatest events that we go all year.  This is one that I look forward to.  It’s just so different, a different culture.  To see how the fans, to kind of understand how they see the sport from their perspective where its something that’s around all the time, on TV all the time.  It’s not readily available, so they see this as a real novelty and it’s really fun to see fans that look at our sport that way, that’s cool.” WHAT ARE YOU DOING SPOTTER WISE? “I don’t know how many spotters I have actually. We’ve got Jason Hedlesky and Tom Giacchi is going to help out a little bit. We’ll probably have a third spotter by the time Sunday rolls around.  I don’t know exactly what our strategy is, but the more you can have here the better.  Three usually works pretty well.  You can do it with two, but three is good.”  HAS TOM SPOTTED FOR YOU IN THE PAST? “Yeah, Tom spots for me. As long as he’s spotting for the right car, it’s good, it works out.”  HOW DOES IT WORK KNOWING THAT YOU NEED TWO OR THREE?  HOW DO YOU GET THE THIRD? “Spotters are greater but in the end, it’s still your job to drive a race car.  I know Tom and Jason really well.  Jack’s had a buddy here that’s helped us.  He’s not here this year, so I don’t know exactly who were going to get.  It doesn’t bother me. We’ve got a close knit group all together and they can send one of the truck drivers or someone up there and we’ll be fine.”  IS THIS A DRIVER’S COURSE? “Oh, yeah, this is a driver’s course, for sure.  Road courses are like that.  I’m very aware that when I’m off the pace here, usually it’s not the car, it’s usually me not driving the right way.  The driver is a big portion of what makes the car go around here.”  WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THIS TRACK? “The number one thing I like about this course is the location.  I think that coming to Mexico City is a blast.  The other thing is that it’s got real tight corners and it’s got some sweepers.  There’s this big almost 180 degree corner down here, that’s a lot of fun coming on to the front straightaway.  The long front straightaway is pretty neat.  I’m really glad they took the chicane out.  It’s a fun track, there’s nothing wrong with it.”  YOU ARE A FAVORITE OF THE MEXICAN FANS AND WE WANT TO SEE A BACK FLIP.  WILL WE SEE ONE SUNDAY? “A back flip is definitely possible.  We’ve just got to do it, you know.  We’ve got to have everything go right.  I really like the Mexican fans, too.  We have a good time.  This is a really fun place to come.”  A LOT OF MEXICAN DRIVERS AND ROAD COURSE DRIVERS ARE HERE. “There’s some amazing drivers here.  The road course racers like Papis, they’re all fast.  I’m upset Jorge Goeters isn’t running this year.  That’s too bad.  I was really looking forward to racing with him.  The road course drivers are pretty spectacular.  Colin Braun is someone to look for.  He’s going to be very fast too.”   THOUGHTS ON ADRIAN FERNANDEZ. “Adrian is going to be tough.  He’s a pretty cool guy.  It’s great to be able to race against a national hero like him.  That’s cool.”  YOU MENTIONED COLIN BRAUN, WERE YOU ABLE TO LEARN FROM HIM AND HIS ROAD RACING BACKGROUND?  “Yeah, Colin Braun is very, very good. As much as I want to stand here and say I’m the guy to beat and I’m going to win this race.  I’m telling you, I’m going to have to beat Colin.  Because we went and tested and he’s spectacular.  I would not be surprised if Colin is not one of the fastest guys here this weekend.”  WHO ELSE IS THE BIGGEST COMPETITION? “I think Boris [Said], Boris is always fast, Adrian is going to be fast.  But I have a feeling that Colin is going to be the guy to beat.  That’s who we’re shooting for.” YOU WANT TO RACE IN THE RACE BECAUSE IT’S A CHANGE OF PACE? “Yeah, exactly.  I’d love to be able to race in the rain.  I’m telling you, something exciting will happen if it rains.  I’d just like to be a part of it.”  WHAT MAKES A GOOD ROAD COURSE? “For me, a good road course is somewhere that’s got some sweeping corners, it’s not just all about out braking people.  That’s fun too, like Montreal is fun, but every one of those corners is as hard as you can brake, you know maximum braking.  I personally really enjoy road courses that are like this or Watkins Glen or Sears Point where there’s some sweeping corners. That’s fun to run through a fast set of esses, that’s cool.”  WHAT IS THE USUAL SPEED HERE?  It’s pretty fast.  This is a fast place, especially this straightaway, then coming down into the slash short shoot off the esses in right hander, it’s pretty fast.  This is a pretty high-speed place.  Down in turns one, two and three, those are real tight corners, so it kind of has both.  Those corners are just like Montreal, flat as a board and real tight.  Then these corners around here are more like a Watkins Glen or something.”  HOW DO YOU ANTICIPATE THE HORSEPOWER DIFFERENCE? “Right off the bad, we’re down on horsepower because of the altitude.  The spacer is going to make the shift points different.  We’re going to be shifting later.  I don’t know how that’s going to affect the race.  It doesn’t ever seem like we’re shifting right at the end of the straightaway anyway, there’s a couple of spots where I think it’s going to make it easier, actually.”  DO YOU THINK IT’S HARDER FOR A ROAD COURSE GUY TO BECOME AN OVAL RACER? OR AN OVAL RACER TO BECOME A ROAD COURSE GUY? “I don’t know.  I can’t tell.  You would think that oval racing would be way easier to learn, but it’s just real precise, it seems like it’s more competitive.  Where a road race guy, if he’s really good, he just stands out because that driver has so much of an affect.”  DO YOU FIND ROAD COURSES OR OVALS MORE DIFFICULT? “I don’t know.  I think it varies from person to person.  I feel like I’ve become a lot better road course racer but it was difficult.  It’s a different type of driving.  You probably could talk to somebody like Boris or Juan [Pablo Montoya] or somebody that can tell you.  But I heard Juan say something that was interesting.  He said that the ovals you leave the car loaded all the time.  The car is at the edge of adhesion all the time.  Where on the road course, you do that for short sections, you know, for short durations of time and he said, from what I read, he said that was different.  I never really thought about it that way.  In a road course car, you’re doing a lot more stopping and things like that where on an oval; you just keep the momentum up.  They’re both hard to do.”  ON A ROAD COURSE, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO SLOW DOWN TO GO FASTER? “Yeah, but all racing is like that.  You can only go so fast and any faster is slower.  Some road courses are different. Watkins Glen is totally different from Sonoma and the effort you put out.  You can really be aggressive at Watkins Glen and you can’t do that at Sonoma.  It depends.  It takes most of my brain power to run well on a road course.”

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Ford Racing NASCAR Nationwide Drivers Eager to Race South of the Border
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