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This Week in Ford NNS Racing: Kelly Bires

Kelly Bires
Kelly Bires
April 8, 2008 - Kelly Bires, driver of the No. 47 Clorox Ford Fusion who is, currently ninth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings, credits the JTG Racing shop crew with his consistent performance this season. Bires earned his highest career finish this year at Nashville with a fifth-place finish. He hopes to build on that momentum this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.

KELLY BIRES – No. 47 Clorox Ford Fusion – ON HEADING TO PHOENIX. “It should be a good race for us. We’re taking a car that we tested at Richmond, that’s car 34. It was pretty quick at Richmond and I think we learned a lot there. We’re going to build on it and go to Phoenix. What’s nice is that we go to the track and everyone on the team feels like we’ve got a shot to have an outstanding run every week. It’s not like we get to the track and think we’re not going to run good. It comes from running consistently well. It comes from having good runs and it comes from everything coming together and the momentum. It helps everyone’s morale, both at the shop and on the road. When we get to that race track, we know that we’re going to have a good car. If we finish 20th, we’re going to be mad. If we finish 10th, we’re going to be happy. If we finish anything better than that, we’re going to be thrilled. We’ve all got high goals and we’re setting high standards for ourselves. We’ve been able to reach quite a bit of them and more in some aspects this year. We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing and keep improving our cars every week. I’m getting better every week. It’s just big picture racing, that’s what we’re doing.”

PHOENIX HAS A UNIQUE SHAPE. IS IT A HANDLING OR SPEED TRACK? “It’s definitely handling. I learned last year – I ran there once at the end of last year. We were really good. I learned how much the track actually changes from practice to the race. I thought the team changed my car because I thought something was wrong with it. And it was because the track was that different. The track seemed like it tightened up quite a bit and you’ve really got know, I have a better idea now, what the car needs to be like when we end practice compared to what it did last year. Last year, we ended practice where the car was good but it was just way too tight in the race. With the Cup cars being there and laying the rubber down between our practice and our race, it really changes the track and the handling conditions. It might be different now because it is a night race, but I know last year that you need to be pretty free at the end of practice if you’re going to be good at all in the race.”

SINCE THE TRACK CHANGES, DO YOU RELY ON CREW CHIEF SCOTT ZIPADELLI’S EXPERIENCE OR IS IT A GUESSING GAME? “Our cars are definitely better this year. Over the winter, we feel like we’ve really improved everything, from the relationship between Scott and I, to the car builds. We have a better idea in what we need, then go to the track and make it right. We’re shooting for top-10 runs, that’s all we’re shooting for right now. We’ve consistently been a 10th place car all year, on average. We just want to keep that going and keep the consistency there. When we do have good cars, like we had at Nashville, we’ll go for it.”

DOES MOMENTUM HELP? “Yeah, it does. It has not just helped me looking forward, it just helps everyone at the race shop. They’re working so many hours. The results are there, all their hard work is going into the car and what it’s doing. To be able to see that car have good runs, being a Nationwide only team, to have good runs like we have been, it brings everyone’s hopes up and it makes everyone work harder. It just makes it fun for everyone. It just seems like when you’ve got momentum on your side, you’ve got to keep riding it. We’ve been good at getting cars in practice and if they’re not good off the truck, getting them good. If they come off the truck good, we’ve been really good at maintaining that and making them better.”

DO YOU HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE AT TRACKS THE SECOND TIME? “Overall, I think I’m more comfortable in the car this year. And more comfortable being able to tell Scott what exactly I need and how I need to drive prior to the race. We’ve made huge leaps and bounds on our cars over the winter and through the end of last year. We keep improving them every week. We went to Richmond and were pretty quick there. We improved the car to be able to go to Phoenix. We’ll see what we’ve got. We’ve haven’t done testing on short tracks. That’s one thing that we lack is going to places like Lakeland or something and do a short track test prior to going to Phoenix. But that’s just part of the game, you’ve got to make best with what you’ve got.”

YOU’RE CURRENTLY NINTH IN POINTS. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR SEASON SO FAR. “I think consistency sums it up. We’ve had really good race cars every week. We’ve had a top-15 race car every week. We have had a good handful, maybe four or five runs that we should have been in the top 10 fairly easily. We’re bringing them back in one piece which is helping us get ahead back at the shop and be able to improve our stuff with ease and not re-build cars. It’s just that everything is going together. Everyone is working hard, working together and we all want to get where we are a 10th-place car every week, which we’re getting close to. Then improve on that and be a fifth-place car every week. It takes everyone that works on the cars to be able to do that. The season is going well and we just want to keep doing what we’re doing.”

WHERE IS THE TEAM’S SUCCESS, AT THE SHOP OR ON THE ROAD? “I believe races are won back at the shop where the cars are initially built and put together. It’s our job when we get to the race track, the road guys, to make it’s the best it can be. If you don’t have the right piece leaving the shop, then you’re not ever going to make it right at the race track. You can make it good, but it all starts back there. It starts over the winter being able to build the right stuff and have the right stuff in the car and give us something to work with at the track. That’s all you can ask for – a car that’s kind of bulletproof and it’s got everything you need at the track. It’s a whole deal. It’s everybody.”

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