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« Indy takes its toll on Joe Gibbs Racing | Main | Montoya’s penalty shows just what a bad race car the CoT is »

Ford drivers need that new engine…soon

By admin | July 27, 2009


By Richard Allen

Ford is to debut its new FR9 engine sometime during the 2009 season. The drivers of the brand need that engine to be introduced as soon as possible.

The Dearborn, Michigan auto maker looked as if it were going to dominate the season early on. Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 and the next race in California. Since then, there has not been nearly so much to get excited about for fans of the blue ovals.

Ford drivers do not appear to have enough speed to keep up with the competition. That seems particularly true when up against Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyotas and Hendrick Motorsports’ Chevrolets.

During Sunday’s Brickyard 400, one Ford driver was especially critical of his power plant. “This motor’s a joke,” the driver said. “I’ve just got no power.”

That driver went on to add, “The car is loose, but I’ve had looser cars and gone forward.”

Doug Yates, who is heading up the development of the FR9, originally said the engine should be race ready by the second half of the 2009 season. Well, that time has come and the Ford teams should be using the new power plant soon.

The FR9 is being hailed as the first racing specific engine in Ford’s history. It is supposed to be an entirely new design and approach rather than simply a redesign of the old piece.

Rumor has had it that the Wood Brothers team with driver Bill Elliott have already been using the new engine. Those rumors even suggest that the use of the piece by that team may date back much further than was ever anticipated.

Obviously, Ford drivers could use the extra horsepower it is believed the FR9 will provide on race day. However, the real benefit may come from having more power on qualifying day.

Qualifying has become so crucial in NASCAR for two reasons.

First, track position is critical. It is so difficult to pass, which makes starting near the front of the field important. For the most part, Ford teams have struggled on qualifying day and have thus found themselves fighting an uphill battle from the drop of the green flag.

Another factor that makes qualifying such an important part of today’s racing is pit selection. More passing occurs in the pits than on the track, so having a good stall can be the difference in winning and losing.

Ford drivers have often complained this season that their cars do not handle well. Every team has that problem with the Car of Tomorrow, but it could be that Ford drivers are feeling it the most because they always seem to be in ‘dirty air’.

Roush Fenway Racing has indicated that they do not intend to rush their championship contending drivers into the new engine. In fact, they may be the ones who need it most. Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth are currently 11th and 12th respectively in the Sprint Cup standings. Playing it too conservatively with the new motor could cost these drivers because they may be lacking the power they need to secure a place in the Chase for the Championship.

Ford has only won two races this season and by no means do they have any driver who currently looks like a serious championship contender. They need the new FR9 to come available very soon if they are to have any chance at changing that.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

6 Responses to “Ford drivers need that new engine…soon”

  1. dawg Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 10:12 am

    NA$CAR, in it’s entirety needs new engines. If they ever again expect to be relevant to the manufacturers, whose support they so badly want, & need. They need to get out of the ’50’s & into the modern era. Then again, if they were to do this they would have to hire some good engineers, rather than the good old boys that they have now.

  2. Ritchie Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Amen Brother

  3. Charles Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Richard
    Ford getting a new engine might help in the short run, but it will not help in the long run, Nascar will not let them or Dodge or Toyota dominate like Chevy!

    Just let any of the other brands dominate like Jimmy Johnson has, or Jeff Gordon and you will see a quick rules change!

    The problem started when in 1999 they let GM run the SB2 engine after Gordon and Dale Sr. won most of the races and championships!

    Then in 2006 after total domination of the laps led, and wins, point titles, Daytona 500s, Brickyards etc , what does Nascar do? Give them a new RO7 engine to use!

    Today if you were to take out the GM entrees the rest of the brands are pretty equal on the track, its just GM is so far ahead! and has been for years!

    They should not have let them have all this power, when what they had was winning and dominating!
    Now they say they want to cut cost, why let all the teams have to change engines, they should be giving less power as the speeds are getting to fast at the 1.5 milers!

    After watching Nascar for over 40 years, I firmly believed
    you win by politics and favoritism in the tower than on the track!

  4. Jim Baker Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    What a situation. I am pulling for the Fords because I want to root for an American manufacturer, and as I see it since the multi billion dollar taxpayer bailouts, Ford is now it. Jack Roush is an old and autocratic team owner. There are more problems at RFR than the new engine will solve.

  5. Craig Duff Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    I will be a fan of any of the ford teams. If the wood brothers have enough nerve to try the new engine now then more power to them. I think it is nice to see them running better. G O #21.

  6. Larry Ballentine Says:
    August 10th, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    I agree with Charles. NASCAR is not going to let any auto maker dominate chevy (ie when Toyota was winning about all the Nationwide races they put a plate on the Toyota after the dyno tests.) If Chevy had been winning all the races there would have not been a rule change. A large percentage of the fans are Chevy fans, I happen to be a Ford fan but I would lose interest if a Ford won 90% of the races. The fans want to see competition. Remember about 3 or 4 years ago when Chevy won races, Ford won races and Dodge won races and the stands were full and the racing was exciting.

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