When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series resumes at Indianapolis this weekend, Ford drivers will be seeking their fifth straight win and eighth overall this season.
With 19 races in the books, blue oval drivers trail their Chevrolet counterparts (nine) by just one win, and far outdistance Toyota pilots, who have managed just two wins thus far in 2014.
Ford has won four straight Cup races for the first time since 2001, and the eight wins thus far are the most for the manufacturer since compiling 11 victories in 2008.
“The fans are happy,” Ford Racing director Jamie Allison said recently in a media Q&A release. “In competition, obviously we are thrilled with the fact that we’ve won 4 races in a row and 8 out of 19 races.
“That’s more races than we won all of last year. We are carrying momentum as we approach the Chase.”
Allison is optimistic about Ford’s chance in the playoffs, but is also well aware Ford has not won a Sprint Cup championship since Kurt Busch did so in 2004 in the first year of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Busch’s title was the second in a row for Ford, which also won the Cup crown in 2003 with Matt Kenseth behind the wheel.
Admittedly, things have been rather cyclical in the Cup series this season. Chevy won the first two, Ford won the next two, then Chevy went on a five-race win streak between Kansas and Michigan.
Since then, it’s been all Ford in victory lane the last four races. What’s more, of Ford’s eight wins thus far, four drivers from three different teams have taken the checkered flag: Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano from Team Penske, Carl Edwards from Roush Fenway Racing and Aric Almirola from Richard Petty Motorsports.
“We have four drivers who are almost guaranteed to make the Chase,” Allison said. “We’ve got our foot on the pedal and the pedal smashed all the way to the floor. We are on a mission to win races, contend for the Championship and claim our first Manufacturer’s Championship in NASCAR in over 10 years.”
Allison would love to have all four Ford drivers make up the four-driver winner-take-all and championship-deciding race in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Which, by the way, happens to be known as Ford Championship Weekend.
“We’ve won on all types of tracks,” he said. “Short track, intermediate tracks, super speedways, and road courses have all been notched by Ford drivers. It speaks to the foundation and the strength of the Ford Racing program when you have different Ford teams all capable of earning wins and succeeding across all forms of tracks.
“All the teams share the same body, the same engine and access to the same set of Ford technical tools. And at the end of the day, we have great teams and great drivers in fast Ford Fusions. Beyond chassis and race car set-up and engine performance, the Chase and Championship will come down to flawless execution on the track, in pit lane and making the right calls during the race when opportunities present themselves.”
Even though four Ford drivers are in the Chase, that doesn’t mean that’s it for the blue oval teams. Allison wants to see several more drivers make the playoffs – and would take great pleasure if that means keeping more competing Chevy and Toyota drivers from making the Chase.
“Because we’re guaranteed to be in the Chase with four drivers, the remaining seven races provide an opportunity to get other Ford drivers into the Chase, and we are well positioned to do so,” Allison said. “Marcos Ambrose can certainly win Watkins Glen. Greg Biffle is a threat at any track. And Ricky Stenhouse is running stronger lately and only needs one win to get in, and he’s very capable of pulling that off.
“So our mission is to get the remaining Ford drivers into the Chase. For the teams already in the Chase, this is now an opportunity for preparation, which means testing especially at Chase tracks and extensive chassis and engine development so that we’re prepared for success when we charge into the playoffs.”
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