This Week in Ford Racing with Roush Yates Engine Builder, Doug Yates Ford Racing is coming off a weekend at Dover that saw Carl Edwards win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race and Matt Kenseth capture the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. That gives the Blue Oval four wins in 2011, which equals its total from all of last season. Doug Yates, co-owner and head engine builder at Roush Yates Engines, spoke to Ford Racing on Monday about last weekend’s success and where his program stands in regards to fuel injection.
DOUG YATES, Co-Owner, Roush Yates Engines – WHAT’S IT LIKE TO COME INTO WORK ON MONDAY AFTER SWEEPING A WEEKEND LIKE DOVER? “Everybody puts their heart and soul into making the best engines that they can and to see the results like we had this weekend at Dover makes for a great way to start the week, and it’s gratifying to everybody here because they live for Saturday and Sunday so this weekend was really special.”
FOUR WINS IN 11 CUP RACES THIS SEASON MATCHES THE ENTIRE WIN TOTAL FROM LAST YEAR. WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT THE IMPROVEMENT FROM ONE YEAR TO THE NEXT? “We talked about it a lot, especially Robbie Reiser and I. It takes a lot to get the momentum going and we felt like at the end of last year we were prepared to go into the off-season and felt like we would get off to a good start. There was a lot of hard work done on the cars and the engines, and just the preparation overall, and the engineering that goes behind it is massive, so we feel like what’s going on right now is the result of a lot of hard work. It really feels nice to be competitive week-in and week-out and have a chance to sit on the pole and win the race is our goal, so it’s really nice when things come together.”
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO SEE MATT IN VICTORY LANE? “It was exciting, for sure. It’s nice when multiple drivers in your camp win. Obviously, Carl has had a lot of success and then Trevor winning the Daytona 500, but Matt’s been there from the beginning. The first race that we won when we put our engine program together with Jack was at Rockingham and that was with Matt and Robbie, so to see him get back and win multiple races this early in the season is really special. He’s a great guy and a very talented race car driver. It doesn’t take any pressure off, but it’s nice to have two wins with the new chase format and it may play into our advantage as far as taking more risks until we get to the chase so we’re prepared when we get there.”
THE LIFE OF AN ENGINE-BUILDER, HOWEVER, SEEMS TO ALWAYS BE UP-AND-DOWN. MATT WINS, BUT AJ ALLMENDINGER HAS A PROBLEM. DOES THAT STICK WITH YOU MORE THAN WINNING? “Yeah, it does and it just says how hard this is because every part is so critical. It’s like having a bunch of kids and they’re all your favorite, and when one of them has an issue it really hurts. It just makes you vulnerable, but it also makes you go to work and make sure you dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’, which we did, but we’re pushing these engines to the limit and, unfortunately, sometimes things break. We’re digging through that, so it puts a damper on things but you have to celebrate your successes in this sport and this weekend was definitely a big success for Roush Yates and Ford Motor Company. We’ll take what happened with AJ and learn from it and be stronger because of it.”
NASCAR ANNOUNCED THAT FUEL INJECTION CAN BE SLOWLY ROLLED OUT IN SOME TESTING LATER THIS YEAR. HOW IS IT FROM YOUR STANDPOINT TO BALANCE THE TRANSITION TO FUEL INJECTION WHEN YOU’RE STILL TRYING TO MAKE GAINS WITH THE NEW FR9 ENGINE? “That’s a great question and, first and foremost, our goal this year is to win a championship, hopefully win two championships in the Nationwide and the Cup Series, so we have to balance that quest for a championship for Ford Motor Company and our teams, along with implementing and integrating the fuel injection. Right now, NASCAR has started getting the rules out there and we as Ford Motor Company and Roush Yates Engines are starting to develop our hardware and get it ready to go to the dynamometers and then the race tracks. I think later this fall when we’re in position, and all of the heavy lifting is done for our championship run, we’ll start hitting the race track more and getting some real on-track time to fine-tune this system. We have some really bright engineers and, as a company, we race fuel injection every weekend, so it’s nothing new to us. We just have to fit it to this FR9 Cup engine.”
IS IT A GOOD THING THIS CHANGE IS BEING MADE WHEN THE FR9 IS RELATIVELY NEW OR IS IT MORE CHALLENGING BECAUSE YOU JUST GOT IT GOING? “I think right now we’re far enough into the FR9 that it’s not a major problem. If we had to do fuel injection a year ago, I would be really concerned because the engine wasn’t mature enough, but today, I feel we understand enough about the engine. We have done a really good job with power development and we have some things that are actually in the bank, so to speak, that we can roll out as the year unfolds and that’s a really good position to be in, so I think the timing is good and we’ll work through fuel injection and plan to be strong when it comes out.”