This weekend’s Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard, as one of NASCAR’s marquee events, historically brings out the best in Sprint Cup Series race teams and drivers.
For this year’s 400-miler at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Wood Brothers and their Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew have prepared a Gen-6 2013 Ford Fusion that has been extensively tested, including a session at Indy, and another at Michigan International Speedway in May, but never raced.
Crew chief Donnie Wingo said he’s been pleased by what he’s seen in the test sessions.
“We were at the test primarily to help Goodyear develop a tire and there really weren’t enough cars there to put down enough rubber to simulate race conditions, but we were able to learn some things about our car,” he said. “We have a good direction heading into this weekend.”
As is the case most weekends on the Sprint Cup circuit, qualifying is important because a good starting spot allows a driver and team to start the race with good track position, which is important because passing is difficult, especially at a place like Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Good qualifying runs also assure more advantageous pit stalls, as crew chiefs pick their stall based on the qualifying results, with the pole-sitter’s team first in line followed by those behind him in the starting order.
“To be successful at Indy, you almost have to run the race backwards from a pit strategy standpoint,” Wingo said. “You need to be in position to do the least you can on the final pit stop so you can get back on the track ahead of as many cars as you can be.”
The veteran crew chief says that will lead to lots of two-tire stops in the 400, except in cases where a pit stop sets up a full-fuel-tank run.
“You’re always trying to keep your track position,” Wingo said. “That’s why qualifying is so important.”
One thing that will be different for Wingo and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew is the color of their No. 21 Ford Fusion. Instead of the usual Motorcraft red and white colors, it’ll be decked out in black and white to honor the 150th birthday of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford, who had the overwhelming majority of his first mass-produced car, the Model T, painted black.
“It really looks good,” Wingo said of the special paint scheme. “It doesn’t look like a Model T, but it’s a cool design.
“I think everybody will like it.”
Qualifying for the Brickyard 400 is set for Saturday at 2:10 p.m. Eastern Time and the race is scheduled to get the green flag on Sunday just after 1 p.m., with TV coverage on ESPN.