By admin | August 17, 2011
By Richard Allen
Coming off their first road course win since 1996, the Ford Motor Company should seemingly feel pretty confident about picking up a second straight win in Michigan. However, a look at recent statistics does not necessarily bear that out.
Between 1984 and 2008 Ford dominated NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at the Michigan International Speedway. The â€˜blue ovalsâ€™ won thirty races during that 24 year time span.
However, no Ford driver has collected a checkered flag at the track located closest to the home of American auto manufacturing in almost three full years. Carl Edwards won the second visit to MIS in 2008 but since then there have been two Chevrolet and three Toyota victories just outside of Detroit.
The advent of the FR9 engine has provided Ford with an up to date piece that has brought the companyâ€™s racers back into a more competitive position. But at the same, those teams seem to have lost the key to their most often visited victory lane.
That is not to say the make isnâ€™t still a powerful force at the track. Just this past spring, Denny Hamlin won in a Toyota but Ford drivers Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth combined to lead well over half the raceâ€™s 200 laps although they each fell short in the end.
Perhaps one cause for the recent troubles at Michigan might be the fact that so many races now seem to boil down to fuel mileage. For whatever advantages the FR9 has over the competition, be it horsepower or weight or whatever, fuel mileage is not one of those advantages.
In seemingly every race this year, Ford teams are among the first to call their drivers to pit road. And very often, their cars have to hit pit road for a splash of fuel near the end of events when others stretch their mileage to beyond the finish line.
The Michigan International Speedway may well still be a Ford track, but the current style of fuel mileage stretching is not a Ford style of racing. Should caution flags work out in such a way as to eliminate the fuel stretch, there could very well be a Ford in victory lane for the second weekend in a row. However, if the race does turn out to have gas as a central theme, Ford may well be on the outside looking in at the end of the day.
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