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TALLADEGA -- Ford Racing’s ‘FR9’ engine will take another step toward full implementation this weekend as all cars under the Roush Fenway and Richard Petty Motorsports umbrella will be running the new piece at Talladega Superspeedway. This will mark the first points race in which a majority of Fords in the field will have the ‘FR9’. At Daytona, teams ran it in practice, qualifying and the Gatorade Duels, but only Bill Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Elliott Sadler ran it in the Daytona 500. Ford Racing engineer David Simon spoke about the progression of the ‘FR9’ and how much longer it will be until the engine is racing with all Ford teams on a regular basis.
Q. THE FR9 IS BACK AT TALLADEGA THIS WEEK. WHO WILL BE RUNNING IT?
A. We’re running the FR9 in all of the Roush Fenway and Richard Petty Motorsports cars. It’s really the first across-the-board running for the FR9. We ran them at Daytona, of course, in the Shootout across-the-board, but this is really the first full race for it as the primary engine for us. The reason it’s a milestone is that we’ve gone through the validation process on the plate package, so, at this point, we’re ready to race the FR9 full-time in restrictor plate form. We’re going through the same process on the open engine. We ran it in the 21 car at Texas and we’ll be running it in the 43 car at Darlington, and then at the All-Star race we’ll have them in all the cars there as well. In the second half of the season, as the validation process gets completed, the FR9 will become the primary race engine for us in the open and plate races.
Q. DRIVERS ARE ASKED REGULARLY ABOUT WHEN THE FR9 WILL BE IN THE CARS FULL-TIME. IS THERE ANY FRUSTRATION AT ROUSH YATES THAT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS ENGINE HASN’T GONE ANY FASTER?
A. We’re not frustrated by it because we have a plan and we laid that plan out long ago last year on how to roll the engine out, and we’re actually on schedule. In that respect, we’re really satisfied with the way the FR9 is getting rolled out. At the same time, we know people are anxious for it, so I guess that’s a good thing. People do want to see it out there racing and there’s a lot of money and resources invested in it, so we’re anxious to get it out on the track, too. But we’re on schedule and not frustrated.
Q. HOW HAS THE VALIDATION PROCESS GONE ON THE OPEN FR9 ENGINE THAT THE WOOD BROTHERS HAVE BEEN RUNNING ALL YEAR?
A. The validation process has gone fine. We do a lot of work back at the engine shop, so typically we’ll catch anything that might go wrong back there when we do our durability testing, so the stuff that’s gone to the track we’ve been pretty happy with and so far we haven’t had any issues in the open races with that package. It’s been a great help that the Wood Brothers have been able to run it all year. They’ve been a great asset for us in that respect, so the validation process is going well. We’re on schedule for the rollout with the open package and, barring any hiccups here in the next couple of months, we’ll be racing it pretty much the second half of the season.