DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — If Roger Penske’s words following Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona Int’l Speedway turn out to be prophetic, Ford will introduce a new body into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for the 2019 season.
Penske made the statement following Brad Keselowski’s dominating victory in Sunday’s non-points exhibition event for the previous season’s pole winners and playoff drivers. Keselowski led a race-high 43 of 75 laps en route to his first Clash win.
Ford teams are working with the oldest body in NASCAR’s premier series, with Toyota having introduced a new Camry body last year and Chevrolet debuting the new Camaro ZL1 for this season and capturing the pole for next Sunday’s Daytona 500 behind the strength of Hendrick Motorsports young gun Alex Bowman.
The Ford Fusion first entered the Cup ranks in 2006, and its most recent body update came in 2016.
Despite that challenge, Penske said that next year, the current body hurdles that Ford faces should be eliminated.
“We can’t really use [having the oldest body] as an excuse,” Penske said of Ford’s on-track performance. “There’s no reason to. I think we thought the same thing coming out of St. Petersburg last year in IndyCar, that we might not have the power Honda had, and yet we won 10 races. I keep reminding the team that. We’ve got to race all year. We’ll have a new body next year.”
The statement quickly raised eyebrows among those at Daytona, and Brad Keselowski — who was among the most vocal at the end of last season about Ford’s lack of speed — was quickly asked about his boss’s comments during his own post-race press conference.
“They don’t tell me those kind of things because they know I’ve got a little bit of a big mouth and they don’t trust me, which is probably smart,” Keselowski said. “If (Penske) says it, I would say go with him. He’s always pretty trustworthy.”
Mark Rushbrook, the Global Director for Ford Performance Motorsports, later released a statement addressing Penske’s comments and the potential of a new body at the Cup level for the Blue Ovals.
“This is racing, and we are always working on actions to improve performance and that includes engine, body, aero, everything on the car,” said Rushbrook. “We will make an announcement on any future body actions when we are ready.”
Though Ford drivers swept the restrictor plate races last season at Daytona and its sister facility, Talladega Superspeedway, they only won six other races total through the year and only three (Atlanta, Pocono 1 and Texas 2) were at downforce tracks.
By contrast, Toyota’s new Camry stormed through the second half of the schedule, winning 16 races overall and 14 of the final 19, as well as the Cup championship with Furniture Row Racing and driver Martin Truex Jr.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 24-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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