For Ford Racing, dark days
are becoming farther behind
Photo by Jeremy Thompson/TheRacingExperts.com
Joey Logano and Kurt Busch race during the Daytona 500 in February 2016.
By Zachary Lange
May 23, 2016
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
With the addition of Stewart-Haas Racing to the Ford Racing family beginning in 2017, Ford now has another feather in the cap in hopes to turn around results in the Sprint Cup Series from recent seasons.
In the past five seasons, Ford now has three Sprint Cup Championship winning seasons on their roster. The last manufacturer’s championship Ford Racing won was in 2002 and the last driver’s championship they captured was in 2004 via Roush Racing with Kurt Busch, but with the addition of Penske Racing in 2013 and Stewart-Haas next year, that date soon may change.
“We believe the addition of Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017 will give our program a major boost in terms of being in contention for both drivers' and manufacturers' championships every year,” said Ford's global Director of Performance Dave Pericak in February, who also noted, “This is just another addition; we're not eliminating or reducing support to other teams.”
Lately, Ford Racing has met tough times in NASCAR’s highest touring series. Roush Fenway Racing’s results in recent year have been less than stellar, with average finishes for RFR drivers in the mid to late 20’s. Penske Racing continued to excel, but Pericak remarked about other teams lagging behind in an interview with The Charlotte Observer saying, “The Penske team has performed very well. Overall we've struggled across all of our teams this year. We're going to be making necessary changes to strengthen everybody's performance.”
Ford has continued to refine its own technological program as well, opening up Ford Performance Technical Center in Concord, North Carolina, in 2014, which features a state-of-the-art full-motion simulator that assists both racing and production car development.
Additionally, RFR added personnel essential to building quality race cars such as Technical Director of Aerodynamics’ Kurt Romberg as well as several other engineers and specialists.
Heading into the Coca-Cola 600 race weekend, three out of 16 Chase for the Cup positions are Ford drivers, with Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. both less than eleven points out of the 16th place cutoff respectively.
While that number is the lowest out of the three manufacturers, adding in Stewart-Haas to the mix could mean Ford next year has the most drivers of any manufacturer competing for the Championship trophy in November at Homestead.
Brad Keselowski Racing’s Tyler Reddick was the runner up in points last season in the Camping World Truck Series, and Daniel Hemric in his second season in the trucks finds himself currently fourth in points.
With young talent, and more top-tier teams to manage, Ford Racing has finally developed a problem than is good rather than bad.
With the addition of Stewart Haas Racing, championship driver Kevin Harvick and newcomer to SHR Clint Bowyer in 2017, Ford Racing will begin to look forward at producing more results and garnering more hardware to hang than previous seasons.