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This weekend will mark the return of the FR9 engine as it goes under the hood of the famed No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion of the Wood Brothers and driver Bill Elliott. The Wood Brothers, which are running a limited schedule in 2010, have committed to run the FR9 in every race they compete. Co-owner Len Wood spoke earlier this week about why the team decided to run it exclusively and the reasoning behind waiting until this season.
Q. ARE YOU GOING TO RUN THE FR9 ALL YEAR AND WHAT IS THE PURPOSE BEHIND IT?
A. It goes back to a conversation with Doug Yates about getting more time on the engine. With us running a limited schedule, in the unlikely event something goes wrong, it doesn’t kill us in the points because we’re not really worried about points. We talked to him last fall and he came up with a plan because it’s not just as simple as changing out the old engine for the new engine in an hour. There are different motor mounts in the car for the FR9 and it requires the cable drive fuel pump, which we had never used before until Daytona. The headers are different and some of the radiator connectors are different, so there was a changeover period we went through to get ready.
Q. IS THERE ANY MAJOR DIFFERENCE WITH THE ENGINE GOING FROM A RESTRICTOR PLATE TRACK LIKE DAYTONA TO AN UNRESTRICTED ONE LIKE ATLANTA?
A. A restrictor plate track knocks both engines back several hundred horsepower, so that’s a non-issue to us as far as whether we had the old engine or the FR9 at Daytona. Like I said, we made the decision to go ahead and go with the FR9 after talking about it last year. There may have been an opportunity to get the new engine in our car last year, but we looked at it and saw there would have been several changes and it would have been quite expensive to go run a race or two. That’s why it worked out better for us to just wait until this year. I didn’t want to go buy headers or radiators that would become obsolete after one race. I didn’t really want to do that, so we decided to wait until this year to run it and we won’t look back.
Q. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN A NO-LOSE SITUATION RUNNING THIS NEW ENGINE? YOU’RE THE FIRST FORD TEAM TO USE IT CONSISTENTLY SO YOU CAN LEARN SOME THINGS, BUT IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG, YOU DON’T GET HURT IN POINTS BECAUSE OF YOUR LIMITED SCHEDULE.
A. I don’t know about being no-lose, but we’re getting ready to put one on the dyno, so I’ll have a better idea later this week. I’m certainly looking for good horsepower out of it, but the FR9 is going to be the future for us. I don’t know what Doug’s phase-in period is for the rest of the teams, but there is a development process. They can run them on the endurance dyno all they want, but until you put that thing on the race track under the real deal with tear offs flying around and getting on your grille and heating it up more than you want, or with pit stops where it gets over-revved here or there, it’s never the real deal until you’re really out there.
Q. SO WHAT IS YOUR MOOD GOING TO BE LIKE THIS WEEKEND HAVING SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE HOOD?
A. I’m excited about it. We’ve talked about it for over a year now and the time has come to move to the future. As far as having it blow up, I have no different worry about that than if we were running the other engine. If something happens, it could be due to things I mentioned earlier like a tear off on your grille. That can affect either engine. At Daytona late in the race we got something on our grille and it ran extremely hot and withstood it. Other times you can run the water out of them really quick, or get yourself in trouble, and it’s gone before you know it, but I’m not worried about it.
Q. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GETTING BACK TO THE TRACK AFTER SKIPPING CALIFORNIA AND LAS VEGAS?
A. It’ll be good to get back to Atlanta and an unrestricted track. We’re taking a car that we built last fall for Homestead and qualified in the top 10 (ninth) and then we had a pretty decent run in the race and finished 16th. They’ve massaged on that car this winter and they’re building another one just like that to go to Texas, and I actually think it will run at the Charlotte test March 23 and 24.