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Ford’s new engine already up and running?

By admin | February 8, 2009

By Richard Allen


Last year, Wood Brothers Racing and driver Bill Elliott missed the Daytona 500. This year, Elliott was the fastest car in both pre-qualifying practice sessions and posted the fifth fastest speed in Sunday’s time trials. The significance of Elliott’s speed is that he was the fastest of the so called go or go-homers, and thus, is now locked into NASCAR’s premier event.

What has brought about this increase in speed?

There are any number of factors that could possibly explain the sudden resurgence of one of NASCAR’s legendary teams and of NASCAR’s all time fastest driver. Body modifications and wind tunnel testing are always essential in preparing a fast car for the super speedways in Daytona and Talladega.

Any number of other refinements and massages can be performed on these temperamental machines to squeeze a few tenths of a second out of a run, which could mean the difference in qualifying or going home. Even weather conditions could play a role.

While it is possible, it is hard to imagine that the Wood Brothers have some aerodynamic edge with their Ford that powerful Roush Fenway Racing, with their team of engineers, does not have.

One other possibility could also explain the new found speed. Could it be that Ford is putting its new engine through its paces by giving it the best test of all, running in an actual race?

Last month a few details were released about the ‘FR9’. It is the first purpose built NASCAR racing engine ever to come from Ford.

Yates Racing does virtually all of Ford’s race engine development. Doug Yates, the owner of Yates Racing, stated last month that it is not his intention to rush the FR9 into anything and that the engine would probably not make its debut until the second half of the 2009 season.

However, Wood Brothers Racing is only planning to run a limited schedule this season. For them, if given a choice the decision to use the new power plant would seem to be a no brainer. If the engine has demonstrated that it can produce more horsepower on the dyno, then why not give it a try?

Points are not a concern for a team only scheduled to compete in 12-15 races. If some extra power could be provided it would certainly seem worth the risk, even if the engine has not yet proven its durability.

The Woods have also said they have received a good deal of help from Ford this off season. That could be a significant clue as to whether or not the new engine is being put to use.

The engine requires new engine mounts and changes to the chassis to accommodate the new mounts. So, if the Woods are using the FR9 the chassis will have had some modifications to fit the engine into the car.

If in the many hours of television coverage during Speed Weeks we see that the Woods are particularly guarded when it comes to allowing cameras near the front of the #21 car, that could be another significant clue.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

*I have established a fantasy league on the ESPN Fantasy Stock Car Challenge site for the readers of Click on the link below and use the information provided to join.

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4 Responses to “Ford’s new engine already up and running?”

  1. Charles Says:
    February 9th, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Richard I know you probably didnt mean for it to sound this way, but give the Wood Bros some credit! Not just the engine!

    Boris Said won a pole at the Pepsi 400 in a old Roush car that I could not fiqure out either!

    Look it would be refreshing to see them leading laps and for a change Fords, or Dodges dominate and lead the most laps at Daytona! Just check the past history at Daytona and Talledaga and see who has ruled the last 12 years!It has been a one brand show, the 2000 Daytona was the last one that another brand dominated and look at the rule changes made to prevent another one!

    As far as the new engine, Chevy got a new SB2 after Jeff Gordons and Dale Earnharts domination of the point titles in the late ninites, then they got a new Ro7 Engine after complete domination of the series in the past few years!

    Look Chevy has great cars and teams, but Nascar needs to ‘even it up” at the ‘Super Bowl”

  2. Donald R Anderson Says:
    February 9th, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Please be advised, that the FR9 engine was not in the 21 car. The earliest, at the outside, would be first race at Michigan.

  3. Richard Allen Says:
    February 9th, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I made sure to include a question mark in the title so that it would sound as if I were reporting this as fact.

    I know Doug Yates said the engine would not be ready until mid season or so.

    However, the rumors are out there. That’s why I wrote the story.

  4. Ryan Says:
    February 10th, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    You can’t be serious, but thanks for the good laugh. There is NO WAY that the Woods are running Ford’s new engine at Daytona. First of all, Ford said that the engine would not be run until later this year. It wasnt completed and details werent released until about a month ago. So even if the Woods were running the new motor, do you think they had a bare chassis sitting around 4 weeks ago with new engine mounts in it and planning on going to Daytona? Why would you run a brand new engine on a plate track??? In addition to that, why would you take the risk of running a brand new engine on a plate track, in a race that the 21 car is not guaranteed? If something went wrong on Thursday and they hadn’t qualified good enough on Sunday, they’d be out!

    You mentioned that Ford has provided help to the Woods over the offseason. Do you think this could’ve been help with simulation (as quoted by Len Wood in a press release), 7-post testing (since Ford owns the 7-post at Roush), or wind tunnel testing?? I think that was more likely than any help with a motor. If Yates built a special motor for the Woods, don’t you think they’d do the same for themselves?

    You also stated that they are running only 12 races this season. That means that they probably spent the majority of the offseason working on their Daytona car. Give them a break! They did their homework, and they flat out beat the rest of the field last weekend - I still believe they have the fastest car, after all they only missed the pole by a half of a tenth.

    Finally, I know you’re just reporting about the rumors, but it probably would’ve been a good idea to shoot the rumors down than to fuel the fire.