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« NASCAR presser reveals an organization out of tune with its patrons | Main | Will Travis Pastrana have the patience to stay in NASCAR? »

Ford needs a team other than Roush Fenway to step up

By admin | January 27, 2011

By Richard Allen

 

In 2003 and again in 2004 Ford Motor Company had one of its drivers win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. In 2005, the ‘Blue Oval’ was emblazoned on the front of five cars to have made the Chase for the Championship. It seemed as though Ford was poised to take over the top spot as the dominate manufacturer in the sport.

Trouble was, all of that success was delivered by one organization. For several years now Ford’s fortunes have been tied almost completely to one organization, that of Jack Roush or Roush Fenway Racing. As RFR has gone, so has Ford gone.

Ford’s chief rivals in NASCAR have to be considered Chevrolet and Toyota. Those manufacturers are not solely dependent on just one team the way Ford has been in the recent past.

Chevrolet boasts a powerful lineup of fulltime teams. Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing and Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing all won races for the ‘Bowtie’ brand last year. Having such a strong group of teams almost certainly assures Chevy of at least some success going into any season.

Toyota got wins from Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing in 2011. Those teams, as well as Team Red Bull with the addition of Kasey Kahne and the return of Brian Vickers, look to again take the Japanese company to the winner’s circle.

Dodge, with its much more limited racing budget, has only one serious contender in Penske Racing.

Ford only received wins from RFR last year and those did not come until the second half of the season.

Granted, Richard Petty Motorsports switched to Ford last year and had some success but the ownership of that group proved to be more than a little unstable and thus it was not able to reach the level of a top flight contender in the Sprint Cup Series. That team has been restructured in 2011 so it remains to be seen if they will be able to compete at the top of the scoring charts.

Ford, of course, has the legendary Wood Brothers team but they only plan to run a limited schedule with Knoxville, Tennessee driver Trevor Bayne behind the wheel of the #21 car. Front Row Motorsports seems far from ready to contribute. And more, even though each of the three teams mentioned are separate entities, they are very closely aligned with RFR.

“The past two seasons have not been up to the standards that we at Ford Motor Company set for ourselves,” Edsel Ford II declared at the Sprint Media Tour stop at the Roush Fenway Racing facility(actually an airplane hanger).

In that statement Mr. Ford, a member of his great-grandfather’s company Board of Directors, could not have been more accurate. In 2009, Ford got off to a great start by winning the Daytona 500 and again the very next week in California with driver Matt Kenseth. However, there would be only one other trip to victory lane that year by Jamie McMurray in Talladega.

In 2010, Ford got off to a very slow start. Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards each tallied two wins for RFR but those came late in the season.

At the media tour stop at his facility Jack Roush assured those in attendance that his team had corrected its issues, which became evident at the end of 2010. He fully expects his team to get off to a much faster start in 2011. He added that he has never been more optimistic at the start of a season than he is this year.

While it may well be true that RFR and Ford will have a banner year in 2011, there is always going to the factor of not having enough competitive teams to counter Chevrolet and Toyota until Ford has another to emerge as an insurance policy against being tied so closely to one organization. Until that happens Ford will always be subject to the ups and downs of one group.

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5 Responses to “Ford needs a team other than Roush Fenway to step up”

  1. Charles Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Richard

    While on paper Ford having more teams might get them a little better results!

    That being said, just look in the 1990s, they in the mid ninties had more teams than GM! They had Roush, Jr Johnson, Bobby Allison, Robert Yates, Stovala Bros, Bill Elliiot, Bud Moore, and Wood Bros, Cal Wells, Tri Star, Cale Yarbrough Motorsports etc, didnt do any better than now!

    I think they learned a lesson, In Nascar GM is Nascars brand of choice, They get to win without penality!
    Notice when Jimmy Johnson wins, its because of the team!
    But if another driver starts to dominate its because of “the brand of car”, need rule changes!

    Thus Ford wisely cut back on its Nascar spending and won just as many point titles in the 2000s as in the 90s, and Daytona 500s as well!

    Bill Elliot in the eighties was an example of what happens when you dominate with another brand of car! Still true today!Rule change after rule change! You are just in a uphill battle unless you drive Chevy in Nascar!

    Toyota will find out, Dodge has already found out, the GM lobby dominates Nascar! Spend all you want, you will get the same result, just the Globetrotter Chevy, verus the Washington General other brands!

    Nascar needs to get its ‘CAR FANS” back, it made the sport, a little more fair and balanced” approach to rules would do alot to promote the competition between the brand of cars!

    Gm and Chevy have great cars and teams no doubt! But so do the others! and they need to treated as well!

    Is so onesided now even Chevy Car Fans I know dont like Nascar anymore!!!!!!

  2. ROBBY Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 9:52 am

    To be fair…Allmendinger probably would’ve won Dover if not for a 5 cent washer and had the best car at both Daytona races…

    and Roush’s turnaround last season was a direct result of info they got from the RPM cars so it’s not like RPM exist only to drag down Ford and RFR…They are a solid team.

  3. Bill Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I agree with Robby - RPM figured out the front end geometry and gave the information to Rousch. That helped them immensely.

  4. Kevin Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I think that this article points out to something else that is significant. Even though there is a rule limiting team owners to 4 cars, NASCAR is on track to becoming a six owner sport.
    Name me a competitive Chevrolet team that does not get its engines or chassis from Earnhardt Childress Racing or Hendrick Motorsports.
    Any competitive Ford team is running RFR stuff.
    Is there anyone other than Penske running Dodge?
    Whether or not these gentlemen are listed as actual owners of other equipment, it is there stuff that is running across the whole series.
    MWR farms their stuff out all over the place. The only team that is keeping stuff internal is JGR, and even they had the olive branch stuck out to HOF at one point. Just look back to Charles post and see all the ford only teams/owners that used to exist. NASCAR has avoided franchises because ‘anyman’ can show up with the right equipment and run, he didn’t have to be a millionaire. How much longer? NASCAR needs to address this issue before it is too late.

  5. Russ Edwards Says:
    January 28th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Rich
    I dont think you will see and more Ford teams in the foreseeable future. They have chosen to align themselves with a group that has proven very adept at reducing chances of competition for the manufacturers dollars.
    And as for RPM’s contribution? Who builds their cars? Thats right Roush. My guess is that geometry change was by some unknown engineer, using the latest upgrade to the software.
    Lets face it, its all about engineering and software now.