By admin | May 20, 2010
By Richard Allen
After a great deal off fanfare and much waiting, it is finally time for Fordâ€™s first race specific engine, the FR9, to show what it can do once and for all.
In this weekendâ€™s Sprint All Star Race activities the new power plant will be put to use by every Ford team supplied by the Roush Yates Engines consortium. That will include the four Roush Fenway Racing cars and the four Richard Petty Motorsports cars along with those cars fielded by Front Row Motorsports.
The engine has been used only sparingly since its initial debut in 2009 at Talladega.
â€œWeâ€™re going to run the engines in all the cars at Charlotte for the All-Star weekend,â€ Jack Roush said at Dover International Speedway. â€œBy Michigan, I donâ€™t know that we will have the engine in all the Ford cars from that point forward, but we will at least have half a dozen engines in the 10 or so Fords that we build engines for.
â€œFrom that point on, depending on the durability and depending on the confidence, depending on the supply of parts, weâ€™ll have that available to us.â€
Ford teams are obviously lacking in some area, whether it be in horsepower or somewhere else. The â€˜Blue Ovalâ€™ won only three times last year and is the only manufacturer to have not won a points paying race in 2010.
Only two Ford drivers, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne, are assured of a place in this yearâ€™s Sprint All Star Race. One of them won last year in a Dodge to make himself eligible and the other has not been to victory lane since the second race of the 2009 season. One other driver, Jamie McMurray, did win in a Ford last year but he now drives a Chevrolet.
Even though Ford appears to be running ahead of the corporate pack in Detroit, the manufacturer has fallen behind on the track. The teams running for Ford have to be hoping the new engine will pull them closer to the front. After all, a little more power never hurts in racing.
If a lack of zip under the hood is the cause of the Ford teamâ€™s struggles then the engine may well provide the boost they need. However, as the old racing saying goes, â€œIt donâ€™t matter how much power you have if you canâ€™t make it turnâ€. So, if there are other issues holding the RFR and RPM boys back this engine may prove to be expensive window dressing.
This is a do or die time for Ford teams as the NASCAR season enters its second half run to the Chase for the Championship. Right now, there are three RFR campaigners inside the top-12 of the standings. It will be up to the FR9 to help them hold station and for another Ford driver to join them.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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