Rogers has brought a new attitude to the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota team this season; focusing less on race wins and more on the 2012 championship.
|Rogers (R) has a new approach in 2012|
“We had a really good car at Phoenix and led some laps early, but I really wanted to try (taking only) left-side tires,” said Rogers of last week’s race. “People starting doing it at the end of last season and we’ve seen it in the tire wear data, but it just doesn’t seem to make any sense. The outside tires should wear more than the insides, but Darian (Grubb) and a few others did it last year and made it work. It was on my checklist of things to do, and I needed to get some information on it for the Chase.“We tried it early in the race and it paid off,” he said. “It put us up front and gave us some valuable information, but it also threw us a little off on our adjustments. It freed the car up, and when I put four tires on (later in the race) it tightened the car up. I didn’t compensate for that, and it put us a little out of sequence and behind on our adjustments.
“I would have loved to get a win at Phoenix early in the season, but we learned so much about left-side tires that we didn’t know before. That information is going to help us going into the Chase.”
Rogers said both he and Busch are focusing more on learning during the 26-race regular season, and less on piling up race wins. “The last couple of years, the 18 car has won a lot of races, then struggled in the Chase,” he recalled. “We’re going to do things differently this time. We’re going to try some things during the regular season that will make us better in the final 10 races. We have a Top-10 driver in Kyle Busch, so we don’t have a lot of concern about missing the Chase. We want to learn everything we can in the first 26, then apply that knowledge in the Chase and contend for the championship.”
Rogers assured fans that if Busch fails to equal the four regular-season wins he amassed last season, there is no cause for concern. “Winning is always the goal,” he said. “But we are equally focused on learning. If we win fewer races but win the championship, I’ll be fine with it.” He said last weekend’s seventh-place finish was an example of his team’s new approach, saying, “we tried something that may have cost us a shot at a win, but the knowledge we gained was worth the six spots it cost us.”