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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