On track activity Thursday at Kentucky Speedway featured two test sessions for Cup cars, including an Electronic Fuel Injection model driven by each manufacturer. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did the honors as the primary driver in the No. 121 EFI Ford Fusion on track for both sessions and Ford Racing Race Engine Engineer Dave Simon was on hand as well. Both talked about what they have seen and experienced in the first test of the day, a four hour session.
DAVE SIMON, Ford Racing Race Engine Engineer – HOW DID IT GO OUT THERE TODAY? “It went well, very well. We didn’t have any issues with the car. The car ran well and we were able to progress through our test plan in a reasonable manner. The feedback from the drivers was good. They liked the car and liked the way it drove. We were able to fix a few issues this morning that were things that we really couldn’t get tuned in on the dyno, so you need to do it at the race track and we were able to do that. The car is responding to the changes, so we are very happy with the way things are going so far.”
WILL THERE BE ANY NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC NEXT YEAR WHEN THIS CAR HITS THE TRACK? “I think, assuming all the cars are running well and you have the same kind of parody that you do now between the manufacturers and engine builders and teams, you really won’t probably notice any difference. There is nothing inherent about fuel injection that says, ‘Wow, I can see that difference.’ It will be little things like fuel economy that will probably change a little bit. The cars may be a little better tuned than they are now. The thing I think in general is that the competition level should be as good as it is now. We may see some failures early in the season as people learn what is going to break and learn that you have run something a little bit too long. I think that is inevitable with a change this big. There is something like 50 new components under the hood and all of them are going to have a different life span. We have to figure out what that is. From here forward that is one of the biggest challenges that we have. I think again that if all the cars run well as they are supposed to, you won’t see much change in competition.”
HOW DO YOU ENSURE THAT WHEN THE DAYTONA 500 ROLLS AROUND YOU ARE CONFIDENT THAT THE ENGINE IS GOOD TO GO? “From here forward we have a number of track tests and a lot of dyno testing. We have a full durability program planned. There will always be things that maybe you didn’t account for or just unexpected failures. We have that now. We have valves that fail after running thousands and thousands of miles of durability testing. Sometimes you get a part that is bad, it happens. We will get a feel for it through the season as to what parts we need to be weary of and what parts we can keep running. I think that the season will start without too much drama.”
IS THE PLAN TO GET ALL THE FORD DRIVERS A SPIN IN THIS CAR THIS WEEKEND AND GOING FORWARD? “I think we are going to try to get a few more drivers in it today. Ricky has driven it primarily today and Greg Biffle did a few laps in it. I think we might get Trevor (Bayne) in there but we will see. That is for other people to decide as far as who drives it. Beyond that, we have tire tests and other track tests that we will go to. I can’t say at this point who is going to drive them because there isn’t a specific plan to get each one of the guys in it at a certain time. I think ultimately they will all test it at some point before we go racing.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., driver of the No. 121 Ford Electronic Fuel Injection Fusion – HOW ARE THINGS GOING OUT THERE? “The fuel injection seems to be working okay. Everything ran pretty smooth and the motor is really smooth. It almost feels a little flatter compared to the other Cup motor but I don’t run it enough to really compare. Everything I have makes me feel like it is running smooth and we haven’t had any issues which is the main key they were trying to accomplish here. We wanted to run some laps out there and make sure things were running good. So far so good on that. It has got some speed also. We were around the top-10 in practice there. So far so good.”
DO YOU NOTICE AT THIS RACE TRACK BECAUSE YOU ARE ON AND OFF THE GAS, IS THIS AS GOOD A PLACE AS ANY TO TEST IT? “I think so. It seems like to me it is not going to have as much wheel spin maybe at some of the short tracks. Maybe we will see the speeds come up at some of the short tracks a little bit. This is a good place to test it because it is a flatter 1.5 mile track and you are on and off the throttle and using the brakes. I think it is a good place to test it.”
OVERALL EVERYONE SEEMS PLEASED AND HAPPY WITH IT? “Yeah, so far our Ford has been really good. Roush Yates has done their homework and I feel like they have done a good job unloading here and running the whole test. We have another couple hours here that we will run it and make sure that we can have all the kinks worked out and have it ready for whenever we run it.”