Ford Performance NASCAR: Final Cup Practice Fastest Ford (Paul Wolfe)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Saturday, March 16, 2019
EVENT: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (Final Practice Fastest Ford)

The fastest Ford in final Cup Series practice Saturday was the No. 2 Mustang of Brad Keselowski. With Keselowski headed off to handle TV duties for today’s Xfinity Series race, crew chief Paul Wolfe met with media members after happy hour to discuss the weekend.

PAUL WOLFE, crew chief, No. 2 Wurth Ford Mustang — WHAT DID YOU THINK OF QUALIFYING YESTERDAY?“Something needs to change, I will tell you that. I am not saying I have the answer but what happened yesterday wasn’t real exciting. We want it to be exciting and fun to watch and all those things but from a crew chief standpoint, what we are doing right now is hard because a lot of it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the speed in your car. It is about getting lucky, getting the right draft or something like that. It is still important because your car has to drive close but as long as you get it close it really comes down to just the timing and all of that. That is not really what I like to come to the racetrack and do. I want to work on my race car and show the speed it has in it. I don’t think you are seeing the true speed we have in the cars in qualifying.”

SO WHAT DO YOU DO? “We have to go back to getting the cars more by themselves if we want to judge the cars with this package, low horsepower and all the drag, drafting is such a big part of it that right now you are going to want to be in a group to make that lap time. I don’t know. I am sure they will come up with some ideas and we will hopefully be able to try something different at Texas. I think it is a work in progress for sure.”

YOU GUYS ARE REALLY FAST. WHAT DO YOU EXPECT HERE? “We are encouraged by the speed and we have had some really good runs to start the season with this package and we continue to try to fine tune that and work on some new things. We have done that again this weekend. We ended happy hour with a pretty strong car. We still need some adjustments for tomorrow. It will be a little warmer tomorrow and the track will have less grip. We need to stay on top of that, but overall we ended strong.”

WHAT ARE THE TRICKS OF THIS RACE TRACK? “As we have seen at a lot of tracks we have gone to this year it is a fine line because there was a good part of that run where we are running wide open. Having your car trimmed out to some extent is speed. As we have seen in years past and here on the long run, the tires are giving up and you have to lift somewhat. Finding that right balance between trimming your car out but still having handling. The guy that can stay in the gas the most usually is going to be the guy out front.”

YOUR COMPETITORS HAVE SAID THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION’S CARS HAVE THE BEST BALANCE AND OTHERS HAVE GONE TOO MUCH IN ONE DIRECTION OR THE OTHER BASED ON WHAT THEY THOUGHT THE WEST COAST SWING WOULD BE LIKE. DO YOU SEE THAT AS A TREND? “I think our cars have raced really well to that point with the balance. We are still trying to understand where we want to be as well because it is one thing to come out of the gate strong. There are a lot of factors there. But we can’t just feel like what we have is the right way. We have to be willing to explore some different areas and try some different things. Fortunately with having the win we have now that is kind of where my mind is at. It is hard to get away from what you have been successful with but at the same time if you don’t explore new ideas, there are a lot of options right now with car builds and getting the balance changed on your car. We will continue to explore that and hopefully build form the momentum we have started the season with.”

HARVICK SAID BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY OPTIONS THAT IT IS MAKING WAY MORE WORK FOR THE RACE TEAMS. “Yeah, there is always a lot of work, you are just working on different things. For me, to a certain extent I enjoy when there is a big rule change because it is a challenge to see who will figure it out first and you find yourself working on different things and trying new packages and seeing what you can get out of it. There are a lot of options right now and different ways to go about it. We will have to continue to work on that. Every track is going to be a little bit different because we are so close to the endge of being abl eto run wide open for a full tire run. You come to a place like here, like we say at Atlanta you were having to lift. It changes maybe what type of setup you want to put on your car. I think we are still learning. As we get to Texas and Kansas and some of those places that are repaves like Michigan, you are going to be back to holding it wide open.”

HOW DO YOU LOOK AT MARTINSVILLE? “Martinsville seems like it never changes. In my time, the eight or nine years I have been in Cup now, there have been a lot of different rule packages but you still typically work on the same thing at Martinsville. It is typically a great race. I don’t think it matters what rule package you bring there, it is about getting your car to work around the race track and taking care of you tires and brakes and I don’t think that will ever change. I expect to see the same next week.”

“We have been good there the last few years and we have been able to win there. Like I said, Martinsville is one of those places that once you seem to hit on something it seems to carry over, even with a rules change as far as the downforce and things like that. It is such a little bit of an aero track that these big changes won’t affect our setup a lot.”

HOW MUCH OF A CONCERN IS IT FOR YOU WITH WHAT IS HAPPENING IN QUALIFYING AND THINGS BEING OUT OF YOUR CONTROL IMPACTING THINGS LIKE PIT STALL SELECTION? “Yeah, I spoke about this already. With qualifying in general, qualifying to me is about the guy that has the fastest race car and being able to do the things you do to make speed for one lap. Right now it is important to have your car close but it is so random. It is about timing the draft right or the luck of the draw of how many cars roll out in front of you. That is the difference in two or three-tenths of a second. It can put you in a big hole. The 19, he didn’t get the right run yesterday and now he is starting in the back and it hurts you. It hurts your pit selection and it can hurt you for those stage points in that first stage because you are spending the first part of the race just trying to get your track position. We dealt with that a little ourselves at Vegas and Atlanta where we weren’t very good and spent the first part of the race trying to track position and gave up a good bit of stage points because of that.”

ARE YOU TRYING TO BALANCE THE BALANCE OF THE CAR VERSUS DOWNFORCE RIGHT NOW WITH THE NEW RULES PACKAGE? “There are two things. One, the body build itself and whether you build your car more towards like a speedway car with not much drag and not much downforce. The second part is the whole rear ride heights. There is a window there where you can change your rear ride height to change your drag but that also changes the overall balance of your car. So then, your mechanical balance to go with the aero balance could be different. Some guys may have gone down the path of really trimming their cars out with their body build and then when you get here you just can’t put downforce back in it enough to be good at the tracks where you need to start to lift because of tire fall off. There is also how you run your car mechanically and with the ride heights in general. To the point, there are a lot of options and lots of different things to do. It is about trying to understand not only being fast by yourself but how these cars seem to get extremely tight or they could get loose in the dirty air.”

WOULD YOU ADVOCATE HEAT RACES FOR QUALIFYING? “No. qualifying should be one lap speed and opportunity for us to get the cars trimmed out as fast as we can.”

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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