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This Week in Ford Racing: Kelly Bires

Kelly Bires
Kelly Bires
 
March 18, 2008 - Kelly Bires, driver of the No. 47 Clorox Ford Fusion, is coming off a 20th-place finish in Saturday’s rain-shortened Nationwide race at Bristol Motor Speedway. As the series continues on to Nashville for this weekend’s event, Bires spoke about the start to his season, which currently has him 11th in the series point standings.

KELLY BIRES – No. 47 Clorox Ford Fusion – WHAT HAS BEEN THE KEY TO YOUR GOOD START? “We’ve looked at it and we should probably have three top-10 finishes this year already, but racing luck hasn’t been on our side. Still, we’ve got three top-15s, which is a great start for our 47 team. That’s what we want to do every week; we want to find that consistency. That’s what we lacked last year -- being able to build cars so when we brought them to the track, we know how they’re going to perform. This year I feel like we unload off the trailer and if they aren’t a top-15 car, we can make them that by the end of practice. I think it helps that I’ve matured over the winter and I can tell Scott [Zipadelli, crew chief] exactly what I need and what area to work on. You never get a perfect race car, but you just have to prioritize, whether it’s getting the car to turn or living with certain things like getting loose in the corner.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT NASHVILLE? “Going to Nashville, that’s a place I’ve been to before. I made my first Busch start there last year and we had a really fast race car. I think I finished 15th and I didn’t know what I was doing. I just made the best out of it, but I think Nashville is the kind of place where I think we can go and get our first top-five finish. I think our team is at the point where we’re getting our cars built up. If we can get through Nashville in one piece, we’re gonna be looking great for the rest of the year. Our goal was to get to Nashville without wrecking and having no DNFs. We haven’t had any DNFs and we’ve got one car that was torn up a little bit, but it’s already fixed. Being a Nationwide-only team, you don’t have as many employees that can just 911 on a car, so it takes a little bit longer to get the cars turned around. We’re shooting for a top-five finish at Nashville. I believe that’s a track where we can do it. I don’t know how many Cup guys are going to be there, but that might help make our finish a lot better. Still, week-in and week-out, we have to make our car as fast as we can get it and whether the Cup guys are there or not, you have to approach it the same way. You can’t just think that if those guys aren’t going to be there that you’re guaranteed a top-five. There’s way too much competition at this level and in this series to assume that you’re gonna run in the top 10 every week. It’s tough. Even Cup guys will tell you that if their cars aren’t exactly right on the Nationwide side, they can’t do anything with them. It comes down to having a really well-balanced car as far as the chassis and body is concerned, and I think we’ve got a good package on that end. I think Nashville can be one of our first standout races. California had the potential to show it if we wouldn’t have gotten torn up, but we’ll go to Nashville and shoot for another top-10. If we get a top-five, that’s great, but right now we set top-10 as our main goal.”

YOU’RE STARTING TO GET SOME ATTENTION FOR WHAT YOU’VE DONE SO FAR. DO YOU FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE NOW THAT YOU BELONG AT THIS LEVEL? “Yeah, absolutely. A lot of credit goes to the guys at the shop for building these race cars and stuff. It took us eight races last year to figure out exactly what we needed. We hit on something at Kansas last year. We were running something like seventh there and then we took the same package to Charlotte and ran top-five all night. Then we went to Miami and had a top-five car, so it was good everywhere we took it. Sometimes that’s what it takes is being able to be receptive to change. Scott did a great job working with me and we worked hard on communicating to get these cars built the way we wanted. We need to run consistently in the top 15 and top 10 before we get the respect we’re looking for, but that’s what I want. I want to run every week and I want people to know who I am. I want to be in contention to win races by the end of this year. That’s what we’re looking for and anything more than that is great.”

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