Ford teams pleased how they’re working together

Tim Packman

By Tim Packman

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Even though teams may be racing for the same manufacturer, there are still times where on-track decisions for victory need to eschew the directed creed.

In races gone by, that seemed to be the case as everyone chased the same trophy only one can win.

The Ford Performance teams were pleased how Ford Mustangs helped each other during Thursday night’s Duels, especially how Joey Logano won the first one.  The Ford teams in the NASCAR Cup Series are confident the Blue Oval Boys will work together, again, in the Daytona 500 on Sunday.

On Friday, team owners Jack Roush, Tony Stewart, Eddie Wood, Walter Czarnecki (Penske) and Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports, sat down together to discuss how well the collaboration on and off the track has been working.

“The success in 2019 with the wins we had with the first year of the new Mustang, and to now be back for the second year with that Mustang, is good,” Rushbrook said. “The teams have all been working really hard through the off season.

“They’ve been taking advantage of the tools and advancing the aerodynamics of that Mustang and the chassis setup using the simulator. I think we’ve had more time in the simulator in this off season than we ever had before.

“From what we’ve seen so far at Daytona, we saw a lot of speed in the cars, teams working across the Ford drivers and communication across the teams.”

Roush has been coming to Daytona for a long time and seen his share of cooperation, and lack of, amongst Ford teams.

“We’re anxious to take advantage of the many tools in Ford’s great toolbox,” said the Cat in the Hat. “This is my 33rd year coming to Daytona for the 500.

“We look forward to bringing Chris Buescher and Ryan Newman to have some success. Jimmy Fennig has done a great job with the cars. Doug Yates has done a great job with the engines.

“It’s a matter of teamwork, everybody be willing to pull together and accept the reality if they can’t win on a given day, then they can help another Ford driver win.”

That was the case in Duel No. 1 on Thursday when Logano’s No. 22 Penske Ford ran near the front during the 60-lap race. In the end, he got help from the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford of Aric Almirola pushing him to the win.

Tony Stewart of SHR is also appreciative of the manufacturer’s teamwork ethics and initiatives.

“The thing all of our drivers think about each weekend, if it’s not our day and we can’t win, how do we help another one of these Ford teams win the race,” Stewart said. “That’s how dedicated and passionate we are to put that blue oval in Victory Lane every week.

“That’s something that’s a major priority to all of our drivers and organizations, is making sure we all work together. We’re at a track here this weekend that’s a very, very huge priority for all of our Ford teams to work together.

“Even on the races outside of the restrictor plate races, we think that way as well.”

Czarnecki is a long-time employee of Team Penske who has been through several manufacturers. In addition to the on-track action and continued development of the Mustang, he sees how the group effort benefits in other ways for teams.

“This is our eighth year with Ford,” he said.  “I can honestly say the relationship that Mark (Rushbrook) and his team have developed with, not only us, but across the spectrum of what we do from a technical, marketing standpoint and overall support standpoint has never been better from Team Penske’s perspective.

“Now we seem to be working with all the other teams in a variety of enterprises. That’s due to the fact Ford has made it very clear this is one Ford, that it’s one team.

“I think Joey said he wouldn’t have won that race without the help provided to him.”

Of all the Ford teams in the Cup Series, there’s one team who has the longest tenure with the manufacturer – Wood Brothers Racing. The drivers who have raced their No. 21 Fords are legendary.

To name a few, A.J. Foyt, Hall of Famers David Pearson and Cale Yarborough have wheeled their way to success. Now, it’s up to Matt DiBenedetto to help continue their historical run with Ford as the team chases their 100th victory.

“I was sitting here counting up on my fingers,” Wood said.  “I think this is my 48th Daytona 500 in-a-row.  I’ve been coming here a long time and we’ve always raced Fords.

“The last few years the way that Ford has brought everyone together, like they already said, you feel like everybody is your teammate.  That’s a really good feeling.

“You have that feeling every week. If you can’t win, as long as one of those guys win, it’s okay. I think that’s a testament to Mark and all the leadership at Ford Motor Company in bringing everyone together.

“It’s easy to get everybody in a room and say, ‘You’re going to do this, we’re all going to do this’ and everybody agrees to it.

“When the flag drops some of that used to go away, but it doesn’t now.”

 

 

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