Ep. 177: Jerry Freeze of Front Row Motorsports


Hey there. It's Tom Haberstroh the national NBA insider for NBC sports. And I want to tell you about my podcast. It's called the Habur show. I'll be interviewing some of the game's biggest and brightest names inside and outside the sport. So if you wanna learn something about the NBA wanna know what happens behind the scenes, this is the pod for you. Like, why did JJ Redick delete social media? And what does stand Van Gundy think of all these threes and did rockets GM Daryl Morey really see this Houston turnaround coming down low now, but beware. These conversations will change the way you think about the NBA. Welcome aspirin his podcast on your host. Nate Ryan today here in mooresville North Carolina at the headquarters second floor of front row motorsports. Where I am joined by the general manager of the team Jerry freeze. Jerry returning a guest to the podcast got very positive response for your parents last year. So thanks for coming back. My pleasure, Nate, always a pleasure to talk to you. And make sure I got this. Right. You're still general manager expansion. All right. Joel manager of a team that added a third car for twenty nine hundred Jerry with Matt tift? And in addition to that when I talked to you last year, we were at your shop in states Ville. And now you've kept that shop for the moment. And you also have added this shop in mooresville, which was formerly Chip Ganassi racing. Many many years ago h Scott motorsports also was in here and now front row. So take me through with the process has been like adding that third car and adding a new location as well. I think since since we last spoke front row motorsports as gone in and bought another race team. That was in bankruptcy operated that team to the bounce a- last year, basically shut down that team moved some of the folks, and and certainly some equipment over into our front row race team rented another shop expanded into that third car to utilize that new charter hired a lot of people to help with getting the the inventory built up and to go take the cards to the racetrack. And to take care of the business side. Of the third team. And so there it's been a whirlwind for sure we've we've had an awful lot going on since about mid August. And as we talked about last time, I'm I'm really big into cycling. And I think I've ridden my bike twice since September one last year. So so big into cycling. There's actually stationary bike. Hearing Jerry's office machines about that's about the only way. Get on it anymore. So I had to drag it up here. But but yeah, we've had a lot going on. And we haven't started the season. I think in finishes being what we'd want. But there's been a lot of speed in the race cars and really been encouraged that even with all the expansion and moving and set up shop mad and people and all that that you know, I I feel like we've still got a pretty competitive product out there. How many people did you guys end up adding Jerry with the new car again being that tift, and I would presume it's not just a road Kurna crew chief, but it's the support people here at the shop and chassis suspension body all that stuff. It sure is you know, we went from around. I think it was sixty five people, and we're we're up to like ninety three ninety two something like that. So, you know, in the challenge in all that is you know, you really look for some economies of scale of ad net. Thirteen minutes reason, you do it in a lot of respects but race now two different shops. It's kinda hard to have that Konami sometimes and that one guy that can do a couple of things. Well, he's over in our. Other shopping states Ville and and into backup a little bit. Our shopping states, Phil we're still doing all of our fabrication work. We just expanded our fabrication capabilities in states Ville, and and then the assembly set up road crew business offices here in mooresville. So we're operate now to shops right now, which isn't perfect. But you know, we're making it work, and you know, it's kind of hard. Sometimes you got obviously to light bills and trash services and everything. So it's not as a fishing as it could be if we're all in one space, but but we're making it work and just trying to keep keep the two two shops engaged communication, obviously is a is a huge component of of any successful business. And so I've tried to work real hard to keep that communication open. And keep the fellas and Seitz villes engaged with what's going on in mooresville and vice versa. And just to put it in context for people who might not be familiar with the Charlotte area. Who are listening state spill is about twenty to thirty minutes away on I seventy seven depen-. On how traffic is on one of the worst arteries in America's roadways. Yes, I'm sure sometimes that trip takes longer. But certainly that's not far, you know, half hour to get from here to states Ville tops. That's not too bad. But when the cars arrive here Jerry just to sort of explain a little bit further. They're pretty much almost in finished state. And then when they come here to mooresville, they just put like the finishing touches the rap with people would think of as the paint scheme, and then loaded on the truck here in and send it out and the crew chiefs have their offices here as well. Yes. That's correct. So yeah. And I think it's a it's a little more than that going on here at in mooresville shop the cars come I think anything that's manufactured the body the chassis. Gotcha. That's what's done and over in our states Ville shop. It comes over here and suspensions bolted on drivers seats put in all the interior components fuel cell engine. And then then set up and ready to go to the racetrack. So you know, I don't want to sell a poor guy short here. Now a lot going on here too. So this is the most important part. Right. I mean, they have to be right. Well, get on the truck. You know, it's all important. You know, if if it's not done right in the fabrication process. There's no way they're gonna fix it at this point. So the body's just not right? And you're not getting the arrow you need on the car. The chassis is not straight or built the way it should be. You know, you're never gonna get the handle so maintaining that quality control with two different shops. Donnie wingo here who's been a longtime crew chief he oversees all of our car production. He has spent a lot of time traveling between states Ville mooresville and then over to row standing gauged with what's going on with our alliance partner in rows Fenway. So Donnie does a fantastic job with just ensuring the quality control the cars, and we've really been pleased to see our product as you get these scan maps off the Hawkeye system, and the consistency in our cars and compare them to the rash cars which were trying to build to their spec. You know, I feel like our guys do a good job of that just to again frame it for people when I drove up here from Charlotte. I got off on. Exit thirty five and seventy seven in came through the the winding road that leads up to the hill that the shop sits on and went past rouse, Yates, were all the engines come from Tra Ford teams and some other suppliers and vendors down here down the road. So I presume Jerry like having this new location at when you're expanding your staff by nearly a third when you're going from sixty something people to ninety something people being in mooresville allows you to attract maybe a better talent pool. Then you could even though states Ville is only thirty minutes away. There's some people think that's the country. This is a little bit more like the city. Yeah. For sure for sure even though it is that close it can be a million miles away to somebody's gotta drive to work there every day. So and as you alluded to with the traffic, if you live in a certain part of Charlotte, and you got to traverse through all that traffic to get the state's Ville, it can be a nightmare odd. So being a mooresville the thing I didn't really give a lot of thought that this would be playing our favor, but being in mooresville if you just look at a at a map. Up in Charlotte. Mooresville is right in the center. So it doesn't matter where a person lives were essential to where they are. So it was from that regard. You know, the folks that we had work enforced out of states Ville, moving the mooresville a lot of times, it was just kind of getting closer to their home. So they're happier with that. But with adding the new SAF it made those conversations a lot easier. You know, we would get a resume in. And it was like initially you just asked what where do you live? You know, because you knew if the person lived nor Charlotte or huntersville or concord or something it was going to be tough to talk about life. So there's some done for mill. Exactly, exactly. So so, yeah, I feel like it's a really played in our favor. You know, the other factor at the end of last year there were couple teams that had had some significant downsizing, and we were one of the few in the industry that we're actually up sizing. And so there was a large talent pool for us to kind of sift through. And and I feel like we really upgraded. Our talent. We we really added some some really strong people to augment the folks that the strong people are already had on the team. And so I I feel like through the manufacturing process with those folks, we have we've got a a little more talent. They are the the road crews to and you know, we'll start seeing the dividends from that. Just having more talented people putting their hands on the car. So like, you said you you've already seen some faster cars some good results. Michael McDowell certainly in the Daytona five hundred want to get to that eventually, but yeah, that depth of talent pool. I think I can recall this ten years ago when the great recession hit and suddenly there were nearly a thousand crew members looking for work again, it changed the game for say like a Stewart Haas racing that just added Tony Stewart. I remember Tony Stewart saying, hey, suddenly, this is like a buffet line. I can go out and really be selective in hiring. I'm sure it's not exactly analogous to. We you guys have your. I mean that must be. Yeah. Similar right. More selective. Yeah. That front row motorsports. In my mind. Started with the great recession at the end of two thousand. Eight right. So Bob Jenkins. Our team owner had been I would say more part time racing with a smaller version of front remoter sports that kind of started out at Jimmy means race team in but two thousand nine really took the plunge to be a full-time Cup series car owner guys like me that were with the team that had gone under at the end of two thousand eight we're looking for a job and Bob being an opportunist was able to really take the plunge in a team. And so I was able to bring several guys that I worked with at petty enterprises, they're still here today. And, but you know, we had a lot of DAI refugees and can ASI people. And but yeah, very similar to that that time that there were people that just had a a ton of experience that all of a sudden we're looking for work that had been organizations for ten or twelve years that had just kind of been downsized out. No real reason for them, you know, because of their work product, but more so just because of of the company just downsizing so it played in our favor. And you know, I think we've got a much stronger group. Right now in the decade that the team has been around Jerry how many of the core employees. Have you kept over those ten years because we always hear about it's difficult as a small team are medium sized team. Because once she start doing well, the bigger teams starts sniffing around and poaching. The guys who are really talented. Have you been able to keep some employee's here the whole time, and Ron what number that? But. Yeah ranks. Yeah. You know, I don't have an accurate number but just off top my head. I mean, there's at least eight or ten of us that we're all part of that two thousand nine team. That was I think fifteen people so that are still here in a couple came and went, and you know, I I think one thing we've always offered it front row is and Bob given us. This is a good work environment enough people to do the job. So that, you know, you're not even though we were especially back in two thousand nine eight a real small team. I felt like you know, we still had guys back in the shop. There were building the car. Someone the road crew got back. They didn't have to build next week's car and just flog on. Night to just get to the next race and jump on jump in the car and drive to the next race. So so we've always felt like had a pretty good work environment. Where guys are working reasonable amount of hours. So, you know, some guys left for a little more money and maybe a bigger team. And and just didn't like it and six or eight months later, they came back. But, but yeah, there's a at least eight or nine ten of us that were all part of that initial team. They're all still here. That's cool. And you mentioned the owner Bob Jenkins of the man who signs the checks and mix all of this work, and we just did a little tour the shop, and you also talked about the Hawkeye system, which people also know is the optical scanning station. That's what NASCAR uses at the track to inspect the cars and ensure that they are within tech before the race. And this was one of the things I heard last arena on the podcast jury people really appreciated the knowledge that you brought about the importance of the us not just from fans by her this ministry people to about like, oh, I didn't realize too. We heard him say that that the. Is not just about check it one time at the very end. And it goes to the track and it's within NASCAR specs with their stipulating. You have to check the car throughout the build process. So when I was talking to you in state school year ago, you were debating whether or not to add the s so here we are later. You've got a third car and. I'll let you said. So you still don't have an SS. And I know that you said that you've talked about like do we need one? And tell me about like what that process has been like and also I'll put it out there. So you don't have to S is a very significant investment all of the big teams have them. Although a few big teams like an ASI didn't get it until several months into two thousand eighteen and I think Kendrick was the same way. I Hendrik is the same way that partially could be looked at as why some of those Chevrolet teams probably were struggling, but yet is a six figure three to four hundred thousand dollar investment. So it's it's not as if you can just have Bob go down the store and buy one of these. But take us through like where the team is as far as that s a question a year later. Yeah. Well, the team members definitely we need one Donnie wingo. Certainly feels like we need one. I guess we've looked at it. Some teams have alliance relationships such as we do LeVine does with Gibbs and Pettis do with our CR, so I don't know this fact, but I'm pretty doggone certain that LeVine Pettis don't have a system either. So you have these alliance relationships and party what you're paying for is access to their technology. So we have access to the Hawkeye OS asset at Fenway. You know, it does make it inconvenient though. You can build a legal race car without one no problem if you're trying to build a very competitive race car, you absolutely need one. So for us. The challenge has been trying to get the car scanned as often as possible through the build process that we can maximize to build the car and still maintain racecar. So roughly how many times do you need to check it to be that highly competitive at least like I think probably three or four for and we tried to achieve. Twice Daytona cars. No went more than that. But we had time to do it with the Daytona cars, but for us two times kind of once after the body's been hung on the car, then the car comes back the rest of the fab work's done. And then then we get it assembled with the suspension, and all and then we take it back over just to verify that a it stay within the tolerances. And and heck even driving across I seventy seven go to route. Sometimes you can get them out of tolerance is that close. So while so you've really got to be careful with the car, and you've just the guy's leaning on fenders and in different things like that can really change the state of a front Fender. And and they make the the the noses entails and some of the sheet metal as thin as they can to still meet the rule tolerance. But but that just makes them kind of week two. So so anyhow, we try to at least get them the OS system it Rosh Fenway two times before they go in the race track for us. I I know there's team smaller now hours to that. Certainly don't. Do that that might just take one occasionally to nascar's hawkeye's for just a validation that we're still building the legal race car. But you know, I think if you're building a if you're trying to maximize everything he can competitive wise for the get the most aero in the car, you you've got to do it multiple times. Yeah. And the logistics here again to explain to people is that two shops, one states fell one here Morrisville row and NASCAR were where you can go for those assess checks or in concord, which is kind of like south and east of here. And so it takes about an hour to go from states Ville two there about again, depending on traffic, you're virtually the mercy of the North Carolina department of transportation thirty or forty minutes to get there from here. And so that can add up if suddenly you've gotta make multiple trips. Yeah. I it certainly can and and not just the car and the transportation of of going over there. But you know, we're sending some of our best and brightest people over there with the car, whether it's a car chief, or as I mentioned, Donnie and. Or different leadership out of the fab shop just so that if there is something that's out of line. You know, we can correct it right there. You know, the one thing we do have here. You know? I don't want to sound like we're completely backwards with what we're doing. But but we do have a couple of scanning arms with our measuring arms. Scanners on them at the fab shop as we're building the car, they can actually scan panels on the car. So, you know, we know the areas that are going to be you know, tight. And so we'll scan them there at our fab shop and get an idea that this is going to meet it or not, you know, I feel like we're still even though we don't have the OS system. Here. We've got tools to still try to maximize what we're doing between the builds. And but then taken it over there is kind of real world Hawkeye how they're gonna check them at the racetrack so on, but yeah, we've had a, you know, even though we don't have the system we've had a big investment in some of those tools to be able to measure the cars accurately. Yeah. I definitely don't want to diminish the importance of this place or the capabilities of the history. I mean, this was Chip Ganassi racing. Before that it was Sabco Felix about us. We're actually in as you mentioned Felix about us his office Moore office from if you would have been here twenty years ago and t- taking the tour of the shop floor here. He showed me the pulled down rig got a service plate for every car. So certainly the capabilities are here for a I think achieving the success that you had here when it was gone Assi ran out of here. I think until four so there was some wins. The got here were Jamie, marine, Sterling Marlin, his place now share, and what was kind of cool was Ganassi at one point was running three teams to so kind of opposite side where we're at or the crew chiefs and engineers are. I mean, there was three offices dedicated to each crew chief and engineer lineup. So it was good for us to as we're expanding to third card that each crew chief kinda had the same space, and they're all side by side. So you're kind of forcing him to communicate a little bit and they've got their own conference room. And they're they're calling in every morning with Rosh Fenway talking about what's what's new coming down the pike. So you know, this shop evolved into a three car race team. So it's a kind of was easy for us to move in. And not have to do a lot of wall building and different things like that. And that optical scanning station discussion jury one thing I kind of didn't touch on yet is that another factor in whether or not to get one is what's been the talk of NASCAR really the last. Couple of months now is the gen seven car being on the horizon for twenty twenty one and will it even still make sense to necessarily have one of those machines on your own when that car comes in because that is expected to be a game changer in many ways, and certainly the hope from NASCAR I think in may the teams and the race team lions is that it will be able to reduce costs by some of those economies of scale that you're talking about your overview of what you know. And what she think about the gen seven car and how it could impact front row motorsports. Yeah. I I think going back to. Address in the system. That's one thing last year, we Mata I don't know that we ever seriously talking about buying one. But we were definitely having dialogue about it. Kind of weighing out the pros and cons. And now this year with the sketching around the gen seven car and the potential launch in two thousand twenty one. I think a lot of the there's been a lot of discussion of where where do you go with the aero on the car, and what will the teams be allowed to do? And so I think as those decisions are made, then it's it's going to dictate whether you really need system or not in my mind. And and so we're we're kind of definitely now tabled the conversation about having one of those systems, you know, but I I think going back to the the car itself, you know, I think front row Jerry freeze. I think man, I love it. I love the idea of it. Love the concept of it. If it definitely can bring some other OEM's in the sport. I think would be absolutely super healthy for teams tracks every person. That that has a stake in in NASCAR. I I think it would be fantastic. And you know, and and even not necessarily that front row would look at doing something different with manufacturer. But maybe somebody in the Ford Cam does something different. And it helps us move up the pecking order, and and so I think it just creates opportunity when there's only so many charters Bob Jenkins that we we get some flack now. And then about why are we buying charters and doing all this stuff? That's really Bob's main reason, you know, he wants to beep in a position that if manufacturer if it's Ford if it's somebody else is really wanting to take a big investment into our team. We're sitting here with charters to be able to manufacture. We need a flagship operation in your hope is maybe they would measure dodge chose Reverend had exactly. So that's kind of been the back door method to our madness. And we've had to Lisa charter now and then because we couldn't operate three. But but anyways, I think going back to it. You know, I think the intent is hopefully get some other OEM's look at the sport with the more modern racecar. Also intent to try to take some cost out of the sport. So if that's some of those costs might come through the team's not having to spend so much on the aero side of it. I e do you need a OS system and things of that nature. You know, I think there's going to be certain areas of the car that the teams will still compete against each other with and some areas that you don't necessarily compete with. And I think it it for a team like front row motorsports. That's you know, we're established. We got great personnel. And and it it just something to level the playing field a little bit more will help us competitively at the racetrack. And so I think we're really in favor of it. We're I think cautious looking at the time line. There's a lot to get the sided with this car in a pretty short window. And you know, there's going to be pretty significant cost to step into that car if you're obsolete and a lot of the equipment race cars that you currently own. And so those things I think were we're certainly nervous about how do you get from? Homestead that at two thousand twenty into the first race the year in two thousand twenty one especially if that first races earlier. Yeah. Which could really what we hear? And so, you know, there would be a a lot of money spent a lot of a lot of work to to get to that point. But I think once you do I think it could put a team like ours much better position to be competitive on the racetrack. And that's what we're here for so on. I think we're four we're just, you know, certainly, I think like a lot of other teams and people in the industry just just concerned about the time line and how to make it happen. I I know our our partner in Ford is definitely very much in favor of it. And you know, they they would like to see a more modern component wise car Alan, the track if our partners in favor of it. And it drives some other OEM's getting sport because there is a more relevant car out there that is relevant to what's at the showroom. Then I think it's fantastic. Yeah. Mark rush Burke who heads up Ford's racing program oversees the NASCAR side, certainly is his said that he believes twenty twenty one is realistic for NASCAR. That's. The goal that NASCAR set there's been some others. David Wilson at Toyota has expressed a little bit of concerns about the timetable for development needs to be accelerated here a little bit and and get some real world testing being done. But David also is one along with NASCAR who thinks as you alluded to Jerry that if this works out as planned it could bring in three four more manufacturers. I mean, there's a lot of optimism that I'm hearing about this car in terms of how it can work with attracting some new automakers. And then the opportunities that are out there for that. So I know that you are part of the team owner council committees that meet and just probably limits on how much you can tell us from those meetings. But I've just heard in generalities that the gen seven we'll make things easier by you won't need. Maybe as many cars, you know, the the parts will come in a different way. What can you tell us about? Why would work for teams as as cost savings, and why that might be more peeling to a new manufacturer Pino? I think there's a lot of stuff that still. Will kind of out there on the table to be discussed. And and again, I think the big hitter is how to cut costs for the teams is, you know, are you going to compete as we do right now we basically compete on every single nut and bolt on that race car. So we're we're trying to maximize everything on that car. And so if there are some areas of the car that are more specified us that that we use this this part this component in you know, we don't have to put the development into it. Then there you would think there should be some cost savings in it. It's hard right now. When you you look at this car that we have and just thinking about, you know, when we went from carburetors and to fuel injection, and you're taking the same car, but changing this significant component of of how it operates. And and so it's not just walked in one part for the other. But everything that kind of lines up with those parts. So so whenever you're changing one. Component within the existing car there. There is a significant cost to the team. So with with this car if you're starting from scratch with the brand new chassis brand, new everything. Yeah. There's a lot of costs in that car. Sure initially, but you're not retrofitting over and over and over and over. So the big thing is is just deciding what areas are we going to race in? And so and again, if we're not racing in every like the pick guns. You know, the pig guns were kind of the start of it. So we're not raising pick guns anymore. So it can be argued how much expense there was. But you know, it it sure appeared like there was a lot of expense in pick on some teams that clearly spending seven figures on development just to make their pitstops faster. Yes. Which is a lot of money, which is a lot of money. So that was kind of I think a first step or initial step by NASCAR to look at. All right. If we just take that off the table, what's the impact towards the teams? And so I think with this car there's just a lot more opportunity to to look at that. And and still you don't want to go to an. All spec series, and that's been done before. And it's you know, I don't know there's a lot of enthusiasm for that. But you know, I think he's still got to keep teams can crew chiefs and engineers are figuring out. What's a shock spring sway Bart combinations to get those things to handle, right? And you still gotta have the pit crew element. And the driver talent and all that stuff. So that you can build a better race car and and have a faster race card in the other guy. And so I think that's the balance. That's being Wade out right now, you know, where where does it make sense? What what areas do we really not need to be racing in what areas that we can race in without really breaking the Bank, so to speak and could eventually Roger Penske talked about this and Saint Petersburg with a few of us last weekend. Could eventually maybe help reduce inventory NASCAR made the change this year with the engines to seal the engines to help reduce what Yates and TR D And Hendrik everybody have to supply every week and help save costlo. But that way could that be something where you don't have large fleet of cars. You don't need as many parts, perhaps as I. That's possible. You know, I think if if everybody in the agrees, I guess that that you can do it, and maybe more standardized chassis and not have an maybe the bodies to where you don't have a speedway Carver versus course, car versus car in that car, and I feel like like this your man, we're all over the place with the the five fifty packages of seven fifty pack as the arrow ducks nowhere ducks. And you do not wanna get net situation. So we are I think we're taking some steps to refine our package this year that if certainly caused a little bit of cost increase for us and specializing cars, let's say, but with the new package, I think, you know, that's that's one thing that that. I think could be addressed with is if if you just lock it in of this is the chassis you got or this is the body got then. Yeah. You shouldn't need a whole lot of inventory. I'm curious where the schedule goes a lot of times, you know, you're building up inventory. You know for us these west coast races are always very challenging, you know, but with the logistics involved and the variety attracts, and and you've gotta have you end up buying extra sets of inventory of extra sets of suspension oil tanks and things like that just accommodate the west coast swing that she, you know, maybe didn't necessarily need to do unless you wanna go and rice completely tear your car apart between the tracers so just as a safety net to send out there on the trucks for like say, the Phoenix car after Vegas. Just in case. Something happens you need to have something. Yeah. So just the timing other aces in having cars built earlier accommodate the length of the drive out there and swapping out. So you know, we'd certainly would love to see a little relief in successive weeks of the west coast races. And so I think there's some other things like like just mentioned that can be done to to help bring some costs down. Do you like the idea maybe of getting we're not sure if this is going to happen that may be starting with Theresa's out west the Daytona? And then staying maybe in the southeast for. Awhile. Yeah. He no. I don't know. I think you you have to you know, if you look at the thing you have to start if it's going to happen. You gotta start in west coast for weather reasons. And from what I understand sounds like our TV partners would like to see the season end earlier than what it does right now. I can. If if it's got an earlier, he either gotta start earlier or you gotta start running multiple races during the week or cut races out and in in certainly running races mid week can be challenging to again with logistics. And we're okay with starting the season earlier if that's what everybody wants to do. And you started out west. I I don't really have a lot of firsthand knowledge of any of that. But during the up, I don't think anybody does August speculating on twenty read on Twitter. But you don't tweet when she smart. So Roger Penske also told us Jerry that his budget for an IndyCar like the top end budget for championship. Indycar would be like I think six to eight maybe ten million at the very ceiling and obviously for a championship caliber Cup car. It's pretty much three times that he is hopeful that twenty twenty one gen seven he believes also that Jensen can be ready by that year that it would bring that cost down significantly number when when you're in those council meetings or when you're talking to Bob and representing him. When NASCAR is our number. You guys would like to see maybe as being a rough estimate of like what a championship caliber budget should be anybody's fixated on a number as much, but I'll say this in our team owner council meetings, you know, and we talk about areas we're gonna race it Mr. Penske in Michigan Assiut are quite outspoken about what they've done in IndyCar. And nobody looks at Indy. I don't think looks at the IndyCar series a spec series one place you go to get your chassis. And and I I don't know all the parts and components very well within the car racing. But I really think that's the direction kind of what's being talked about with the gen seven car dictate the areas that you know, you're gonna race in areas you're not gonna race in and try to drive some costs down. So, you know, listen to those guys that have firsthand experience with that. It seems to have worked where you still have viable IndyCar teams that are still very competitive. And you know, they're racing's been fantastic from what I see the races. I've watched and you know, they've still got a little passionate fan base all observing how they do it. And I think some of those those methods be replicated across our sport. But yeah, the goal would be to certainly, you know, there's so much money spent by the larger organizations like those on orangey and the development side of what we do. So if you're taking away areas of the card that you're going to develop there's got to be less cost in Indiana at think of adventure to say just buy parts and pieces to go on the race car. Tires certainly salaries at think front row probably trades pretty close with oh. A lot of big organizations, but when it comes to Arnie expense. We're nowhere near so that that's the big difference right now. And they're just they're just getting a little bit out of every area the car, and it translates into four tenths at all as AXA, but I would like to hope that that delta can close down a little bit. If they're not able to maximize all these areas of the car. No question. The RND edge is where that comes out on the competition out on the race track. And moving from looking at two three years in the future to twenty nineteen new package this year. But a lot of discussion about that about if it would help small or medium-sized teams such as yourself you're at front row motorsports. How do you think that's impacted you guys during has it had? And we've certainly seen Michael McDowell Daytona and not just there. But he's he's qualified. Well, and I I'm sure you've been pleased with some of the speed and your other cars as well. But you know, JT g Doherty has shown flashes and Richard Childress racing. Which is. Knocked VIN quite to the elite status they've shown flashes and qualifying and during races. I don't know if it's if it showing so much in the ultimate results. But you feel as if the new package is helping smaller teams a little bit this year. I think it potentially can you know, we've just had things we gotta clean up that are kind of self inflicted. Whether it's costing ourselves. Practice time not getting through the week before. And you sacrifice some time and happy hour, and and or just doing having a silly thing wrong on the car for a practice session and had a convert crazy thing with throttle pedal that bent and kinda got stuck on Michael at Phoenix. And when he got in the wall, and so it's kinda hurt our end of day performance. But I think the potential is air for a smaller team, and I really have paid attention to the JT cars for sure especially the thirty seven car has has really showed a lot of great speed. And then watching the children's cards in and that's the thing. Everybody's kind of building into their cars or you build them like speedway cars or you build them more to just maximize downforce. And what I hear is that the children's cars are have. A little more on the aero side. And they've showed fantastic speed in practice and qualifying. But maybe not as much in the race. And so I almost think our cars lean that way too because our cars qualifying well, but maybe not race in that as well. Those are all things that we're all looking at with this new package of what is it is it handling is just raw speed, and we have access to send data which is fantastic tool to. I think if I was driver, you know, where you can just basically overlay your laps against anybody else's laps at anytime in practice or qualifying or the race. And and it's really interesting. The engineers will show me kind of our drivers compared against each other or compared against the faster cars out there or the other. Ouch cars and the difference in driving styles. And and, you know, not really only really try to pay attention of our guys against our guys are guys against the routes cars knowing that similar similar packages. But man, they're all over the place. They tried to car. So, you know, last week at Phoenix I felt like our best car through practice and qualifying was Matt tiff and he had his first top two. Twenty and he was off the break a lot more knows other guys were so that's been a trend. It seems like is who can stay off the break the most. And that's going to be who gets her car driving the best in handling the best, and you know, momentum keeping the momentum up like they do in the truck series is key. And so I think that's keeping your foot off the brake. You know, we've just gotta get them handling where the drivers can keep their foot off the brake and just keep the momentum up. And and I think we'll be successful and seventeen had a great run at Vegas. I think it was. And and he was awesome in barely on the break at all. And and maybe not so good at Phoenix. But he's on pray a lot. So so it it just I'm just a dummy that sits up here in the second floor and much, but it sure seems to correlate into speed with this package. So, you know, we're we're working real hard with it. I think trying to build more downforce into the cars and really work on at handling. And if it means we qualify twenty fifth instead of the sixteenth Soviet. So when you see all that driver, data being overlaid? I guess the takeaway is there are many different ways. Geena cat and the gorilla is there really is. And you know, just looking at our three drivers may, and they were all three very, very different and Phoenix. And and I'm not saying Matt's way was the best. Right. You had the most speed. You know, we I think his crew chief Mike Kelly in him they came up with a good package and Matt since I started really following them last year. He he does seem to excel it these the Phoenix Richmond type track. And but like you said, there's there's different ways skin cat. You know, I think there's a lot to be learned through just kinda comparing yourself versus the other guys. And I go back to last year at the Royal Michaels. Michael McDowell excellent road course driver and happy hour was really really frustrated with kind of how he was getting off one of the corners. And and I know he he was following somebody on the track and came over who it was to somebody. And he went in looked at Mt date, and it might have been the first practice on Saturday, and and trove just like to exit the next practice in man. He was he was awesome. Then he's back to Michael McDowell road course. So, you know. And I have seen. Our drivers are really utilize that tool as much as anything, and or you can look at data for any driver doesn't matter if they're part of your alliance or team manufacturers and correct you mentioned to Jerry the seventeen of Ricky Stenhouse junior and I'm somewhat remiss and neglecting to say he's been impressive to the the alliance. You guys out with rush Fenway racing. Probably coming off last year. People would've said, I don't know about that this year. Certainly do you feel like it is making you guys faster because it seems like yeah. Certainly that Rosh cars was having some success. Yeah. I think so too. And and beyond Ricky think Ryan Newman's been really good too and bring in Scott graves back into the rash camp from Gibbs certainly didn't get any dumber being in the fan. And and so I think he's brought a lot of great ideas. And he was really sharp guy that you know, we were almost going to work with on the Chris butcher program. But didn't but the six car, I think that you know, it was very unstable last year with Trevor and Matt and was just seemed like there's always something that was just not cohesive there. And but. I I think the six is is really solid right now and contributing a lot back and forth with seventeen and and and certainly with Brian Patty and Stenhouse being together, I think three years now they've they've really had a law speed. So it's it's always been a really good relationship. Even before we had in the lions with Rosh Fenway. We bought a lot of used cars and used parts from them. And we fired several people, you know, Donnie WinCo came from there right now all three of our crew chiefs. I think it was like six seven or eight years ago. We're all rouses committee crew chiefs at the same time, you know, in the system works. Yes. They know the system, and they kind of know each other's personalities quite well. And we've got this year. I really really enjoyed standing back and kind of watching the the three crew chiefs interact 'cause there is relationships there with all three of them that go back ten years, and and and with this product and with the Ford product, and the Ford engineering tools, and and, but they, you know, like drivers they've got their own way of doing it, you know, and and Mike Kelly. Is very hands on more. I would say like an old school crew chief of worked his way up the ladder to be a car chief into a crew chief, and he loves being around that car and and cabinets hands on it. And Seth Barbara that said David Reagan's crew chief, you know, he's an engineer, and he's running sim, and he's kicking ideas back and forth as engineer and kind of lets his car chief handled the car and ju- Blake and stir for came to us. And he just brings a he's a super type a personality and a lot of great experience and several Cup wins under his belt. And and he's he's really brought a passionate and a fire to thirty four crowd and been a lot of fun to to have involved too. So it's a it's a good crew chief lineup we, you know, we just got to figure out the speed in the car where we need to speed in the cars, the drivers all seem their interact. Very well. And you know, Matt brings his youthful enthusiasm to the program and in a very openness how he's going to approach each track, which is nice to see. And and hopefully opens up David and Michael to maybe look at things different. To with this new package to you mentioned the enthusiasm and fire that drew Licken stir for brings to the number thirty four, which of course, is driven by Michael McDowell. I think fire is something that has been used to describe Michael McDowell times this year fiery, particularly after Daytona and Phoenix qualifying going back to Daytona. Jerry, Michael McDowell has a great run. There has the great finish. Of course. After the last restart. He and Joey Logano exchanged words, Mark rush. Brooke went on Sirius XM and said as two four drivers we'd be intermediaries here and step in and hash things out. What was the front row perspective on all of that? I say, you know, my my personal perspective watching the big screen win. The last lap was going on, you know, and I will Michael's move and turn three and I kind of question it myself. Why didn't you go at the twenty two and heck I can't put myself in the driver's shoes. And I honestly I just think Michael he had been working with Bush there. They get to that point. And Joey kind of pushed him to lead a. Started to before an quickly pulled out from behind them and really caused Michael to have to shuffle get up to the middle. And then worked his way back up. And I think he worked with Kabul, and and new that him in college together were pretty good pair, and he just thought his best play was going to be with the momentum with Kyle. And I think it's just those last minutes instantaneous decisions of the driver makes and maybe doesn't necessarily think I'm there to help the Ford guy. You know, I'm, you know, Michael, he he got car, you know, where you're talking about it. And you know, he said hell, I'm not here to help David Ragan met tift or anybody winner racing. I'm hearing a winter as myself and Michaels, a fiery passionate guys we've kind of seen the last few weeks. And that's that's why we hired him. You know, he's he's really out there to to make it happen and not just settle for twentieth place, or whatever he's just trying to get everything he can and scratch and claw. And when we hired him. I said man, I'm just glad you're only going push one of our cars around this year 'cause both around for years. And you know after Daytona, you know, everybody's question. Why didn't you help the twenty two and? You know, I think he he regretted it that. Yeah. Probably should have. But you know, those things happen. And it didn't seem like those guys that enthusiastic about helping us win the race either. So, and I still say you turned the tables if it's the other way around nobody would've ever said our word that Joey Logano didn't help Michael McDowell. So just because it was the way it was you know, it suddenly became an issue for a few days that for Michael had to deal with. I've it gets a fair point that some fans make as well as to why should manufacturer alliances matter so much guys both get support from Ford. Yeah. Penske gets probably more support than and Stewart Haas, obviously, that's well documented they get more support than other four teams do probably including rash. But certainly you guys how does that play into it? I mean does Mark rush Burke, call you or just like I got intervened in some sort of Ford meeting to say, look, we know you're all driving our brand. But we also understand you're all trying to win on your own too. Yeah. Oh, for sure for sure marks great with it and Pat DeMarco and they traditionally. At tone on. I think maybe the other speedway tracks to they'll have a a meeting with the four drivers. So I'm not a part of it. But you know, kinda here what said is basically look out for each other. Don't do anything to you know, harm your fellow Ford guy, and we get to the last couple of apps. All gloves are off you gotta do what you gotta do the win. And you know, different. I think they tone onto second to last the next to last restart Clint Boyer could've pushed Michael up there. Instead, he tried to make it three wide and and clear himself in front of Michael. And cause a big wreck. And I don't know this. But I don't think Clint boy was called to the Ford truck to get yelled at cost a big melee, but he was looking out for his own best interest. Or you know, he didn't wanna follow Michael McDowell and try to win this race of the year service, man. That's everybody's trying to do. But I think the big message is, hey, let's look out for each other. And then we get to the end the race. You know, it's every man for himself. And I think the only concern that Ford might have had was just the visual of it. Looked like Michael went. Alvis way not to help toilet Gano. And and and in my heart. I don't think that was Michael's intent. He thought his best move was to follow Kyle Busch. Pass those guys in in pushing past any and the optics. Didn't look good last corner last lap. I think Mark spin to such a huge supporter front remoter sports and does so much for our team in. We've got a good place with four that we really enjoy. And I hope we we bring value to them. And you know, so I I don't wanna do anything to disappoint those guys. And but he understands that it's an heat a battle. And I think his only concern was you know, was where we purposely not helping and and I don't think that was the case at all speaking of heat of battle. We're speaking here on Thursday between Phoenix and Fontana and almost a week. After Michael McDowell was involved in hit skirmish after buying with Daniel Suarez. It's kind of unusual jury to have front row drivers in the middle of a controversy like that that was pretty much the story of the weekend going into the race. So how's that work for you guys? I am somewhat of subscriber to. There's no such thing as bad publicity. And is that an example of that for that team in for this organization that like, hey, Mike mcdown front row? Got in the headlines. Yeah. Yeah. I don't know if it's the publicity you really want. You know? But it happened. You know, and I think again, it shows how passionate Michael is as upset as Daniels. Warez was that you know, Michael impeded his lap. Michael really felt like what Daniel did the following lap could wiped out a race car? You know, maybe heard a driver, you know, it was it was pretty bad. And and then you hear the audio the spotters coaching them on when Michaels coming and how to purposely get them out of his lane. And and so it could have been bad. And that's what Michael was upset about Michael was very upset about it. I was shocked as anybody, and I wasn't there. I was watching on TV when I see Michael going through for the throat there. And and and seeing group pickup Daniel stories. Yeah. The the whole thing was that was something else in and very out of character for Michael without a doubt. We try to sell Michael is the good guy. The good Christian driver that? With gala sponsorship, and he literally wears Christianity on sleeve, and in so certainly very out of character. And and, but I I think shows the passionate he has. And I'm sure if he had that one the do over again, he probably wouldn't. But you know, he was very very very upset at the time. And I think he just turned around and saw Daniel coming in thought Daniel was coming to fight. But yeah, that was that was probably an unfortunate incident that I don't know that we really would seek out that kind of publicity, but it happened. And but I know I had different folks in my little orbit of comes at now. Love that fired. I doubt. That's why people watch racing passion boils over in ways. You can't control. Exactly, right. Yeah. We'll we'll in here. Then like certainly want to add a fourth drivers. So you can have even more. But looking for Jerry you've expanded to three cars this year, you mentioned about Bob positioning himself in a way that could look good for if manufacturer comes in or if Ford decides to to expand the relationship here. What what does the future hold? Do you think beyond twenty nineteen right now for front row any chance that you guys might look at another car at some point another fourth car? Yeah. I don't know. I don't think. So, you know, I guess the rules would say we could or biting off a lot right now to do what we're doing. And I won't say that we've got all the funding we need to do we do in in in Imbaba kind are backstop for that. So, and you know, I my goal since I've been working for him to get him to not be the backstop for what we need to go race with. And so I I don't know. I mean, you never say never I I'm sure down the road. That would be a goal. Bob's. If we're ever position to have a fourth car, but for civil future we are where we're at. And we just got solidified all the funding around these three cars, honestly, and and be able to maintain that long term. And so that's more gold in anything. And with Ford we we've been with them for ten years now. And so that's that's just a been an incredible relationship that really began with Doug gates and row sheets, and they've been a huge ally. To to everything we do, and, you know talk in the garage. I you know, I feel like our? Ship for where we are in the grand scheme of things is really pretty good compared to some others. And that's because of people like Mark rush. Brooke that see the value of having front row motorsports in the camp. And I will say our drivers do a lot of behind the scenes development work was stimulators. And we'll force cars and things like that to try to bring some value back into the overall program for Ford. And and so we've we've really enjoyed that relationship for a long time. And you know, not what I would love to see more anything, especially if more OEM's gotten a sport if somebody bolted from the fort camp, and we were able elevated step up, and and because they're a great partner to have for. Sure. Okay. Well, we'll certainly keep an eye on that in the future again with this gen seven car and see how it will impact you guys, Jerry. Always appreciate your candor, your honesty, thanks for coming on and spend so much time on the NASCAR and BC podcast once again, my pleasure Nate, thanks again to Jerry freeze a lot of insight into what it's like being a mid pack team in the Cup series. As Jerry mentioned ten. Years invested in NASCAR at front row motorsports for team owner Bob Jenkins. So it'll be intriguing to see if that team can get to that next level. And we appreciate Jerry giving us a window into that journey for front row motorsports. Thanks as well to Jeff Denison and Lynn at front row motorsports for helping coordinate that conversation at the team's new shop in mooresville. The NASCAR podcast is available on Stitcher Spotify Google play apple podcasts or wherever you download your podcasts. Please leave us a rating and review if you like what you're hearing that really helps us out, and there will be many good things coming down the pike here on the NASCAR and ABC podcast not going to jinx it until you who they are. But I promise they'll be several appealing guests upcoming through the next several weeks with personalities from NASCAR IndyCar and IMSA. So we always appreciate the support. And we'll continue to try to bring you those conversations. And as always if you have any feedback for. Me you can send it to me on Twitter. At nate. Ryan is my handle thanks again. For listening to the NASCAR on NBC podcast.

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