Latitude 43 Motorsports Proving To Be “The Little Team That Could”
The No. 26 Air National Guard Ford Fusion, driven this weekend by David Stremme and led by New Hampshire’s own Frank Stoddard, goes into tomorrow’s race ranked 36th in the owner point standings. The team, which qualified 38th on Friday, is 62 points out of the 35th and final guaranteed starting spot. Stremme and Stoddard spoke with Ford Racing about their team’s situation.
FRANK STODDARD, Crew Chief – No. 26 Air National Guard Ford Fusion – WHAT EMOTION DID YOU HAVE WHEN YOU MADE THIS RACE? “I was thrilled. We’ve been fighting hard to try to get ourselves in the top 35. Boris did just an amazing job last week and I didn’t want to see all that hard work of last week with all the points we gained go out the window by missing this one. That was really the biggest factor for me, and, there again, we’ve got three guys that are working on the car from New Hampshire and grew up at Lee Race Track and Sugar Hill Speedway, which is just over the hill, so I know it was a thrill for them to make sure we were in the race. They’ve worked awful hard.” DOES THIS MEAN MORE TO YOU BECAUSE OF WHERE IT’S AT? “No, not really – not anymore. I’m over all that. I’ve had more success than I’ve probably deserved in life, and now I’ve got two great kids and a beautiful wife. Everything else is really just frosting on the cake, but my cake has had a lot of frosting on it over the years. It really didn’t mean anything to me. I was excited for the guys and happy for the bigger picture of trying to be in the top 35 and happy for the Air Guard and the people who get us to the race track and trying to get this thing off the ground and going, but I didn’t really take a whole lot of gratification out of it.” DAVID SAID THIS IS THE LITTLE TEAM THAT COULD. DO YOU AGREE? “Yeah, that’s it. We don’t have a full-time engineer, we don’t have a shock guy, we just keep on digging as hard as we can right now and hope that more streams of revenue will come in to where we can take this thing to the next level. Until that happens, we’ve just got to keep digging. I know how hard these guys have worked day in and day out since the second week of January when we started this thing and there haven’t been many days off for these guys. A lot of them are volunteering their time, so it’s been good.” HOW GRATIFYING IS THIS DEAL? “It’s gratifiying because of these guys and how hard they work. They come to the race track and work in a shop that can’t be more than 4,000 square feet, so it has been a lot of fun to watch. I just hope we can keep it going.”
DAVID STREMME – No. 26 Air National Guard Ford Fusion – AFTER QUALIFYING YESTERDAY YOU CALLED YOURSELF “THE LITTLE TEAM THAT COULD.” HOW IS THIS SITUATION COMPARED TO SOME OTHERS YOU’VE BEEN IN? “It’s definitely different and you set your goals differently. Take Michigan or Pocono, for example, we were outrunning teams that probably have four times the budget we have. I mean, this team only has six guys in the shop. We’ve got some older cars and it’s rewarding when we outrun some of the larger teams, but it’s very difficult to be in the position we’re in. If we can get in that top 35 it’ll be a big help and that’s our goal. If we can get in there, then we’ll move forward.” WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING WITH FRANK? “He’s awesome. He’s just a racer and we get along great. I never really talked with him until Bristol when we started working together, but he doesn’t have an ego or anything else. He wants to run good and will do whatever it takes, and I think that’s something really cool because normally a lot of guys will be like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna do it this way no matter what.’ But we talk about things and I think that’s why we have a lot of success. The other thing why this team has been able to come so far is that Frankie does multiple jobs. He’s probably doing 10 different jobs in order for us to be able to get to the track.” HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY CHANGE IN HIM THIS WEEK BEING BACK HOME IN NEW HAMPSHIRE? “This is God’s Country to him. I’ve been mispronouncing names of cities and he’s just been laughing at me, but he’s a great guy to work with and I’m having a lot of fun. The situation is different, but we’re making the best of it.”