Ford Daytona Wednesday Advance


February 16, 2011   

Daytona International Speedway   

Ford Racing enters this weekend’s Daytona 500 with 599 all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories by 74 different drivers.  What would it mean to be the one who wins No. 600?  Ford Racing asked some of its drivers for their thoughts.

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion — “That would be huge.  Every win is important, but the 600th win is no more important than the last one or the next one after that.  They’re all important and I just love being in victory lane with a Ford.”

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion — “It would be pretty awesome. On top of that it would be the Daytona 500 and that would be a great place to have your 600th win.  As you saw last weekend, I think it’s anybody’s game.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  I think we’ve got as good a chance as anybody – any manufacturer, any car.  All of the Ford cars stand a good chance.”

AJ ALLMENDINGER – No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion — “It would be a big deal just to win anything right now.  I’d like to just contribute to any win total for Ford, but to be the 600th, especially here at Daytona, that would obviously be a huge deal.  We’ll take it as it comes.  I think we’re gonna have a lot of good shots this year to get some wins and add to that total and, hopefully, it starts here at Daytona.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion — “That would be awesome. Winning the Daytona 500 and number 600 would be very, very special. If you could win the worst race of the year and be number 600, that would be great.  That would make up for a lot of the other races that we missed out on, so 600 for Ford is gonna be something to remember because it goes all the way back to Henry Ford, who won his first race.  A lot of great race car drivers have won under the Ford banner and it would be awesome to throw our name in the hat.”

MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion — “I’d like to be 600. I’ll take one win however I can get it, but Ford has been great to me and it’s just great to be back in the Ford Racing family.  This year is fairly iconic for the company in racing and 600 wins is a pretty cool stat if you can say you did it, so I’ll be trying hard.  The trouble is you’ve got Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle and AJ and everyone else trying to do the same thing.”

TRAVIS KVAPIL – No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford Fusion — “How special would that be – to get to be the driver who has such a monumental win for Ford.  It would be huge for me.  That’s a goal for me in the Cup Series is to be a winner.  We’ve had some top 10s and some good runs and led laps, but I haven’t won, so that’s the number one goal on my list and to do that at the same time as getting Ford’s 600th win would be pretty cool.  That would be really special.  Daytona and Talladega, there are a handful of tracks where I really feel like Front Row Motorsports can get it done, so you never know.  If you’re in the right place at the right time with a few laps to go, you’ve got a shot at it.  That would be pretty special.”

DAVID GILLILAND – No. 34 Taco Bell Ford Fusion — “We’ve been close here before and that would be awesome and something no one could ever take from you.  That would be cool and we’re gonna try and do it for sure.  I think we’ve got a car that’s capable of doing it, but you have to position yourself to be at the right place at the end and now I think it’s even more so because I think there are gonna be even more cars fighting for the lead at the end than the two that we always see.”

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion — “First, that means we would be winning the race, which is great.  And then to get Ford’s 600th win, I would kind of feel bad coming in after all these guys have been working on it for 599, and I come in and it’s like ‘Here’s 600.’  But that would be incredible and to do it with the Wood Brothers and how everything has happened, that would be insane.  I don’t even know how to fathom that.”

Veteran crew chief Frank Stoddard came to Speedweeks as a car owner for the first time and with former series champion Terry Labonte behind the wheel, it appears his team will be racing in Sunday’s Daytona 500.  Stoddard took a few minutes to chat with Ford Racing about why he’s starting his own team and his hopes for the future.

FRANK STODDARD, Owner, Fast Lane Racing – No. 32 U.S. Chrome Ford Fusion – WHAT WENT IN TO GETTING THIS EFFORT AS A CAR OWNER READY FOR DAYTONA?  “A lot, obviously.  The thought process has been going on since the season ended last year.  I wasn’t really sure what was going on with the 26 program.  Bill and the partners that were involved in that deal worked awful hard last year, but they just weren’t able to secure all the funding that they needed going into this year.  If they weren’t gonna be able to fund something, I felt like I was just gonna have to go and do something on my own.  That’s what I did.  I went and bought some cars in early January and rented a shop and brought a lot of guys that were with the 26 program last year.  They came on with me and we just ramped this thing up in a hurry.  We’re fortunate that Terry was interested in driving and we were able to secure him. Hopefully, we get some more funding.  He wants to run some more races for us, but we don’t have the proper funding yet.  Mike Skinner is gonna run for us in Phoenix and Vegas and most of the rest of the year.” 

WHAT IS YOUR PLAN AS FAR AS YOUR SCHEDULE THIS YEAR?  “Mike Skinner will be in the car.  If I get somebody that comes and says, ‘Hey, we’d like to have Terry Labonte driving the car,’ and that’s the funding that comes, well then Terry can run 10-15 races.  He doesn’t want to run the  full schedule, but we could run Mike 10-15 more, so it just depends on sponsorship, but we’re gonna go to all the races. Hopefully, Boris will run the road courses.  I’ve told him that our ride is there for him if it’s his best option.  If it’s not his best option because they want him to drive the 48 or the 24 or the 99 or the 17, I’m not holding him back from that.” 

IS THIS JUST A CASE OF RACING BEING IN YOUR BLOOD AND TAKING ADVANTAGE OF AN OPPORTUNITY? “The opportunity was there.  I think there are sponsors sitting on the sideline thinking they have to spend $20 million to get into this business.  If I had $3 or $4 million to get myself started right now, we might not be able to run all 36 races, but we would run a pretty good portion of all those races with some proper funding.  It would get us a head start.  We’re not gonna go out there and beat Jack Roush or Rick Hendrick, but we can certainly run 25th.  There are a lot of teams that have got $20 million in funding and are gonna run 25th this year.  There are 43 cars so somebody has to run 25th.  My deal is I don’t want $20 million and try to tell you that I’m gonna go run fifth with it because it’s not possible.  Twenty million doesn’t get it anymore with the multi-car teams that Jack, Rick and Gibbs have because those guys really have $200 million that they’re pulling from, not $20 million.  What’s realistic is that if we get some funding, we can run 25th.  We can go to the road courses and have a chance to win. We can come here to Daytona and Talladega and have a chance to run in the top 10.  We can go to the short tracks and run 15th competitively. I think the big thing for the sponsors is to get the same bang for the buck that you got in 1996.  You get an owner or crew chief like myself and a driver like Mike Skinner that if you want us to come over for an hour and do hospitality, we’re there for an hour.  We don’t care.  You take care of all your sponsors as much as you can.

FRANK STODDARD CONTINUED – “The big teams do a great job of that as well, but they’re spread thin.  A lot of multi-car teams now have so many sponsors to take care of that if a driver does 20 appearances for his main sponsor, 20 for his second sponsor and 20 for his third, that’s 60 appearances and they don’t have the time to do that.  So if you go back to where it was in 1996, it was one sponsor on one car. They might have been paying $6-8 million, but they had 20 appearances their driver could make.  Now, it’s harder to try and get that because you have to split the cars up so much to be competitive with the multi-car teams.  I think there is something there.  Who knows whether we get that or not, and if we don’t get it, we’re gonna do the best we can and move on.” 

WAS IT A SCRAMBLE TO GET DOWN HERE?  “I think we got our speedway car on January 15th and we still had to put the thing together and paint it and all that stuff.  We didn’t have a lot of time to go to the wind tunnel and obviously didn’t get down here  to test when everybody else did, so we’re a little bit behind in qualifying trim.  I think we’ll be fine in race trim and I think we’ll be more than competitive.  Certainly having Terry in the car is great. We’ve got the Air National Guard on the car and U.S. Chrome.  Bob Reath has been a long-time supporter of mine the last 25 years and having him and his company on board has been a huge thing.  We’ve also got some associates in the Air Guard are coming on, so to be able to tell the sponsor we’re going to be in the race is great.  Terry has run in the top five down here multiple times and has won a couple championships, so he’s the kind of guy you want in your car regardless of the situation.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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