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Daytona Notes: Ford Engines Fire Up

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, February 12 2010

PrintBy Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Daytona Beach, Fla. – Ford Racing announced Friday that three of its drivers will run the new FR9 engine in Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler and Bill Elliott will run the new powerplant while the other 10 Fords in the field will stick with the old 452 model.

“We’re pleased that we’ll be able to put the FR9 in a couple extra cars for the Daytona 500,” said Dave Simon, the Ford Racing engine engineer who worked with Doug Yates on the development of the FR9. “Based on completing the mileage on one of the engines, looking at wear condition on some of the others, and based on the performance of the engine during the qualifying races, we felt that providing additional FR9 engines will help give us additional boost for the 500.”

The FR9 isn’t totally unproven on restrictor-plate tracks, as all teams under the Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, and Wood Brothers Racing roofs ran the FR9 in practice, Daytona 500 qualifying last week, and in Thursday’s Gatorade Duels.

David Ragan and Matt Kenseth  also ran them last fall at Talladega. Ragan also ran one at Homestead in an unrestricted race.

Although Carl Edwards won’t be running the FR9, he didn’t seem to feel left out.

“I’m fine with the old engine,” he said. “It’s been great. That has not been a limiting factor for us in the past.”

He also said that as important as it is to get off to a good start points-wise and position himself for a berth in the Chase, he’d rather run a proven engine.

“You can not give up anything right now trying stuff,” he said.

But that is likely to change as the engine gets more time under other hoods.

“As we get later in the year and we either have more confidence or less to lose, then maybe we’ll try it more,” he said.

Helping Hand: Last month, Kyle Busch had fans at a short track in Georgia almost as mad at him as the folks in Nashville were when he smashed a Sam Bass-designed guitar in Victory Lane after winning at Nationwide Series race at Nashville Superspeedway.

But the Georgia folks likely will cool down quicker than the Nashville crowd, given the latest saga in the Georgia story.

Back in January, Busch had the locals at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Ga., steaming mad after he knocked hometown youngster Casey Roderick out of the lead late in a Late Model race.

But in the end, Busch wound up doing the kid a favor by putting in a good word for Roderick with J.D. Gibbs, Busch’s car owner in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series.

Gibbs said Friday that Ed Clark, the Atlanta Motor Speedway president and one of Roderick’s supporters, approached him at Daytona, trying to get Gibbs to take a look at the 17-year-old speedster, who is a part of Bill Elliott’s driver development program.

So Gibbs followed up with Busch, who had only complimentary things to say about Roderick.

“I went and asked Kyle, ‘What about this kid? How good is he?’” Gibbs said. “And Kyle said, ‘He’s pretty danged good.’ ”

Legend in Making: Joey Logano grew up racing Legends cars, those ¾-scale replicas of 1930s and ‘40s Fords that usually compete on quarter-mile tracks. He may be going back to his roots later this year to participate in a Legends race at Charlotte Motor Speedway which, on July 15-17, is offering a $1 million purse.

The main event will pay $10,000 to start and $250,000 to win.

Logano said Friday that he’s talked to one of his former Legends mechanics, Doug Stevens of Lovejoy, Ga., about preparing a car for him.

But Logano said the competition will be tough, and if he does enter, he wants to put forth a serious effort to win.

“It’s going to be tough just to make the show,” Logano said. “If I do it, I’ve got to get a car and do it right. I don’t want to go up there and run around in the back. You need to build a car, test it and run some races.”

He said that even if he doesn’t enter the $1 million show, he still plans to buy a Legends car to run on winter days when the Cup circuit is idle.

The Legends cars are the brainchild of former Charlotte promoter H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler. Many in the sport felt that when Wheeler left the track, the Legends program would be pushed to the back burner.

But track owner Bruton Smith, who owns the company that puts on Legends races and provides the cars to competitors, has taken a liking to the series.

Ed Clark, track president at Atlanta Motor Speedway and a regular Legends competitor, said that since Smith has taken a renewed interest in the Legends series there has been a push to take the program overseas. And already there are cars being sold and tracks being built to accommodate them.

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, February 12 2010
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