By admin | January 17, 2010
By Richard Allen
To say the least, 2009 was not a banner year for the Ford Motor Company in NASCAR. The brand only saw its cars visit victory lane three times during the season and did not have any driver to make a serious run at the Sprint Cup title.
Granted, a Ford driven by Matt Kenseth did win the sport’s top prize when he took the Daytona 500 in February. He then went on to claim the race at the Auto Club Speedway the next week in California. From there, that driver’s season went into a steady decline which resulted in his failure to qualify for the Chase for the Championship.
The only other Ford driver to score a win in 2009 was Jamie McMurray who won in Talladega.
Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle followed up on nine and two win seasons respectively in 2008 with no wins in 2009. Both of those drivers made the 2009 Chase but neither challenged the Hendrick Motorsports juggernaut at the front of the Chase pack.
This season, Ford fans may have reason for optimism.
During a press conference for his induction into the National Motorsports Hall of Fame, Ford team owner Jack Roush said that his teams were paying more attention to detail in 2010. “Last year, we failed to do that extra half a percent that we needed,” he admitted. “This year, I’m going to make sure each team has enough people in place to take care of every detail.”
Reducing from five to for teams may actually benefit Roush Fenway Racing. They will be able to sift through their personnel and put the best people in the best places.
Also, the ranks of the Ford contingent have added depth. Richard Petty Motorsports has joined forces with Yates Racing and will campaign cars for the ‘Blue Oval’ in 2010. Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and A.J. Allmendinger will add to the role of driving talent in the Ford stable. RPM will also bring some of its people to the new organization which will add depth at all positions.
The new Ford FR9 engine should be online in 2010. This is the first engine built by Ford solely for the purpose of racing. If the engine proves to be as good as hoped Ford drivers should see real horsepower upgrades.
The FR9 had originally been slated for use about midway through the 2009 season but it’s initial run was ultimately delayed until the second Talladega race. It remains to be seen just how much the power plant’s lack of track time in 2009 will impact 2010.
Ford did not have its best racing year in 2009. However, the addition of new talent, one of their stalwart teams renewing their focus and the use of a new engine ought to provide Ford fans with something to cheer about in the coming season.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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