Slankard Discusses Track Tests Of '13 Fusion
Track testing with the new 2013 NASCAR Fusion has hit full stride over the last month and that will continue in the weeks ahead with tests scheduled for Kansas and Phoenix. Ford Racing NASCAR Operations Manager Andy Slankard talks about how the process has gone to this point and what can be learned going forward.
ANDY SLANKARD, NASCAR Operations Manager, Ford Racing -- WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM THE THREE TRACK TEST SESSIONS SO FAR? “Overall, I think everybody is thrilled with the way testing is going. The cars act, in a lot of ways, similar to the cars today, which was one of our objectives because the current competition is fantastic. On the short track, there were a lot of similarities to the current car and drivers were adjusting visually to the different angle of the windshield. At Talladega, it was our first package with the Penske team joining us, so that was their first look at the engine and their whole package and they were very pleased. The drafting and the way the cars work are similar to the way they are today. There is some tweaking that will take place, but NASCAR still wants the pack-type racing that we’ve seen the last couple races, so that’s good. And then at Texas the cars ran well by themselves and we were able to tune on them understanding how changes affect the handling. NASCAR is looking at some other changes that are independent of the design of the 2013 race car, so that it does some different things to competition. They’re always looking at the rules package to make the competition better and better, so we tried some things at Texas and, overall, it was another really good test for the car.”
HAS TRACK TESTING VALIDATED WHAT YOU SAW IN THE WIND TUNNEL? “That’s the cool part. I think people who remember when the Car of Tomorrow was designed there were some questions about the performance, but the technical world has really changed since that car. At Ford, we’re able to use the latest engineering and analytical tools, including scale model wind tunnel and CFD to assess the designs of the cars before they hit the track. It is very rewarding that the cars reacted similarly to our predictions.”
WHAT DO YOU SEE DOWN THE ROAD WITH THE UPCOMING KANSAS AND PHOENIX TESTS? “I think Kansas is two-fold. It’s a Goodyear tire test because the track has been repaved, so it’s about getting used to Kansas itself. But we’re just going to validate what we learned at Texas with some of the different changes that we tried. At Phoenix, it will be another look at our short-track program and, by then, the teams should have a little more sheet metal as well.”