By admin | September 30, 2009
By Richard Allen
Ford announced back in January of 2009 they would introduce a new engine package for their NASCAR teams at some point during this season. Doug Yates, who is among those heading the project, originally stated that the new piece would be in use by at least a few Ford teams in August. Then, that date was scrubbed and a first use date of sometime within the Chase for the Championship was targeted.
Well, the Chase is now two races old and no new engine has made an appearance. And, there has not been an announcement as to when the engine will make an appearance. In looking at the calendar, there are two possible conclusions to come to. First, there are STILL eight races remaining in this season. Or, there are ONLY eight races remaining in this season.
Does the engineâ€™s no show indicate there is some sort of problem with the development?
It would seem that Ford would have wanted the piece to have been used by a team not in Chase contention back in August and then placed in at least one of the Chase contending cars during the playoff itself. That is not likely to happen.
Now, the best Ford can hope for is to run the engine for a few races in a couple of the cars outside the Chase. It would also seem that if Ford wants the engine to become a viable product for its teams in 2010 they would get it in at least one car as soon as possible to get some actual race miles on the motor. Each passed week is a missed opportunity to do just that.
The new engine has been called Fordâ€™s first true race motor. Previously, Ford race engines have been offshoots of production pieces.
Watching any recent race is proof enough that the â€˜Blue Ovalâ€™ teams need all the help they can get. In one race earlier this season a prominent Ford driver declared that his car was handling as well as any other car on the track but he was getting beat so badly on the straights that it did not matter.
Another area in which Fordâ€™s lack of power shows so evidently is in qualifying. Seemingly each week finds Ford teams starting in mid-pack or worse. With track position being so important, this puts those teams at a disadvantage from the start. And more, qualifying determines pit stall selection, which again hampers these teamsâ€™ ability to gain valuable track position.
There are bound to be glitches in the development of any new product but without help coming from somewhere soon, Ford teams stand no chance of winning a title this season. For that matter, they seem to stand little chance of winning even one more race before the close of 2009.
But perhaps worse, without some on track testing of the engine that is supposed to be the future for the teams that race this brand of car, next season is not looking any better than this. Almost certainly, these teams do not want to begin a new season in 2010 with an old, tired engine package. And, they almost certainly do not wish to start 2010 with an unproven, untested engine package either.
Does the delay in rolling out this new Ford engine indicate there is a problem? It may be too early to say so just yet, but that time is not too far away.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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